Active Member
Looks like my last introduction went out with the crash.

I'm single, living on a large lake in Virginia. I like ANYTHING to do with water. Swimming, water-skiing, snorkling, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, jetskiing, etc. By age twelve, I had all the requirements to be a lifeguard, except the age requirement. I love animals, and they love me. Put a cat into a room with 100 people, and I'll be the first one it goes up to. Unfortunetely, as luck would have it, I'm also highly allergic to fur dander, so I content myself with stealing time with the neighbors pets, and feeding the wild animals.

I'm currently starting on my third career, though not by choice. After a year of college, I went to work as a saleman for Radio Shack as a part time job. For a guy who was/is so shy I jumped at my own shadow, I turned out to be a fantastic saleman, and ended up spending 13 years at the Shack. I eventually decided to get serious with my education, and used the shack job to put myself through a BS in Management Information Systems and a double MS in Information Systems and Operations Research. After an internship at Amtrak and a several stints as a teaching assistant, I got a job at a telecom billing firm as a programmer/analyst. I spent several years there, and had a chance to travel several times to Finland on business. I then went to Bell Atlantic (now Verizon), eventually being demoted up to manager. In July of 2001, I got downsized, coincidently 2 weeks after I moved into a new house. After having worked 60-70 hour weeks for the previous several years, I decided to use my severance pay to take a few months off to rest and get settled in to the new house. Of course everyone knows what happened in September of 2001, and afterward, you couldn't buy a job in the IT field in the DC area, let alone one in telecom.

Luckily, when my house was built, I had been bitten by the HA bug, and installed a lot of automation. Some of my neighbors saw what I had done, and asked me to do some things for them. One thing led to another, and I eventually decided to start a Home Automation/Integration business. It's not paying all the bills yet (income from startup HA business does NOT equal income from senior IT manager), but it's fun (and better than nothing). The house is 2 floors, plus an unfinished basement and full attic. It's around 4000 sq ft. on the two main floors, sitting on around 2 acres of land with around 500 ft. of waterfront.

HA wise, I've got an OmniPro security/HA system, expanded to 80 zones. It handles the security, life safety functions (smoke/CO/LP/heat detectors), HVAC control, and occupancy lighting. It also has an interface (controlled by Homeseer) to the Toro sprinkler system for special watering tasks. A Panasonic KXTD-1232 PBX provides phone and intercom capability. Whole house music is provided by a Xantech ZPR68-10 system, expanded up to 15 zones with a boatload of mixed amplifiers bought on eBay. I did have integration between the music system and Homeseer using a Slinkee, but it bit the dust in a thunderstorm and I have not replaced it. I probably will write a plugin to control the Xantech using the serial port and an Ocelot for IR. I overwired the house, having a MINIMUM of 2 cat5 and 2 RG6QS drops on every wall in every room. Everything comes together in a dedicated HA room in the basement, with the computer equipment mounted in several computer racks (eBay again), the patch panels and music system mounted on relay racks, and the alarm system, PBX, and sprinkler controls mounted on one of the walls. Currently I have 9 computers, + 2 Audreys running throughout the house, most of them on UPS.
Welcome jlehnert,
I'm glad to see that things may be picking up for you after these past few years. I too was (still am) in IT in the telecom field. The company I work for designs the wireless networks\sites for the telecom industry. And living and working in the NYC area I got to experience first hand 9/11 and the impact it had in the following years. I was lucky enough to keep my job but I lost about 95% of my staff.
I have a quick question, how do you sell a new client on HA. I myself have been trying to get HA consulting going but everyone seems to think of HA of some sort of party trick. I get plenty of requests for estimates but hardly anyone follows through with installations, even if it is an inexpensive budget. Do you have any type of speech that seems to work?
One thing I learned is to replace the A in HA with an I, for Integration. I also noticed that "automation" brought up thoughts of the Jetsons and party tricks. Instead, talk about electronics integration. Concentrate on the added comfort (HVAC), convenience (lighting, whole house music), and security (lighting, fire protection). The "gee whiz" stuff works for the men, but unless you sell the woman, you're wasting your time.

If you integrate HVAC control, you can push the fact that the system works around what the client is doing, not just the blind time based system on a programmable thermostat. I like to present it as the next step in HVAC evolution, ie mechanical thermostat -> programmable thermostat -> integrated thermostat.

Talk about the convenience of whole house audio and lighting control. If you have a chance, grab one of the Compose demo disks. Some of the examples in there are breathtaking. If I get a chance someday, I want to jump down to TX and take the Compose/Lighting course run by Lightolier. I understand it's excellent. I believe that Martin took it earlier this year, and thought it was great.

On the security side, I'm refering not to the actual burglar alarm functions, but to the security the integration can give you. Coming home to a lighted house at night, being notified when the kids get home, announcing when a car pulls into the driveway.

I won't claim that I'm an expert selling HI(A) ;) but I know from my previous time in retail that getting the customer to imagine using something, or actually holding it in their hands, is the key.
Thanks for the intro Jim. You make some good points about the HA/HI stuff. I've found that the "security" aspect of the lighting control is really a big seller as you pointed out.

Yes, that Lightolier class is great. I went to it in January and believe it or not, I went to it again last week. Jason (the new guy that works for me) and a few of my new dealers were going so I thought I'd tag along again. I actually picked up a few new tricks since the first time.

The class fills up fast. I already have 4 of my dealers signed up for the November class. If you want to go, please let me know as soon as possible.
Hey Martin,
Any chance on doing an online seminar to pass on any tricks? I'm not asking for a freebee it's just I'm not going to be able to travel half way across the country to take the class.

If you have a chance, grab one of the Compose demo disks.
Can you point me in the proper direction where I may find one of these?
Hmmm, Lightolier used to have that video available for viewing on-line but I can't find it anymore. They just re-did their website. I have some of these CDs in stock that I would be happy to send or they can be ordered directly from Lightolier here -

As far as training, I would be happy to help you in any way you need. My guy here Jason is also factory certified on Lightolier. Please let me know how we can help.
Well, I'm back, hopefully for good. Eighty five pages of new posts to catch up on, so I've got my work cut out for me.

I last hit CT back in early May, then my HA computer bit the dust (again!). Before I had a chance to fix it, things in the real world bit me in the *** and I basically just shelved my entire HA hobby/business. I won't say that it's been a terrible year, but if old man time happens to wander by this area on his way out New Years Eve, I have several loads of buckshot with his name in them. :D

One positive item for the year is my involvement with EMS. I get a lot of enjoyment from it, as well as the good feeling for helping people. I was awarded squad member of the year, but also managed to get the "Super Screwup" award for a little incident involving poison ivy. You have not truly had poison ivy until you get it so bad that blisters form on your arms and legs, and the hospital has trouble giving you medicine because they can't find a rash-free location to put the needle in.

I got my HA interest started again trying to find a camera for one of the new ambulances. All the new units come with backup cameras standard, but we wanted to add a second camera inside the unit. The manufacturer quoted us $750 for a camera, installation not included, so I started doing some research. While doing that I thought that it's time to get things going again on the HA front. The OmniPro never went down, and now the HA computer with Homeseer is running again. Zero crashes so far, knock on wood. If I can get the SeerAmp plugin working, I'll get the whole-house music system system hooked in HS also.

I hope I can again be a regular visitor to CT, as I missed you guys (and Gals). ;) I'm taking Advanced Life Support classes two nights a week and every other Saturday (plus hospital rotations starting in April/May), so I'm going to be pretty busy for the next few months. Neverless, I plan to stop by regularly. It's good to be home.
Hey it's great to have you back, I was wondering what happened to you. Sounds like you have been pretty busy! If you think you can catch up with that many posts ... you are in for a surprise lol. The camera situations should be easy, but it could be that the $750 camera was rated for a harsh environment and had other features most cameras don't have. Do you have a model # ?

Stick around, and don't forget about the Christmas contest!
I admit, I'm not reading EVERY post, just hitting the ones that loook interesting. In between calls last night on duty, I made it through to August 1 (~35 pages). 35 pages down, 50 to go.

As for the truck camera, the one already installed is this one from Safety Vision Since the second camera is being mounted inside the patient care area, it doesn't need all the low light/weather-proof features. I'm sure they don't make the camera's themselves, but it's still in warranty, so we don't want to pop the case yet. We also can't find the black box guts of the unit. By process of elimination, I'm pretty sure it's mounted up in the headliner, so getting at it is going to take a bit more work than I'm willing to start while on duty.