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Time to Make a Decision

upstatemike

Senior Member
I promised myself that once I got passed the phone system upgrades in November that I would finally make some decisions about how to move forward with my HA system.

I think the first decision (Insteon or UPB) is already kind of made. Since I already have a big investment in Insteon I would need a pretty compelling reason to replace it instead of leveraging what I have. While Insteon has its issue, there are enough things bugging me about UPB that I am not willing to pay a premium to switch right now. (Higher cost, double tap delay, no lights on secondary keypad buttons, don't like the tabletop controller options, no screw in lamp modules, etc.)

So the next question is what is my best control strategy for an Insteon environment? I could:

Wait for Rozetta to show up and use it with my Stargate. Problem is there is no confirmed date of when it will be available and no assurance that it will be a clean solution when it does show up.

I could use the free command line Insteon app to control Insteon devices from Stargate but this will not provide any feedback that could be used by Stargate to trigger things from manual Insteon switch presses.

I could upgrade my Homeseer license to 2.x and let Stargate control Insteon through Homeseer. It's $90 to upgrade plus $60 for the Stargate plugin plus $100 for com port sharing software (so I can still program Stargate without taking Homeseer offline). This is appealing because it is relatively cheap at $250 plus it opens the door to use Homeseer phone or migrate to an M1 or any number of other options.

I could move over to an Elk M1 and continue to use a hardware controller sytem. This would take care of Insteon and the support for ip cameras and wireless security is very much in line with some near term requirements I have. Also the touch screen is in a price range where I can seriously consider it. Plus the fact that RCS never did produce the touch screen for Stargate makes be more open to switching platforms. Problem is I really need the ability to do voice announcements through my phone system as well as kick off batch files on a PC someplace to fetch weather station info and control SlimServer. Until I can solve these two issue, the Elk is still a bit of a compromise. (The limited command set and small rules capacity don't help either). Also the Elk would be expensive because it would require a lot of expansion modules to duplicate my current Stargate configuration.

I could use the Elk with Homeseer to fill in the phone and TTS gaps in the M1. This would also let me migrate more slowly from Stargate to the M1 using HS as a bridge. This would be a pretty darned expensive route though with all of the cost of the M1 plus all of the cost of Homeseer. Also not sure what this buys me over just a HS plus Stargate solution. (Apart from the Elk touch screens which I really like).

If I decide to move to an M1 I also could consider CQC. This has Insteon plus Slimserver support which is pretty cool. No real phone page support though. I also feel there is a lot of touch screen and Home Theater horsepower in CQC that I would never use becuse I would be using the Elk touch screens and I don't need any HT automation. Plus I have to jump on CQC right away or it will move forever beyond my price range.

Another option that the M1 opens up is PowerHome. I use PowerHome to manage my Insteon environment anyway and I understand you need Dave's Insteon utility to manage Insteon links in an Elk. Unfortunately the phone page issue applies here too plus I tend to struggle some with the programming. The syntax of the commands looks like ODBC to me and I am not good with database stuff (or database looking stuff). I do better with plain old if-then-else command logic. I could probably get it eventually but it would be a steep learning curve for me. Plus, Dave is writing the M1 integration now but I don't know if it is weeks or months away so I am in the same boat there as I am with Rozetta.

This is what I need to sit down and decide now... which way should I go? Did I overlook any other good Insteon scenarios?
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
If I decide to move to an M1 I also could consider CQC. This has Insteon plus Slimserver support which is pretty cool. No real phone page support though. I also feel there is a lot of touch screen and Home Theater horsepower in CQC that I would never use becuse I would be using the Elk touch screens and I don't need any HT automation. Plus I have to jump on CQC right away or it will move forever beyond my price range.

I would argue that, if you go with CQC+M1, that you'd almost certainly want to have at least one CQC touch screen (just run it off the server's video/USB so it's a small incremental extra cost of just a standard touch screen and a bezel to mount it in), because it would provide you a far more powerful interface than the Elk touch screens can. There's nothing wrong with using them together. You could put the CQC one in a common area and the Elk ones in the bedrooms or wherever you were planning to put them.

Also, though no one has tried it yet AFAIK, you should be able to run our .Net Viewer on the Elk touch screen, which may provide another possibility for a union of the two. If you decide to go this way, you could always drop ship us the Elk and one of the touch screens and we'll get that worked out, and then ship it on to you once we are sure it's working.
 

DavidL

Senior Member
upstatemike,
If I were you, I would go with Homeseer.

You got a lot of stuff going on in your hardware install and Homeseer has the best shot at supporting your hardware. Like the StarGate. I am sure you have been following the thread of HS's support of SG.

When you figure out how to get touchscreens into your setup (surface mount, raceways, etc.) then consider adding MainLobby as the UI to replace the web UI.

Both Homeseer and MainLobby support Insteon well. Your choice.

If you decide to chuck the SG, and go with an ELK, you are still supported by both HS and ML. Again, your choice.

You are a fan of voice stuff - Homeseer or HAL.. ML supports both.

You are already a customer of HS. Stick with them. Upgrade. Worth it.
 

IVB

Senior Member
I was trying to build a mental chart of what the prices of the various options are, is this it?

Option 1) HomeSeer. ($250 immediately)

Future of Option 1) MainLobby. (No idea on your price as I don't know what plugins you'd buy, at least $200 for MainLobby & MLServer)

Option 2) Elk. ($600 immediately presuming the M1G)

Future of Option 2a) CQC ($500-$900 by then)
Future of Option 2b) PowerHome ($70)

Option 3) CQC only now ($500 now)

Is that it?
 

Mike

Senior Member
The other thing to consider if you choose the CQC route: You could (if you are so inclined) work on a driver yourself for the Stargate as well (or someone else may take that up and you would get that for free later).

It seems to me that even if you got an Elk, and then wanted to tie in any leftover functions on the stargate that were not covered to your satisfaction, CQC might give you more options for the integration of multiple systems (I may be wrong on this and this may be a consideration in all cases as well).

Dean's point on the dot net viewer working on the touchscreen was something I was wondering about as I read your post.

I bought CQC myself as it seemed to cover everything I wanted to do and IVB's setup is a pretty nice demonstration. I have not had time to play with it much, but I bought it knowing that the decision would be harder if I waited until I had the time and the price was much more than it was.

I don't have the experience but it might not be too hard to tie in some limited stargate integration and bridge the gap so you get the best of both worlds. Just a thought, sorry I can't back that up much (but I suspect there are others here who can).
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Dean Roddey said:
Also, though no one has tried it yet AFAIK, you should be able to run our .Net Viewer on the Elk touch screen, which may provide another possibility for a union of the two. If you decide to go this way, you could always drop ship us the Elk and one of the touch screens and we'll get that worked out, and then ship it on to you once we are sure it's working.
Now this is an interesting idea. I could start off using the elk touch screen and interface and then transistion to the CQC viewer without changing hardware.

I'm surprised nobody has tried this yet!
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
DavidL said:
Both Homeseer and MainLobby support Insteon well. Your choice.

If you decide to chuck the SG, and go with an ELK, you are still supported by both HS and ML. Again, your choice.

You are a fan of voice stuff - Homeseer or HAL.. ML supports both.

You are already a customer of HS. Stick with them. Upgrade. Worth it.
All good points. This is why the decision has been so tough!
 

DavidL

Senior Member
IVB, please, a little more accuracy...

Homeseer upgrade: $89.99 according to their website
The rest of the 250 was to cover support for the StarGate, which doesn't exist in the other packages. Not apples / apples.

MainLobby 3 / MLServer 3 combo $179.99
 

electron

Administrator
Staff member
I have the CQC .NET viewer installed on my TS07, and I only got as far as confirming the software works. Once I had time to actually design an interface, my stuff blew up :( I'll try to do some more testing this weekend, but no promises.
 

Dean Roddey

Senior Member
Once I had time to actually design an interface, my stuff blew up

We are going to have to start using that in our advertising. Software so powerful it may cause your hardware to explode!

But seriously, do you mean our stuff blew up, or your hardware blew up?
 

IVB

Senior Member
DavidL said:
IVB, please, a little more accuracy...

Homeseer upgrade: $89.99 according to their website
The rest of the 250 was to cover support for the StarGate, which doesn't exist in the other packages. Not apples / apples.

MainLobby 3 / MLServer 3 combo $179.99
Dude, I was just summarizing the options he'd laid out, and verifying that I understood it. I didn't pass judgement or give any opinion about it, just making sure I was following his train of thought.

You're busting my chops for a $20 package discount I didn't clue in about which would be dusted by the cost on a SlimServer plugin if Cinemar created one??
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
IVB said:
I was trying to build a mental chart of what the prices of the various options are, is this it?

Option 1) HomeSeer. ($250 immediately)

Future of Option 1) MainLobby. (No idea on your price as I don't know what plugins you'd buy, at least $200 for MainLobby & MLServer)

Option 2) Elk. ($600 immediately presuming the M1G)

Future of Option 2a) CQC ($500-$900 by then)
Future of Option 2b) PowerHome ($70)

Option 3) CQC only now ($500 now)

Is that it?
I didn't really compare them just on cost but iguess it would go like this:

Homeseer:
$250 gets me Stargate and Insteon and Weather Station (assuming my existing VWS plugin will work). Add $350 for VR by phone and other features of the Way2Call. MainLobby adds $179 + cost of a yet to be identified touch screen. (touch screen must be adaptable for surface mount, must run off a single cat5 cable which includes the power, must display security cams, must be less than $1200 per screen)

Elk:
$2,500 lets me duplicate most of the features of my existing stargate (80 inputs, 40 outputs, lighting interface, tstat interface, outside temp sensor, ethernet interface, active rs485 hubs) plus add 1 TS07 touch screen and 4 keypads. Adding CQC for an additional $500 gets me TTS and Slimserver support. Problem is no phone features on this route.

Substituting PowerHome for CQC is $0 (already have) but that takes away slimserver and still doesn't give me any phone stuff, but does support VWS. (Also not an option yet as the Elk interface is still being written) .
 

DavidL

Senior Member
UpstateMike, MainLobby also provides text to speech, as does Homeseer and HAL (I am sure you knew that).
Not tested by Cinemar, but there were means posted by one of our advanced users that our MusicLobby 3 solution ($59.99 plus J. River MC for $40) will also do SlimServer - which I posted to you about a few weeks ago.
 
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