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Help choose home system, HAI, Elan, Crestron - Page 2  

post #31 of 94
Bigpappa,

I can't see all the wiring the picture allows, but I have seen much worse. The fans are a nice source of EMI clamped to the wires! Gotta love that.
Look out for me, I'm comming back to the islands soon and I'll be wearing my Crestron Hat. I am going to the big island too.

FREE,
This is just a big guess here, but the area of Scottsdale, from what I have seen from afar is growing at a rapid pace. I wonder how many dealers in the area are over their head in work and stretched a bit when it comes to service.
Phil, Gather the names from each company, such as Crestron, AMX, ELAN, ADA, VANTAGE, LUTRON and anyone else you would consider. Call them and get dealer names. After that set up an interview with each and get names and numbers of references, check the BB and do some diggin on the company. Interview them like you would a Doctor. Make a list of everything you want from them. Hope everything goes well for you here on out. Rant away. Some may mind. But let's see if some here can turn this experience into a positive for you.
post #32 of 94
Quote:
FREE,
This is just a big guess here, but the area of Scottsdale, from what I have seen from afar is growing at a rapid pace. I wonder how many dealers in the area are over their head in work and stretched a bit when it comes to service.
That's the most likely situation with the rack in the photo. I can tell a lot by the picture; all RCA's are premade Monster Cable, large capacity wire management is non-existent, some design/programming features are a little 'funky'...

But, the icing on the cake is the equaliser not even hooked up. It's quite apparent the CI was in way over his head, and was probably used to much smaller systems, smaller scale, and simpler design. He literally gave up. The client did him a favor by calling me and not pursuing him.

I feel bad for the guy, I hope he learned from the experience. Back to the thread, it's a people issue, not an electronics issue.
post #33 of 94
I'm not advocating this as the best option as having a reliable/competent local CI is definitely a much better option, but you being near sunny Scottsdale - I'm surprised there aren't a bunch of CAIP's jumping at the chance to travel to AZ to go and take a look at your system :-). Like I said, long term is better to have someone local, but it shouldn't that difficult to get some competent out of town CAIP's to go to AZ to look at some of your problems. . .
post #34 of 94
I appreciate the suggestions guy's. I definately learned my lesson with my first system, and will get a schematic, and not settle for anything less than a fully professional job for the next one.

By the way, what do you guy's think of having someone from outside my area design the system, if I can't find anyone competent enough here?

Also, since I am loosing my sight, due to a degenerative eye disease, I plan on incoporating Voice control into the next system. Does anyone have any experience with Voice automation, or know anyone who does, that I could contact.
post #35 of 94
I have been testing voice recongition for years as it's an area of great interest to me. It is far from being ready for prime time in a robust control application. But it does have its uses for people who require it due to a disability. I prewire for it all the time.
post #36 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by QQQ
BTW, the inability of the TPMC-10 to roam is a Microsoft XP Embedded issue, not a Crestron issue . (well, it's a Crestron issue since it's a Crestron touchpanel, but you know what I mean). But in 10 years I've never had a customer who wanted to roam from room to room with a touchscreen so I don't see that as a major issue for most people. Sort of like carrying the remote control for your TV from room to room - not a big feature request. The TPMC-10 range should be quite good though, more than adequate for a single room. The part that Free reports it taking several hours sometimes to go back online is very strange. If it does go offline due to going out of range, a battery reboot should immediately bring it back online.

Based on the problem that Free is having I'd look for someone that can do an RF survey as well (check for other sources of interference) and also has network expertise. It frustrates me to see problems like this and I wish I was in Free's city and I'd go over and get that sucker working OR have Crestron send him a new one.
There's most likely someone in AZ that's qualified to do the RF survey Q refers to. If there's a wireless ISP or cell phone company, there's Wireless Engineers in town. Someone working in IT at the WISP will most likely have the hardware to check spectrum clearance but any Wireless Engineer should have a spectrum analyzer for this purpose too. I say go to the WISP because they're more likely to have a portable device. My spec-an is a $25k unit from Agilent that's not very mobile.

I personally think for $3k the TMPC10 should be able to be carried throughout the house. After all, it is often used as a "whole house" controller not just a room controller. As it was pointed out, this is a function of how 802.11 works with XP but you'd think Crestron could create the driver to make their version of the touchpanel value-added and capable of at least doing a hard handoff (break before make).

Nobody ever said if my theory was flawed. Come on all you pro-Crestron integrators, can I use the Adagio in the way I detailed earlier? You guys have to admit that the Omnipro II is a sweet unit?
post #37 of 94
Dave,

I'm sure Alan will write a treatise for you soon :). I'm personally unconfortable getting too deep into that question because:

A. I haven't got hands on experience with Adagio yet.

B. You are starting to reach a point with questions like that where you are going beyond what can easily be covered on a message board. There are two many varibales and caveats and it seems a bit of a disservice to just say "yes you could do that" or "no you should not do that".
post #38 of 94
Well I guess that makes sense.

The CI that I was speaking with before is recommending a Pro2 and separate amp, etc. It seems to me like the Adagio is going to be a good value and the CI I'm speaking with is just trying to upsell me, but I could be wrong. You just can't trust those installers@! Just kidding...
post #39 of 94
I'll pipe in with another end users viewpoint. We built a new home, installed Crestron strictly for AV. No lighting control, no HVAC. Ok, it does lower the window shades in the main media room. We have CT-1000s, wall key pads, PAD8s, ST-1700, RF gateways, power supplies, etc. I've had no reliability issues since I had the firmware on the ST-1700s upgraded (they used to hang when you put them in the charger). I'm not 100% happy with the programming always, but they are kind of nits (screen refresh issues when displaying song titles). Oh, and the battery life on the ST-1700 is pitiful.

One thing that is a bit of a pain is if you like to buy new equipment (I like my AV toys...) then you have challenges with Crestron. You need a VERY good relationship either with your installer or another programmer. I have 3 AV rooms (main media, master media, kids playroom). In the main media, I've replaced the DVD player for a newer, better model. In the kids playroom I had a Pioneer AV receiver die on me so I put in a B&K. Master media hasn't changed. I'm looking at replacing my Imerge hard disk music with an Olive system.

But... I haven't paid to get my programming changed. It was spendy to start with, and I've been reluctant to spend more. So, in the main media, I have a nice Crestron 1700 touchpanel, but have to use the DVD remote to control the DVD. In the kids media, since the B&K isn't in the Crestron programming, I need the B&K remote to change inputs, turn on power, etc. The Crestron turns on the TV, controls the DVD player, and the TiVO. If I replace the Imerge, then the whole house audio needs to be reprogrammed as besides FM, the 3 zones of output from the Imerge are the most widely used.

Now, perhaps because I like DIY projects, I sure wish I could have access to the Crestron software. (that and I'm a software nerd). But, I don't. And I really don't want to contact my installer to do the programming changes (they blew out the initial budget, and I wasn't happy with some communications). I spent well in excess of $120K with them (they did the crestron, whole house audio, programming, and provided some equipment (in wall speakers, Imerge), did the low voltage wiring. I provided most of the equipment as I felt things like a Sherborn 12 channel amp was more cost effective (perhaps better sounding) than a Crestron 1260 12 channel amp that my installer was pushing. That is one other thing to remember. The installers/dealers sell what they carry. If you are like me, and like to shop around and put together your own system, you need to make this clear up front, that you will provide the equipment. The challenge with that is they often then tell you that it will cost more, because they've never done the programming for the device you want to use. At least that is what I was told...

The Crestron system is a beautiful thing. It will do pretty much anything you want, and excels in whole house. I can turn on my projector, lower the screen, and control most of my components, source music from across the house, see what song is playing, etc. But, if you like to change equipment in and out, or plan on adding pieces gradually, you must take into account that you have to use a Crestron dealer, you can't do any of the programming yourself. I have no clue on the Elan or AMX or the others. But I continue to look at replacing the Crestron, not because of reliability, but because I don't want to have to call their programmer every couple of months.

Oh, and I highly recommend getting a diagram from whoever you use on the wiring. I spent an hour tracking down why my bathroom speakers were only playing out of one channel. Turned out they had mis-wired a balanced line driver/receiver and crossed channels. Took longer than needed to debug as I didn't have a clue which line driver went with which receiver. And adding equipment to the Lexicon is a pain when you don't know what it connected to what inputs...

Anyway, my $0.02. Sorry for the disjointed ramblings.
post #40 of 94
This is one of the most fair and balanced posts on the subject I have read here. I continue to service most of my clients, but it makes me wonder what they might say over Easter dinner or on a message board.

Crestron is working on the issue of roaming with the TPMC-10. It is an issue embedded in the CE OS. Supposedly Microsoft has to fix this issue and they either have or it is on the "to do" list.

When swapping out equipment only involves changing the driver and I don't have to learn the driver and I have remote access I don't charge. I have a buddy who is a UNIX programmer and he writes custom software and every change is billable and at much higher rates. Is it really unreasonable to charge a nominal fee for even minor programatic changes? For a DIY on this site the answer is often yes.

I am programming for a big software guru this month and this post has me nervous. Is it possible to write a program that will make you software guys happy? While the topic I am about to bring up has ben beaten to death it is not beyond the pale for a firm to offer software to clients who are capable. Trust me, it is not economicly viable to devote software time to mundane changes for most firms. The fact is that most individuals lack the skills, the time to learn or display any inclination to write their own code. Those few here that fit the criteria would probably find a firm willing to work with them.

Most folks who hire a CI firm want a turn key experience. My biggest problem is the god damned cable companies ( may the telephone companies put them out of business ) and my inability to sync the power status on those boxes ( Time Warner ) and provide that perfect operation To what degree your complaint is based upon dissatisfaction with the CI company ( and some of your complaints are by your own admission minor ) or based upon frugality or other values not related to job or system performance I can only guess and only you can answer.

Still a good post. I think I'd like to chat with you off line.

Alan
post #41 of 94
Misko, you sum up much of my reservations as well. I decided not to go with Crestron in my theater, and am very glad I made that decision. I am always changing equipment, since it is my hobby, so I use an MX800, and I can re-program everything in minutes.

For whole house audio, I use the Crestron amps to turn zones on and off, but I have some of my own equipment feeding the music. Right now I am using a Sonos music system, and have abandoned the Audio Request that is programed into the Crestron touch panels. The reason I abandoned it, is because of the trouble updating the programming, and it was buggy anyway. Part of that, I am sure was Audio Requests fault, and they made a decision to stop dealing with the customer directly, so they lost my business. Anyway, Sonos is really cool. The little wireless controlers work great, and the customer service is top notch. If I was going to do it all over again, I might even eliminate the Crestron amps, and use all Sonos amps.

One thing I have programmed into Crestron, that has been flawless, and I would definately do again, is the blinds. My house is all glass, and I have 32 blinds that are all automated. I can put the blinds up and down individually, by room, or cardinal direction. It is very slick, and has had very few problems (related to Crestron anyway).

HVAC works pretty well, but it took a long time to get the bugs worked out. When Crestron first came out with their T-Stats, they had some funky issues, some of which were resolved. It is very cool to have temperature feedback for each room, and control them, especially via E-control, remotely from the PC.

One thing I wish Crestron would do, and perhaps they have but I am not aware of it, is have a good integrated security camera solution. The system I have currently, is kind of Kludgy, and I have had some issues. I would really like to be able to view my cameras on E-control, and wish there was a solid way to do it on the TPMC-10 as well.

Oh, and just to address one more thing, regarding why I would want to roam about with the TPMC-10. The main reason, is simply, that it is too expensive to have a wireless panel in every room, so to be able to take one panel from room to room is a much better choice. Now that I have my Sonos system, it is less of an issue, but I still have to go find a panel to turn on the amps, and then walk around with my Sonos controler.
post #42 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by QQQ
Dave,

I'm sure Alan will write a treatise for you soon :). I'm personally uncomfortable getting too deep into that question because:
By implication are you suggesting that my posts not only suffer from inordinate length but from the unpardonable sin of being boring?

Alan
post #43 of 94
Only the former my friend, definitely never the latter.
post #44 of 94
To answer Alan's question online, I think my issues tend to reflect dissatisfaction with my installer/integrator more that frugality. It is worth money to keep my wife happy with a single remote she can operate rather than now where I'm requiring her to use a separate DVD remote in the main media.

But, being a software guy, I also know how difficult it can be to find another software person to take over someone elses programming job. Now, perhaps Crestron is modular enough that to add a new device driver is pretty independent. I don't know if you happen to use one look and feel for layout if adding/changing/deleting that layout is difficult if you are using different libraries (my term) than the other programmer. So I have been very reluctant to go out and find another company that can reprogram my Crestron for me for these new devices. I certainly have no problem paying for software updates if it is something I want. I do have an issue when I'm told "yeah, the ST-1700s hang, just pop out the battery and put it back in" as a solution. On that one I spoke with Crestron at EHX and they told me to try the new firmware.

One thing Alan said that I think is worth commenting on:

Quote:
Originally Posted by audiblesolutions
Most folks who hire a CI firm want a turn key experience.

Alan
This is probably 100% true. I think, no, in my case I know, that the company I used was not used to doing business with someone who wanted to select their own gear, do design discussions revolving around how things were connected (let's use DVI here rather than component, I don't care how expensive that DVI switcher is, etc.), or perhaps have look and feel input. Like most of us, integrators get used to doing business in a particular way they both feel comfortable with, and which they know will work. When someone like me comes along and wants things different, it can be uncomfortable, and risky, and not everyone wants to take that risk (and potentially increase support costs).

At the time, I hired a CI firm because I didn't have the time to investigate all the options that were available, pull low voltage wiring myself, etc. Ah, perhaps that's the problem, I have too much time right now :) But that didn't mean I didn't want to have input. On all other aspects of building a new house, I had input (dealing with the architect, builder, picking appliances, whatever), why not with the A/V...
post #45 of 94
A couple of comments regarding misko's posts.

1. If you area DIY and you want to be involved on some level I think it is perfectly reasonable to look for an integrator that will provide you with the tools (software etc.) you will need. There are frankly a lot of folks in my field who are very territorial and feel easily threatened. The more knowledgeable or involved someone wants to be the more threatened they feel. I always remember a Client who called me years ago that had been looking at Crestron and AMX systems. He was a software programmer and it was important for him to be able to learn to work with his system. He had contacted several companies and their immediate reaction had been "oh my God no, we could never provide you with the software". My feel from talking with him was that the guy was perfectly reasonable and doing exactly what I would do were I in his shoes. I told him of course I would provide him with the software and it was a done deal and has been painless to this day.

That story being said, it's always a judgment call and I certainly would not provide the software to anyone. There are some people that are their own worst enemy and you just know it's going to end up being a disaster. If a person wants to try and do the programming and dispense with the CI altogether ONLY to save money that's usually going to be a disaster, unless they are 1 in 100 and have the necessary tool set to pull it off . If they want to have access to the tools so they can learn to make changes themselves (and perhaps save some money too) that's a better scenario IMO.

2. Work with someone that will set your system up so they can simply make changes over the Internet. If you want to drop a new DVD player into the system but you are not comfortable learning to do the programming yourself (and few are) you can install the DVD player yourself and you call up your CI and give them the make and model and they make the changes remotely and upload them. I can't guarantee they won't have to make a job-site trip but in most cases they should not have to, especially if you are hands on and can test the system after they upload.

3. It's certainly accurate to say that Crestron is not going to be a product that the end user can sit down in an hour and learn as they could with a Home Theater Master remote etc. But I think this is no different than most powerful software tools. If I purchase Act! as my contact manager software I can install it myself. If I purchase Siebel I'm either going to have to hire a IT integrator or I'm going to have to attend some training. But Siebel is also going to be about 100 times more customizable and powerful.

Which brings me to my final point, which is that end users are free to attend Crestron training although they'd have to pay for it. Again, a dealer that is willing to work with you would help you to accomplish this.

Well Alan, you are not the only one that writes treatises. I thought this was going to be a very short post when I started.
post #46 of 94
I'd agree that some clients are their own worst enemies. My problem is that I'm likely to tell them that, so I'll never do well in sales.

We had a prospective client recently discuss whole house HDMI switching. We tried to talk him out of it, but he had way too much time on his hands. An associate of mine held his ground, let the client know of all the HDMI issues, what about audio, etc.

The client, sensing that he was in a pinch, changed the subject to plasmas. He wanted to buy everything off the internet and have us put it in.

This is NOT the kind of client I want involved the process.

In my market, most clients do want turnkey systems. They're building their second or third home, and they've put in their input. Now they just want it done. But, I have worked with tweaky clients before, and it can be a great experience both ways. As long as expectations are set from the beginning, I'd have no problem with a client being part of the design or programming team. It is nice to have the instant feedback from the actual user when considering design and functionality issues.

I do have to make the point that we as CI's get used to equipment because we've been through all the little surprises with the components. We push 'our' stuff because we know it, and all the little caveats and skeletons in their chassis. If a client wants us to use his stuff, we get nervous because we don't know what surprises await.

But, if it takes longer than we say it does to hook up a component, we're the ones who take the hit when it comes time to pay the bill. Again, expectations need to be set regarding the use of new equipment.
post #47 of 94
You might also consider an RTI system: their software is limited to custom installers but some will give you access to the software: it is powerful and easy to learn (not as powerful as Crestron): you can take on-line courses to learn programming

I test a lot of new gear and need to be able to program a remote myself: I use RTI T3's and RP-6 processors with RS232 and IR control: RTI is introducing two way RS232 processors and the T4: an 802 wireless portable touchpanel

Many installers are using RTI remotes which communicate with Crestron processors
post #48 of 94
Misko, if you ever build a house in Hawaii, I'd love to work with a client like you. Maybe on a T&M basis, or a sectional bid of the whole system.

But, I put together a design, commence on the install, then mid-trim; "I found this plasma at Costco for half of what you're putting in, why can't we use it?"... :mad: :mad: :mad:

I'm going to finish up everything I can and bid adieu.
post #49 of 94
Et tu QQQ?

I have had my say. To both Free and MisKo, you have made some valid points. Having spent an awful lot of time fixing Crestron jobs this year I will agree that there are some horrible and incompetant dealers out there. However, you hired them. You may have been busy or you may have been preoccupied with other matters (like hemoraging money building that house) yet you are responsible for that decision. How about a liberal New Yorker making the case for personal responsibility? I would like to see these dealers gone faster than you could swing the ax. Not going to happen because of the sales they generate but.....

To the idea of how difficult it is to deal with code. If all you are doing is moving from DVD 1 to DVD 2 or from Dish to Direct then it's not very difficult. Essentially it means changing a driver. If you are moving from a single disck to a 400 disc there may be some more work involved but most of that is on the GUI side. If you are moving from a CD player to a CD server there is a lot of code involved and I would charge much more for that. But changing equipment is not that big of a deal and should not be a problem nor ought it to cost more than 2-300 dollars ( which is 3 hours time ).

In terms of Audio Request, any code issues are the problem of the programmer not the unit. QQQ's is a firm about 10*6 larger than mine and he has reported few issues and I have almost none that do not relate to physical problems ( as in the hard drive failing, CD drawer getting stuck. ) ST-1700 and STX-1700CMX do not lock up. Not that much. TPMC-10? Once every so often. Do either of you have the smw and vtp files? Send them to me. I suggest QQQ as his is a much larger firm and more able to travel but I'm told he just fired his programmer. My email is listed, unlike the QQQ's.

To quote the noted philosopher, and poet, David Crosby, I "let my free flag to fly."

Alan
post #50 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by misko

This is probably 100% true. I think, no, in my case I know, that the company I used was not used to doing business with someone who wanted to select their own gear, do design discussions revolving around how things were connected (let's use DVI here rather than component, I don't care how expensive that DVI switcher is, etc.), or perhaps have look and feel input. Like most of us, integrators get used to doing business in a particular way they both feel comfortable with, and which they know will work. When someone like me comes along and wants things different, it can be uncomfortable, and risky, and not everyone wants to take that risk (and potentially increase support costs).

At the time, I hired a CI firm because I didn't have the time to investigate all the options that were available, pull low voltage wiring myself, etc. Ah, perhaps that's the problem, I have too much time right now :) But that didn't mean I didn't want to have input. On all other aspects of building a new house, I had input (dealing with the architect, builder, picking appliances, whatever), why not with the A/V...
These discussions are really facinating. I hear you. Now understand the other side. I have to provide you with a fixed price to the turn key system. If I am using equipment with which I am fiamiliar this is sometimes possible. If I have to use equipment with which I am unfamiliar it is much more difficult. 1. Most control system coders are not real programmers. Some few are but many are not. More relavant is that all equipment has issues or potential issues. I took over a Crestron job where the client was unhappy with the system's programming. He had lot's of equipment I had no experience with. System had all sorts of issues. It turned out that most of them had nothing to do with my code, the firmware in the touch panel and everything to do with the wire used to interconncect the RS-485 network. We rewired the system and most every problem disappeared. We also rewired for a new tv he added, moved cable boxes and satellite receivers around, added component video swithcers, XM radio stations now available on D* to the system and a Directivo. It turned out to be a little more than a program rewrite. Who pays for this? Me, because I offered a fixed price? The client as it is his system and the problem had nothing to do with my code?

How about if the Escient CD player you purchased is the cause but I'm not an escient dealer and the issues are built into it? I do work in the Great White North. I had to program a sports bar there and none of the 9 projectors would respond to the serial code. One week of my calling NEC, trying different codes and finally I force the contractor to test the cable. 9 bad cables improperly crimped. Who paid for that wasted week where the problem was the contractor's and not the programmers?

Reasonable individuals can work this out. And one solution might be to work on the code together. My experience is that not everyone is reasonable, especially where money is concerned. My software budgets are nowhere near what you guys in development charge. I'm working on a tuner module right now for an electronics manufacturer in the Great White North that I will publish. Reusing code is the most efficient way stay in business. When there are problems having support is necessary. NEC was helpful to their credit (I am not an NEC dealer) Optoma, when they had issues (which they do not) was not. One of the reasons I write modules for manufacturers is it's fun. They change protocols because I ask them to and I get inside info. Occasionally they bring me to an advertising shoot and I see a pretty girl up close. That's why I was willing to take on the job with the theif and his enabler. I thought it would be fun. That fun cost me 8k and a lot of extra unpaid labor in addition to that 8k. Flexibility and reasonablity.

Alan
post #51 of 94
I read it pretty much all comes down to cost and ability. Sometimes ability plays a factor into cost, but those two are major factors. You can draw a parallel into home building as well. Most home builders buy/build a spec house. If it isn't a spec house, the next level is a pseudo custom home. However, frequently that custom home is not truly custom. It still has choices within which one chooses (appliances, vendors, etc). So, the builder still knows what he's working within. Then there are truly custom houses, and those are usually built cost+ rather than fixed bid as not everyone knows what is involved going in. Yeah, some people might do fixed bid, but we're talking major issues when someone can't deliver due to something unforeseen).

But, no it isn't any different than building a house. There are varying levels. With Crestron system development, you're usually talking mid-high level. Yeah, people call it custom, but generally everyone is using devices/vendors/equipment they are familiar with. IF you want to go the full true custom with full capability, you need a builder that can do that - jsut as with a Crestron Integrator. It will also cost a significant chunk more, but can be done (just not afforded by many or done by many).
post #52 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiblesolutions
Send them to me. I suggest QQQ as his is a much larger firm and more able to travel but I'm told he just fired his programmer.
Ah yes, as you are aware Alan, my Grandmother was my primary programmer. I see you caught my statement over at RC that I, regrettably, had to fire her. Her work output had not been what it should have been as of late and after getting tired of listening to excuses and seeing the blame passed to others I was forced to implement some clandestine surveillance measures to discover the cause of the problem. Excessive time spent surfing the Internet was the cause of the problem and alas, it was not time well spent.






















































































http://www.burzurq.com/QQQ/grandma.jpg

I tried to discuss the issue with her but she had no intention of changing her habits and was even causing the men in the shop to feel uncomfortable by hanging obscene posters and such on her locker. I felt bad about letting her go until she stopped by to give me her final goodbye.


































































http://www.burzurq.com/QQQ/finger.jpg
post #53 of 94
This guy works for cheap, is infallible to porn pleasures.

http://img96.imageshack.us/img96/123...llpaper5uk.png
post #54 of 94
I'd love to do a house in Hawaii. But, the wife likes the comfort of being waited on at the big resorts :-) Oh, and the kids like the water slides.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpapa
Misko, if you ever build a house in Hawaii, I'd love to work with a client like you. Maybe on a T&M basis, or a sectional bid of the whole system.

But, I put together a design, commence on the install, then mid-trim; "I found this plasma at Costco for half of what you're putting in, why can't we use it?"... :mad: :mad: :mad:

I'm going to finish up everything I can and bid adieu.
post #55 of 94
I hear everyone that clients can be their own worst enemys. When I talk about picking equipment, I'm talking about amps, processors, speakers, maybe plasmas. Things that as an AV hobbiest I read about, shop for, and like to buy. Things like PAD8s, or balanced line transmitters/receivers for distributing things long distance, I know I don't know diddly about. Please, use what you know works. And I don't want to be involved necessarily with the programming, but if I want to ask for a button like say clear on the Tivo remote and you tell me that you can't do that, or don't even give me the opportunity to ask, then I'm bummed.

Interesting conversations. I'm trying to understand the Crestron web site. Seems like there are programming gurus on their site. Are there people who don't do installs and programming as part of that, but only do programming and sub themselves out to either
smaller folks, or do individual contracts?
post #56 of 94
misko,

A few years ago Crestron developed the CAIP program. CAIP stands for Crestron Authorized Independent Programmer. A CAIP *cannot* be a dealer. The purpose of the CAIP program was to give those dealers who do not have in-house programming a reliable base of Crestron programmers to use that were independent and hence they could rely on without worrying that the CAIP would steal business from them. Previously there were dealers or so-called indpendent programmers who did programming for other dealers but were also Crestron dealers. Nothing wrong with that, but for obvious reasons dealers who needed programming resources were not cazy about using them.

Since only larger dealers can afford to have a full time programmer on staff, this apprach has helped out a lot of dealers. It is not perfect, but probably the best solution there is. I think it's still very important that a dealer have someone on staff that can program and think a turn-key solution where the equipment provider OR system designer is responsible for all aspects of success on the project is the best possible scenario.

Whatever the case, I think the overall result of the CAIP program has been very positive.
post #57 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by misko
I hear everyone that clients can be their own worst enemys. When I talk about picking equipment, I'm talking about amps, processors, speakers, maybe plasmas. Things that as an AV hobbiest I read about, shop for, and like to buy. Things like PAD8s, or balanced line transmitters/receivers for distributing things long distance, I know I don't know diddly about. Please, use what you know works. And I don't want to be involved necessarily with the programming, but if I want to ask for a button like say clear on the Tivo remote and you tell me that you can't do that, or don't even give me the opportunity to ask, then I'm bummed.
It ought to be a conversation. If you wanted a consumer Panasonic because Consumer Reports called it the best thing since sliced bread but it lacked serial port or discrete IR might you listen to me and not purchase it? I no longer care if you purchase your own displays. There is more labor and risk then there is profit. But I need to hang the display, somehow talk to it and I might need to calibrate it. Might it be easier if I had already some familiarity with a particular brand and maybe already had a driver for it? Might I be forgiven if I wished to use it as opposed to your favorite of the moment?

If I admitted that I am in this business to make a profit and I need to sell recessed speakers in a distributed audio system to make a profit might we work out some deal in terms of labor and materials? Yes, I keep bringing up the word profit. I enjoy playing here but I need to make enough money to stay in business and feed my family. I could move to a different paradigm. Electricians charge a lot for labor but very little for materials. I need to make equipment work that I have no control. Cable and satellite boxes, displays, code issues. Often I must deal with bizzare or intermitant issues. The picture on the display has artifacts. Routers lock up. Touch panels fail to update the indirect text field or do not reliablly communicate with the gateway. You cannot tune in the one AM station you cannot live without. Or you want me to make the 1001 programming change to your lighting system. As I wrote earlier, resonable individuals can reach a mutually agreeable solution. One such solution might be for you to purchase your own displays and pay me to mount and wire them.


Quote:
Originally Posted by misko
Interesting conversations. I'm trying to understand the Crestron web site. Seems like there are programming gurus on their site. Are there people who don't do installs and programming as part of that, but only do programming and sub themselves out to either
smaller folks, or do individual contracts?
In theory having an expert programmer certified by the manufacturer ought to be a perfect solution. Like everything else it depends. When dealer and programmer work together as a team it can be a mating greater than the sum of its parts. When it does not it can yield bad code which the dealer does not own and cannot fix and a client between a rock and a hard place. It's best to call it the Yahoo site as it is not officially authorized by the manufacturer. It has some very capable individuals participating. However, I took over a job recently where the CAIP was teamed with an incompetant dealer. The system never worked and the CAIP could not fix a system that was badly installed. He was a code jockey who could not trouble shoot equipment. Moreover, his code while not bad was nothing special. For example, he did not provide real feedback for the lighting system. In some cases his errors meant you could never totally turn off a load. In an other situation you might find the perfect union of installation and programmer. Which is why you need to see the company's work.

A CAIP is an independant programmer who will most certainly work for private individuals. A CAIP in theory will also trouble shoot your system but some are more code jockeys that electrical engineers. Others can do both and put most installers to shame. If you are looking for pure programming talent a CAIP may be the best way to go. In theory a CAIP ought to be able to code anything. In practice it can be different. As with dealers you need to see their work to make an informed judgement.

Alan
post #58 of 94
Quote:
Originally Posted by audiblesolutions
It ought to be a conversation. If you wanted a consumer Panasonic because Consumer Reports called it the best thing since sliced bread but it lacked serial port or discrete IR might you listen to me and not purchase it? I no longer care if you purchase your own displays. There is more labor and risk then there is profit. But I need to hang the display, somehow talk to it and I might need to calibrate it. Might it be easier if I had already some familiarity with a particular brand and maybe already had a driver for it? Might I be forgiven if I wished to use it as opposed to your favorite of the moment?

If I admitted that I am in this business to make a profit and I need to sell recessed speakers in a distributed audio system to make a profit might we work out some deal in terms of labor and materials? Yes, I keep bringing up the word profit. I enjoy playing here but I need to make enough money to stay in business and feed my family.

Alan
Absolute nothing wrong with profit. I've worked for too many companies that didn't have any... :o And I'd certainly hope it would be a conversation. And yes, I think a reasonable person would pay T&M for asking you to program something you are unfamilier with, or to find a mount for a brand xyz plasma that you've never seen. Time is money. So if you can't make your money selling recessed speakers, because I don't like what you carry, then I'd assume you'd charge me more to wire them up and to program that stupid DVD player I just had to have that you've never seen, or has any other Crestron (or other) programmer. Gotta pay someone to get educated. And best of all, in theory you've seen more equipment than I have, read more, been to more shows, so you can tell me (or anyone else) "you're making a mistake, that thing is crap", which is very different from "don't buy it, because I don't sell it".

Here's a question, serial port vs. discrete IR... I'd think serial port would be preferred, but seems like discrete IR is used a lot even if there is a serial port available. Is it a) because you might be out of serial ports on the controller or b) IR is easier (or you have IR codes already) or c) serial ports are harder to program or d) any and all of the above. Mostly I'm just curious. I have no clue if there is a preference in the industry on serial vs. IR.
post #59 of 94
As a broad generalization the pro is always going to prefer serial. If someone is using IR on a product that could be controlled via serial (AND they have a serial port available) it probably means that either the serial protocol is seriously flawed (which does happen from time to time) or someone is being lazy or worse. IR is easier for most people so that should pretty much tell you all you need to know. Oh, there is another reason. Sometimes that so-called serial port doesn't actually do anything :). Panasonic has a serial port on their phone systems but you can't do anything with it. It would be incredibly useful if you could. Ditto on boxes that DirecTV and Dish have had on the market. Serial or data port but worthless.

BTW, for those that don't know one of the advantages of serial is that it allows two-way communication. So if you have a two-way touchscreenyou can get feedback on your touchscreen and also "ask" the device its status. For instance, let's suppose you have a two zone Audio Request unit that you want to serve out to 8 zones. A common scenario for how I would handle that is a person selects the "player 1". Now a person who goes to another room sees feedback on the touchscreen that indicates player 1 is in use so they know to select player 2. Now a person goes into another room and can see that both players are in use. How you handle it from there is a programming issue. Perhaps you lock that person out. Or give them an override so they can take control in case they were the person who first turned it on in another room. Or more likely I'd just allow that person to select it knowing that it's on in another room and trust the users to make the decision in a household. Anyhow, that's a common scenario of using RS-232 to be cost effective so to speak so that you don't have to buy a separate audio player for each zone - intead you use logic to help people use the system knowing that it (in our imaginary scenario) will be rare that more than two people want o listen simultaneously. All of this could also be accomplished using discrete IR but it would be less than optimal and you would have to use logic to track what is in use. Much easier and better with RS-232. We've had to do it with IR on things like satellite receivers. It all depends on the application and the tools available.

I won't use components that don't have discrete IR codes - ever. To use a horrible analogy, that's like buying a Ferrari and putting cheap tires on it. I suppose if someone already owned something I might do it, but otherwise never. If someone is not familiar with discrete IR speak up and I'm sure someone will explain.
post #60 of 94
QQQ,
Thanks!

btw - My Panasonic PBX has a serial port, but it's only used for programming... And it's new enough that you have your choice, USB port and a serial port. Although I'm not sure what I'd use it for. I do have envy for the new Panasonic voicemail that would allow me to get voicemail as e-mail...
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