Ok, groovy guys and gals, after much blood, sweat, and tears (literally) the Charmed Quark Controller is ready for preview. The Charmed Quark Controller, known as CQC, is a pure software, distributed control application, or more correctly a suite of applications. It is widely applicable, but initially will target mostly the home theater and the devices found therein, with some X-10 devices also being available soon. If you would like to get some information about the product, check out the web site:Charmed Quark Software
On the main page are links to the preview program requirements, basic overview of device control, links to technical documents about CQC, etc... This should give you plenty of information to work with, but feel free to e-mail if you have more questions.
This is a limited preview program, which will probably be limited to a small number of relatively technically savvy users who also happen to have one or more of the supported devices.
The available devices are:
1. Dwin HD-700 (or HD-500) projector
2. Lexicon MC-1 (or DC-2) processor
3. Kramer VS2503 RGBHV video switcher
If you have at least one, and hopefully two, and ultimately all three, of these devices, are pretty comfortable with Windows 2000, serial communications, and are generally a relatively technical person, you would be a good candidate for the preview program. I'm hoping that there will be at least a couple interested folks with both a Lexicon and Dwin projector.
So please drop me a line if you are interested. There is a mail link at the end of the preview program page that will insure that your e-mail gets dropped in the right slot for me to know you are interested in participating. Please don't respond unless you are interesting in really exploring the product and providing useful feedback. A free 1.0 version will be given to the top feedback and debugging contributors.
Obviously many people will find the product useless until it supports their hardware. This will be addressed over time and more device drivers will be supported as the product moves into beta testing. At that time, the beta program will open up to a much wider group. At this time though, its best to find issues as early in the process as possible and before even more code is written only to have to be modified. So it is appropriate that this initial preview be somewhat limited and targeted towards a limited set of devices. This will hopefully work out any driver architecture issues before large numbers of them get written.
We will also be looking for some experienced developers who might be interested in writing some device drivers for devices that they happen to own or have an interest in having supported. This will require a reasonably good understanding of C++ development in a modern, multi-threaded, distributed environment, basic serial communications issues, DLL and GUI development.
Definitely anyone who contributes drivers, which of course you may sell commercially as an add-on to CQC if you so choose, will receive early and free versions of the product to test against as new versions are brought out. Initially though, only accomplished developers should apply, since these are early days and inevitably the documentation will be more limited and the gotchas more prevalent than will be the case later on. You would be expected as much to provide feedback on the driver development process and documentation as to create a new driver (though getting more devices supported is very important, no doubt.)
I have been playing with it in my own home theater, and written some small but interesting CQC macros. For instance, I have a small SetDVD macro which powers on the Lexicon and Dwin, waits for them both to power up, selects the HTPC source in the video switcher, chooses the DVD input on the Lexicon, chooses the Dolby effect on the Lexicon, sets the Lexicon volume to -20, and selects the 1280x720 wide screen memory in the Dwin.
The feedback available to this type of product allows it to do things that a learning remote cannot. For instance, when the Dwin powers up, it will not respond to commands to select a source until it has powered up. Or, if you send it a new signal, it won't allow you to select a specific source until it has settled on the input source and figured out what sources are legal for it. CQC can send a power on command then monitor it until the Dwin is fully powered on and is responding to commands. And it can check to see if it is already powered up and either wait for it to power up, or if it is already running just either pause or, say, monitor the horizontal frequency until it sees that the new frequency has been accepted, and that the new sources are available to select from.
Anyway, we look forward to hearing from you if you are interested in helping test this promising new product.
The Charmed Quark Controllerdroddey@charmedquark.comwww.charmedquark.com
If it don't have a control port, don't buy it!