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Control4 Question: Any way to program them myself?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
As part of a business I'm starting, I want to experiment with Control4 hardware. I've found some web sites where I can purchase the controlers (HC-200, HC-300), but I can't find any place that sells the Control4 Composer Home or Pro editions. So my question is, if I get a controller via the internet, are there any tools available to configure it?

A related question is how does one become a dealer, especially if you can't get your hands on the equipment to learn how to use it? I have a strong technical background and am pretty well-versed with home audio, networking protocols, digital music, etc.

Thanks,

-- Dave
post #2 of 25
Composer pro is the installer version and it is only available to dealers. There are 5 tabs in the pro version, 4 in the home version (available to customers), and 1 in the media version. The limitations on the home version is that you cannot add hardware, and a few other things. The bullk of the programming is done elsewhere in the tabs that are available to consumers.

To become a dealer, you must contact Control4, qualify, go to training, and make a substantial initial order.
post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdswindell View Post

A related question is how does one become a dealer, especially if you can't get your hands on the equipment to learn how to use it? I have a strong technical background and am pretty well-versed with home audio, networking protocols, digital music, etc.

Dave,

If you are just starting out it's typically going to be very hard to represent major lines out of the gate, regardless of your technical background. Most companies such as C4 are going to expect you to have been in business for several years, expect large opening orders (often 5 figures), annual commitments and so on. I suspect you will want to focus on lines sold through distribution as opposed to factory direct lines, such lines are usually much easier to gain access to if you are just starting out and also don't require large out of pocket expenditures and large annual commitments. YMMV.

David
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
Dave H & Glenn:

Thanks for your reply. My plan is to go with other lines and to work with home remodelers and builders. One of the remodelers I'm working with had a visit from a Control4 rep and he (the remodeler) became very interested in the Control4 system capabilities.

I wanted to get a smalish system to evaluate and put it through its paces. With other equipment, this isn't really an issue. It appears to be with Control4 ;-)

Thanks,

-- Dave

p.s. my company's website is www.soundadviceservices.com
post #5 of 25
Be patient, C4 will be available at Best Buy soon.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicagorep View Post

Be patient, C4 will be available at Best Buy soon.

Most interesting. A quick google shows that Best Buy invested 17M in Control4 last summer. Also, there is a press release from 2006 on the Control4 site indicating that Magnolia would carry the Control4 line.

Adding these two together, it does look like I should study up on the concept of patience

-- Dave
post #7 of 25
Control 4 used the custom installer industry as it's test bed for their product. They knew professional installers would work out all the bugs.
post #8 of 25
Does it look like BB will only offer this as a custom installation product? I've been interested in a C4 setup for a while, but I'm very much a DIY kind of guy when it comes to electronics...
post #9 of 25
C4 is sold as a custom install only item through Best Buy. You can't buy the product without Best Buy installing it.
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewaves View Post

C4 is sold as a custom install only item through Best Buy. You can't buy the product without Best Buy installing it.

Hmmm, geek squad to the rescue...
post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewaves View Post

C4 is sold as a custom install only item through Best Buy. You can't buy the product without Best Buy installing it.

Figures. Pass...
post #12 of 25
Personally I think Best Buy is biting off more than they want to chew with C4, I am in the first full up market and we can't integrate with security systems because the company doesn't want to be liable for any issue that may come up, sort of defeats the purpose of home automation and is annoying as hell when your trying to sell the crap in the first place.

The we have to find a local sparky to play nice and install switches and the such and its just a huge headache.
post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdswindell View Post

p.s. my company's website is www.soundadviceservices.com

I just took a look at the site and feel it's a good start. Without trying to sound like a d!ck, I've got a question for you. Why in the world would you consider reselling Logitech remotes? I won't even get into the questionable quality of the product but, seriously, this is a line that one, doesn't support you in your new business venture and two, any client can "program" themselves. Once again, not trying to be rude, just curious as to why you would make that decision.
post #14 of 25
Trust me there are lots of customers that just can't program their own Harmony's have no idea how their stuff is hooked up and just want someone to make it work.

If I was running my own company I would sell Harmony's for a couple of reasons, #1 they aren't likely to get returned and #2 if someone does need their remote programmed you could charge them and only have it take your installer 15 minutes to do the programming.
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluewaves View Post

#1 they aren't likely to get returned...

Hmmmmm...can't say I agree. You can be certain that the person in charge of Harmony RA authorization is in no danger of being let go.
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by glennzippy View Post

Composer pro is the installer version and it is only available to dealers.

Or to anybody that can search for torrents.
post #17 of 25
They are saying that in 2.0 only authorized users will be able to use the program. My understanding is that a dealer will have to add you to the users list...
post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnthonyZ View Post

I just took a look at the site and feel it's a good start. Without trying to sound like a d!ck, I've got a question for you. Why in the world would you consider reselling Logitech remotes? I won't even get into the questionable quality of the product but, seriously, this is a line that one, doesn't support you in your new business venture and two, any client can "program" themselves. Once again, not trying to be rude, just curious as to why you would make that decision.

I've heard the reliability arguments about Harmony remotes from others as well, but my wife and I have used two of their units (880 and 510) for 2-3 years without any major problems (the 880 doesn't fit well in the recharging cradle, something I think they've fixed in the "Harmony 1"). My wife, who is not a "techie" finds the unit very easy to use and loves the "help" feature for those times she launches an activity, then points the remote down at the floor rather than keeping it aimed at the equipment. She also likes the plain English words on the soft buttons that I've programmed. I'm sure that some of the other higher quality remotes allow you to do the same thing.

My major concern with the Harmony is that each unit has to be programmed individually, e,g,, there is no easy way to leverage a "common" configuration that can be easily modifid on a per user (customer) basis. What would others recommend here that have the same ease of use as the Harmony, but are more suitable for custom installer programming and that are more reliable?

And btw, thanks for the feedback. No offense taken at all. You have a very valid point and expressed it just fine

-- Dave
post #19 of 25
cdswindell, you're looking for something easier to program than a Harmony? I'd say closer to 5 minutes for programming.

Harmonys shouldn't need the help button, if the equipment is chosen carefully.

Harmony doesn't suck - my TV has no discrete on/off code. Harmony would be close to perfect if everyone had equipment with discretes, but they don't, so Harmony takes the rap.

Logitech Harmonys are completely reliable; they just can't easily control equipment without discrete on/off codes.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdswindell View Post

My major concern with the Harmony is that each unit has to be programmed individually, e,g,, there is no easy way to leverage a "common" configuration that can be easily modifid on a per user (customer) basis.

Logitech couldn't possibly make it any easier to program.

They HAVE implemented a 'common' configuration that can be easily modified on a per user (customer) basis.

Using the Logitech Harmony software, you input the models # of the devices you want to control, and you're done.

How much easier do you want it?
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

cdswindell, you're looking for something easier to program than a Harmony? I'd say closer to 5 minutes for programming.

Harmonys shouldn't need the help button, if the equipment is chosen carefully.

Harmony doesn't suck - my TV has no discrete on/off code. Harmony would be close to perfect if everyone had equipment with discretes, but they don't, so Harmony takes the rap.

Logitech Harmonys are completely reliable; they just can't easily control equipment without discrete on/off codes.

No, not easier; faster. The Harmony programming interface is designed for the consumer and is very easy to use. However, if one is, for the most part, placing the same kind of devices in multiple houses, there is no easy way that I know of to load a "stock" config with a few minor changes into a new remote. You need to create a new account for each unique remote (as I understand it).

With my business currently in start-up mode with just a handfull of customers (5 so far, not bad for only being in business since December), the Harmony programming model works fine. If/as I grow, it could become a bottleneck.

-- Dave
post #22 of 25
Harmony is a consumer product. It is intended to be used by consumers in a 'typical' consumer scenario. The typical consumer scenario is a single zone with a display several sources and possibly a surround receiver. Harmony owns this market and IMO there is nothing else available at their pricepoint that can compete.

URC/RTI/NEVO etc. are professional products. These products are built specifically for professionals. These are the sort of products you should be investing your time into learning if you are in the custom installation business.

With any of these products you can fully build your stock GUI and save as a new project where you can make your minor edits for each client.

But.. you wont have access to the huge harmony database with professional products. As a professional you will need to learn product remotes into your own database and search for/test discrete codes. You wont have 'fake discrete' action automatically generated for you. You will have to use flags and or sensing to know when a device is ON or OFF or what input its on. if it doesnt have discrete codes.

As you move up the ladder things get easier. As an example, Crestron allows you to build one GUI that you can use in as many rooms as you want (provided that all the remotes or touch panels have the same resolution). The only thing you have to do is give each a different ID number. No more manually programming each control device. You build one program for the entire project and the ID on the panel allows the processor to handle whats seen & how each panel/room operates.
post #23 of 25
One last thing...

Since you are just starting up let me save you some drama. Do some research and make some decisions based on reality. What i mean is.. take a look at yourself and assess your level of expertise and the market your in and where you would like to be in 5 years. Choose a control product that will work for you right now and in 5 years.

The longer your with a single product the more you and your employees will know about it. You will save yourself a million curse words when you can send your least paid guy out to install and program a remote or troubleshoot an existing installation that someone else programmed. If you jump from one product to the next at each new job then you and your guys will always be in R&D mode and if the guy who learned RTI for that one project last year quits then you need to learn RTI even though you dont plan to use it again.

Same goes with AV Receivers & speakers and interconnects. As you discover products that work as they should every time.. keep using them. the differences in Denon and Marantz and Onkyo are not great enough for you to lose money trying to learn how to configure each of them. We sold fujitsu plasmas on every project for as long as they were in business. They were solid performers and their RS-232 commands never changed. This consistent behavoir made them an asset to use because we didnt have to waste time and money worrying about the risk we would be taking while spec'n TV's.
post #24 of 25
cdswindell, I would listen to 39centstamps comments, very solid advice.
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
39CentStamp:

Thanks, good advice. I've heard good things about URC and that had been what I had planned to segway over to.

I very much agree with your comments that, taken at a certain level, the "best" equipment is the equipment that you understand and are most familiar with.

-- Dave
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