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Some questions from a new HA fanatic

naething

Member
I am just getting started with Home Automation. I have been interested for quite some time (I had a roommate in graduate school with quite a bit of X10 and we had some simple stuff set up like slowly raising the lights as an alarm clock). However, now that I am done with graduate school and have a real job and a house I finally have the ability to pursue this. :)

The catalyst for me was the big z-wave sale at Radio Shack (I picked up a bunch of dimmers; lamp, appliance, and outdoor modules; schlage IP cameras; a trane thermostats; and a deadbolt). Right now I'm controlling all this with a Vera 2.

Because I'm cheap (and my wife is starting to monitor my HA budget!) I don't want to be stuck with only z-wave, so I am trying x10 too. I grabbed a refurbished CM15A, a MS16a motion sensor, seven DS10A door/window sensors, and a TM751 transceiver and socket rocket. X10 certainly is cheap stuff, this was all about $35.

Finally, I have a pretty nice A/V setup that I would like to control. I have a pretty small house and only one TV (currently!). All of my A/V equipment is in a closet in my home office. I run HDMI from my Denon receiver and 5.1 surround through the attic to my living room. I use an IR bridge (x10 powermid) to control the equipment from the living room. Eventually I will add a 4x4 Monoprice HDMI matrix to drive TVs on other rooms, and also install a whole house audio system (on the cheap, maybe I'll put in some in ceiling speakers and just drive them off of my denon with a impedance match board?).

Yesterday I installed Ubuntu on an old dell and I set up lirc (I'm using a Manta TR1 MCE IR transceiver) and mochad (a new X10 driver for the cm15a). Surprisingly both were easy to set up. The Manta TR1 worked "out of the box" on ubuntu and is happily sending and receiving IR commands, and I can control my one X10 lamp and see the motion and security RF events. I installed misterhouse and decided that it wasn't quite what I wanted, although I think I can pull some great ideas from it so I am grateful to its developers.

Here is where I am right now:

1. I have my vera happily controlling all the z-wave.
2. I can control all my A/V equipment from IR
3. I can "listen" in to IR commands from remote control (e.g., to see if I hit 'pause' when watching a movie)
4. I can control my denon over ethernet
5. I can fully control my X10 equipment and see events over a TCP/IP socket

So it seems like I have a good start. I can control all my devices, I just need to work on the 'glue' that holds them together. I could use my vera to do all this with some Luup code. But that seems a little limiting.

My other thought was to use an event-driven programming framework (Perl's POE, Python Twisted, or Ruby's EventMachine). I figure I could get this set up pretty quickly, and once all the control code is working throw together a nice AJAX interface. Perhaps though, "O, that way madness lies".

I certainly don't want to recreate the wheel, and if there is any open source project doing what I am interested in I am happy to work on that instead. However, the existing stuff I've seen looks like it is a bit behind the times (misterhouse code base, which is understandable since its 15 years old), or too complicated (linuxmce). Otherwise, is anyone else messing with these frameworks and wants to collaborate?

Am I going about this completely wrong? I welcome *any* advice from HA gurus here, even if it is for me to go in a completely different direction!

-Rick (radengr)
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
I briefly read through your thread and am wondering how you are monitoring your DS10a's?

If you are into cheap, their is Premise (free), not currently supported anymore via Motorola, but has an active participation here.

I think I would possibly look into this instead of reinventing the wheel.
 

naething

Member
That you both for the leads. I will be checking out both Premise and OpenRemote. As this is more of a hobby right now I'm going to try as many things as I can. I need to do it now because once we start to use it seriously my wife will probably get upset she can't work the tv!

@BraveSirRobbin, mochad provides the ability to monitor the DS10a though a cm15a. It just opens up a tcp/ip socket and you can see all your X10 traffic there as well as issue commands. Its pretty spiffy.

-Rick (radengr)
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
You can also check out Elve www.codecoretechnologies.com - their introductory pricing is only $99 for the basic version; it's Windows though.

The advantage to using a system that's already out there - even when you don't have time to code, new features keep showing up. If you roll your own, you have to code every little thing yourself. Once kids come along, you may not have time for that anymore!
 

jwilson56

Senior Member
Check out my blog. I use Netremote for the GUI client and Girder 5 for the Home Automation side. The two packaged together are cheap compared to others. You have a lot of flexibility for custom code also.
 

naething

Member
work2play and jwilson56, thank you for the input! jwilson56, I actually have been checking out your blog, especially the audio distribution you have set up. Very nice! I have no problem with Windows, I just don't want to spend $500+ on control software. $100-150 I can probably justify though.

I code for a living (or at least it is a part of my job) so I don't have any heartburn about paying for software, just my wife would kill me if bought some of the more expensive packages. Windows might actually be nice as I have a PC running Win7 Ultimate, and so I imaging I could integrate media center in to the control software without having to write a bunch of crazy "glue" code.

Girder 5 looks very nice. I just downloaded the demo and I will probably give that a shot later tonight. I can't reach the Elve website but I will check that out later when it is back up.

-Rick (radengr)
 

jwilson56

Senior Member
work2play and jwilson56, thank you for the input! jwilson56, I actually have been checking out your blog, especially the audio distribution you have set up. Very nice! I have no problem with Windows, I just don't want to spend $500+ on control software. $100-150 I can probably justify though.

I code for a living (or at least it is a part of my job) so I don't have any heartburn about paying for software, just my wife would kill me if bought some of the more expensive packages. Windows might actually be nice as I have a PC running Win7 Ultimate, and so I imaging I could integrate media center in to the control software without having to write a bunch of crazy "glue" code.

Girder 5 looks very nice. I just downloaded the demo and I will probably give that a shot later tonight. I can't reach the Elve website but I will check that out later when it is back up.

-Rick (radengr)

The Girder and NetRemote Whole Home Pro Bundle sells for $179.00 which is a bargain for what it does.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
What do you typically code in, or at least what languages are you comfortable in? We may be able to point you even closer.

With Elve you can extend it via .Net API's pretty easily - and if you contribute something useful to the driver base, I believe he's still rewarding you with a free license (at least that was the case during the beta - worth checking). A Media Center interface may be just the ticket if he doesn't already have one.

I have it running on my MediaSmart Windows Home Server which doesn't have a lot of resources to spare, and it's doing fine - I'm not driving any touchscreens yet though; just using it for a rules engine.

As for the wife factor, you gotta figure out how to get her hooked so she wants the features - anything that promotes safety and security; and especially that of kids if there are any now or in the future - those go a long way with the wives. Also if she stresses about electric bills, selling energy savings can help; and sometimes even ambiance (if you're gonna put a dimmer in anyways, might as well be automated!) - it seems convenience is last for a lot of wives; they'd rather you walk around to 7 light switches on your way up the stairs then spend $3K on lighting systems. Of course every wife is different.

Maybe you can implement some features off a trial version - then when they go away, and she wants to know why - "sorry hunny, I'd have to pay for the $400 upgrade to get that back" :D
 

naething

Member
You are absolutely right on the safety and security aspect! That is probably the only reason my wife is putting up with all of this. I think some of the other aspects are growing on her though now that I pieces of it working.

I probably know enough to be dangerous in most of the langauges used in home automation. I have done quite a bit of C/C++/Perl professionally. I certainly wouldn't mind any of the C languages, Perl, Python, Lua, or Ruby. And if there was a compelling reason for something else... what can I say, I like learning new langauges. ;)

Perl is normally my go to languages for anything that doesn't require the speed of C.
 

tmbrown97

Senior Member
I knew I was winning the batte when my wife would walk up to the Touchscreen to adjust the house temperature rather than the thermostat :D

I can't point you in any direction based on those languages because I don't know what the different platforms are built on - but hopefully others more knowledgable than I can chime in with recommendations.
 
You know the languages to get the wife to agree for all the HA and security projects? I need those classes. :D

Then again, my wife thought I was crazy when I was building my Elk for a sales demo unit in our house...with the prox readers and Unlatch strikes....until she saw she could unlock the door and disarm the system by just holding a fob up near the door.
 

ver0776

Active Member
You check out Mr. House? It is written in Perl and is all open source. So not only is it free, you should find it extensible within your programming preferrences.


Vaughn
OpenSourceAutomation.com
 

naething

Member
I have checkout out Misterhouse! I have it installed and started working on interfacing it with the mochad deamon to control my cm15a. I think it could use a bit of a rewrite - perl coding practices have advanced a lot in 10 years, but it looks like there are some people working on that too.

Right I'm trying any software I can get my hands on and seeing what I like and my wife will put up with!

-Rick

You check out Mr. House? It is written in Perl and is all open source. So not only is it free, you should find it extensible within your programming preferrences.


Vaughn
OpenSourceAutomation.com
 
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