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New home, some specifics now

Tessa

Member
DELInstallations said:
[...] the 485 bus [...] OAL [...]

, but again, the limiting factors are going to be the OS and the mobile platforms until they really proliferate the other side of the coin. You're going to need to take it a building at a time and really get them talking and the components in place first. My first leaning would be to get into a system that can interface and speak BACnet.
I think I was with you for most of your comment.
But, to my sorrow, I think you may have started putting words from foreign languages into your otherwise-intelligible comment :) (That is to say, you lost me.)

~ ~ ~
DELInstallations said:
You're really starting to get into the commercial controls realm with your want list
~
Can you please clarify for me why you say so?
* Is it the diverse nature of the controls that we want?
* Is it any particular control set (like the door operators)?
* Is it the total number of controls that we want?
* Is it the multiple outbuildings by themselves?

~ ~ ~
DELInstallations said:
You can only run 4000' total end to end [...]

The wiring is going to be the largest item...it needs to be installed and certified while the building is happening.
FWIW, we have an overhead view of the property with surveyed measurements along the property lines. Judging from those, we have layouts of the lines we're going to be trenching and where we think we need to put all the outside wiring and plumbing. We shouldn't need to run more total footage than about 1200 ft (and that's to get power/water to every part of the property; hopefully there will be a bit less in actual networking). The longest individual run (and this one has everything: power, water, cat6, everything) should be just under 300'.

~ ~ ~

Our electrician (handling power inside and outside) is also comfortable and experienced with pulling cat6 (and coax, if we wanted it) and putting in cat6 jacks. He's willing to run cat6 out to all the outbuildings for us.

I noticed that quite a lot of the junctions[* I may be misusing this word, my apologies] where we need wiring for automation will also be power junctions, like the wall switches for fans and lights. When I asked him, the electrician said he'd be happy to give me an additional estimate for pulling wires for automation from the control cabinet to the various power junctions. (and labeling them thoroughly) He'll even do it in the outbuildings; I just have to determine where I want the "control cabinet" in the outbuilding, and where I want the wires.

However, he can't hook it up (at either end) once he pulls it. And he can not advise me on what specific wiring needs to go where. He asked me to give him a wiring diagram (he said my looooong webpage outline might be good enough, he'd take a longer look at it). He needs *ME* to specify which type of wires go where.

I don't actually know what requires cat6, what requires 4-strand "alarm system wire," what requires 2-strand "alarm system wire." My rough understanding, so far, was:
* Anything that's just a sensor requires 2-strand.
* Anything that needs to act as a sensor as well as send simple toggle signals (like on/off controls) needs 4-strand.
* Anything more complicated than that needs cat6.

~ ~ ~

When I asked the guy giving me quotes for window/sliding glass door operation what kind of wiring it would require to additionally hook the operator into an automation system, he consulted with his consultant, and came back and said, "We need to know what kind of automation control system you're putting in first."

Erp. I thought I could get all the wires in place THEN hook them into a system. Eventually. Possibly installing the actual automation hardware over the course of years, as new hardware becomes available, other hardware gets less expensive, some elements become more urgent as my condition deteriorates, etc. [The window/door operator estimate guy *is* aware of this, incidentally, that this is a long term project, with possibly nothing done immediately.]

They can't just TELL me if it needs cat6 or it needs 4-strand or what? Or if it needs one of everything? Or multiple 4-strand, one each for motion sensors/manual buttons/any other sensors, plus one to activate/deactivate the operator?

Aw drat.
 

az1324

Senior Member
Well you can't expect a pro to spec only part of a system because they do not want to be responsible for future incompatibility. For example if a sensor is powered, it needs wires capable of delivering the power in addition to signaling. For motorization, you can have 120-240v AC motors as well as 12-24V AC or DC motors. For control you can have dry contact, RS485 input, proprietary signaling, wireless. All can have different power and interface requirements. So you will have to either pay someone to future proof a design or start looking at detailed product spec sheets of all the options and either commit to certain specs or plan for all options.

Wireless interfaces become cheaper and use less power every day, but the main places wiring is useful:

High speed data connections such as for video should be wired/fiber & connect all buildings.
High power devices such as motorized anything should have power wiring.
Subsystem wiring such as for expander boards for ELK/HAI.

If you have an attic/crawl space wiring after the fact becomes much easier to certain locations.
 
 
Tessa said:
Snerk. Conscientious?

I don't CARE abut having a Windows box in my house. We can do that.

We can even do initial setup on a Windows box, and keep one running 24/7. No problem.

All I require is that I be able to manipulate my settings on day-to-day basis, somehow, from a vanilla linux interface. Somehow. Let's not go into trying to run Windows proprietary software on linux machines. I *did* say
With the prevalence of virtual machines and unity mode, you can open windows applications on a linux desktop and they are windowed the same as other linux applications. The only way you can tell the difference is by the slight variation in buttons and menus. You could also use a linux remote desktop application to access the windows box from your linux devices. So in my mind this reduces the issue to conscientious objection, especially since to be immovable on this point may reduce product options.
 

Tessa

Member
az1324 said:
Well you can't expect a pro to spec only part of a system
...
...
This IS the only part he does. This is the glass contractor. Windows and sliding glass doors, and motorized operators.

Have I mentioned that I can't find anyone to actually do anything like a real automation system? I have been trying. My builder keeps suggesting I call up AT&T cause they've got this really impressive commercial about home automation with a smartphone, maybe they could do it. ...he has good intentions, he really does.

So the window guy. He has given me a lot of details about the windows, the motorized operator systems, etc. He's discussed the power wiring requirements with the electrician, so we can get all of that put into place and maybe motorize one window/door at a time, down the road. Or something. However--along with apparently everybody else in this mashup--he *also* does not do automation or know much about it. But he has conferred with [someone] and determined that the windows, doors, and motorized operators he installs can be automated. So, since he says the window and door operators can be automated, I asked what kind of wiring they would need. He doesn't know. He says the [someone] can tell me once they know what kind of controller it will be hooked to..but why?

The controls, the sensors, they are already part of the installation package. They won't change whether it's automated or not. So why would it need different sensor/control wiring based on what it's connecting to at the other end? The sensors and controls they're using are going to be the same ones regardless.

~ ~ ~
az1324 said:
You could also use a linux remote desktop application to access the windows box from your linux devices.[...] So in my mind this reduces the issue to conscientious objection
I'm going to just restate what I said in that exact same post.
Tessa said:
Please, please, let's not go into trying to run Windows software *on* a linux machine. Let's just not go there. If I can set up a Windows server to handle the settings controls, and then run some sort of remote desktop on it from my linux box, that's different. But I've been linux-only for long enough that I don't know if that's feasible.
A Windows server elsewhere is an option. Sure. If it's possible to actually *use* the proprietary Windows software on that server from my laptop, that's an option. Sure.

Running Windows software ON a linux machine is something I am asking people to please not try to talk me into.

But this is only a solution if I can still, from wherever I happen to be, doing whatever I happen to be doing, get remote access.

Having to have proprietary Windows software ON ME ("you can carry it on a USB stick!") and then running it ON A WINDOWS MACHINE wherever I happen to be? Problem unfortunately not solved.

Software that does not require this? A potential solution!

Just please, I really, really, really do not want to get into discussions of running Windows software ON A LINUX BOX.
 

RAL

Senior Member
> All I require is that I be able to manipulate my settings on day-to-day basis, somehow, from a vanilla linux interface.
 
I'm not sure how vanilla you require your Linux system to be.  If you are at least willing to install a client program on the linux system, then you can run something like RealVNC or UltraVNC on a standalone Windows PC and access it from your linux laptop by running a VNC client there.
 
When you run the client, it will open a window that allows you to see exactly what the screen on the Windows PC has on it.
You can do everything remotely, as if you were actually using the Windows keyboard and mouse.
 
Is that an acceptable solution?
 

Tessa

Member
So please, can we just step away from the "Tessa is a linux bigot" button? (For cryin' out loud, The Spouse spends most of his time in Windows for his video games. It's not like we can't have it in the house or anything.)

And then we can get back to what I *did* say, which is that I need to be able to easily access the control software from my linux machine for complex things, from my Android tablets for day-to-day use, and from my Android phone for remote access.

And I did also say that I really, really do not want to discuss running Windows software ON that linux machine.
 

Tessa

Member
RAL said:
When you run the client, it will open a window that allows you to see exactly what the screen on the Windows PC has on it.
You can do everything remotely, as if you were actually using the Windows keyboard and mouse.
 
Is that an acceptable solution?
Oh, heck yeah. *Sounds* delightfully easy. Are your suggestions reliable software? Just... is it going to be buggy, suffer random connection loss, break with library updates, require nasty yearly license fees, need all kinds of regular software nursing, or otherwise be an immense headache to initiate or keep running?

Before you answer, though, imagine you're not doing all that great when you go to open it. Imagine you're running at oh, say, 1/4 brainpower. Enough to accidentally type "sudo rm -rf /*" instead of "sudo rm -rf .*"--which by itself is bad enough--but then further imagine that your pain level is so bad that you actually can't see the difference. (Psst, Work2Play? Yeah, typing is an issue. I just try to think and type and think and type until it all makes sense, and use a good spellchecker. Days. Weeks. Months sometimes.)

(In some situations, backing everything up before you start tweaking ...wince... doesn't quite do the job. Not when you really needed to back up everything. Oops. We, ah, do more thorough regular backups these days than we used to.)

If it WORKS, if it just WORKS, sure. Absolutely! I would happily use that for tweaking.

...

But then, of course, we still have the remote access issues, which was my ultimate objection to ELK. ("ELK offers the ELK M1ToGo Graphical User Interface which can run on a Local Windows Based PC or be loaded onto a thumb Drive and used remotely" ...on a Windows Based PC.)
 

RAL

Senior Member
> is it going to be buggy, suffer random connection loss, break with library updates, require nasty yearly license fees, need all kinds of regular software nursing, or otherwise
> be an immense headache to initiate or keep running?
 
I've used VNC in my job for about 6 years now.  My entire company uses it to access remote computers worldwide.   We use it on both Windows and Linux systems to allow us to access pretty much any of our other systems.  Windows to Linux. Linux to Windows.  It doesn't really matter.  I'd say it's highly reliable.  Occasionally, a connection does drop, but that is usually due to internet  reliability problems when going long distances (thousands of miles).   I doubt you would run into that on your home network.
 
The software is easy to install, and very good at backward compatibility.   We have some VNC systems that are running versions that are years old, and they work just fine with other systems running the latest version.   Mostly, there is no need to update versions unless you've run into a bug (rare) or want to pick up a new feature.
 
UltraVNC is free.  RealVNC has a basic version that is free, and other versions that have a one-time license fee which is pretty inexpensive ($30 for the personal version). They are also cross compatible.  You can access an UltraVNC system with a RealVNC client and vice-versa.
 
https://www.realvnc.com/
 
http://www.uvnc.com/
 
You can download the free versions of one or both and give it a try and see what you think.  Even if all you can do for now is let your spouse access his Windows system from your laptop, it will give you an idea of what VNC is like.
 

az1324

Senior Member
Tessa said:
This IS the only part he does. This is the glass contractor. Windows and sliding glass doors, and motorized operators.

Have I mentioned that I can't find anyone to actually do anything like a real automation system?
Yes well still he can't spec one end of a system without knowing what it mates up with. He should be able to give you spec sheets for the options and then you can pick one.

The really high end projects often fly in contractors from across the country (or the world, to Dubai) and pay all the travel expenses on top of the integration and design costs.
 

Tessa

Member
az1324 said:
The really high end projects often fly in contractors from across the country (or the world, to Dubai) and pay all the travel expenses on top of the integration and design costs.
Aaaand I'm a residential quality customer with a residence. I'm disabled; that makes me less able to afford high end projects.
 

Tessa

Member
RAL said:
I'd say it's highly reliable.  Occasionally, a connection does drop, but that is usually due to internet  reliability [...]   I doubt you would run into that on your home network.
Very spiffy. The Spouse uses a VNC product for work, but it's not residential-quality ;) and I'd gotten the impression that its main job was to provide authorization to permit his connection through otherwise-closed secure connections. (He mostly uses linux at work, sometimes Windows for testing, but only when he is present; that machine stays booted down most of the time and he does not use it for remote connections.)

If it's reliable, doesn't have painful licensing, and doesn't need software nursing I can't provide on the days I'd be wanting to use it, then that's absolutely a solution to using Windows at home. Certainly. We'll test it out and see if it's something I can manage, but I'll go ahead and add a sub-tick to the longlonglonglonglong writeup in my .sig.

Thanks very much for the help in this direction :) It does sound like that makes a few items more possible.
 

pete_c

Guru
I utilize both Wintel and Linux here. 
 
A time ago for work and remote management of stuff I did set up split VPN tunnels and utilized one or two pcs for telnet sessions to a "mothership" HP unix configured to be the "center of the universe" relating to management of a globally installed network.  Aside from the VPN tunnel stuff there was authentication set up on the HP Unix box (think it was using LDAP at the time). 
 
The automation software stuff started in Wintel world concurrent with the embedded stuff running on the Leviton HAI panel. 
 
Lately into tiny sub devices with almost embedded like software running on them.  They can be managed by the mothership or run independant of the mothership. 
 
Having the software mothership gives me a 10,000 foot view of what is going on (seeing all of the devices at one time).
 
The above noted (and previously stated); the "brain stem" of the house automation is not really considered automation anymore; IE: security, lighting, HVAC.  These all happen with little or no interaction by me and with the Leviton HAI panel doing stuff; and never really touched.
 
The Wintel mothership is now changing to be a Linux mothership running the same software  that I started with in 1998.
 
A bit more complex stuff happening with the mothership.  IE: An "doorbell" event consists of multiple complex events.   Every 10 minutes or so the "software" mothership builds a composite image relating to my weatherstuff with snapshots, weather maps and live mothership variables.  Note that I am not an artist and the attached picture looks more like a "spat" than a composite picture lately.  I am a bit into graphing stuff and save much to databases and looking at graphs all the time (weather stuff). 
 
http://lockport2.golffan.us/
 
Lately wanting to get my weather maps from NOAA satellites instead of the internet.
 
http://hackaday.com/2011/10/20/grab-your-own-images-from-noaa-weather-satellites/
 

RAL

Senior Member
Tessa said:
I'd gotten the impression that its main job was to provide authorization to permit his connection through otherwise-closed secure connections.
...
If it's reliable, doesn't have painful licensing, and doesn't need software nursing I can't provide on the days I'd be wanting to use it, then that's absolutely a solution to using Windows at home.
 
VNC allows you to configure things so that passwords are required when connecting to another system, but that is entirely optional.  You can set things up so that there are no passwords and when you start the VNC client it will immediately connect to the target system.  Running without a password is probably ok on a home network, but if you are worried about possible network intruders, you can configure VNC on the Windows system to only accept connections from specific IP addresses, such as your laptop.
 
Once you have it installed, no software nursing should be required.
 

Tessa

Member
oberkc said:
oberkc, on 17 Nov 2013 - 12:24, said:
I don't have a dedicated security system. My perceptions are that I can do security type "functions" with the ISY controller, but the reliability and complete reliance on power make it less than optimum for those who need greatest level of security possible.

[...]

I also use a couple of android tablets for lighting control and camera feed. These work well, but I find the biggest deciding factor is human-macine interface. If you are flexible, there are plenty of apps that will do what you want. If, however, if you require aboslute flexibility in your ability to configure the interface, you may need to do some sort of home brew setup.

In summary...if you require complete flexibility, look at one of the software-based controller solutions, and the suggestions of others are fine, I am sure. If you are willing to make some decisions now, and understand the limitations and capabilities of certain options, you may not need any server at all.
You know, I didn't intend to blow right by this without saying something (although I did mention that I was in rough shape that day); my apologies. This was helpful in a "this can be done" way. Since security--at least, the traditional security system--_is_ the least of my concerns in the whole automation process, I do appreciate your post, thanks!

I'm sure my scatter-brain is missing more comments in a similar vein and I'd like to go back and pick them all out and say "thanks," but I'm on a downswing again this afternoon and I'm getting beyond coherency. Drat.
 

Tessa

Member
Tessa said:
The Spouse uses a VNC product for work, but it's not residential-quality ;) and I'd gotten the impression that its main job was to provide authorization to permit his connection through otherwise-closed secure connections.
I am corrected: he uses both VNC and VPN, and I was thinking of VPN here. He & I haven't talked about VNC before. He thinks it sounds like a good idea, though, and says it hadn't occurred to him in this context.
 

pete_c

Guru
Personally here use an SSH created tunnel for access; works for me for just about anything.
 
And you can DIY an SSL tunnel using just about anything these days for literally nothing.
 
I got involved in the following replacement/configuration to the original VPN securid methodology used which was expensive.  It took only a few months for conversion for some 50K plus global users and saved a bunch of monies as the securid accounts were subcontracted to a telco.
 
https://vpn.ual.com/
 
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