Noob to home automation


New Member
Hi All - Kevin here

I own a home that included a now obsolete HA system, and now that it is starting to do some hiccups I need to address a replacement for it.

The existing HA controller is a Stargate, and really doesn't have much connected to it. Mainly outdoor lighting and control of fountains and waterfalls via X-10 modules. I have a manual, but no software or means of connecting to the unit.

I just spent a rewarding few hours reading several topics here and have a general understanding of what an HA system can do and am excited to move forward with this project.

See you all on the boards!

Welcome Kevin!
Based on your reading so far, what kinds of things are you thinking or planning of doing with regard to HA?
First and foremost is to decide which controller and communication protocol to replace the Stargate unit.

In order of importance to me is controlling lighting, security and outdoor elements. I'm not really interested in getting involved with media control.

One major issue is that we cannot get broadband connectivity unless we opt for satellite, and I really don't see paying exorbitant costs for mediocre service at this point. Our only connection to the Internet is via a wi-fi hotspot so most of the new HA stuff won't work well (or at all).

The house is 5000 sq ft and all HA is hard-wire home run to a large Leviton cabinet, including all security components. Most rooms have 2 each phone, cat5e and coax run to the Leviton box. Security is Networx NX8E, it is connected to the Stargate but doesn't appear to be used or controlled by it.

I know it is dated tech, but I like the idea of hard-wired vs wireless, although it would be nice if I could figure out how to create a home wireless network without internet connectivity that would allow the system to controlled by iPhone/ iPad and avoid the costly touch screens.

In short - a new controller that can be used with the existing hard wiring (I'm leaning toward the Omni Pro II or Elk units), and based on that choice determine a communications protocol to use with it.
ISY994i with an Insteon PLM is the most natural progression from X10.
The PLM will communicate with Insteon devices and X10 devices salvaging some of your X10 modules.
X10 passive phase bridges will suffice for Insteon signals as the powerline frequencies are very close.
ISY994i has a very cheap X10 firmware module that allows you to add sane names to your X10 devices and treat them as if they were Insteon devices in programs and in the device tree structure.
ISY994i has an optional plug-in board that handles Zwave protocol items for better door locks and a few items that Insteon produce many varieties.
ISY994i has an optional firmware module called Network Resource module that allows you to send out almost any type of Ethernet packet to control other devices such as Phillip Hue, MiLights, Magic UFO, Venstar thermostats,
ISY994i has a REST interface that allows other smart devices to stuff values into variables, run scenes, and programs, operate devices by a simple URL from any program, device or browser, using an inline log-in with password.
ISY994i has a few opensource developments being debugged by users to allow you to write code on say an RPi interfacing with any new device you may encounter provided the API is known.
ISY994i avoids cloud based operations as much as possible.
ISY994i interfaces with Amazon Echo very well with a skill that avoids the "Alexa. ask ISY to...." extended jargon.
 The usage is simpler with just
"Alexa, turn on xxx lights [to 50%}"     [optional parameter]
ISY994i can send notifications on any trigger via email and text messaging.
ISY994i handles decimal values in newer firmware.
ISY994i is the smaller than a RPi and draws about 2 watts of power. Wired Ethernet connected.
Insteon is a dual band (powerline and RF) device, simultaneous echoing, mesh network.
The more devices you have, the stronger it gets. It relies on confirmations of transmission from remote devices, with signal retries upon failures, and devices immediately self report changes in status., unlike X10.
The Elk could definitely be controlled via iPad on a local wireless network - without requiring internet access.
I'm pretty sure the OmniPro II could as well... but not as certain there.