PeterW said:X10 (unreliable), UPB (delays), Z-wave (closed system) and Insteon (bugs) all suck. I'm starting to like the idea of hard wired systems.
I have a new lighting protocol that I wanted to run by the folks here to see how much interest there would be before I pitch it to the investors. It is targeted to be simple enough for â€œHome Depotâ€ consumers and still be robust enough for central automation controller applications. This is a feature description excluding the hardware layer part:
This simplified protocol (Iâ€™ll call it Upstate Simple Protocol or USP) is modeled off of X-10 as far as setup and is designed to co-exist in a mixed environment with X-10. Each device has a fixed hardware address similar to Insteon but that address is only used for programming and special Automation Controller applications. For basic automation each switch is assigned a USP address in the same format as X-10. When you install a switch, you will actually assign it a USP address from A1 to P16 just like X-10. In fact, you can do this by using an X-10 Maxi-Controller. Simply hold the top paddle down for 10 seconds to put the switch in programming mode, press the address you want on the Maxi-Controller (say A5 for example) and thatâ€™s it. The corresponding USP address, A5, is now programmed into the switch. You can also program an X-10 address into the switch by following the same procedure only you press the lower paddle for 10 seconds to put the switch into X-10 programming mode. You can program a switch to respond to just USP, just X-10, or both. Of course the addresses donâ€™t have to match; A5 for USP and L7 for X-10 for example, would be fine. By using an X-10 controller for basic programming, a user is not forced into a PC interface right off the bat and yet there is no back and forth running around to set up individual links between devices either.
When switches are operated manually they transmit a USP broadcast such as A5 ON (similar to X-10) and will also broadcast the appropriate X-10 command (L7 ON) if an X-10 address has been programmed. The USP broadcast also includes the hardware address of the originating switch. This information is ignored by other switches but is used by automation controllers. Any switch that has the same USP or X-10 address will switch ON (or OFF) in response to the broadcast and will send a status acknowledgement containing their hardware address (not USP or X-10 address) and new state. These acknowledgements are used by automation controllers and ignored by other switches.
Switches also periodically send out status updates to confirm their status to automation controllers. Automation controllers can also poll a device and force it to transmit its status at any time. Since these transmissions use the hardware address and do not contain any USP or X-10 address information, they are ignored by other switches.
Besides the primary USP address, a switch can have several secondary USP addresses. These are used for scenes and switches react to them the same way they do to the primary USP address. The only difference is that these addresses are not broadcast when the switch is operated manually. A secondary or scene address simply uses different ramp rate and level settings to create the scene.
An interesting feature is that ramp rate and level can be set separately for ON and OFF commands. This means each secondary or scene address can define 2 different scenes, one for ON and one for OFF. You can also use this feature with the primary address to define OFF to be a dim level for example, to provide a nightlight for a bathroom or hall. It is also valid to use the Primary USP address for one switch as a secondary scene address for another. Say A5 is the top of the basement stairs and A6 is another light in the basement. Make A5 a secondary address in the other switch and set the ON level to X (no change). The Other light will not go on unless you specifically turn it on but will always go off when you turn off the switch at the top of the stairs.
Another important feature is that right from day one there will be a TW523 translator. This unit will plug into any existing X-10 controller that uses a TW523 (Stargate, HAL, W800RF32A, etc.) and map the X-10 commands to USP commands. This means all of your palmads and hawkeyes will still work with the new protocol. There may even be an option within the translator to select banks of addresses or even go address by address and decide if you want it to be X-10 or USP.
Of course the real fun comes if you use a PC to interact with your switches. The PC interface uses the hardware address in the switches to communicate with them. If you access a switch from a PC you can set every parameter remotely including primary and secondary (scene) USP addresses, X-10 addresses, ramp rates, on and off levels, etc. You can also request status from any switch or send commands to individual devices (via hardware address or USP address) or groups of devices via USP broadcast commands.
This is getting way too long but you get the general idea. Would anybody buy something like this?