Hi- looking for information


Active Member

I ran across this board a week or so ago, browsing since then. Looks like some good stuff! I'm starting to think about adding some automation to our house (thinking X10, I'm cheep ;-) and scoping for good sites. . . I'm sure I'll have specific questions once I have waded through some of the excellent posts here. . . are there other sites I should be looking at?


Hi Mark,

Welcome to the board. This board is a great source for help on getting your house automated. There are a great bunch of people here that would be happy to help you figure things out.

Just start popping away the questions (no questions too dumb) and you'll see the results!

Markd ,
If your looking for a software package to control your X10 installation then HomeSeer is an excellent package. It too has one of the best and busiest BB's around for home automation ideas.

Don't Jump...

Its great that you want to get into Home Automation and it is very rewarding. I must say though that most of us tend to make it more of a hobby then a lifestyle. In other words we can't just have one toy we have to have as many as we can and the fun just never stops.

Make sure you have a full understanding of all the technologies available and design your home automation system to work best for your situation. Most programmers prefer a software solution but if your not a very good programmer you may want to look into a hardware controlled solution or maybe even a hybrid solution.

You have a ton of diferent protocols and even more manufactures making different devices that do a million differnt things. This is one hobby that you can truely say is only limited by your imagination or someone elses imagination. X10 is probably the most used still and offeres alot of devices. It can be a pain to get working sometimes which is why i stayed away from it. Then you have Z-wave which is my personal favorite because of its ease of use. The only problem with z-wave is its prices which were expected to come down are now going up. Also if you use Z-wave with a software solution such as homeseer (Thats what i use) you might find yourself trying to get it to work more than your actually using it. Z-wave has a remote control that can be used for automating some task, such as timers, and other features. If you are interested in z-wave make sure you stop by the homeseer board and read every single post you can find about z-wave. It will make sure you are prepared. Others here can explain to you about hardware soultions such as the ocelot.

I guess ill stop here before you start thinking that i actually know my stuff. I reality there is so much to learn that its almost impossible (Unless your name is RUPP) to know about every product available.

Come up with a plan of how you want your house to work and then post that plan on this board. You will get plenty of feedback that will set you in the right direction. Think ahead of the game so that you not buying something twice. In other words dont limit yourself because of money when you are in your design phase. Think big and have a complete picture in your head so you know what the end product will be.

Sometimes it pays off just to buy a few cheap X10 devices just to get your feet wet. This way you could play with some of the trial versions of the software solutions. HomeSeer and PowerHome are my favorite picks for software right now.
A lot of us did the "get our feet wet" part with Activehome from X10. For $50 it gave us a chance to find out if we really wanted home automation and to what extent. Then, depending on what was available at the time, we went to more specific solutions. Some people prefer PC based while others (including myself) went with a standalone hardware controller.

If I was getting started today, I would probably start with something like the Ocelot (standalone controller) which allows conditional logic and i/o expansion, yet is very affordable. If you then decide that you also want PC based control to add things like web access, information display, etc then you can get a program like Homeseer (which most people here use and recommend) that has the ability to use the Ocelot and any i/o expansion modules as its hardware interface, so that investment is not lost at all. Some savvy users even keep the more critical code in the Ocelot in case of PC failure but still like to have the PC for the added value of web access, logging, etc.
are there other sites I should be looking at?

There are several forums out there, but many (if not all) are dead... full of posts with no replies...

Other than here, I like to visit the Homeseer Forums. I don't use the program, but the boards are active and full of information and ideas.
Edit: Just noticed that Rupp posted this already.... so 2 votes for HS's board :lol:

One problem you may encounter (at least I did) is that everyone refers to the hardware by model numbers. In the beginning, I must have spent 8 hours just copying/pasting the model numbers into google, just to see what people were talking about.

I'm starting to think about adding some automation to our house (thinking X10, I'm cheep ;-)
Me too! :p

If you want to talk "el-cheapo".... well, that may be better suited for another thread, but its definitely doable.

Thanks people! I had seen some references to the HS board- I'll get over there to check that out.

I have some exposure to X10- I got a starter kit of some kind years ago- 2 lamp module, 1 appliance module, 1 firecracker, 1 remote. I've used it for turning the christmas tree lights on and off (so I don't have to crawl on the floor ;-), and for turning the back light behind the TV on.

I guess I should sit back and make a list of all the stuff I might want to do. Right now, all I'm thinking about is replacing a bunch of wall switches, some two way, some singles. That way I don't have to run all over the house turning them off when I sit down to watch TV at night. (since the family seems to be untrainable ;-) So I need wall switches (some with dimmers) that function at least fairly close to how regular switches do. I'd like to have computer control so that I can have a vacation mode to make it look like the house is occupied.

For the future, I'd love to have the thermostat hooked in, along with blinds control, and maybe even the ability to open and close windows or vents. With lots of SW behind it, to minimize energy use. Only other thing that comes right to mind would be security, but I haven't thought much about that.

As far as commitment level, I don't mind some time to tweak and set up, but I don't really want another hobby. Ie, once I have it set up, I expect it to work with less than 1 hr/week support and maintenance.

On the ability side, I'm a hardware engineer who programs some C++ on the side. But I hope not to need those skills too much for this! ;-)



ps - I do have cat5 to most of the rooms in the house, if that changes anything.