Why are you using a PC for HA ???


Why are people using computers for HA ?

Windows, Unix,,,,, its all the same -- its a PC.

Use a Crestron control system.

A Crestron connected to a 2414S will do Insteon and everything HA. You don't need a computer. Works just like a Smarthome 1132C completly standalone and off the hook programming capability. Uptime in years.

You can find a ST-CP ( discontinued ) on ebay for $150-$250.

- 2 RS232/485 ports. One would be used for the 2414, leaving one free.
- unlimited IR devices and control.
- Crestron RF gateway built in so you can use RF remotes or any of their touch panels
- Cresnet port to connect to a huge range of controllers that will control anything.
- Massive sophisticated programming ability
- Built in clock
- Uptime counted in years - no rebooting ever - extreme reliability - standalone

The only downside I can see is that does not have astrological time.

It can trigger off anything from the 2414 and send out anything through the 2414. This also means you can do anything in crestron with the various input/outputs based on Insteon or X10 triggers. Wanna send RS232 to something from a Insteon event ?

So for $300 including the 2414 you have a Insteon/X10/RS232/IR controller thats beyond anything even remotely close to that price, not to mention the programming capability is pretty much unmatched. Its stand alone, no computer needed. Its uptime is measured in years. Its like a 1132C times a million + Insteon and control of any other device.


In fact.... For $400-500 on ebay you can find MC2E's.

These babies are stunning and you guys need to go look.

Built in web server and email client. IR/RS232-485/Relays/Ethernet/SNMP/SSL/..
270 MIPS Powerful. Multi threaded/multi tasking. FAT 32 file system.
4 MB of flash for programs.


The downside to all this is that the programming software is not available to the public. At any price. However most people selling Crestron might let you have the software. Its also not Joe Q Public friendly - its a real learning curve and Crestron will not help you and there is no programming manual.

Ive been a crestron programmer for many years. Like 10. So im all good with this solution to my recent Smarthome Manager + 1132CU problem. I just figured others might like what im thinking of doing for themselves.

I do not understand why people are using computers for HA. For a lot less then a computer you can get damn nice hardware that will do circles around any computer doing HA.

If you wanna spend money on the same level that you would on a computer then you get crazy stuff from Crestron. Like a Pro 2 which would exceed anything you could ever want to do. And then some.


So remember, you don't need to use touchpanels to control Crestron control systems. ANYTHING RS232 can control crestron. So a 2414S would interface perfectly and be like a 1132C on steroids. Crestron control systems are stand alone automation controllers.

So, if you want to make a HA system thats reliable and serious - don't use a PC. Use a dedicated hardware solution designed for HA.

Used ones are cheap.

So my plan is to wait for a killer deal on a ST-CP and buy a 2414S and I will be very happy. Easily under $300. Bye-bye 1132CU...

I am interested in why people are using computers over a automation controller like these ?
Will that do zoned whole house audio and video?
How many touchscreens does that come with? Whats the price of those?
Text to voice or voice recognition - any support?
I need to add 3 more serial ports, what's the cost to do that?
Does it support a Sony CX777ES changer or a firewire changer?
Is there a Crestron DIY user's forum where folks compare notes and trade programming?

What does it take to learn to program a Crestron? How long does it take and how long to program a typical system?

What if I can't find the necessary Crestron pieces on eBay? Where do I buy and how much direct from Crestron?

These are some (and many, many more) that come to mind of the reasons why more and more DIYs (and Pros) are switching to PC based automation and media control. Definately not a threat to Crestron, but I am sure they are watching and will respond when the time is right.

I am sure for someone who is patient, resourceful, a programmer, one could build a Crestron system in a piece at a time approach. There just is no comparison to buying a $3500 PC with all of the software loaded that works out of the box. And the uptime can also be in years when configured correctly and left alone.
The downside to all this is that the programming software is not available to the public. At any price. However most people selling Crestron might let you have the software. Its also not Joe Q Public friendly - its a real learning curve and Crestron will not help you and there is no programming manual.

That pretty much says most of it, but I'll add the following: True convergence is just now starting to become a reality, My computers are already the center of my entertainment system, making them the center of control just makes sense.

As to the reliability, My computers are reliable. If yours aren't, I suggest that you be a bit more careful in the components you select and the software that you use. IMO, the control system should be no more than a communications medium anyway. Each system should be capable of standing on its own even if it uses a central controller for communication.

If a company doesn't want to do business with me, why would I want to use their equipment?
I am getting away from a PC as much as possible myself, but I still need one to do Text-To-Speech, VR, touch screen support, gathering internet data and parsing it, and some other misc. stuff.

I would definitely love to see some code examples and screenshots of the software, since this does sound like a good idea.
Back about 10 years ago I always wished I could *afford* Crestron. These days I could afford Crestron but I really have no need for it. PC-based solutions have become much more capable and a lot cheaper. Here are a few reasons why I use a PC over Crestron:

- many programming languages - not just one
- can use "off the shelf" software
- much broader (and publicly open) user support base

There are also things I can do with a PC-based system that I *can't* do with Crestron (as far as I know). One example is that I wrote a driver that does two-way communcation between HouseBot (my HA software) and my HAI OmniPro II. If this *can* be done with Crestron I have no idea how.

As for your comment on reliability, I have to agree with the previous post. I run a Windows-based server at home and the only time it goes down is when I need to do hardware work or software installs on the system. I typically end up doing something to it at least once a year. If I didn't I think my uptime would also be measured in years.

-- Dave
1) Ease of use
The downside to all this is that..... Its also not Joe Q Public friendly - its a real learning curve.
With CQC, I can point&click my way to a single consolidated GUI for my entire HA/HT, even setting up my irrigation system or HVAC on/off. The way I want. And I don't need to get a doctorate to do this.

2) Extensibility
- 2 RS232/485 ports. One would be used for the 2414, leaving one free.
I'm going to need 16 ports to control my whole list of stuff.

3) Support
The downside to all this is that.....Crestron will not help you and there is no programming manual.
Again, with CQC, I can post a question on the forum and get a response within 2 hours, 5 within 24 hours.

Hate to say this, but with that kind of attitude from a Crestron guy, Dean was right - he is going to put you out of business. As soon as hardware gets to a point where he can flash an embedded XP machine with his software, and an installer doesn't need to retain a super-expensive programmer(s) to get the job done and can instead use the clients $$ to add more functionality, you're outta there.

don't believe me? Look around - see how many people are coding in assembler today, see how many people are building enterprise level systems using java.
Actually, I'm glad Xymox posted this. With the prices climbing sky hi with CQC and MainLobby/HomeSeer I was wondering how something like a Creston or AMX would compare at this time! B)

I get 404 errors on your links but I am definitely interested in your approach. I never realized used Crestron stuff was available that cheap!
I think it's interesting, too. However, I don't think we have a real picture of how much a Crestron system would cost.

How easy is it to find these things cheap on ebay? That's the only cheap source we've been shown. How easy is it to find the components we would need to expand? Do they have to be Crestron specific?

My big concern, however, is with the software.
Xymox said:
The downside to all this is that the programming software is not available to the public. At any price. However most people selling Crestron might let you have the software. Its also not Joe Q Public friendly - its a real learning curve and Crestron will not help you and there is no programming manual.
Do you really think that dealers will give you a copy of the software? If Crestron finds out, will these dealers still be dealers? And, without a manual, how useful would it be for me anyway? It doesn't sound like Crestron would provide much support here.
BSR, Yes, I agree, but there is still a VERY significant pricing difference. Xymox is talking about eBay used, obsolete Crestron equipment that is subject to availability. If you are lucky, it might come together for you. But not something that a decent volume of users can count on.

With MainLobby you can start small, and add one component at a time and mix and match what you like from 3rd parties. It seems with CQC it's all or nothing (and then ongoing maintenance costs) with the capability to add some 3rd party integration. With Crestron / AMX new, it's open the wallet and hire a pro. With Crestron used, it's figure out what you need and search and wait until it pops up and then figure out through "favors" on how to get it to function and programmed.

My view on this is that if someone could make a 'no PC', affordable, battery operated type of controller, they would make some $$. I am only talking about basic appliance/light control and maybe some simple macros. Home security is a whole different animal.

I mentioned that I am using Z-Wave now. I am so happy just to be able to program timed events with a $60.00 battery operated remote.

I would like to be able to program some macros with a remote controller. Right now I am looking at 'maybe' $200.00 for some decent software and, on top of that, another $50.00 for the hardware PC interface (Insteon or Z-Wave).

In my case that is about $250.00, and I would be willing to pay that for a programmable remote. That is a good deal of profit for something that may cost $75.00 to mass produce. The opportunity exists.

The only problem currently is that Insteon seems to keep changing firmware. That would kill any probability of that happening for them. Other protocols seem fairly stable and this could actually work for them.

My opinion, others may vary.

THe number 1 reason I disn't go with Crestron is I am not a programmer and the ones I talked with said it would cost $$$$ to get it setup and there is no support.
CQC takes the same overall philosophical approach as Crestron, which is that a highly integrated system, where as many of the bits are designed to operate together as possible, is key to providing highly robust systems, and if it's not highly robust, what's the point when you are talking about something that's controlling your home. Lowered complexity and fewer parts that have to be glued together is always a good thing in a system that's going to be more complex than you wished anyway.

Certainly if you have fairly small needs, something like the OP suggested is reasonable. The problem with Crestron is the scalability. It's highly scalable but the price is high. Once you move beyond something simple like what he suggests, you are getting into the $5K range for the controller, and the serial ports and expansion cages to add them are quite expensive so you might be looking at $7K for the controller, before you start adding touch screens. And it's still not something that does anything for media management, so you'd have to add another subsystem to get that.

The great thing about a PC based system is that, though the entry price might be higher than a simple, fixed function controller, it's highly expandable for a very incremental price. You can buy a $1400'ish Crestron controller, but it's not designed for expandability. You can buy a $1400 PC based system, and if you want 8 serial ports, it'll cost you like $160, which I think is less than a single 2 port serial card for Cestron's PRO level controllers, right? And with just a couple of 300GB drives in a RAID1 configuration it can be a media server, all in the same box.

So it provides a very straightforward growth path that still has a quite reasonable entry cost, and is so flexible that it can do things that a Crestron controller will never do unless it effectively becomes a PC itself.

Also, I'd have to say that DIY doesn't necessarily mean living completely outside the support structure of the equipment you use. If you go this route, then you are completey on your own and you have no recourse to support of any sort from the company that makes the automation system you are using. That doesn't seem wise to me.
Xymox said:
Why are people using computers for HA ?
Why not? I already have a PC running 24/7 for my cameras (DVR, web video server, network video server for 8 cameras), and as a whole-house music server.

I threw HomeSeer on that machine for HA. Since that machine ONLY does HA, CCTV functions, whole-house music - and NOTHING else - it has been completely reliable. The system NEVER goes down outside of a power failure - and then it just boots itself right back up and picks up where it left off. This thing has worked for YEARS without problems.

I love the PC based Geovision CCTV software, and I have been happy with HS. The PC has been completely reliable. So.. why NOT?

I built the PC myself using only high quality parts, and I limited this PC's functions to the three tasks listed above. Under these circumstances, a PC can be as reliable as anything else. I use a monitor with that PC for the lowest level maintainance only - while using "Remotely Anywhere" to access the machine remotely for 95% my updating and HA configuration.

I can't think of a single reason to dump this extemely well-performing setup and start buying something else to replace it.

Jim H.