Required reading request


I am fairly new to this hobby and as an extension to my home theater activities I would like to begin the process of automating my home for convenience and security. Below I have listed some of the items I have amassed over the last six months or so and now begins the process to tie it all together. I have some old automation books (~10 years) but I was curious what any current recommended reading might be. At this point I am mostly interested in getting idea's on what CAN be done that I might not be aware of.. then taking a deeper dive into HOW to accomplish what I want/need.

Control4 Media Center, Home Theater Controller and 10.5" touch panel
Aprilaire thermo (8870) and rs232 controller (8811)
Elk M1 Gold kit
M-AUDIO DELTA 410 AUDIO CARD (for pc-based audio distribution)

J River Media Center
CQC full suite
Meedio (not in use)
Mainlobby, DVDLobby etc. (not in use)

Immediate goals:
Water leak detection/alarm (recent sump pump failure)
Install and integrate Elk panel into Control4 or CQC (undecided)
Determine door and window sensors needs and install

Mid-term goals:
Whole house audio distribution (mp3's on Infrant ReadyNAS)
garage door open monitor


Hi Elmer and welcome to CocoonTech.

In all honesty the technology is changing so fast I'm not sure any publication currently in print will be up to date.

I would say to "see" various features available, browse through our How-To's. These How-To's are written not only to showcase a feature, but also to spark ideas as to how to use the knowledge for your particular application.

I would also look at the REVIEWS forum to see what technology is currently available.

The other thing is to just start searching for an item of interest and browse this forum. If you have a particular question please feel free to post it. There is always a knowledgeable forum member available to give good advice!

If you are going to do the "Do It Yourself" method, I would seriously reconsider the Control4 option.
Thanks for the warm welcome...

Please add to your C4 comments. I have Composer and a pretty good C4 dealer that I am working with so if that is your concern I think I am ok... but if it is something else in your mind I would love to hear about it.

BTW, my required reading requests also includes any good white papers, how-to's or web articles.
I would add to BSR's suggestions to review the showcases forum here. There are some great automation projects that will definitely get your imagination moving in the right direction. If you see anything that you need clarification on, I'm sure the owners would be happy to help (I know I would).

Welcome aboard!
Hi Elmer,

Admittedly I do not know much about the Control4 suite, but it seems between your committment to Control4, Elk M1 and CQC you have alot of overlap.

The M1 will certainly handle your immediate goals of sensors, including water detection, whether it be wired or wireless. There are also electronic shut off valves like the WaterCop available.

The garage door is also easily doable in the M1. The audio would be doable via CQ C and Jriver but Control4 probably will do it as well.

You have not mentioned lighting - that probably can be done in any of the systems depending on what you choose. You probably need to step back and create a plan of what you want and see what pieces fit where as you have several choices.

I find the best source of info is right here on CocoonTech. Just search for anything and its probably been discussed (like garage door control and water detection for instance). Be sure to use the Google option if searching for words <= 3 characters.

As far as books, Automated Outlet has a decent selection. If you are going to use UPB then I hear that UPB book is pretty good but I have not personally read any of them. I primarily just use CT and the other various product related forums.
Agreed on the overlap of C4 and CQC...

I think I have solved my most pressing (self inflicted) need of having a way to safeguard and share our large dvd collection (kids) with C4. I would have loved to use CQC for this put I have no desire/time to catalog over 1000 dvd's. That is the beauty of a C4 or Escient type system, you just put the dvd's in the changer and they catalog them for you.

Now I can install and learn more about the Elk's capabilities and determine if I need the C4 system long term. I am also still trying to determine if I need JRMC. I would like to limit the "moving parts" as much as possible while still obtaining my goals.

Oh ya... lighting. Currently I have a Lutron GE in my media room but nothing in the rest of the house. I was waiting to see if the C4 stuff was ready for prime time and I am not sold yet. I need to look at the current lighting technologies to see what I like (read afford).

Thanks a ton.
I'll second the folks here in the best place for HA information is the web. CT is by far the most informative IMO because it is vendor neutral and has a very active membership. AVS' A/V Control & Automation forum is also somewhere I visit, but they tend to get into some pretty hot flame wars from time to time that distract from it’s utility. The next best place to look is vendor specific websites. While you will rarely see much bad said about the products there, if you think that is the way you are leaning, they can help finalize your decisions. As a point of reference, I did get a HA book when I first got interested in this subject; Latest Technology in Automated Home Control by Robert Bucceri. It was informative for someone completely new to the subject (which does not seem like you are) but it used the Stargate and FutureHome SW as the case study, and while I'm sure upstatemike would be thrilled :( probably isn't on the cutting edge anymore. Electronic House magazine is crap so don't waste your time. If you have any questions or just want to walk through your thoughts with other enthusiasts please feel free to post them!

Good luck,