So a few updates : Yesterday had the new superautomatic espresso machine delivered. Amazing. I had an older espresso machine and this one blows it out of the water. It helps that in the morning in particular I am like the walking dead and super lazy, so all of the frothing and tamping are not things I have any desire to do. This machine makes a perfect latte. What a wonderful way to begin the day!
Screen : No updates today. I think the wife and I both want to do this, so it is just a matter of when instead of if.
Automation: So I know a while back I discussed the desire to automate most things in my theater and reduce my remote control footprint, and the need to get up for any electronic things during a film. It took a while to get around to doing it, but this project is now finished.
My typical routine for my theater was: Walk in and turn on the lights so people can get situated. Power on the projector and receiver. Wake up the HTPC. Turn off the lights, select a film, start playback. If in the summer, or if the room has a lot of people, turn on the A/C or just the HVAC Fan to recirculate the air. If the film was scope, change the screen format in lens memory. If I was watching a TV show and it was a sports game, maybe turn on the motion enhancement.
So the problems with this were : Only my logitech harmony could control my Z-wave, but its battery was crap. Also, though it did work quite well at one point, I wasn't a big fan and it would be flaky at times missing one device or another during a startup or shutdown sequence... that and I just didn't like it. Plus if I ever wanted to use more recent features of devices such as internet radio or pandora then control would start to get tricky on it. My HVAC for the theater was shared with the sunroom upstairs, and the thermostat was upstairs also. Over time, I looked into several products and ended up deciding on iRule. Setup was not simple early on, and even once I got to know how to use it, it still wasn't the easiest thing to use. Plus with certain add-ons the licensing might limit use of an add-on to a single device type which was cost prohibitive. Still, this was the choice I made and early on I thought it was just wasted money. However last week I finally got it all working and configured (Other than some extra features I still have to do) so I wanted to share what I did.
1) Purchased iRule + the Vera Automation plugin
2) Purchased the Micasa Vera from Snickers1 back when I sold my old subs to him. I had to do some network tuning on it when I got it since it likes to flood the network with certain packets that messed with my Pre-Amp. However no problems since the change!
3) Purchased an iTach IP2SL (Replaced later to a FlexIP) to use RS232->Ethernet to my Sony VW95ES
4) Purchased an iTach IP2IR to use Ethernet->Onkyo,FIOS, and Oppo
5) Installed a NEST thermostat to my Sunroom (This was free actually. My wife got one for every house she sold in a new neighborhood so we replaced all of our thermostats with NEST systems in our house free of charge... NICE!)
6) Configured iRule
Now, the biggest issue I had early on was that I couldn't get my projector to work over the IP2SL over RS232->Ethernet so I returned it and ordered a FlexIP from them instead. The FlexIP however worked perfectly the first try. (Finding the proper codes for this projector was NOT easy) Then there was learning iRule and it wasn't the best. Though there are some good video and forum documentation, I still found it complex and lacking without a lot of trial and error. The editor is completely in the cloud, which is nice since you can edit it from anywhere, but something as simple as copy/paste was not always available, and even when it was, didn't always copy the device with a command, etc. Many times only complete panel (Or device screen) copies would work, which was really frustrating. Plus buttons would have effects like the image when it was touched vs the image when it was idle, but it didn't copy both together when you added a button, you had to manually pair them, which was stupid. In the end though, I got it all working. Initially my first tests were with my spare Ipad, which usually sits in a drawer. Logic would tell you that this would be the perfect remote and I could leave it in the theater always, but for some reason it always ended up back in the drawer. So I re-did everything to be on my iPhone. The benefit of this was that both my wife and I have iPhones, and though a license for the Verde Plugin was limited to one device type, it wasn't limited to one device. So once I created an iPhone template, I could sync my iRule app from two different iPhones. This way we had all of the controls with us always as one of us always has our phone with us. Sure, you can't feel the buttons, but you don't need to since you can see the screen even in the dark. I'm very happy with it and I can put all of my remotes away so visitors can't mess with my devices at all.
Here are some example panels I captured early on. They have been changed a little since then but you get the idea:
This is labeled HTPC but it is primarily receiver options. Mostly I use this to start up everything, change the volume or screen format, and then adjust the sound fields as necessary. Since this picture I added the motion enhancer buttons.
Screen to control the TV. This one is probably the least user friendly due to lack of space but really I don't do much channel surfing. I really only tend to watch sports games or the walking dead in the theater when it comes to TV.
Screen to control lighting. This is very handy to have, and the plugin was worth it!
Screen to control my blu ray player. Really only use the Oppo for 3D stuff.