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New to Insteon

rabiner

New Member
Hi, all. I'm new to this forum.

I'm thinking of making the transition to INSTEON. I have a total X10 house and am totally happy except for reliability. I've put in bridges, filters, boosters, and things periodically don't work first try.

I've been using an ancient Homebase system with WinEVM, and I own (but haven't installed) a Stargate. I would jump on it right away if it would improve signal reliability, but the Homebase is working fine from a programming standpoint, and also I'm lazy.

My main question involves primary control. Those who are using INSTEON, how are you controlling it? I see HomeSeer has an INSTEON plugin, but I saw something about it being Beta. Are there any controllers out there that have complete programming languages that also speak INSTEON?

Does anyone know whether Stargate will be upgraded to INSTEON, or do I need to put the Stargate on eBay?

Finally, I would strongly prefer an independent controller, rather than just software, for purposes of reliability when I'm out of town. It's a Windows XP thing.

Thanks for all your help.

Warm regards,
David
 

WayneW

Senior Member
Welcome to CocoonTech. Software is the weak point of Insteon at the moment. The best I have seen is PowerHome. Insteon has so many more features and options than X-10, so I don't know how panels such as the JDS will adapt to Insteon. IMHO, you almost need a separate application to handle configuration of all the devices, then let the hardware panel do the simple control.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
rabiner said:
My main question involves primary control. Those who are using INSTEON, how are you controlling it? I see HomeSeer has an INSTEON plugin, but I saw something about it being Beta. Are there any controllers out there that have complete programming languages that also speak INSTEON?
The short answer to your question is NO. There are no hardware controllers that have a fully developed Insteon interface. There are several hardware and software products that offer varying degrees of Insteon support but I think it could be argued that PowerHome (software) is currently the only full featured option for managing Insteon.

Right now I am using the Smarthome translator with my Stargate as well as PowerHome software as it is the best solution I can come up with.

Does anyone know whether Stargate will be upgraded to INSTEON, or do I need to put the Stargate on eBay?

The upgrade path for Stargate will be through roZetta which is still a month or more away. It will be a TW523 replacement so Stargate will think it is talking X-10 but will actually be sending and receiving Insteon and/or UPB.

Instead of Ebay you should sell your Stargate to me for an incredibly cheap price or in exchange for a couple of Insteon devices.

Finally, I would strongly prefer an independent controller, rather than just software, for purposes of reliability when I'm out of town. It's a Windows XP thing.

Every once in a while I look at the available options and actually try to formulate a migration plan to a new controller (software or hardware). I usually start with a list of key Stargate features that I us alot and see how I would transition them to a new platform. It usually goes something like this:

Hardwired Inputs: I am currently using 80 with my Stargate. Most alarm panel based systems can do this easily but PC based solutions rarely support a lot of hard wired I/O directly. You usually have to program some other subsystem to handle this and then interface it to the PC controller. (So now I am replacing an integrated feature with a splice together add-on).

Relay Outputs: I am currently using 40 with my Stargate. Most platforms can support this though some may have trouble if the relay timing is critical (very short cycle time).

RS485 thermostats: I use RCS thermostats and support for them is pretty common. Some platforms are very limited in their implementation however so it may be hard to replicate some of my core functionality such as triggering actions when the setpoint is changed manually or having the system speak the current setpoint value.

Voice output: I use voice messages very heavily in my setup. Most systems provide for either fixed vocabulary speach or TTS but really fall down in key aspects of voice management. Some systems queue voice messages as low priority activities so it is hard to insure messages stay in sync with actions. Some systems do not have the equivalent of Stargates audio matrix that allows voice messages to be directed to speakers, line out, and/or phone level out, programmatically. And some have very limited support for speaking the values of variables.

LED Keypads: I use a lot of the RCS LED 7-button keypads as both annunciators and super cheap interfaces for things like opening the garage door and resetting the mailbox alert. Not too many platforms support these devices and most do not have an equivalent. (Some alarm based controllers let you use a a security keypad in this role but usually limit you to 4 or 5 buttons. They also don't work aesthetically in many situations).

RCS LCD Keypads: Not as fancy as a touchscreen but with 96 fully configurable menus for around $300 they are a lot more cost effective. I also prefer the hard buttons over a touchsreen type interface. Not many platforms support this or anything similiar in the same price range. Some alternatives exist that are super setup intensive while these are relatively plug 'n' play.

Complex logic: Some systems I have considered just don't have the programming options to replicate some of the logic I have set up in Stargate. Others use general PC programming languages that allow for complex logic but do not have the checks that ensure your code is limited to (or even in any way related to) what the hardware is capable of.

ETC.

The first step to finding the right controller is to make your own list of priorities and then examine each potential candidate point by point till you find the best fit.
 

HighTest

Active Member
That said, the ELK M1G with an M1XPS that is flashed for the INSTEON firmware (making it not work for any other protocol, you'll need other M1XPS's for those) will support INSTEON.

See: http://www.elkproducts.com/pdf/M1XSP_Light...al_Port_Exp.pdf and scroll down to the INSTEON part.

It's limitations are 192 INSTEON devices and 63 scenes or groups. Also any additional firmware updates would require re-linking the devices for discovery as it would be lost. Note also
Insteon devices can only be "linked" (learned) into the M1XSP starting at the first M1 Lighting device 001 (A1). At the
present time there is no way to have the Insteon devices start at another location, they must always start at 001 (A1).

You also have to be using the Insteon Powerlinc Serial Controller V2, part number 2414S. Note the PDF article on the specific firmware requirements as well when using.

It's interesting to note that it can do X10 using the same interface though to devices that do not have Insteon "linked" addresses. The "Linked" devices are communicated via Insteon.

But outside of those limitations, it's Insteon support and not Insteon in X10 mode.
 

HighTest

Active Member
Found this out as I've decided on the protocol, now I'm checking out the controllers and software that I may purchase and use.

Let us know how you implement your solution as it'll help us that haven't purchased yet.
 

rabiner

New Member
Wow, is this a great forum or what! Thanks to everyone for sharing your time and insights.

I'm inferring that many are into HA much deeper than I am. I would love to go deeper, but my primary focus has been into lighting control and HVAC.

I am controlling all lights, thermostat, and sprinkler. My hardware includes the Homebase with the extra input/relay panel, an RCS thermostat, and an IRRMASTER sprinkler controller.

Most of my control is automatic; i.e., most of what takes place in the house is initiated by the controller based upon time, motion, and temperature. I'm real big on turning lights off when no one has been in the room for a while. My manual commands are simple things like:

1. When I leave the house, I send a command through a Keypadlinc, which turns off lights, changes the setpoint, turns off the water recirculation pump, and (depending on time of day) will do random security stuff with lights. When I return home, it's the opening of the garage door that returns everything to normal.

2. When I go to bed at night, I send a command through a mini-controller that puts the lights, thermostat, etc., into overnight mode.

3. Pretty much the only other thing I tell the system through keypadlincs is what mode to be in. I don't do manual scenes or stuff like that. I have my Stargate LCD-96M, which I was going to install to handle the "mode" work.

My frustration is this: when I go to bed and push the button to initiate the "good night" sequence, it will miss a light. Then I have to wait for the sequence to end (I've shortened that with some scene work), and I have to try it again. On a bad night, I eventually get out of bed and shut it down myself.

I need to find out what INSTEON can do. At this point, I'm attracted to the fact that the lights WILL turn off ALWAYS.

All for now. Thanks again.

Warm regards,
David
 

Herdfan

Active Member
rabiner said:
I need to find out what INSTEON can do. At this point, I'm attracted to the fact that the lights WILL turn off ALWAYS.
I have over 60 devices installed and 800+ links and have switches installed since August. And with the exception of the double switch press issue, I can count the number of failed commands on one hand. They are so rare, I don't even really notice them. So if reliable lighting control is what you want, then Insteon is the way to go.
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
rabiner said:
I have a total X10 house and am totally happy except for reliability. I've put in bridges, filters, boosters, and things periodically don't work first try.
I'm not disagreeing with your Insteon path forward, but I am curious about something in your statement.

You obviously went through a lot of trouble trying to make your X-10 system reliable. But, did you try looking at the signal strength of your X-10 system with a signal strength meter? This is really the ONLY way to accurately tell what is happening with your X-10 system concerning noise levels, signal sucks, and attenuation/level problems in all aspects of your home.

I don't have the perfect X-10 system (that is unattainable ;) ), but it is very reliable once I determined the signal sucks and the best place to insert repeaters by using a meter.
 

rabiner

New Member
I appreciate the comment about ensuring signal strength and clarity. I do have a tester (don't remember the model, but I spent about $200 on it I think), and I went around the house checking for noice and strength. I don't remember the numbers, but I did spend some time on google with my results and remember that they were ok.

I've got filters on just about everything except those that are X10 controlled. I have a bridge between the two sides.

My next step was to buy the booster/repeater that I saw on the Smarthome site, but I was thinking that I can use that money to start converting to Insteon...

That's when I joined this group!

Warm regards,
David
 

Rupp

Senior Member
I have a 75% X10 25% Insteon setup and it's working nearly 100%. I can't remember the last time I had a missed command. If it weren't for those dang X10 motion sensors batteries dieing and sending A1's I wouldn't have any signal problems. I have so many motion sensors that finding the dead one is hard. Last night I had to ask everyone to not move while I walked through the house trying to locate that dead one. Turns out it was outside on the porch.
 

TCIII

Member
Hey upstatemike,

I just bought and installed a JDS Stargate SG-IP to replace my HCS II home control unit that had just died after five years of service.

I was beginning to wonder if I had bought the right HA system until I read your reply to this thread, but now I feel that I did make the right choice!

I will be adding a Caddx NX8E to the Stargate as soon as it gets here next week.

I miss not having the voice synthesizer that used to come with the original Stargate so I have been evaluating an outboard text-to-speech synthesizer that can be controlled with one of the Stargate RS-232 com ports and the ASCII text commands. Should work very much like the original voice synthesizer only it will tie up the remaining com port.

Regards,
TCIII
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
TCIII-

Be sure to post an update after you have had a chance to test out the ASCII speach box. Sounds like a cool device!
 

rabiner

New Member
upstatemike said:
rabiner said:
My main question involves primary control.  Those who are using INSTEON, how are you controlling it?  I see HomeSeer has an INSTEON plugin, but I saw something about it being Beta.  Are there any controllers out there that have complete programming languages that also speak INSTEON?
The short answer to your question is NO. There are no hardware controllers that have a fully developed Insteon interface. There are several hardware and software products that offer varying degrees of Insteon support but I think it could be argued that PowerHome (software) is currently the only full featured option for managing Insteon.

Right now I am using the Smarthome translator with my Stargate as well as PowerHome software as it is the best solution I can come up with.

Does anyone know whether Stargate will be upgraded to INSTEON, or do I need to put the Stargate on eBay?

The upgrade path for Stargate will be through roZetta which is still a month or more away. It will be a TW523 replacement so Stargate will think it is talking X-10 but will actually be sending and receiving Insteon and/or UPB.

Instead of Ebay you should sell your Stargate to me for an incredibly cheap price or in exchange for a couple of Insteon devices.

Finally, I would strongly prefer an independent controller, rather than just software, for purposes of reliability when I'm out of town. It's a Windows XP thing.

Every once in a while I look at the available options and actually try to formulate a migration plan to a new controller (software or hardware). I usually start with a list of key Stargate features that I us alot and see how I would transition them to a new platform. It usually goes something like this:

Hardwired Inputs: I am currently using 80 with my Stargate. Most alarm panel based systems can do this easily but PC based solutions rarely support a lot of hard wired I/O directly. You usually have to program some other subsystem to handle this and then interface it to the PC controller. (So now I am replacing an integrated feature with a splice together add-on).

Relay Outputs: I am currently using 40 with my Stargate. Most platforms can support this though some may have trouble if the relay timing is critical (very short cycle time).

RS485 thermostats: I use RCS thermostats and support for them is pretty common. Some platforms are very limited in their implementation however so it may be hard to replicate some of my core functionality such as triggering actions when the setpoint is changed manually or having the system speak the current setpoint value.

Voice output: I use voice messages very heavily in my setup. Most systems provide for either fixed vocabulary speach or TTS but really fall down in key aspects of voice management. Some systems queue voice messages as low priority activities so it is hard to insure messages stay in sync with actions. Some systems do not have the equivalent of Stargates audio matrix that allows voice messages to be directed to speakers, line out, and/or phone level out, programmatically. And some have very limited support for speaking the values of variables.

LED Keypads: I use a lot of the RCS LED 7-button keypads as both annunciators and super cheap interfaces for things like opening the garage door and resetting the mailbox alert. Not too many platforms support these devices and most do not have an equivalent. (Some alarm based controllers let you use a a security keypad in this role but usually limit you to 4 or 5 buttons. They also don't work aesthetically in many situations).

RCS LCD Keypads: Not as fancy as a touchscreen but with 96 fully configurable menus for around $300 they are a lot more cost effective. I also prefer the hard buttons over a touchsreen type interface. Not many platforms support this or anything similiar in the same price range. Some alternatives exist that are super setup intensive while these are relatively plug 'n' play.

Complex logic: Some systems I have considered just don't have the programming options to replicate some of the logic I have set up in Stargate. Others use general PC programming languages that allow for complex logic but do not have the checks that ensure your code is limited to (or even in any way related to) what the hardware is capable of.

ETC.

The first step to finding the right controller is to make your own list of priorities and then examine each potential candidate point by point till you find the best fit.
Now, I'm excited but confused. It sounds like I can start the process of switching to Insteon--starting first with those devices that miss the most often--and keep my current program.

I heard two quotes that sound conflicting to me:

"Right now I am using the Smarthome translator with my Stargate as well as PowerHome software as it is the best solution I can come up with."

"The upgrade path for Stargate will be through roZetta which is still a month or more away. It will be a TW523 replacement so Stargate will think it is talking X-10 but will actually be sending and receiving Insteon and/or UPB."

Is there a translater I can use now?

I can wait for a couple of months as I go through the process of replacing my switches, but it would be cool to get going with the troublesome ones right away.

Warm regards,
David
 

WayneW

Senior Member
rabiner said:
Is there a translater I can use now?
Short answer: no

The SmartHome 2414X was available for $99 for a short period as a beta device, then the concept/project was canceled. You might be able to find a used one if somebody didn't like it.

The RoZetta project is still in the works from an individual.
 
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