Home automation resource suggestions please - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I am new to the world of home automation and integratin and I was looking for resources to get up to speed on the topic. I am looking to add lighting, HVAC, home theatre and security control thru a central system. I am trying to get an idea on the cabling that I will need to run to make this possible. I have looked at the websites of Crestron, AMX and Control4 but they dont really explain how to setup such a system from ground up. I need someone to point me in the right direction (books, websites) to scope out this project. Thanks!

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post #2 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 04:25 PM
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Have you looked at lutron homeworks
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post #3 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 04:41 PM
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The three systems you mentioned are mostly geared toward professional installers (with some noted exceptions), so why worry about the cable? If those are your platforms of choice, contact your nearest professional installer and they will spec the system and determine the cable for you.
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post #4 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 06:41 PM - Thread Starter
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bbetz: Lutron seems to have mostly lighting and shading solutions.

robertmee: The Crestron and AMX systems I am thinking of installing myself. I don't think I can afford to pay the installers to do it. I know that it involves some programming but I dont think that should be a problem.

Btw is there anyway to control the Lutron shading solution with the AMX or Crestron control systems? I see that AMX can be used to control Lutrons lighting solutions.

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post #5 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 06:59 PM
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You won't be able to get a hold of the AMX software - it's very DIY-unfriendly, as it's targeted towards professional installers putting the system in.

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post #6 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sCiEnt
bbetz: Lutron seems to have mostly lighting and shading solutions.

robertmee: The Crestron and AMX systems I am thinking of installing myself. I don't think I can afford to pay the installers to do it. I know that it involves some programming but I dont think that should be a problem.

Btw is there anyway to control the Lutron shading solution with the AMX or Crestron control systems? I see that AMX can be used to control Lutrons lighting solutions.
In order to program AMX, you will have to get their proprietary software. In order to get this software you must be a dealer. In other words, they don't just give it away to anyone. You can control Lutron shades with an AMX controller. Unless you have had experience with AMX, I would also suggest you have a dealer included in your installation. It's not a plug and play type of control system.

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post #7 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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From some prior research I heard that it is possible to obtain the software for the AMX systems from the dealer where I purchase the system. But I do understand, like you said that the system is difficult to program. But I am hoping that I can figure that out as I am an applications programmer by profession. But then again the documentation could be poor and might not be worth the effort. What about Crestron systems.

The only reason that I am even tending towards these systems is because they are more popular and I don't know any better. If you know of systems that would provide functionality close to those systems I would love to hear from you.

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post #8 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sCiEnt
From some prior research I heard that it is possible to obtain the software for the AMX systems from the dealer where I purchase the system. But I do understand, like you said that the system is difficult to program. But I am hoping that I can figure that out as I am an applications programmer by profession. But then again the documentation could be poor and might not be worth the effort. What about Crestron systems.

The only reason that I am even tending towards these systems is because they are more popular and I don't know any better. If you know of systems that would provide functionality close to those systems I would love to hear from you.
I can't say for sure but I don't think that dealers are supposed to be handing that software out. If they do then more power to you. As far as the programming goes, the software doesn't come with a tutorial on how to program. It has a help menu for the keywords but thats about it. AMX programmers go through training and classes at the home facility in Dallas/Fort Worth or at a reps facility. Unless you are a dealer yourself, you won't be able to get any tech support from AMX. You would have to go through your dealer for any tech support. There's more to just programming AMX. You need to make sure you have the proper power supplies depending on what gear you use. Then there's the setup and addressing involved. Like I said, it's not for someone to just buy and give it a go. There's a lot more to it than just programming.

Matt D. Sherer CET, CTS-I,ISF-C
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post #9 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 08:21 PM
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Quote:
If you know of systems that would provide functionality close to those systems I would love to hear from you.
What are you looking to do? Check out the sig in my site for what I do. I'll be integrating Lutron Homeworks in with this in the next 6 months also.

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post #10 of 59 Old 09-12-2006, 09:14 PM
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I am going to do everyone a favor and stay out of this debate save for this one, lone response. If you do a search you will find about 50 threads that cover your subject in considerable detail. You will read much knashing of teeth by DIYs about no longer having access to the development tools and some defensive replies (lots with my name on them ) from dealers. You will see lots of DIY products suggested that are not part of your list which you may wish to consider, if only because they will be less expensive and you will be able to obtain them. There is even a thread that never stops about C4. AMX is C+, C4 is GUI based and somewhat limited in what it can do compared to AMX or Crestron. Crestron's is a software developed by a hardware engineer. It's a symbolic language and Boolean rather than rule based. You may find older processors and equipment on Ebay form either of your preferred companies. The software can be had from DIY's who already own it. I believe both AMX and Crestron have copy written their software whereas C4 seems not to care, judging by the tread that never ends. Then there are the DIY preferred solutions that will certainly save you money but sometimes a professional can earn his keep. See some of the threads mentioned by others for examples on how.

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post #11 of 59 Old 09-13-2006, 05:05 AM
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Yes with me being on the ELAN side of the fence i can only imagine what a Crestron system is like setting up ours is hard enough.

these types of systems are definetly not for the beginner you will end up with more heartache than pleasure.

i would suggest that you decide which system you want then plan your wiring for that system.

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No Longer Works For ELAN Home Systems, Sunfire and Homelogic Tech Support Specialist.
MY opinions are my own and when i am in forum i do not represent any of these companies!
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post #12 of 59 Old 09-13-2006, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
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IVB: I did check out your website. It is very helpful. But I am trying to figure out how you will use it to control security and the Lutron dimmers. Also can how can I add touchpanels at multiple locations.

audiblesolutions and demonspawn: Thanks for the words of caution. I will surely research other alternatives. I am having a bit of trouble finding the threads that audiblesolutinos mentioned...

Btw why does anyone not consider X10 for light and AC switch control? They appear to be fairly simple and use the existing home AC wires. That coupled with a wireless receiver should make it a great and cheap solution. Am I missing something?

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post #13 of 59 Old 09-13-2006, 09:47 PM
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I have it connected currently to an Elk M1 for security, and will connect directly to a homeworks controller for lighting.

If you want to understand the multiplicity of issues with X10, check out cocoontech for a gazillion posts about it. For my purpose, I have too many electrical devices that'll kill X10 signals, plus I don't have a guaranteed 3rd wire to many locations, plus the reliability and stability would kill me.

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post #14 of 59 Old 09-14-2006, 09:57 AM
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One good Control 4 thread is this one:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...=541813&page=1

The more, uh, *interesting* discussion is here:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=578971

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post #15 of 59 Old 09-14-2006, 09:35 PM - Thread Starter
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DWScott: Thanks for pointing me to those threads. The Crestron thread had a lot of bickering!! But there was some very useful info.

Looks like you can get a basic Crestron Adagio system for about $5000. From what the thread says it is supposed to require very little programming as well and price is very comparable to Control4 systems. There are some very good comparisons between Control4 and Adagio mentioned.

The reason I would consider the Crestron over the Control4 would be that they have been around longer, are more reliable and support more devices. But the C4 system will probably work out cheaper when I start adding more stuff to it, so that a big plus for C4.

audiblesolutions:In one of the other threads you mention that Crestron Adagio is priced comparable to the C4 and is very simple to program. But in this thread you suggest I try systems other than AMX/Crestron because of the price and programming complexity. So I am a little confused would appreciate it if you could help me out here.

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post #16 of 59 Old 09-15-2006, 01:27 PM - Thread Starter
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One of the things that I noticed with most systems is that the touch panels are the components that quickly add on to the system cost. So I would like to know if its possible to integrate a touchscreen from any provider (Samsung, Viewsonic) with a controller from any other provider.

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post #17 of 59 Old 09-15-2006, 02:38 PM
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For a software based product like ours, this is pretty inherently the case. For hardware based systems, it may or may not, or it may not provide full access from them. They make their money sellling hardware, so allowing you to buy other people's hardware wouldn't necessarily be optimal for them. But touch screens aren't cheap either way you go, and in some cases the dedicated hardware systems have lower cost (though lower function) wall mounted and handheld touch screens.

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post #18 of 59 Old 09-15-2006, 06:08 PM
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With the AMX Netlinx systems, you can save the TP as an HTML file(with the TPD3 panels) in the controller and conrol it from you home computer or laptop. Many of AMX Modero panels are network devices and are very pricy but they look really sweet.

Matt D. Sherer CET, CTS-I,ISF-C
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post #19 of 59 Old 09-15-2006, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sCiEnt
One of the things that I noticed with most systems is that the touch panels are the components that quickly add on to the system cost. So I would like to know if its possible to integrate a touchscreen from any provider (Samsung, Viewsonic) with a controller from any other provider.
If you don't mind a mid-level aesthetic appearance, you can do what I do which is to use a Fujitsu 3400 for control. They're down to $160 on eBay. I'll eventually have 3-5 of them around the house for <<$1K.

There's a guy on the CQC forum who opted to flush-mount his, just posted pics here, looks pretty decent. It's no Touchtronix or ELO or whatever level display, but given that the whole solution is probably $250 all-in, not too shabby at all.

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post #20 of 59 Old 09-15-2006, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by sCiEnt
audiblesolutions:In one of the other threads you mention that Crestron Adagio is priced comparable to the C4 and is very simple to program. But in this thread you suggest I try systems other than AMX/Crestron because of the price and programming complexity. So I am a little confused would appreciate it if you could help me out here.
As long as you use Crestron source products and the out of the box (OOTB) programming it is simple to program. If you wish to modify this it does require some programming knowledge. RoHos has prevented me from playing with Adagio as much as I would have liked. Reports are that it has proven challanging to add third party devices but I don't know the posters so cannot comment on the accuracy of these reports. I have them on order and may be able to add some experience to what was stated in the manuals and training sessions.

To confuse matters more, Crestron is showing Adagio versions 3 and 4 here at CEDIA. Adiagio 3 ( both are as yet unnamed) includes 5.1 surround processor, 5 audio zones ( expandable to 23 ) and component video switching. Adagio 4 is the same as 3 but includes 7.1 surround processor and 4 audio zones. Component video switching includes a high end video scaler and HDMI support. Wireless lighing now includes the Ilux product line and the wireless ( Zigbee ) thermostats are now available, both powered by batteries or the HVAC system. Keypads, LCD keypads, touch panels, wired and wireless lighting, wired and wireless HVAC, together with all kinds of uni and bidirectional remotes.

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post #21 of 59 Old 09-16-2006, 10:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I am throughly confused now. Looks like this is going to be a long but interesting path. To add to the mix I've checked out HomeLogic Solutions as well.

Their solution (HomeLogic) uses DB9 to RJ45 converters and Ethernet wire with reverse conversion in the head end to connect to the control system. Can I do this other control systems as well?

Also would appreciate it if I could get a little more insight on using generic touchpanels with Crestron systems.

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post #22 of 59 Old 09-16-2006, 10:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IVB
If you don't mind a mid-level aesthetic appearance, you can do what I do which is to use a Fujitsu 3400 for control. They're down to $160 on eBay. I'll eventually have 3-5 of them around the house for <<$1K.

There's a guy on the CQC forum who opted to flush-mount his, just posted pics here, looks pretty decent. It's no Touchtronix or ELO or whatever level display, but given that the whole solution is probably $250 all-in, not too shabby at all.
Thats pretty neat!

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post #23 of 59 Old 09-17-2006, 12:15 AM
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Their solution (HomeLogic) uses DB9 to RJ45 converters and Ethernet wire with reverse conversion in the head end to connect to the control system. Can I do this other control systems as well?
Not sure what you are asking on that one...

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post #24 of 59 Old 09-17-2006, 10:46 AM - Thread Starter
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I am just trying to find out if the signals coming over the serial connection (DB9) can be carried over cat5 cables for other systems as well (Crestron, Control4, AMX, etc).

By doing the connections like so:
Device to control (DB9) --> DB9 to RJ45 adapter ---> Cat5 cable --> RJ45 to DB9 adapter --> Control system (DB9)

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post #25 of 59 Old 09-17-2006, 12:34 PM
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Don't know about those, but for a PC-based system, it's trivial to do. There are various USB and ethernet based serial port boxes. A driver on the PC makes them look like they are local ports, though the ports are actually somewhere else.

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post #26 of 59 Old 09-17-2006, 02:42 PM
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Yep. Here's what I could theoretically end up with. I might distribute among a few PCs, but I also might opt to just keep all this on a single server - don't have it all yet, but this is the game plan.

COM1 - DirecTV STB <controlled via sage, not CQC>
COM2 - not working
COM3 - Denon3805
COM4 - Aprilaire HVAC thermostat
COM5 - Polk XM tuner
COM6 - IRMan
COM7 - RAIN8 irrigation
COM8 - Xantech ZPR68 (6source/8z preamp for whole house audio)
COM9 - DirecTV STB #2 <controlled via sage, not CQC>
COM10 - RS232 controllable FM tuner
COM11 - Lighting (Homeworks)
COM12 - Sony 777ES DVD Mega-changer
COM13 - SMS Modem
COM14 - Panasonic Plasma
COM15 - Autopatch Video Matrix Switcher to send HiDef video to any room
COM16 - Denon 2105 for Zone2 digital audio decoder
COM17 - NetCallerID

I also have a USB-UIRT and an ethernet adapter for the Elk hooked in.

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post #27 of 59 Old 09-18-2006, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sCiEnt
I am just trying to find out if the signals coming over the serial connection (DB9) can be carried over cat5 cables for other systems as well (Crestron, Control4, AMX, etc).

By doing the connections like so:
Device to control (DB9) --> DB9 to RJ45 adapter ---> Cat5 cable --> RJ45 to DB9 adapter --> Control system (DB9)
Yes - this works for all serial ports - but serial ports do have a distance limit.
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post #28 of 59 Old 09-20-2006, 07:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Can anyone authoritatively answer my other question about using using touch panels by either Samsung or Viewsonic with Crestron or Control4 systems. Thanks.

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post #29 of 59 Old 09-20-2006, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sCiEnt
Can anyone authoritatively answer my other question about using using touch panels by either Samsung or Viewsonic with Crestron or Control4 systems. Thanks.
It is possible with Crestron. For C4 see the thread that never ends.

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post #30 of 59 Old 09-20-2006, 04:55 PM
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The term 'using' should probably be defined as well though. Is all functionalty available, or just some or just a web interface etc...

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