Software for X10 control - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 02-25-2007, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me start off by saying that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I did some reading after I purchased my x10 hardware and found out that it isn't the best stuff out there. Had I done the reading first I probably wouldn't have bought it, but that seems to be my life story.

The software that I have been trying to use hasn't been very nice to me so I am wondering if there is a user friendly program out there that will help me get along with my home automation. I am just toying around with this stuff so I am not trying to spend a bunch of money. I'm sure I haven't given enough info to get a good answer but if somebody can work with me I'm sure I can provide enough information to get some good answers.
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post #2 of 18 Old 02-26-2007, 01:58 AM
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adamt,
It depends on what you are trying to do.
Describe what you are trying to achieve from your setup initially, and end goal (of known).
Also, budget.

X10 is probably the least expensive option, but a bit more unreliable than other choices.

Insteon is backwards compatible with X10, so your X10 investment is still maintained. Insteon is more reliable than X10.

How much X10 stuff did you already buy and install?

MainLobby has one of the best Insteon / X10 support of all of the software vendors with some of the widest breadth of capabilities in automation and media control.

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post #3 of 18 Old 03-01-2007, 01:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for replying.

I don't really have a budget set for this as it is a work in progress. I would like to see some results on the equipment that I already bought before I spend anymore money.

I bought a starter pack from x10 that had a transceiver, a firecracker module, a lamp controller, a remote control, and a credit card remote. I also bought a usb uirt from a different manufacturer that isn't associated with x10. Also the firecracker module isn't a firecracker module, it's another unit that x10 says they "upgraded" me too. I'm not entirely convinced. The X10 website is a circus. I will not deal with them again.

I guess depending on the success of this project I would like to be able to control my entire home with a computer. I would like to be able to adjust the thermostat and all the lights in the house. You name it and I would at some point like to be able to control it with my computer.

Mostly for right now I would like to be able to turn the lamp on that I have plugged into the lamp module. I haven't got much of a sign that any of this stuff is even working right now.

I need some good software for this stuff, can you recomend any? As far as a budget goes that concept just doesn't seem to exist in my vocabulary. Not because I'm filthy rich, I'm far from that, but because I like to start with the best and most expensive and work my way down from there. I compromise function and form with a dollar amount I can swallow and that is my budget. That seems to work with the Mrs. too as long as all the bills get paid.
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post #4 of 18 Old 03-01-2007, 01:47 PM
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If you really want to "control it all" and have huge plans, I'd eBay all the X10 stuff and get something more reliable. Those issues with the lamp should be the first indicator that X10 isn't for those who want to do this stuff for real. You should also get a software engine that's been proven to be able to handle all this stuff.

here's my list of hardware and software, and here's the beginnings of my guide on how I set it up.

FWIW, i'm walking some folks through it via webex this sat 8:30am PST. Check the other thread here for details. It's both audio and webex.

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post #5 of 18 Old 03-01-2007, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I don't how huge my plans are but I'm definitely interested in seeing where this could go. I would say it is more hassle then it's worth to ebay the x10 stuff. I just bought a starter pack that was like 50 bucks. That's water down the drain as far as I'm concerned.

The webex thing looks pretty good, but I don't know how interested I'll be at 6:30 in the morning. Is there anyway I could record it and play it back later?
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post #6 of 18 Old 03-01-2007, 10:32 PM
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What timezone are you in? Hawaii? It's 8:30am pacific.

We tried recording it a few times, but given that there's both audio & webex, it ended up being 300MB of random meandering statements. Much better to schedule an evening one if more folks sign up for it. There's also a ton of video tutorials about CQC on the charmedquark.com site.

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post #7 of 18 Old 03-02-2007, 12:17 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm central standard. Did I get it backwards? I'll either be sleeping or getting my haircut, so I will miss it one way or another.

I will check into the tutorials. I'm kind of nervous about downloading the trial version right now because I'm not sure I will get my money's worth out of it in the next month. I'm pulling my hair out right now trying to get my network setup. I've got about 15 heavy irons in the fire right now and that isn't going over too well with the Mrs.
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post #8 of 18 Old 03-02-2007, 07:02 AM
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No rush, sounds like you should wait. There's enough CQC zealots around that we have that webex 1x/month, even if i'm not available. You can also hop on the chat room at www . cqcusers .com (look for the chat link on the left) if you have quick live questions.

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post #9 of 18 Old 03-02-2007, 10:54 AM
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Hey guys, I thought I'd latch onto this conversation as I'm about to help a friend do some simple X10 installations. He wants simple control of lighting on the main floor. With the use of dimmers he wants to set scenes in his home for entertaining, watching TV, etc. All of his lighting is via ceiling lighting/switches - no lamps, etc. He'd like to do this via his computer as well. There are a total of 12 switches that we've counted for the system. I personally think this is pretty simple, but am I wrong? What can I expect. This will be going into a brand new house that me moves into later this month. Please advise.
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post #10 of 18 Old 03-04-2007, 05:23 AM
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Forget X10 and go right to Insteon or UPB. Start it off reasonably "right". There are way more expensive solutions, and X10 is cheaper, but these two are on the best "ROI" point (especially for retrofit installations).

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post #11 of 18 Old 03-04-2007, 08:43 AM
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There is also zWave in that same price class. I used that for my retrofit situation.

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post #12 of 18 Old 03-04-2007, 06:42 PM
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Thanks Smooth. Yes after further investigation I'm going straight to Insteon. It certainly seems to be the best bet at this price point. My buddy is not interested in the more high end automation stuff, he just wants something simple and relatively within budget which spells INSTEON. :-)

So one last question. Anyone have a suggestion for the best software to use for PC control? My buddy is NOT, I repeat NOT computer saavy. Though I will do the initial programming (I've been a computer geek for more than 20 years), it still needs to be simple enough for him to make changes, if/when he needs to.
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post #13 of 18 Old 03-05-2007, 06:42 AM
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1) I use a Mac , so I can't advise you on software for windows machines.

2) X10 is for the DIY'er and you need to learn about a few things before installing. Such as RF interference (cordless telephones etc.), power line noise (computers, TV's, etc.), range (metal in walls etc.), phase coupling (getting the signal from one phase of your wiring to the next) (plug-in coupler about $20) and which house code/codes will work best for you. These are all very simple things to learn about and will save you a lot of time & effort.
Here is an example of house codes and reliability:
Don't use: A or M
Most reliable: C, F, G, I, J, L & O
Maybe OK: B, E, H, K, N, P.

3) First make a map of your house wiring.
Which breaker controls what ? Makes troubleshooting a lot easier.

4) X10 can be and is reliable if set up properly. I have my home, detached garage, lawn sprinklers, automatic gate and even my dog fence set up. A year now & no real problems.

5) The X10 web site sucks but there is lots of help on their forum: I'm not allowed to post a link here. But, go to the X10 web site and click on Forums.

Hope this helps you.
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post #14 of 18 Old 03-05-2007, 09:10 AM
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Rondo1, Smarthome has some base level software to control Insteon. This helps you setup timers to turn things on / off at certain times.

If you (he) decide that that is too limited and you want to integrate more into your now automated home, then of course I would suggest MainLobby. You can purchase MainLobby software in pieces to decrease the risk of buying too much, too soon or for things you (he) don't want to configure or use.

For MainLobby, this is what you would initially need for Insteon support:
MainLobby combo (includes MainLobby Client software and Design software and MainLobby Server 3 for automation configuration).
Insteon Device driver.
All runs on a PC intended to run 24x7, so figure in a PC if you don't have a medium powered PC to do the task reliably.

Once you have a foundationaly setup, you can then go nuts in many different directions and purchase what you need at that time.

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post #15 of 18 Old 03-05-2007, 10:20 PM
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Thanks Smooth. No this friend is not computer savvy so we dont want to do anything at this point beyond being able to ease the development of scenes, etc. Timers are being considered, but I think Main Lobby would lose him completely.
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post #16 of 18 Old 03-06-2007, 12:39 PM
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Rondo, will you be developing / configurng the system for your friend or will he be?
If the former, he just is a user of the system and MainLobby makes that easy as pie. If he will be doing configuration, then MainLobby is one of the easiest choices. Mekes very difficult implementation reasonable (not "easy").

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post #17 of 18 Old 03-06-2007, 07:14 PM
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I will quickly become his resident expert on his system. He will be an end user. Maybe I should look further into MainLobby. I was under the impression though that it required some additional hardware and software that would increase the overall cost. My buddy has a limited budget at this point and is aiming to simply create scenes on the primary floor of his new home. I'm sure once he starts using it he'll want to expand, but for now, as we all know - a new house means limited funds when it comes to cash on hand.
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post #18 of 18 Old 03-06-2007, 07:18 PM
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One more thing Smooth. Will MainLobby take over his machine, or can he run it as an app just like anything else? He wants to control the scenes from both a scene selector switch that I will install for him as well as from his office via his computer. The computer however will also be his home office computer and thus I need the capability to keep MainLobby out of his way when he's trying to do his other work and bring it up only when he needs it. Again - I'll research MainLobby and see what I learn. But anything you can provide for now would be helpful too. This is why I LOVE AVS FORUM. Plenty of smart people who can help you NOT recreate the wheel. Gotta love that.
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