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New home, some specifics now

Tessa

Member
pete_c said:
I am testing the new Homeseer on Linux; both lite and heavy versions.
I've been looking at Homeseer now, thank you. There are a few things that perplex me.

There are all-in-one boxes, controlled by browser, it looks like. You have to go to Homeseer's site to initially set up the connection from your own computer to the Homeseer device. How much of the data has to go through Homeseer after that? Can you access your own devices from home without going through Homeseer's servers? Can you access your own devices remotely without going through Homeseer's servers?

Everything they offer clams to be linux compatible through their software client. Then I go look at the software and it says, "Requirements: PC running Windows 2K, XP, Vista, 7, 8." and the setup manual says things like "Internet Explorer 6 is the only supported web browser at this time, and this is used as the user interface." So...how do you use linux with Homeseer, then?

(Their online documentation, when searched for linux, turns up a lot of hits but they're all 404.)
 

Tessa

Member
Now, here's some interesting software that a friend pointed me to:
http://thethingsystem.com

Looks like they're pretty much trying to do exactly what I want: run any automated device, from any protocol, from any computer.

...I could _probably_ manage the "websockets" modules for "observe" and "perform"; there are examples and it looks kind of straightforward.

NO clue how to turn that into a user interface, though.
 

pete_c

Guru
There are all-in-one boxes, controlled by browser, it looks like.
The custom browser is one way to access the Homeseer software.  Homeseer also sells their embedded product on custom hardware.  Newest product is called the Homeseer Zee; tiny thing running a mini version of Homeseer on a Rasberry Pi.  It includes TTS, Z-Wave and X10.
 
Another console to Homeseer is the Homeseer touchscreen which uses a wintel based designer which you can create a touchscreen in Wintel, Linux, Android and Apple.  You can also make the screens almost identical.  I have some 15 HSTouch clients on line 24/7.  They do shut down at night though via remote events on the mothership.
 
You have to go to Homeseer's site to initially set up the connection from your own computer to the Homeseer device.
 
No.  My 20 plus hardware automation devices only talk to the at home Homeseer server.  I did register the software license online.  HS sells a dynamic DNS service.  You can purchase and use their service or any of the available dynamic DNS services out there.
 
How much of the data has to go through Homeseer after that? Can you access your own devices from home without going through Homeseer's servers? Can you access your own devices remotely without going through Homeseer's servers?
None; the automation software is not cloud based.  IE: when you utilize your phone to access your Homeseer server at home; it is a direct connection to from your own custom designed screen which you can do anything with.
 
Everything they offer clams to be linux compatible through their software client. Then I go look at the software and it says, "Requirements: PC running Windows 2K, XP, Vista, 7, 8." and the setup manual says things like "Internet Explorer 6 is the only supported web browser at this time, and this is used as the user interface." So...how do you use linux with Homeseer, then?
 
There is a Linux HSTouch client that you can create. 
 
That said the newest HS3 runs on Wintel, Linux (and MAC) today.
 
The newest "thing" that I am testing is running a "plugin" with a hardware connection (UPB Serial) on Linux and having it talk to the mothership which is running HS3 on Ubuntu 64 bit server.  I have tested the plugin on a little Pogoplug with an ARM cpu and a debian OS running off a USB memory stick (today did this).
 
I am currently involved (helping a bit) with a new HS3 plugin which will run on the Mothership whether its running Wintel or Linux or standalone on whatever that will connect to my Leviton HAI OPII panel.  I do this today with an older serially connected plugin.
 
I have Leviton HAI Omnitouch screens today plus HSTouch screens.
 
BTW as it's a hobby for me; I am always trying to break Homeseer.  I am currently connecting to X10, Insteon, Z-Wave and UPB devices, Russound Zoned amps, multiple 1-wire sensor networks, weather station, on and on to some 20 plus pieces of hardware.
 
I am biased as I have used Homeseer since 1998. 
 

Tessa

Member
pete_c said:
No.  My 20 plus hardware automation devices only talk to the at home Homeseer server.  I did register the software license online.  HS sells a dynamic DNS service.  You can purchase and use their service or any of the available dynamic DNS services out there.
Ah, okay, great. Reading through their setup instructions it looks like the only way to initiate communication from computer-to-homeseer_device is through their webpage, and that's always worrying.

They sell these kits with the prepackaged small controller (HomeTroller Zee) and one piece of hardware. Can those small controllers handle more devices? It doesn't say.
pete_c said:
There is a Linux HSTouch client that you can create.
Okay. I don't have any idea, from the info I've been able to find, what that means or how it's done, but okay. :)
pete_c said:
That said the newest HS3 runs on Wintel, Linux (and MAC) today.
Ah, that's pleasant. It doesn't actually say so. (Is there another homesite for this product besides homeseer.com? Because homeseer.com only talks about Windows installation and only gives setup directions using their website, and so I wonder if I should be looking somewhwre else.)

Let me show you what I'm looking at, and you can tell me if I ought to be somewhere else. For example, the "HomeTroller Zee":
http://store.homeseer.com/store/HomeSeer-HomeTroller-Zee-Home-Automation-Controller-P1599C81.aspx
the Quick Start Manual--
Accessing the HomeTroller Zee Web Interface
Once the unit boots, youll need to access the web interface to set the system up. The method below should work with any browser on any device (mobile or desktop).
a) Navigate to http://find.homeseer.com
B) Click the Search button. Your HomeSeer system should now appear at the bottom.
c) Click the IP address hyperlink to access your systems web interface.
The HS3Pro:
http://store.homeseer.com/store/HomeSeer-HS3PRO-Home-Automation-Software-Download-P1525C5.aspx
No manual at all, but the purchase URL says--
Program Installation: PC running Windows 2K, XP, Vista, 7, 8.
Configuration: Desktop or Mobile Device running Chrome, Firefox or Safari Web Browser
 

pete_c

Guru
Understood.  It is a small company.  (literally).
 
They sell these kits with the prepackaged small controller (HomeTroller Zee) and one piece of hardware. Can those small controllers handle more devices? It doesn't say.
 
The Zee comes with an Aeon Z-Wave Stick and a plugin to control an X10 controller.  I would say that these two controllers would be able to a number of Z-Wave and X-10 devices.  I don't really know how many though. 
 
The tool mentioned above is running a UPNP local sniffer to find your new HS Zee machine (for example). 
 
Its not that its seen from the internet; if I am making sense?
 
Personally I do not utilize the cloud for any automation stuff; never have.
 
Okay. I don't have any idea, from the info I've been able to find, what that means or how it's done, but okay. :)
 
Not a whole bunch of HS users historically have used the HSTouch client for Linux.  Mostly it was Wintel, Apple and now its Android.  The client though has been around since its inception.
 
Ah, that's pleasant. It doesn't actually say so. (Is there another homesite for this product besides homeseer.com? Because homeseer.com only talks about Windows installation and only gives setup directions using their website, and so I wonder if I should be looking somewhwre else.)
 
The software base using Linux/Mac has only been released a few weeks back.  The documentation hasn't caught up.  Many folks today though run their HS software on VM's and always have.
 

Tessa

Member
Thanks for the clarifications about Homeseer.  All very good to know.  Sounds like a definite prospect.
 
Can a number of these things work together?  You may recall I'm trying to figure out how to control a bunch of devices in 3 different outbuildings, without running an individual wire from the house to EACH of the devices.  If I had one, say, Zee,one controlling the barn, one controlling the gate, one controlling the well, could they all show me their various sensors, feeds, notifications, and so on in an organized, merged way?  Or would I need to look at each individually?
 
Having something that can use both a linux client and an android client, that I can tweak infinitely, that can use lots of different devices, and which is accessed directly (rather than through 3rd party servers) is precisely where I want to be.  It's the "tweak infinitely" part of "working together" I'm trying to ask about.
 
For example, I'd like to show all the video feeds from each building in a block on one screen.  The tap one and have it go to fullscreen. 
 
Or have one screen that shows me ALL the exterior doors in ALL the buildings, and if any are open.
 
Have events in one outbuilding trigger events in another; if the barn moisture sensor goes off, the well house closes the valve on the water line leading to the barn.
 
You see what I'm saying?  Small units that work together would do exactly what I'm trying to accomplish, I think.  Maybe?
 
(That's sorta why I was asking if there's anywhere else I can get info.  I have found http://www.homeseer.com/support/ but so many of the links are 404--or skimpy, or unhelpful--that I can't make much sense of it.)
 

Tessa

Member
oberkc said:
The larger concern is how secure you believe you need to be.  In my mind, reliance on power (generator or grid) seems like a pretty obvious vulnerability.  I assume some security systems would be harder to disable.
As the builder pointed out, when I brought up secure sliding glass door locks with him & the glass contractor: I want big windows and sliding glass doors EVERYwhere.  If I make it too hard to open a locked [anything], and someone really wants in, they're just going to break a pane of glass.
 
So we're not really focused on security the way most people think of it, it seems.  Not with the automation system, or anything like a traditional security system.  They're not going to help much, not with a house this open.  For "security" for the house, we're going a different way than mostly electronic or automated.  We're trying to secure the perimeter (fully fenced, thorny hedges, plus the restricted-access gate, driveway alerts, cameras, etc).  We're trying to make it hard to see the house from the road, especially to tell if someone is home or not.  We're trying to make it so we can check up on the house--visually and by checking sensors--if we do happen to be absent.  And, well, put shatter sensors EVERYwhere.  At least they'll do something :)
 
The important things with respect to doors, windows, locks, etc is not keeping people out of our buildings, because it can't be done.  Not that we have much worth stealing; all our money is going into the building/property itself.  (Heh.  We don't really buy expensive or valuable stuff.  We still have the thrift store couch we bought when we got married.  ...I was able-bodied, then.  How old IS this thing?)  Our prized possessions are of the living, breathing sort.
 
What we're worried about is, say, a stranger coming up to the house on a day when I'm home but in very bad shape.  We're worried about the animals accidentally getting loose.  We're worried about the animals getting into things they shouldn't, like the feed room (overeating can kill livestock) or areas with poisonous plants.  We're worried about keeping an eye on accident-prone animals when their primary caretaker sometimes can't get up to check on them regularly.
 
My worse nightmares involve the animals.  I have nightmares about them getting off the property and hit by a car.  I have nightmares about them being trapped in a building while it burns, or floods, or falls down.  (I'm in FL.  We have hurricanes.   These are realistic worries.[*])  I fret about forgetting to close an important gate and letting the livestock into something that can kill them.  We've been known to make two or three trips back out to the pasture to make ABSOLUTELY certain we closed a particular gate or door. 
 
I worry about the animals doing something stupid, like trying to jump a fence and missing, and getting hung up...and losing a leg, which equates to "death" for large livestock.  We've had that happen, and were just lucky enough to already be standing RIGHT THERE.  Once you know one of your animals--valuable, perhaps, but also a beloved pet--is only alive because you happened to be standing fifty feet away when she hung herself on a fence... How do you ever leave the farm again?  How do you ever let them out of your sight again?
 
So you see, that's what we want in a "security" system.  We want peace of mind about the living creatures, not about the stuff.  We want to know that we did, in fact, close the important doors.  We want to know that the animals are, in fact, safely where we left them.  We want to be able to let them out, as much as is reasonable, if something happens to the building they are in.  (Motorized dog door, perhaps.)  And, well, we want to be able to keep people out, and not let people know if I happen to be having a bad day.  On our current, not-fully-fenced farm, I've had nervous-making encounters with con men (only trying to scam money, at least) and semi-creepy delivery drivers who knew I was often home alone and sometimes mostly incapacitated.

Aaaaand if the power fails and we can't check on door sensors, smoke alarms, video feeds, well.  Then we're back to doing it manually or worrying our heads off.  Which doesn't actually hurt anything, and is what we do already.  It would just make us feel one heck of a lot better to have these sensors and mechanisms in place; it *might* help prevent a household-scale tragedy.
 
 
I'm back in can't-think-straight-ramble-mode.  Sorry.  I'll stop :)
 
 
[*] Aw, crap.  Every time we do storm prep, I am going to have to try to protect ALL those panes of glass.  What have I done?
 

pete_c

Guru
 Homeseer provides you with a base for much automation. 
 
The users / forum are multifaceted.  Much of your 3rd party plugins are derived from individuals who whated this or that or would "build" a widget and want to connect it to their automation stuff.  Homeseer tech over the years created "plugins" that were part of the package deal included or al la carte.  IE: Homeseer provides you with a conduit to talk to Z-Wave for example.  You can built your entire automation stuff based on Z-Wave such that you are using one piece of hardware to talk to multiple devices.
 
In the early 2000's I was playing with the then existant cellular PDA technology.  I traveled a lot at the time and always wanted to remote control my home from the other side of the world.  I was previe to playing with the new technology for work and then also use it for personal home automation.  It was initially Palm based OS's and slow GPRS connectivity; then went to Microsoft mobile; on and on.  Really though I just wanted to bug my wife; such that I would run Homeseer commands while sitting in a cafe on the champs elysees doing lighting, controlling sprinkles and using text to speech.
 
Can a number of these things work together?  You may recall I'm trying to figure out how to control a bunch of devices in 3 different outbuildings, without running an individual wire from the house to EACH of the devices.  If I had one, say, Zee,one controlling the barn, one controlling the gate, one controlling the well, could they all show me their various sensors, feeds, notifications, and so on in an organized, merged way?  Or would I need to look at each individually?
My personal perference is to utilize a wire over wireless.  That noted I am currently "testing" a Homeseer plugin that runs autonmously from Homeseer and connects to Homeseer via IP.  The specific plugin connects to the hardware port on a UPB PIM.  The plugin will run on a Rasberry Pi.  I am also testing a Homeseer Leviton HAI plugin that will be doing similiar running on whatever. While the plugin will run on windows or Linux; my preference is for running it on Linux.  I cannot run Windows on say a pogoplug; but can run debian linux and the HS plugin on a pogoplug (Arm based device).  Note that this is interfacing a hardware device to the mothership.
 
The touchscreen console can be configured to "see" all of the hardware devices connected to the mothership.  It can also be configured to run events on the mothership or on the console itself.  Today I utilize a kind of little capacitance tablet that I set up with HSTouch.  I have one screen that is a streaming radio button screen and I have my favorite internet radio stations on it.  It is connected to a russound subzone which is just an AB switch in the master bedroom to allow local MM stuff or zoned Russound stuff.
 
On another note; a longtime Homeseer person recently created a script/plugin which allows "interplay" between two Homeseer boxes.  This allows for the creation of variables and events on each of the two "motherships" via a conduit such that you can combine the operation of two "motherships" to one.  I have been "testing" this one too. 
 
I am currently utilizing a Davis Vantage Vue weather station.  The current connection to the wireless console is a serial port to a Quantech serial terminal server.  On another box I run wintel software which is called Cumulus.  This box keeps a constant connection to the Davis Vantage Vue box.  Homeseer gets the data from the weather station via an XML like file from the Cumulus box and its presented on one of the multiple page touchscreen setups live with a outdoor weather camera view.  There is also Linux software today that does similiar and you can actually put this software on a little arm debian box running the linux weather software.
 
For example, I'd like to show all the video feeds from each building in a block on one screen.  The tap one and have it go to fullscreen. 
 
Or have one screen that shows me ALL the exterior doors in ALL the buildings, and if any are open.
I do this today with HSTouch consoles and Leviton Omnitouch consoles.
 
Have events in one outbuilding trigger events in another; if the barn moisture sensor goes off, the well house closes the valve on the water line leading to the barn.
 
You see what I'm saying?  Small units that work together would do exactly what I'm trying to accomplish, I think.  Maybe?
 
I went to utilizing multiple 1-wire networks for environmental "stuff" and today probably have 50 plus sensors.  Very reasonable priced; pennies to purchase the temperature sensors; more expensive for the combo sensors.  On the other hand you can today buy wireless and wired environmental sensors at $50 a pop. 
 
I also have multiple temperature and combo sensors hooked up the Leviton HAI OPII panel.  (these are a bit more than the one wire sensors).
I do though utilize these sensors to trigger events.  Always have.  You have to go with baby steps in said endeavors.  I added a digital water meter such that I could watch and keep tract of my water use.  I added a second one to the sprinkler lines. While doing this I also added water pressure guages.  Most recently purchased an electronic solenoid such that I could shut my water off or on remotely.
 
I want big windows and sliding glass doors EVERYwhere.
In Florida I am between Sarasota bay and the Gulf of Mexico (literally its one block of space).  You can stand on my street and see the ocean facing west and the bay facing east.  That said the house has multiple views / lots of glass doors and windows on the water side.  I did install / wired sensors on all of the windows and doors.  They are connected today to a Leviton HAI OPII panel.  The automation is simple there versus up north. We did purchase the home in the 80's and it was originally built in the 50's and we tore it down in the late 1990's building from scratch in the early 2000's.  Here is a before and after picture.
 
I recall going to a small party of automation users / Homeseer users in the late 2000's.  The host / avid automation hobbyist user built his home on the Atlantic side across from Cape Canaveral on Merritt Island which provided a great view of the NASA rockets taking off a few years ago.  (think at one time he did stuff for them).  He was also a Homeseer user from the late 1990's.  Very much DIYing most of his automation.
 
rocket launch.jpg
 
The above said you can DIY your stuff; baby step wise; a little bit at a time.  Should you embark on such an endeavor you will have the choice of what you imagination can provide and you will become very familiar with said automation.  Then again if you subcontract the automation; get involved; knowing every granular details about how it works and using it will provide years of benefit.  Most of this stuff is made to last a good lifetime of the the house.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
Tessa - continuing on from other threads - I know you've stated that security isn't as much about protecting material posessions as much as protecting yourself and your animals - but that's still security and automation nonetheless and similar concepts are employed.  For instance, with a solid security base like an Elk or HAI panel - you get an extensible I/O platform that's purpose-built and rock-solid.  They can connect to smoke/heat sensors, motion sensors, and also control I/O (relays, automated doors, etc).  I think once you get a better concept for that it'll make a lot more sense to use as the base of most of your automation - because using the RS485 bus, you already have a means for connecting all three buildings and having all the I/O you should need.  All these things mentioned seem way too valuable to want to rely on a Z-Wave motion or door sensor - plus the modularity of these systems actually makes them affordable and gives you a means for connecting multiple buildings with indiviudal power supplies/backups, all fully integrated into a single system... so any client device (touchscreen, phone, tablet) instantly has visibility to all these items.  Plus - a security system is fairly universal, and someone who may be trying to access your house on a "bad day" would surely recognize the sound of a siren and police dispatch warning.   The rest of the sensors you mention would hook up the same way but don't need to report back to the central station - they can be used purely for automation - such as, "If smoke is detected in the barn, alert homeower and start 3 minute timer - if homeowner hasn't responded in 3 minutes with either a Cancel or Proceed, err on the side of caution and activate the Actuator which opens the barn door automatically". 
 
I could design a good portion of what you're describing here using an Elk system because I'm intimately familiar with the system - and I could point out what it doesn't handle as easily out of the box as well.
 
Your Camera desire is the easiest of all of these since it's extremely easy to hook up a bunch of cameras, tie in some good software and define motion sensing points that will act as triggers and send emails and notifications - and you can have a TV or Tablet (or multiple) all over the property to watch these as well.  In fact I'd start with a good look at BlueIris - I think it's windows only but honestly, who cares - if it works well and is cheap... once you get it running, you access the client from an android tablet or web-page from the system of your choice.
 
Gates are another thing - as long as you know the basic requirements for interfacing with the rest of your systems, a simple DoorKing gate controller will be fine - most of these have detection circuits for knowing if the gate is open or closed, and they have triggers for opening/closing them - these easily interface with an input and an output of your Security system.  They also use driveway sensors - which can also be interfaced with your security system through the gate's relays or you can add more of your own than the gate uses by itself (gates usually use a vehicle sensor for exit but not necessarily one for a car coming in - personally I'd want to detect a car coming in even before they touch the Call button, and I'd probably have that go direct to the security system which would have an output tied directly to the camera at the gate - so I get voice alert in the home as well as a trigger to the camera that's MUCH more reliable than motion alone telling the camera to start recording and to email you a snapshot of the car - with the email address being the MMS address of your cell phones so it pops up instantly.  Then have the call box hooked to an ATA extension off your homes SIP PBX which will ring the SIP client and/or just your cell phones directly... then you can answer, talk to the person, and hit the button to open the gate from anywhere in the world. 
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
When talking about doors and lock/unlock and access, in a small scale you can do z-wave; but if you're building and want it done right and fully integrated, it's far better if you can swing using real access control hardware - check out this stuff:
http://www.sdcsecurity.com/electrified-locksets.htm
 
Just examples - those are hardwired locksets - they are cored so wires passes through them then you use the special power transfer hinges so the wiring is totally invisible; this gives reporting and status back to an access control system, which the Elk and HAI panels have provisions for - so you can see the status.  This is rock solid stuff that will always work and will work at all the outbuildings in a single unified system with no hacking or rigging to make it work, and perfect reliability as long as it's done right.  I can't speak for the brand per say but the concept is right; the parts and manufacturers are pretty interchangeable.  And everything is wired back to the main panels/controllers with dedicated backup batteries - and we're not talking 15-minute UPS's - these are 12VDC batteries connected to 12VDC equipment sized appropriately to get a few days out of them a lot of the time (it's all about how it's calculated and spec'd).
 
I don't know of the best way to "Lock" a sliding glass door short of electromagnets (in an automation sense at least), but you were looking for ways to automate them anyway so you don't have to do the physical movement - so using a linear actuator to control the door may open/close and provide sufficient resistance that it can't be forced open too - not sure.  You'd probably want to ask a very specific thread on that topic and see what DELInstallations says - but I doubt he's going to read these super long threads.  And again, in a security panel, the open/close can be handled through relay outputs off the board.  I imagine there's similar products to what's used in storefronts to open/close doors for you.
 
Also is the foundation to be concrete slab or raised in some fashion?  If raised foundation, there's a line of sensors (can't recall the name at the moment) that connect to the joists and are incredibly accurate and totally invisible - they install on the joists and connect to a controller that you fine tune for setpoints, then connect to an input on a security system or other sensor input.  That can help detect a person in the right place - otherwise there are very well directed REX sensors that if masked correctly will only see a person standing in a particular spot triggering an open - or a button on the wall can trigger it.
 

RAL

Senior Member
> Also is the foundation to be concrete slab or raised in some fashion?  If raised foundation, there's a line of sensors (can't recall the name at the moment) that connect to the joists and
> are incredibly accurate and totally invisible - they install on the joists and connect to a controller that you fine tune for setpoints,
 
The sensors you are thinking about are Sure Action Pulsors.   The sensors are strain gauges that vary in resistance as they are flexed.  The sensors connect to a processor board that monitors them and reports a change in status to the alarm panel. 
 
The sensors are the Pulsor ENHP+ or HPP+ and the processors are the 111 or 313.
 
http://www.sureaction.com/deckalarm_housesecuritysystems.html
 
Although Sure Action's web site mentions using them for deck applications, they work great on normal floor joists in a house, as well as on stairs.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
If you're on the fence about HomeSeer, picking up HS Pro 3 for half price isn't a bad way to go with the Black Friday sale - you can always roll your own hardware. I'm seriously considering it.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
Another piece of info - reading more about HomeSeer Pro, there was mention of supporting multiple Z-Wave networks simultaneously - so in theory each building could be its own network for the local deadbolts and sensors and even switches a so that could turn into a decent solution.
 

pete_c

Guru
Not a black friday deal but a wondrous device and should be considered when looking at the security camera stuff.
 
Recently aquired the Grandstream encoder/decoder device model number: GXV3500.
 
This little device has helped me transition the legacy Omnitouch serially connected screens with analog video to IP such that I am using the IP cameras to provide both analog and digital video these days. (and Omnitouch IP consoles)
 
This device has pushed me a bit into getting mostly now Grandstream IP HD cameras.
 

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