Frustrated with home automation software

Deane Johnson

Active Member
It is my understanding that Elve is free to everyone.  Nothing more has developed to my knowledge.  It is excellent just as it is, the problem for me is that there is no further development that I can see.  No new drivers being written, such as for Philips Hue.
I have a 10 foot Cinemascope screen, pure white.  No curtains in front of it, no stacking space for them to open, so the white screen will remain.  I put some track lighting up under the valance and put some 50 watt blue bulbs in 6 cans.  They actually shine more of an Aqua color and make the screen look like it's glowing.  Very effective.  Only trouble is that they get very hot in the track cans and I would like to go to something else that I can leave on for long periods of time.  Enter Philips Hue.  I haven't bought any yet because I can't control them except by the Philips controller.  If I can get CQC running, it seems to have a Hue driver, hence my keeping Philips Hue in the background ready to pounce.  I would love to have the ability to slowly rotate through some colors.


Active Member
Deane I'm looking forward to your updated write up on your system, I enjoyed reading about your previous setup. I've got a 135" 16x9 screen and have been considering switching to a 'scope screen.


Active Member
Deane Johnson said:
I can't do Insteon as I have some switch locations that don't have neutrals.  Z-Wave is the only one that can operate without a neutral.
Lutron RadioRA 2 has their RRD-6CL dimmer that doesn't require a neutral and works with LED and CFL bulbs.

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
CQC does have a Hue driver. There's also a color palette control available for your touch screen interfaces, which you can use to interactively select colors to set, which is nice.


Active Member
This is great conversation and really strikes at the heart of the challenge faced with taking home automation "mainstream."  
</Philosophical Rant>
I have recently read multiple articles written by the "pundits", some that are very well respected, that state that 2014 is the tipping point year for HA hitting the masses.  (or is it now 2015, this year is almost gone already...)  Anyway, while it is true there are many point solutions available today being purchased by consumers that automate something, for example, controlling their garage door from their smart phone, these individual things continue to remain disconnected islands. What's worse is that many of these solutions are proprietary in nature and require that manufacturers cloud solution in order to use them.  (that undesired monthly fee someone mentioned earlier)
But this does not get us to where we want, that unified, ubiquitous interface, whether it is on the smart device through a graphical touch screen interface, by voice control through the same smart device (my area of interest right now) or both.  Right now the average consumer of off the shelf HA solutions has to open up the garage door app to open the garage door or they have to open the Hue app to control their Hue lights, all very cool things, but a still not user friendly. Oh and don't forget that cloud fee.  Revolve was a hardware based attempt at addressing this issue but that is now dead.  IFTTT is a cloud based software at trying to connect the disparate dots, a good one for what it does.
The old adage goes that in order to solve a problem with software you have create a solution that is more complicated than the problem it is solving in order to actually solve the problem. The home automation field is just not there yet.  Solving complex problems unfortunately begets more complexity. Dean is making an excellent effort to address this in CQC.  As he stated in an earlier post, a great deal of time and effort has recently gone into standardizing the driver layer so that the "easy wrapper" could be put on top. This is the current reality, everything is different, wants it own thing its own way and until this can be leveled out (look at the journey MS took with Windows in abstracting the hardware layer to the point where it almost doesn't matter anymore - think blue screen of death, Linux has done the same thing, this took decades to get there) We don't have the easy button yet, we're getting closer though
The analogy I like to use is a house built with bricks.  In order to construct the house properly to hold together against the elements and remain structurally sound you need to use mortar to hold the bricks together and the bricks or field stones all have to have consistent characteristics in order for the mortar to work and do its job. The software we are discussing here, CQC, Homeseer, Elve, Premise (not mentioned yet), etc, is the mortar to the automation bricks.  Without said mortar the bricks won't hold together and without consistent bricks the mortar can't do it's job.
Until the bricks are uniform and the mortar flows easily the easy button is going to be out of the hands of the average consumer.  I have hopes that we'll get there, sooner than later, these are interesting times to be certain!
For my HA journey, the end game is the connectedness of it all, once it's all connected I can make it dance via whatever control means works best (or remains hidden in the true case of automated behaviors) For example here is a path to get from my android device to CQC to control the garage door:  Android <-> Tasker (android automation software) <-> AutoVoice (for voice input) <-> AutoRemote (bridge to other devices / platforms) <-> EventGhost (open source HA control for Wintel) <-> CQC EventGhost Driver <-> CQC <-> UPB CQC Driver <-> UPB PLC <-> UPB I/O bridge -> Garage Door Opener (<-> signifies 2 way communication) Separately for the garage door open/closed status I have: Garage door sensor -> DS10a X10 -> WGL X10 receiver -> WGL CQC Driver <-> CQC and that's just to control the garage door from my phone by voice or NFC tag (there's no easy button on that but Tasker on Android and CQC on Wintel provide the mortar to the driver bricks)  I can also open the garage door via a button on a screen interface generated by CQC. (there's the easy button)
I don't see this journey ending anytime soon...
<End Rant/>
Deane Johnson said:
OK Dean, you win on the X-10.  If I can make CQC work for me, I'll look into the Isy.  I'm aware that it's well liked, but frankly, when it started out as an Insteon device, I crossed it off the "serious player" list.
I was a total X10 house when I first started out on CQC.  But my house became less and less x10 friendly over the years forcing me to put in more and more filters to clean up the line noise. Ultimately I gave in and switched over to UPB (fortunately I have a neutral in most of my gang boxes) and couldn't be happier.  I'm still using a Smarthome Insteon 2412S PLC (does insteon and x10) to control 2 socket rockets in my shop area to provide just enough light to walk in and grab that tool that I need without having to flip on the big fixtures.The PLC is on the same branch circuit as the rockets and there are no florescent fixtures or motors or UPS's or, or, to generate line noise.
I'm still also using X10 DS10a window/door RF modules for all interior doors & windows that are not monitored by the alarm system.  They are inexpensive and reliable enough (given the cost) to meet my needs.
Oh the history...  I too played star trek on a time share green screen, later on an Apple ][ (loaded from cassette tape) in ascii text, oh those were the days.  My favorite was core wars on the time share and later Robot Wars by M.U.S.E. software on the Apple ][ same concept but graphical...


Senior Member
I remember playing text based Golf on a local University PDP-11 using a dialup earmuff modem at 300 baud. That was a big thrill on my Heathkit terminal.


Text based Football for me...
Anyway, thank you Deane for getting this discussion going.  I am going through the same quandary myself.  I'm only a couple years into my HA learning and set up.  I am mostly UPB (lights, garage doors, pool pumps, and sprinklers) and zigbee for thermostats and door locks.  Most everything is "coordinated" via my Omnipro II.
I'm now up to touch screens; I too have dabbled with Elve, CQC, Haiku (via Haikuhelper for notifications), and almost Homeseer 3...  All of them are close but either have a steep learning curve or are missing one or 2 device drivers I need, usually drivers for my movie server (Plex via Roku playback).  I like the Roku for movie playback (and Netflix) because is super simple and you don't even know the movie is playing via a Roku, not to mention its cheap and it has a low power consumption. 
The closest I can get to a single point "window of control" for my system is with iRule.  It does audio/video very well via IP control of my devices but the home automation controls are pretty crude, although functional. I have numerous elaborate event rules programmed directly into my Omnipro.  Again, functional, but not sexy.
I'm looking for a touch screen set up that is pleasant in every way...without me needing to take a long hiatus from my real job to learn how to program.  I'm also ready to take my system to the next level with integrated weather, cameras, and audio/video without gutting the equipment that I have. I'm still searching...
BTW, I want to personally thank Pete_c.  I have dabble in ZoneMinder ( as well as Homeseer (and of course cocoontech) and Pete, you are quite the help on many forums.  Thank you for being so willing to share!


Senior Member
Every year that I've been on Cocoontech (thanks to everyone who contributes) has been the year that HA comes to the masses. It's been inching closer, but there still is no mortar better than CQC, and I doubt there won't be any better anytime soon.

Dean (CQC) has the resolve, passion, and dedication that John (Elve) lacked. No hard feelings to John, I'm sure it was a hard decision - just want to support a good product, CQC.

If I didn't have access to Crestron software, I'd go with CQC. Hell, I still may end up using CQC, as Crestron is so freaking complicated, and you need to use Crestron hardware.

Deane Johnson

Active Member
I've been hacking away at CQC for a couple of days now and while I can't do anything with it yet, I understand why it has such a good reputation.  I think part of it's problem for me may be that it has too much capability.  That means more to learn, and when you're pushing 80 as I am, remembering what you did a few minutes ago is a challenge.
After messing with CQC for a couple of evenings, I find I would really like to learn to use it.  It seems to be the serious player of the group.  I think I knew that all along from reading posts on the forums, but was afraid to try it.
I think while I'm waiting for 4.6 and the new Z-Wave driver, I'll take a run at IR with the GC-100 this evening.  


Curious about the IR integration into automation; or the automation integration into IR.
I have blasters / repeaters around the house and never did integrate them with my software automation (well did for a bit utilize the Ocelot).
My original AB8SS also had X10 and IR connectivity to it; never utilized.
I am guessing you have / had been using the Ocelot relating to the IR stuff. 
Mostly learned to utilize the IR stuff with my  SA Tivo's; which became totally modded at the time (well along with satellite stuff).
Yeah here got into that hardware / software phone stuff, BBS's and a bit a phreaking (how easy it was) in the 80's.  Used multiplan (?) on a very heavy "portable" computer with little screen.  It was a wondrous number cruncher.  I had access to premise payphone lines and used them for multiple BBS's.  "Ma Bell" got PO'd with me for using the lines and never freeing them up.  (well I said that they were mine to do as I wanted to with them).   Geez when I first moved here a person working in a CO (really thinking there was only two of them) asked me help him get internet as the company had only given him a modem and a computer to use.  I had never seen the inside of a CO.  The ISP POP cages were all open; easy as using a network sniffer and just plugging into a Cisco router / switch at the time.
Back further a little group of us got together to make a cooking show.  It was the 1980's.  Volunteer thing to utilize a broadband provided facility.  It was an old closed grade school that was turned a local cable access TV facility.  They even had one of those mobile video production vans that they let us utilize.  Thinking there was 10 of us.  I also was behind the cameras and one of use was the "cook".  We rotated what we did but never did "cook" for the cameras.  The "cook" was head  / teacher of Journalism at a local school.  He actually had a neato budget relating to use of computers, printers, scanners to be utilized for his classes.  We wrote a computer newsletter (non school related); well I would write and he would edit and publish.  I liked playing so much with this new computer stuff would buy same for personal use. 
I did learn how to use all of the stuff; fun; relating to post production for broadcast.  I was impressed at the time with all of it.  Concurrently also started to play with the Amiga / Video toaster and did actually do the same with the tiny computer / toaster. 
At the time too my sister's father in law was the engineer for a TV station in Chicago.  He had drawn me over to the station; giving me tours of the facility, video stuff, post production stuff, transmitters et al.  I was impressed.  That said most of the equipment was very antiquated; much older than the stuff I used for the cable TV show.  I did show him / tell him about the Amiga Toaster stuff and they did switch over to using it for the live / post production stuff.  They had a business during the day live stock market show and the Amiga / Amiga Toaster fit the bill for their video stuff and it was way less in cost than what existed at the time.  I also set up a little C-64 and tape machine to move the satellites for down feeds at the time.

Deane Johnson

Active Member
My first IR integration was with a Pronto and the Ocelot.  The Pronto's IR was excellent.  When I moved off the Ocelot to Elve, I used a USB/UIRT.  Never was happy with the results.
John encouraged me to move to the Global Cache GC-100 and my IR has been flawless ever since.  I feed the GC-!00 to a Xantech powered block, then emitters to the gear.  My Marantz Processor has an IR Direct In which works very well.  No missed signals.
One test has been the HunterDouglas PowerRise shades.  Cheap electronics that never worked well.  The HD remote was junk.  When I went to the Pronto, the HD PowerRise worked pretty well with it.
When I went to the GC-100, the IR signal is so good I don't even have the emitter pasted over the shade eye, just laying near it and I get 99.9% accuracy.
The IR has been fed out of Elve, I don't know if there would be a difference in the quality from another piece of software or not.
I use a Dinky-Link to input the IR to the GC-100 for learning into Elve.  Gets it instantly without fail and I'm doing it from across the room which breaks all the rules of learning IR.

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
The GC-100 stuff won't be a problem to transition over. We have good support for it, and the ancillary bits it supports (the receiver and learner), and we directly support the serial ports on the GC-100, so that they look like real serial ports inside CQC, so you can use them easily to control serial devices.


I have all the DIY HA products like CQC, Elve, HS, ML and probably others. The only two I've ever had any success with were CQC and Elve. There will always be a deliniation between the high end Windows based touch screens with dedicated HA software running things and the less robust solution of using iPads etc. to control things. Even though CQC does support use on an iPad it is less than suitable in the current form and so was the Elve solution. For high end very robust and expensive systems I feel CQC is the way to go.
However, I've changed my outlook on such things and decided I didn't need a high end solution any longer. I can live without some of the functionality I thought I had to have. One of the toughest problems I faced with any of the programs is drivers for new gear. I don't want to use IR. I have IP control for almost everything except my old plasma which doesn't support it. Trying to get any of the vendors to provide new drivers is very difficult although CQC was better than all of them in this respect.
So I decided to downsize and move to something that doesn't require a server, is easily programmed, fairly versatile and with support for tons more equipment than any of the big boys. I chose Roomie Remote as the front end. The back end consists of an Elk M1 that I've had for years and a new ISY994 that I purchased to control the Insteon lights and provide direct IP control when needed. I use several Itach devices to convert IP to serial and IP to IR. The ISY interfaces with Roomie and allows me to control all the Insteon devices and the M1 using Roomie. This provides feedback of the lights and intensity. My sprinklers are being controlled in Roomie as well as all my home theater equipment which is were Roomie really shines. Their driver list is impressive and always updated with new devices.
Roomie Remote is an iOS app and as such doesn't run in a brower like the other HA mobile apps. This means that I can get almost all feedback for the IP devices on any iPad or iPhone in use just by starting the app. It's not perfect and roomie still has a long way to go to provide the kind of HA control of CQC or the others. But for pocket change I've created a pretty complete middle of the road system for very little money. Now if only the Itach devices would quit losing their mind when we have a power failure I'd be set.
Is this a solution for big installations with lots of complexity - no. But for my downsized needs it is damn near perfect and so easy to program. I've got to believe there are tons of HA users out there who want to use a mobile device for control and not dedicated touch screens. This is one way to go.


New Member
Interesting topic, having x10 for over 20 years I recently bought a Vera 3 controller & returned it because I don't want to have to learn coding or PLEG to do home automation.  I am now at the end of a 30 day trial of Homeseer HS3 running Zwave on a dedicated windows PC & I think it's very good & will purchase 2 systems.  I've automated pool/spa, lighting & thermostats just as a starter.
I'm not sure what the knock is on Homeseer HS3 but to me the event engine is very powerful, logical, feature rich, easy to setup events, manage and run automated events.  I'm not familiar with CQC or Elve but perhaps one is most comfortable with the software logic that "thinks" like you do.  I guess the logic of Homeseer agrees with me.