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Homeseer/DIY Question

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
So, I currently have a fairly large sized Control4 system. We use it control many aspects of our home. I have the following Control4 equipment:

Media Controller
8 Zone Amp
4 Zone Amp
4 in wall touchpanels
3 wireless touchpanels
A bunch of dimmers/switches/keypads
6 SR250 remotes

I use Rhapsody and digital audio on the controllers, I use contacts and relays to control/monitor status on my garage doors, I have my doorbell and phone integrated with the ELK module. We use the GUI to browse my movie collection, which consists of physical media in Sony 400 disc changers and digital media ripped to 2 different NAS units. We have a bunch of lighting, with lighting scenes being activated by various events which are primarily contacts opening/closing (GE Security system), but also things like when the movie is paused, lights turn on, etc... I control several media players, disc changers, cable boxes, TV's, etc...with a mix of IR, RS232 and IP control.

My frustrations with Control4 are largely based around the very slow development of their products. They have a new, improved GUI but it is PAINFULLY slow. Furthermore, the media selection doesn't look good. I do really like the remotes, and I like the 6 button keypads and lighting.

I use some Card Access products to have remotes in my car and what not.

I don't want to lose any functionality, I just want more customization. I don't mind doing it myself. I just don't want to wait forever for the GUI to pull up on the TV. That is really my biggest gripe. That, and once it's up how slow it is. Browsing through my movie library is PAINFUL.

SO...any of the DIY geniuses out there think I can accomplish all this? I'm sure there are questions you've got as you think about potential product solutions...please ask away. I'd love to scrap this stuff and speed up the system, I just need it to stay reliable.

Thanks in advance for your input.
post #2 of 7
A product likes ours (www.charmedquark.com) can certainly do all you want to do. However, all of the C4 hardware is proprietary and nothing else is probably going to be able to talk to it from a control point of view, AFAIK. So no matter what you select it would likely require throwing out a lot of that proprietary hardware investment I would imagine.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response! I should add a few things. I'm aware that all my Control4 gear will find a new home. I'm not trying to integrate any of the Control4 stuff with something new.

I do want to keep my existing video sources, video distribution (controlled via RS232), security system, etc...

What I need is new lighting control, in wall keypads, in wall and portable touchpanels, a digital audio source, an AM/FM radio, audio distribution to 12 zones, 6-8 handheld remotes and an on-screen GUI for the TV's to select movies, music, etc... Rhapsody integration would be great as well...we have a Rhapsody account that we use extensively with Control4 and really like.

That said, would you mind pointing me to the necessary hardware to get this put together?? I have looked in to CQC, but I don't really understand it. It seems CQC is just the OS but doesn't actually sell any hardware...is that correct?
post #4 of 7
Soon 2B, I'm not a technical expert, but I'll jump in with a comment. I'm not sure you want a company that sells hardware which is more than likely proprietary. That seems to be where you are now.

My tendency would be for DIY use to put together a system of selected components. That way, you can go for the best rated performers in each category, and when the need arises you can change an individual component to another brand.

I use software based control for my needs, many others use more of a hardware based approach with something like Elk. Mine is mostly used for home theater automation, lighting control, motorized shade control and things like that. I don't do any security with mine, so the Elk system is not as much of a need.

Software choices for the most part are Homeseer, CQC, and Elve. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses. CQC is robust and and capable, but has a tougher learning curve, Elve is robust and capable and simpler to use, Homeseer is (IMO) sort of the "Sears" approach and IMO a little pricey. HomeSeer also sells hardware that compliments the software, but isn't required.

Once you decide on a general approach, you can then probably get some great recommendations on here for what would fit the approach best.

My viewpoint is that of an amateur and non-programmer.
post #5 of 7

HomeSeer resells a lot of leading hardware and only manufactures a few Z-Wave devices because of a need/demand in that field.

HomeSeer has always been an open and extensible system. Pretty much anything can be integrated in with HomeSeer using its scripting system (which supports VB scripts, Perl, Python, etc.) or tighter integration through a plug-in interface which can also be written using your favorite language. With over 200 plug-ins (many free), there may already be an interface to several things in your list or to a technology or device that you can use. I do not believe anybody has posted a Rhapsody plug-in for sale, but there may be a free one. Plugins exist for iTunes, Windows Media Player, WinAMP, etc. which may have their own Rhapsody integration, or some of the more hardware centric music interfaces such as NuVo, Russound, Media Center, Roku, Sonos, SqueezeBox, etc. may have it.

Once your hardware platforms are integrated into HomeSeer, there is a variety of ways to interface to it including that very extensible script, ASP, ASPX, and plug-in support that would allow you to roll-your-own if you so desired. HSTouch is a great touchscreen client with a powerful designer to create screens from scratch or from templates, and clients exist for iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Windows CE, Linux, Windows, and Android.

If you care to talk specifics with other users, visit the HomeSeer message board where over 30K users are available to answer any questions you may have - with many of the free plug-ins and scripts being posted to the message board, it is one of those undocumented "features" of using the software.

I'm sure it's not an easy decision to change course, but good luck with whatever you decide. Remember, it's not about what works best, it's all about what gets you the highest WAF.
post #6 of 7
Control4 requires smaller controllers (HC-200) so that each room/television may have its own on-screen navigation. Is this also a requirement for the other home automation systems...specifically...Homeseer, CQC, Elve???

I am planning on purchasing a small fanless controller to install the primary software on to run my entire setup, but I wasn't sure if I am going to need several of these (one for each television)...as I do love the idea of having the on-screen navigation everywhere that I could then control with a hard-button remote. Basically, I want to build a Control4-like system...with not be tied down with Control4.

post #7 of 7
Depends on what you are wanting to do. If you want a media player in each room, then you need something to do that. It doesn't have to be a PC, CQC supports some small hardware type players for music and/.or movies. If it's just control you mean, then you don't need a computer in each room necessarily. Depending on what type of control options are availabe in each room (i.e. do the devices support serial, IP, or IR type control) you just need something in there that can extend the controller's reach to that room. There are IP to serial port boxes. There are IP to IR/light sensor/contact closure type boxes as well. If something is directly IP controllable, then just having network access is sufficient.

Direct control is best (IP or serial, or USB in some cases) but for most folks who weren't planning on automation a lot of it will only be IR controllable. Something like the Global Cache GC-100 is a good option. It is an IP based box that provides contact closures, serial ports, and IR blaster/light sensor ports. CQC can access all of those and control whatever is there locally in that room via the GC-100. If you need more than a couple serial ports, then you'd have to look at something else though, a dedicated IP to serial port box probably, and various folks make those.

You can do a combination of direct control via a remote, indirect control via a remote by navigating an on screen interface, or direct control via touch screen. The latter is almost always the best where it's practical, due to the ability to provide two way control. But you can do any of those ways, and a mixture of them. However, you do have to deal with the issue in the case of an on-screen interface on the TV, that you now probably do need a local machine because you need something to drive that local interface. The same is true with touch screens of course but not all of those need to be fixed position devices. You can have a combination of hard mounted and hand held touch screens. It's nice to have at least one fixed position one that has more substantial screen real estate but you don't have to do that.
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