[PROMOTION] CQC Software Giveaway Contest

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Dean Roddey, Chairman/CTO of Charmed Quark Systems has graciously donated a copy of his Charmed Quark Systems Software for a CocoonTech contest giveaway! ;)

Information on what this feature rich software is all about and an introduction to its capabilites are described below.

If you would like to enter your name for this contest please reply to this thread. The winner will be selected via a random drawing in approximately one week (please reply only once as duplicate replies will void your entry into the contest).

Again, thanks to Dean for this very generous offer to our members!

Charmed Quark Systems Software; Automation Solutions for the Home and Small Business

Modern automation products are composed of three fundamental components:
  • General purpose computing hardware
  • Specialized automation hardware interfaces
  • Software that ties it all together and provides the brains
Traditional automation companies, such as Crestron or AMX, create all of these components themselves. Their products are very high quality, but the cost is very high because they are building a lot of hardware for a fairly low volume market, and of course the cost is even higher because they don't sell to DIY customers and require you to hire a professional installer to install their hardware and software.

But today the general purpose PC market, with its enormous competitiveness and ecomonies of scale, has created a situation where the DIY automation fan has available to him very powerful, small, inexpensive PC hardware, and very capable multi-tasking operating systems capable of managing many tasks simultaneously. Add to this the recent and ongoing arrival of very 'retro-fit friendly' specialized automation hardware, such as wireless and powerline based systems, and the DIY customer can easily put together a hardware configuration as or more powerful than that provided by traditional automation companies, for a far lower price.

All that is missing is the software to tie it all together and put it all to work. Charmed Quark System's software-based control and automation product, CQC, is an example of the software brain your hardware configuration needs in order to convert it from a collection of hardware into a powerful automation solution.

CQC actually takes the next step up in integration, because it is a fully network distributed automation system, meaning that you can install it on any machines in your network, allowing any machine to control devices, to take use input or output, to act as an administrative interface, and so forth. It actually turns your entire network (if you choose to make use of this capability) into a conglomerate automation system.

In order to achieve this type of architecture, CQC is not a single program, it is instead a 'suite' of programs that can be installed on various machines in the network (or all on a single machine) to proivde various types of services where they are required. Here is a diagram that describes the types of components that make up a CQC system. They are deviced into 'back end' components and 'front end' components. Back end components run in the background and you never see them. They do things like manage devices under CQC's control, or wait for events to occur and invoke configured actions based on those events, and so forth. Front end components are the programs the administrator or user actually interact with:

(Click on Picture for Full Sized Image)

As shown in the above image, CQC is composed of really four fundamental components, a Master Server that provides central storage of system wide configuration, CQCServer which controls devices and makes access to and control of those devices available throughout the network, client side administrative and end user interfaces, and a set of optional components that allow you to do things like schedule things to happen at certain times or to control software programs through CQC as though they were devices.

All of the user and administrative tools work in terms of the Master Server, so you can manage your system from any machine on the network where the administrative tools are installed. You can edit a macro and save it and it immediately becomes available throughout the system. Or you can make a change to an interface, or push a device driver out to a CQCServer running anywhere in the network.

Here is a more detailed diagram of a two computer CQC system:

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You can see the Master server and CQCServer running in Computer 1 on the left along with the client tools, and CQCServer and the client tools running on Computer 2 on the right. Each computer is controlling three devices. CQCServer loads up device drivers from the Master Server, based on configuration, and provides access to those devices.

CQC is sold as a base package plus options. The base package provides the following broad features:
  • Network distributed front and back end control architecture
  • User drawn interface development and deployment tools
  • IR control
  • Serial, socket, USB, and X-10 device control
  • Macro development and deployment tools
  • Device driver development and deployment tools
  • Security and user management
  • All available device drivers are included in the base package.
The available options are currently:
  • Scheduled Events Server. Allows you to schedule events to occur at regular intervals, particular times of the day, particular days of the week, etc...
  • Application Control. If you want to control other applications as though they were devices, then you need to get the application control system. It allows applications to be managed via standard CQC device drivers, so that they integrate cleanly into the CQC system (within the natural limits imposed by the fact that applications are often not designed to be controlled.)
  • XLM Gateway Server. Provides a simple XML over Sockets interface into the CQC system, to support third party clients.
The upcoming 1.4 release will include a .Net Interface Viewer which will allow you to access CQC graphical interfaces from small handheld devices, and to remotely access your automation system from your laptop on the road. It will also include media management services.

Here are some sample screen caps (much reduced to keep the load times down) that demonstrate some of the features of CQC.

Here is an example of a CQC graphical user interface.

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Except for the lamp image, it was built with images that ship with CQC. CQC user interfaces have no particular look and feel, and this sample is completely arbtrary in terms of what images where used, how they are presented, and so forth.

Here is an example of the kinds of interaction effects you can create with the user interface system.

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Here is an example of the media management features of CQC that will be available in the upcoming 1.4 release.

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Here is an example of the weather feed capabitilies of CQC, based on the Weather Channel XML data feed.

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Here is an example of the upcoming .Net Interface Viewer, displaying some example user interfaces.

(Click on Picture for Full Sized Image)

You can find out more at the Charmed Quark Systems web site at www.charmedquark.com. In particular you might want to look at the Galleries section, from the main menu at the top. This section provides documentation and pictures on some real world CQC installations, so that you can see how it is used by actual customers.

For more information on the devices supported by CQC, see the Support Devices Web Page. Click on a category to expand it and see the devices supported in that category. Upcoming drivers include the Elk M1 and the Escient Fireball media server.
Count me in, and
Thank You
for this and other opportunities to Dean, E, BSR, and AO,
and all the people and sponsors who frequent the board!
huggy59 said:
Count me in, and
Thank You
for this and other opportunities to Dean, E, BSR, and AO,
and all the people and sponsors who frequent the board!
Couldn't say it better myself ;)
<27>\chr=HomerSimpson\ Contest? I love contests! Pick me, pick me! <27>\chr=computer\ ;)

(Thanks, Dean, that's a generous thing to do.)
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