Well, it's been a while since I updated any progress on the HT - and for want of not getting 'Loganed'
, I felt compelled to at least put something here!
Now begins the foray into Home Automation
I opted to replace the X10 lighting controls with the Universal Devices ISY99IR Pro - is it a small, Linux-based controller that is nearly a God-send to anyone who uses Insteon and/or X10:
One ISY to run the show (not in it's permanent location yet BTW):
One PLM Modem to provide comms over the AC:
For those who haven't used Insteon, it is the 'newer' X10 - in that it controls switches, outlets and such using data over existing AC powerlines. The bonus over X10, is that the communications are more robust, and allow for rebroadcasting of data as well as an 'ACK' or acknowledgment of receipt. I've played with X10 over the years for things like Christmas lights and so forth, but never really found it reliable enough to venture too far with it. I first started with a few Insteon switches to run the lighting for the HT (as mentioned in earlier posts), but found the X10 side of controlling them a little too basic and sometimes flaky. I wanted to be able to get more out of my switches - varying ramp rates, scenes etc while still maintaining IR control via my Harmony remote. Now, I know there are some that have had troubles with Insteon - I too have had to iron out some bugs here and there, but nothing major or anything I would consider a deal-breaker. I did initially look at other alternatives such as Zwave, UPB, but settled with this route due to costs. I have champagne tastes on a beer budget, plus I love to tinker
On the main interface (PS - you can telnet into ISY as well if you are feeling Linux-y and want to tinker), you have a myriad of options - first off, is that linking devices together is now so painless! No more 'tap-tap', run around the house, 'tap-tap', run back.....you simply add the Hex Address for the device in, and then simply drag-and-drop it into various scenes you create with other devices.
Here is a screen cap of my Screen Can Lights - ramp rates and such are achieved by adjusting the sliders. The adjustments are far more refined than setting them locally with the paddle method:
For the HT, I set up a scene with a Keypadlinc Button 'B' running as the controller. I then placed the screen cans and the sconces into the scene, and tweaked the on levels and ramp rates to taste. On the IR side, I installed one of my IR repeater flashers onto the receiver for the ISY, and programmed the Harmony with some Phillips TV Codes (for RC5 compatibility). Voila! A button press of the Harmony triggers the KPL button and brings the lights up/down. To geek out a little further, I programmed the Harmony so that a Sequence is invoked when you hit 'Play' - the DVD starts, then the lights all dim a few seconds later including the lighting at the outside entry to the theater about 8 seconds after that. I've set up similar programs for 'Stop' (lights on) as well as 'Pause'. The nice thing is, that I have ISY monitor the status of all of the lights, so that the KPL buttons now light up and properly follow the status of each associated light, which I couldn't do with just the X10. Here's a screen cap of the program I use so far to control the HT lighting:
All of the programming works on conditional statements; the beauty of it is that your imagination is the limiting factor. You can trigger events by IR, time, switch presses...the list goes on. You can also control ISY via Web using a PC or your mobile device. This is kinda 'My First Program', so no doubt, I'll be changing it again once I learn a bit more about conditionals!
For fits and giggles, I set up a test so that anyone going into the theater 'double-tapping' the sconce light switch would then cause the sconces and screen cans to go 'fast-on' - plus, the ISY would then send an Email to my Blackberry advising of the status change. Easy to tell what the kids are doing after school
I'm still tinkering around with various combinations of triggers and events, but have to say that I'm very impressed with the potential of the unit. If you were only controlling a few lights, the ISY would be complete and utter overkill.....but when I deployed the first switches in the HT, it was with a view towards automating other parts of the home - and that's where this device fits in. I'm putting in the odd switch here and there - sort of a 'piecemeal' method of expansion as I figure out more things to try with it (very addictive, actually
). Also, I believe there is development plans for an ISY for ZWave and UPB as well, which may perhaps be of interest to those here in the forums that have deployed those systems in their HT/house.
I hope you find some of my observations of value; I'm still in the green stages of learning all of the programming and tweaks, but am happy to answer any questions as best I can.