Where to start if I want to program it myself? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 10-22-2008, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm looking to build up a home security/automation system - but I don't want to buy a canned system, I want to program it myself. I'm in the IT field by trade.

I've dabbled in X10 in the past, programming it with a PowerLinc controller, but found it lacking. What are good technologies these days, where I can interface with it from a computer? I'm specifically looking at programming on a Windows-based computer.

The ultimate would be if various security components (such as wired and/or wireless door sensors, etc) can be queried from the computer.

Any help on where I should look to get started?

Thanks,

-Frank
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post #2 of 11 Old 10-22-2008, 08:54 AM
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www.charmedquark.com is where I would start. Excellent application. I'm sure some others will pop in with other suggestions.
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post #3 of 11 Old 10-22-2008, 09:21 AM
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okay, since im exploring my options for this as well, i too am interested in responses. from what i gather, i think hardwired is the best thing. so, you would need a home automation panel. then, you can use software for control. in terms of control panels, i have been looking into HAI and ELK. if anyone knows more info on these two, im sure it would benefit us all.

can both of these automation controllers be programmed by a diyer with limited knowledge. if so, i assume one would use the products software first and then use a mainstream software solution for control such as mainlobby, cqc, etc, correct?

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post #4 of 11 Old 10-22-2008, 09:26 AM - Thread Starter
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I really don't want to use someone else's canned programming software, though - i want to code it all myself, using C++ and/or Visual Basic.

-Frank
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post #5 of 11 Old 10-22-2008, 12:37 PM
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Well, if you want to write it yourself, then it's just a matter of choosing components that have good Ethernet or serial interfaces. For security, GE Concord is very good. But I think there is an even more robust community built around Elk security and Elk can do a lot of others things too. You might still want to check out the forums at CQC just to see what people are doing there even if you don't want to use the software.

And I think there is quite a but of discussion at a place called http://www.cocoontech.com/ about Elk.
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post #6 of 11 Old 10-22-2008, 02:25 PM
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If your interested in programming the hardware side you can check out the Micro .NET Framework. Try googling it, I would post the link but I don't have enough posts yet. Some of its potential uses include home automation. Of course you'll need to get the hardware, which varies in price. Having some background in electrical engineering would be helpful as well. Microsoft is also sponsoring a contest to get the word out on it. Its called the Dream Different contest.

If your just looking to use your own computer you have lots of options. Communicating to devices via IR, and serial should be easy to program. Lots of software out there does this already, not sure what benefits you would get creating your own. Could be fun to hack something together though.

A few months ago I hacked together a wiimote to control some lights in my office. I ran a C# program that would take the bluetooth presses and send out strings to my Lutron processor via ethernet. Fun but not practical.
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post #7 of 11 Old 10-23-2008, 09:34 PM
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I think you have to figure out what it is you expect to get out of a system. Do you want lighting, HVAC, dist audio, dist video, security, etc. You then need to investigate all of the different systems and hardware options to determine what systems are open enough to control them with your own software.

It wouldn't hurt to look at software like CQC to see what hardware they support to give you ideas on what's available.

You mentioned C++ or VB. I think you should look at Microsoft's .NET language called C#. There are lots of free tools that you can use to write the code. You will likely be communicating with serial or ethernet devices both of which are supported in the .NET framework.
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post #8 of 11 Old 10-24-2008, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fcondron View Post

I really don't want to use someone else's canned programming software, though - i want to code it all myself, using C++ and/or Visual Basic.

You've chosen the long road but the journey can be rewarding.

May I suggest you examine existing HA programs to inspire your design. Here are several free applications developed by independent spirits like yourself. Maybe one of them will compel you to forego "rolling your own" and adopt it instead.

"Johnny Nine": J9 Automation Engine (C#.NET)
Vaugn Rupp: Vcrib (VB6 ?)
Bruce Winters: Misterhouse (Perl)

I use Premise Home Control. It was a commercial HA program, designed for integrators, that was discontinued a few years ago. It was released to the public for free. Developed in C++, it is fully object-oriented with a three-layer architecture (data/logic/presentation). You can't go wrong examining Premise to get inspiration for the design of your HA program.

Good luck with your project!

PS
Sorry I can't include URLs because, as a new member, this forum prevents me from posting messages containing them (allowed only after three posts). You can google the listed applications. For Premise, may I suggest you go to its forum on cocoontech.com (CocoonTech.com > General > Marketplace > Premise Home Control) because the original corporate web-site no longer exists. The forum also contains a driver I wrote to interface Premise and the ELK M1 (full source-code included).
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post #9 of 11 Old 10-24-2008, 09:59 AM
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Link to Johnny9's cocoontech.com thread,

Premise forum,

General cocoontech.com thread with tons of HA Software options.

------------------------------------
I'm onĀ Google Plus a lot moreĀ than online forums now, contact me there if you want something.

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post #10 of 11 Old 10-25-2008, 03:34 PM
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vCrib is written around MySQL, and has a DLL out now for most functions. So you can use any language you want to write custom code, anything that can talk to MySQL/ODBC.

Existing code is VB6 and written as individual apps for most things, so you can use what you want and replace what you want with your own code. I have several parts rewritten in VB.NET 2008 now.

If you code against my work, it will save alot of hours and perhaps more people could benefit from your work this way. vCrib is free and there is lots of coding to do still.

I would be glad to talk to you if you are interested. IM or email me: VaughnRupp at yahoo.com


Vaughn
www.vCrib.com
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post #11 of 11 Old 11-07-2008, 10:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the great information - I'm working on digging through it now, and checking out some of the links.

My initial goal is to replace my existing wired alarm system with a new system that I have more control over. Goals there are:
1) Utilize my existing wired sensors (all the doors, at least)
2) Be able to utilize new wireless sensors
3) Have it text-page me under various conditions

I'll expand on that as time goes on. I do, however, also want to eventually grow this into more than an alarm system. I've dabbled in x10 in the past, but want to be able to do more.

The ultimate, to me, would be a decent alarm system that I can programmatically talk to - maybe it fires off events or status codes that I can read via my PC programs. It sounds like Elk might give me that.

I have Visual Studio 2008 Pro - mostly I've programmed in Cobol, Pascal, and Visual Basic, but I do have C# and C++ available to me.

-Frank
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