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post #1 of 10 Old 01-28-2019, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Home Automation Query

Hello Experts,
Finally the time has come when you are done with the buying and rack n stack of your dream theater and about to begin the journey to audio nirvana when suddenly the deadly automation bug bites you with smartoxin venom making you feel that without it how much you waste all your stuff is.
Anyways so i start reading few articles and videos and journeys that fellow FMs have been through and though of creating mine in the similar lines. Here is my setup:

Speakers:
Polk rtiA7 fronts
polk center and rears
Polk t15 heights
SVS sub
JBL 530

receiver:
x6200 - powers center, height, rears + JBL in zone2 / as front wides
crown xli1500 powers fronts.

others:
Xbox one s
Benq Projector
Remote controlled RF type 120" screen
Online UPS that powers projector and xbox

I am thinking of getting Mrs Alexa and Mr Harmony to orchestrate this symphony along with some LEDs / sonoff switches etc from aliexpress.

The way i plan to do this is :
1. Primary setup:
I say Alexa - switch on the Hometheater - and following should happen:
a. screen starts scrolling down - think harmony shall control it. It takes 7 secs to come to desired state (after which it has to be stopped via remote again as it is too down than the space i have)
b. the wifi switch (yet to buy) from power outlet 1 powers on the powerstrip that in turn switches on the UPS in standby mode (for xbox n projector). Though this UPS has network capability i need to find out how to bring it online so that it can be controlled by harmony / alexa.
c. Once the UPS is on.. the alexa / harmony (not sure who) powers on xbox and PJ. i am assuming harmony shall do it via IR signals.
d. The powerstrip above also powers on the amp hence no intervention required . I have to keep it its power button on as it does not have any trigger or remote control capabilities.
e. the second wifi switch (yet to buy) from power outlet 2 powers on the receiver (in 9.1 mode) to power the remaining speakers.
f. At the same time either harmony / alexa (not sure who) shall change change the primary light from white to blue color and then slowly fade away in 20 secs.

Now i have my primary setup online .. i can select to open netflix or prime to watch the movie. The same sequence need to be played in reverse when i say switch off hometheater.

2. Secondary setup:
I say alexa turn on the music and following should happen:
a. the second wifi switch turns on and puts on the receiver in standby state.
b. Then harmony / alexa power on the receiver from standby state and bring it online.
c. then the receiver mode is changed from 9.1 to 7.1 + zone2 (by harmony / alexa?)
d. Then zone2 is powered on for JBLs and zone1 is powered off by (harmony / alexa?)
e. My playlist from prime music is played.

Both primary and secondry setup shall be used at different times.

I do not clearly understand the roles of alexa and harmony hub here and get confused of who is doing what (or who can do it better) and hence need your expert guidance to understand and refine my understandings and steps above.
Would really appreciate any help in understanding how best things can be automated here to work everytime as it should. Be robust yet simple enough to be operated by anyone and help me get rid of 6 remotes that only i juggle with now.

I am not looking at step by step answer but is it possible? If yes that what all hardware I require.. that’s it.

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by argentum246; 02-01-2019 at 10:05 AM.
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-01-2019, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Bump. Any one?
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-18-2019, 08:55 PM
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Maybe coming late on this, but I have some advise. Firstly, because you need smart switches in your setup, you will want to add a smart home hub. The leading devices in this category are the Samsung Smartthings hub and the Wink Hub 2. These will talk to your smart switches or outlets and expose them to the Alexa smart device app. For everything else, as long as you can use the harmony to control it, you can just program the harmony to perform the actions in sequence. As for the light that you want to turn blue, if it is a Phillips hue bulb, I believe that can be integrated directly as an Alexa device, if not you can use the smartthings hub for that as well.
You would use an Alexa routine, triggered on your command, to start the device sequence:
1. Say "Alexa, turn on the home theater"
2. Alexa would activate the smart outlets and turn the light blue
3. Alexa would then send a command to the harmony to activate the sequence there: rollers, projector, Xbox, etc.
4. Finally Alexa sends a dim command to the light. Although, I don't know if you can manage a 20 second fade on that without getting into some advanced scripting using the smartthings hub.

Hope that helps you understand that it is possible, you'll just need patience and a little tinkering to get it done.

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post #4 of 10 Old 04-03-2019, 02:53 PM
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My setup works like this:

1. All lighting (overhead and LED) is Phillips HUE. I have ST motion sensors everywhere.
2. Hub is SmartThings. I don't use Alexa or Google voice for anything.
3. Harmony Elite remote/hub is primary control...although any tablet/smartphone works too.

This is the workflow that I've ended up with as it's reliable.

I have both an LCD panel and 125" drop down screen/projector...so there are a about 10 different "Activities" to choose from on the remote. For this example, "Projector - Kodi Box" is selected. Here's what happens:

1. Harmony is integrated with SmartThings.but all it does in ST is turn on a virtual switch. When turned "on" this virtual switch then kicks off a number of things in ST which are all lighting related.

a. All basement lights are turned off, but theatre front/rear LEDs are transitioned to blue color and dimmed slowly over about 30s using CORE in SmartThings. The LED's behind screen are 100% turned off, but the rears are left on (blue) at 5% brightness.
b. The ST hub's mode is switched to "Theater" so basement motion sensors just trigger one of three stairwell light (fully dimmed) just for safety if someone needs a bathroom break, snack run etc.
c. Smart switches for the fireplace, and powered subwoofers are turned on.
d. AC infinity fan unit for amps is powered up (smartswitch) in auto mode.

2. Harmony then takes care of everything else via IR hub and remote blasters:

a. Projector is powered up.
b. Acoustically transparent Screen is lowered over LCD panel to cover front wall.
c. Denon amps (x2) are powered up and set to appropriate input (in this case the Shield box).
b. Shield is powered up.

If you press power off on the Elite remote..it reverses everything and brings lights back up dimmed so your retinas are not blasted :-)

This works very well and based on a lot of research and experimentation, is about as "lean" as it gets. This also takes advantages of the strengths of both Harmony and SmartThings.

This setup works great. I use the virtual switch in SmartThings to trigger automations as it results in "instant" responsiveness in that you're not waiting for device polling in ST. If for any reason things don't work correctly, Harmony has a "help" option for every activity that walks you through a guided power up/down sequence. I do have the smart plugs and lights programmed in the the Elite remote buttons (there are four available) so that "manual" control of all lights/smart plugs is possible.



The motorized acoustically transparent 125" screen is retracted here, but basically covers the entire front wall.



There are six HUE led spots and 10ft of HUE light strips at front and rear. The entire basement area is also lit by smart LEDs so they are all managed during theatre mode so there are no sudden blasts of light if a cat walks by :-)
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-04-2019, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by argentum246 View Post
The way i plan to do this is :
1. Primary setup:
I say Alexa - switch on the Hometheater - and following should happen:
a. screen starts scrolling down - think harmony shall control it. It takes 7 secs to come to desired state (after which it has to be stopped via remote again as it is too down than the space i have)
b. the wifi switch (yet to buy) from power outlet 1 powers on the powerstrip that in turn switches on the UPS in standby mode (for xbox n projector). Though this UPS has network capability i need to find out how to bring it online so that it can be controlled by harmony / alexa.
c. Once the UPS is on.. the alexa / harmony (not sure who) powers on xbox and PJ. i am assuming harmony shall do it via IR signals.
d. The powerstrip above also powers on the amp hence no intervention required . I have to keep it its power button on as it does not have any trigger or remote control capabilities.
e. the second wifi switch (yet to buy) from power outlet 2 powers on the receiver (in 9.1 mode) to power the remaining speakers.
f. At the same time either harmony / alexa (not sure who) shall change change the primary light from white to blue color and then slowly fade away in 20 secs.

Now i have my primary setup online .. i can select to open netflix or prime to watch the movie. The same sequence need to be played in reverse when i say switch off hometheater.

2. Secondary setup:
I say alexa turn on the music and following should happen:
a. the second wifi switch turns on and puts on the receiver in standby state.
b. Then harmony / alexa power on the receiver from standby state and bring it online.
c. then the receiver mode is changed from 9.1 to 7.1 + zone2 (by harmony / alexa?)
d. Then zone2 is powered on for JBLs and zone1 is powered off by (harmony / alexa?)
e. My playlist from prime music is played.

Both primary and secondry setup shall be used at different times.

I do not clearly understand the roles of alexa and harmony hub here and get confused of who is doing what (or who can do it better) and hence need your expert guidance to understand and refine my understandings and steps above.
Would really appreciate any help in understanding how best things can be automated here to work everytime as it should. Be robust yet simple enough to be operated by anyone and help me get rid of 6 remotes that only i juggle with now.

I am not looking at step by step answer but is it possible? If yes that what all hardware I require.. that’s it.

Thanks in advance.
The short answer is yes, this is possible. I have nearly the exact actions you describe using a combination of the Echo, Harmony Hub, and SmartThings hub. After telling Alexa to turn on Cinema mode, screen drops, lights turn on to a set percentage, soffit LEDs turn on to a set color and brightness, all AV equipment is powered on, AV set to proper input. In my case, as I have a couple Amps for Atmos channels that are not remote enabled, I have them in a power sensing strip so that automatically power on with the receiver.

The trick you need to look into is an app in SmartThings called WebCoRE. It allows you to take actions based on those virtual switches. So in my case, when the switch is detected in the On state, it triggers the light commands, then calls the Harmony activity to turn on the equipment and drop the screen. I won't lie, there's a decent learning curve with the WebCoRE, but everything you need to get it going is on the SmartThings forum. Took me some study to get it right, but now it runs perfect. Plus, I incorporated it into CinemaVision with Kodi so that I have the full automated theater sequence. Trivia, then lights dim part way, trailers, lights go all the way off, Atmos (or THX since I still love old school) bump, then movie. Plus, it fires a separate WebCoRE piston if I pause the movie that brings the lights up to 5% to make it easy to walk out.

Remember, no matter where you go... You're not where you were anymore.
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-17-2019, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moebius View Post
The short answer is yes, this is possible. I have nearly the exact actions you describe using a combination of the Echo, Harmony Hub, and SmartThings hub. After telling Alexa to turn on Cinema mode, screen drops, lights turn on to a set percentage, soffit LEDs turn on to a set color and brightness, all AV equipment is powered on, AV set to proper input. In my case, as I have a couple Amps for Atmos channels that are not remote enabled, I have them in a power sensing strip so that automatically power on with the receiver.

The trick you need to look into is an app in SmartThings called WebCoRE. It allows you to take actions based on those virtual switches. So in my case, when the switch is detected in the On state, it triggers the light commands, then calls the Harmony activity to turn on the equipment and drop the screen. I won't lie, there's a decent learning curve with the WebCoRE, but everything you need to get it going is on the SmartThings forum. Took me some study to get it right, but now it runs perfect. Plus, I incorporated it into CinemaVision with Kodi so that I have the full automated theater sequence. Trivia, then lights dim part way, trailers, lights go all the way off, Atmos (or THX since I still love old school) bump, then movie. Plus, it fires a separate WebCoRE piston if I pause the movie that brings the lights up to 5% to make it easy to walk out.
Thank you. This is what I needed - a reassurance that it is possible. SmarThings is from samsung right? I plan to use sonoff switches as samsung support is not that great here and pricey too at this part of the world. I have few questions:
- So can google home / alexa with Harmony hub control things that work on bluetooth or RF than just infra?
- Can the Cheap LED strips that have remotes, work with google home / alexa with Harmony hub ?
- Do I need to have any other software apart from - Google home / alexa + logitech harmony hub app for controlling the task sequence?


Thanks in Advance.
Anand

Last edited by argentum246; 04-17-2019 at 02:22 AM.
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Thank you @kevnhowe @dennwood and @Moebius . Your answers (and setup) look amazing. The question that perplexes me is this:

1. What role is smartthings playing here? I mean if i already have alexa / google mini is same network as sonoff wifi switches.. they should be able to talk to each other right ? Here is the link how they work directly:
https://www.itead.cc/blog/sonoff-work-with-google-home
-- am i also missing something here?

2. What all device frequencies logitech HUB can support? can it support devices running on RF / IR / Bluetooth / Wifi ? I am yet to find a page from logitech that says this clearly.

3. Can logitech control IR based remote controlled LED strip that i connected to TV USB port and is placed behind the TV?

Thanks again,
Anand
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post #8 of 10 Old Today, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by argentum246 View Post
- So can google home / alexa with Harmony hub control things that work on bluetooth or RF than just infra?
- Can the Cheap LED strips that have remotes, work with google home / alexa with Harmony hub ?
- Do I need to have any other software apart from - Google home / alexa + logitech harmony hub app for controlling the task sequence?
Harmony can interact with bluetooth devices (I use it to control my Odroid running Kodi). I won't lie, that part can be tricky to set up and requires the mobile app, but it does work. It can't do RF as RF uses specific crystal frequencies. It uses RF between the remote and the hub, but the hub has no way to output RF.

The LED strip is a slightly bigger question with a few variables. If the strip is such that it can be triggered to come on when power is applied, and remember the previous setting, then yes. You could set the light level you like, and use a z-wave controlled outlet (or outlet adapter) to power the lights on demand. The downside is, it's quite tricky to know if a given string would meet that criteria unless it's spelled out. For what it's worth, depending on how many linear feet you need to illuminate, a string, plus power supply, plus some manner of controller is still pretty cheap. In my case, the most expensive piece was the Fibaro Z-Wave controller.

Depending on the configuration of the devices, the Smart Speaker and Harmony Hub can control everything. I used the SmartThings and webcore primarily for a bit more control over the actions and because someone built a good interface for the Fibaro controller with it so I can be specific with the LEDs based on certain triggers. Webcore provided the extra benefit of letting me fire actions from Kodi/Cinemavision to create the full theater experience. (Trivia, change lights automatically, etc...)

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post #9 of 10 Old Today, 06:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by argentum246 View Post
1. What role is smartthings playing here? I mean if i already have alexa / google mini is same network as sonoff wifi switches.. they should be able to talk to each other right ? Here is the link how they work directly:
For a bit more detail, SmartThings isn't required in most cases, but adds additional capabilities. Harmony, while quite powerful, has focused so heavily on their activity based approach that they've limited some of the capabilities that would exist if they'd just allow straight macro commands. So yes, you could have Harmony power everything up after getting a command from a smart speaker (I'm not sure if Harmony knows what to do with a Fibaro led controller). It's the additional automations where something like SmartThings comes into play. For example, SmartThings could have triggers that respond differently at different times of day. Plus SmartThings using webcore can trigger events based on receiving a URL command.

So as an example, here's how my automation works (can't remember if I listed it out in this thread or not).

"Alexa, turn on Cinema mode"
This calls an action in Harmony which turns on a virtual switch in SmartThings in addition to Harmony remote commands
-Theater Drapes close (SmartThings)
-LED lights set to specific color and level (SmartThings)
-Theater lights turn on to specific level (SmartThings)
-AV Equipment powers up (Harmony)
-AV set to correct input (Harmony)
-Screen drops (Harmony)

Without SmartThings, I don't think I could set specific dim levels for the lights, and pretty sure I couldn't select the LED color setting (especially when I want it different based on time of day or the like).

Additional automation with Kodi/CinemaVision using SmartThings (the webcore app can respond to URL triggers which CinemaVision can send)

Start movie sequence
-Lights set to 25% (it's actually pretty bright in my case)
-LEDs set to red and 20% brightness
-Trivia slides begin (I have several versions running from just a couple minutes to 30 minutes if I want to have it running when people arrive and are getting situated)
-Lights dim to 15%
-LEDs dim to 10% and switch to blue
-Theater intro runs (just for fun. I actually use an old one from Showcase Cinemas in Boston from the early 2000s)
-Trailers run (again different modes ranging from 1 to 3 trailers)
-All lights turn off
-THX Intro (just because it's still the best, but I do have others for Atmos and such, I just like the original)
-Movie begins
-Additional actions, if I click pause, lights automatically come on to 5% to make it easy to move around, and go back off when I resume.
-End of movie, lights come back up to 15%, LEDs back on and a purple color.

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post #10 of 10 Old Today, 10:53 AM
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Moebius makes excellent points with respect to limitations...

Quote:
Originally Posted by argentum246 View Post
Thank you @kevnhowe @dennwood and @Moebius . Your answers (and setup) look amazing. The question that perplexes me is this:

1. What role is smartthings playing here? I mean if i already have alexa / google mini is same network as sonoff wifi switches.. they should be able to talk to each other right ? Here is the link how they work directly:
https://www.itead.cc/blog/sonoff-work-with-google-home
-- am i also missing something here?

2. What all device frequencies logitech HUB can support? can it support devices running on RF / IR / Bluetooth / Wifi ? I am yet to find a page from logitech that says this clearly.

3. Can logitech control IR based remote controlled LED strip that i connected to TV USB port and is placed behind the TV?

Thanks again,
Anand
1. SmartThings serves as a hub (connected to ethernet) which allows primarily zwave and zigbee (bulbs, switches, flood sensors, outlets) devices to connect and be managed. HUE (for lighting) has a hub (connected by ethernet) to which all HUE lights connect. Once HUE is added to SmartThings (they see each other over your ethernet LAN) then all HUE lights can be accessed by SmartThings. The Harmony remote and hub take care of controlled all your theatre components via their IR hub (connected via WIFI to your LAN) and IR blasters. This means your gear can all be hidden. Your existing bits of wifi switches and Alexa/google should integrate with a SmartThings hub just fine.

Think of SmartThings as a traffic cop, and Harmony, and HUE as cars on your automation road.

2. Use Harmony to control your AV devices directly. It can control pretty much anything via IR..including my fireplace. It can control (via SmartThings) lights and receptacles in a limited fashion. After many, many hours of testing and frustration, I strongly recommend HUE and HUE LED for all your lighting. It may cost be a bit more, but is 100% reliable. I have wasted $100s messing with other brands/solutions.

3. Yes, if Harmony does not have profiles already available for your LED lights, it can learn from other OEM remotes. That said, use HUE for all your lighting. You'll have reliable control for each fixture/bulb/LED strip with respect to colour and intensity. Each HUE bulb or LED strip connects to a HUE hub (using Zigbee RF) which is in turn then accessible to both Harmony, and SmartThings.

If you need voice, just add an Alexa or Google device to SmartThings.

Why a SmartThings hub? Because both HUE and Harmony are quite limited with respect to automation, and certainly timing/sequence of automations. Why add WebCore to SmartThings? This allows even more capabilities, like slowly dimming lights etc.

It's daunting at first to be presented with all this at once. Most of us have learned and found what works over several months/years of trying different products. You may start with one product, (like a Harmony hub) but then find out that it's quite limited when it comes to managing receptacles and lights (which require a SmartThings hub anyway). Then you mess with lights, and like me find out that HUE is pretty much dead reliable.

What I can say though is that the combination of SmartThings, HUE, and Harmony will let you do just about anything you desire. My kids even use the system (via HUE Disco iOS app) to turn the theatre into a disco dance deal with mood/beat coordinated lighting....

Last edited by dennwood; Today at 10:56 AM.
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