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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For anybody using HouseBot, I've updated the CEBotics web site with the latest update.


The two main additions are support for the Nirvis Slink-e hardware and a method to replicate Devices between HouseBot servers. Check out the what is new link for more details.


The Slink-e is NOT included with the HouseBot setup package. You need to get it from the plugins area on the Download page. It requires the latest HouseBot to run.


The Slink-e and Device Replicator are the first components to have on-line help. I'll be adding more help for the server in the next update.


Good luck,

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I wanted to give a special thanks to Caleb [ccclapp] for the gracious loan of his Slink-e for the development of the Slink-e Hardware Interface.


Thanks Caleb!


Scott
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by scottleonard
I wanted to give a special thanks to Caleb [ccclapp] for the gracious loan of his Slink-e for the development of the Slink-e Hardware Interface.


Thanks Caleb!


Scott
...hay Scott, it is you who is doing the heavy lifting!


PS I received it yesterday. I'm glad it was helpful.


--Caleb
 

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Thanks for the great update Scott!


I was wondering if I was doing something right or not:

I added an "Execute Client Application" control which runs a VBscript on the client. I set the app name as wscript.exe and the vbs file as the command line parameter, though this results in an error if the path to the script contains spaces. Adding quotes doesn't help so I changed the path to progra~1 to compensate.


Also, is there a way to put scripts in the server's theme folder and have it synch to the clients like the graphics do? That would be handy, but maybe only for me.



One more thing for you, I suppose the scripting ability allows me to use VBS to obtain a value from something and then supply that to a HouseBot property? I was thinking of reading an Access database for a few table values and putting that on the clients. So I would use

"SetPropertyValue" to control a user specified property. I added the scripting device but I don't get it. How do you define the vbs file name? and how do you start it?


Thanks!!


And in case anyone is interested: I am running this on a few tablet computers at 800x600. It looks and works like a dream! I've attached a screenshot of the latest theme I made. I've been using an icon editing program that can convert ico files into bmp (IconWorkshop). That works great for XP style icons with transparencies etc. It really makes up for my horrible artistic abilities!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The problem with spaces in the program arguments is a bug. It sounds like you have found the workaround, but I'll fix it in the next update.


Currently there is no way to sync your scripts to the client. I need to work on this. I also want to sync any fonts that are used and not present on the client, as well as the keyclick wav file. It's been low on the priority list, since it is a one-time copy.


I've heard of others doing exactly what you are attempting with the Script Device and a Database. To use the Script Device:

1) Enable the Device

2) Set the 'Name of Script' to the full path and file name of the VB script.

3) Change the 'State' to 'Running' when you want the script to run.


The State will return to 'Stopped' when the script is done. If you want to kill the script, you can manually change the State to 'Stopped'.


You can use SetPropertyValue to change any property value. Just specify the device description, property description, and new value.


Scott
 

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The program looks incredibly powerful! I'm definitely on the low end of the learning curve with it, though. Since I know it would be difficult to quickly write a tutorial for the software, is there a chance that one or more of you could upload what you've created so far? I find that I can learn a lot from reverse engineering what others have done. It worked for Girder and I hope it applies here. Also, if you do upload examples, a quick primer on how to load them into the program would be awesome!


Thanks to all and especially Scott for the hard work!


Jeff
 

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I agree with Jeff. If possible, any examples or just a few helpful pushes in the right direction would be great. I have downloaded the program, but haven't been able to get it to do anything. I'm not sure where to even start. I know the documentation will come later, but this app looks so good I have to dive in and start learning how to use it.


Thanks,

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I've made the on-line help my highest priority. Without it, I realize there is a tough learning curve.


If you guys can give me a brief description of what you want to try and accomplish with the system, and maybe what interface equipment you have (Ocelot, Slink-e, etc.), maybe I can put together a simple demo config.


Paul, you're so close I could almost just pop-in for a demo :)


Scott
 

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Thanks, Scott! I'll try to keep this as generic as possible so others can benefit. Here goes:


Stage 1 - Main Menu: A main menu with maybe a couple of buttons like lighting control and projector power.


Stage 2 - Projector ON: This could be a simple toggle that calls a girder function on the server side. The event would occur when the user pressed the projector power button on the main menu. A real plus would be to remember the state of the device and display accordingly.


Stage 3 - Lighting Control: Pressing the lighting control button on the main menu would spawn another window or maybe refresh the main window. Either way, this "control panel" might contain status and controls for a light module. So, when I enter this screen, I see that the lamp module is on or off and I can turn it on or dim as appropriate. This control would use the CM11A device.


Stage 5 - Automation: Using the features/functions above, create a new button called "Watch a Movie". When pressed, the following variable evaluations could occur:


If device Lamp(A1)ON then

Lamp(A1) = ON

Lamp(A1) Dim = 25%

end if


If Device Projector ON then Projector = ON


Open DVD Drive Tray

Etc.


Since you are quite busy, feel free to try and explain these things in stages. Perhaps we can come up the learning curve in steps. Also, if you could provide some information about hierarchies in the application (parent child relationships) that would be very helpful. Thanks again for all of your great work and your even greater patience with those of us who are still catching on!


Jeff
 

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Scott,


Now that is service :) What part of GA are you in? I am still setting up theater control and was looking at several options. Any advice on Ocelot vs. Slink-e vs. Other for IR transmitter control? Right now I am just trying to get some Girder commands to work from HouseBot. I have a couple of serial devices set up in Girder to control my projector and A/V Receiver. Could this be done straight from HouseBot? I understand the Device / Property concepts, but I'm not sure where to go from there. I set up a Girder bridge device, but could not get the .gml file to save in that property. Also, in the theme editor, I could create buttons but do they have to be on another machine do actually do something? I just feel totally lost. Any type of example or helpful hint would be great. If anyone could just tell me how they set up one device and one command that would be great. This tool seems very powerful.


Thanks again,

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I created a sample config that demonstrates a very basic system setup. I'm almost afraid for anyone to see it, as it is so limited in what it does that one might get the wrong impression of HouseBot. Also the graphics are the *worst* I have ever made, so I feel safe that no one will steal them.


If the sample proves useful, I may improve and add to it.


The client UI is setup for a Pocket PC size. Please understand that quality graphics make the client an entirely different animal.


To use the sample:

0) Stop HouseBot

1) Rename you existing 'Config' directory found in the 'HouseBot' path.

2) Unzip the Sample into a new 'Config' directory (unzip and preserve path).

3) Make sure it is unziped in the correct location (no nested Config).

4) Start HouseBot


The setup is for a very lame Media Room that has one light, a DVD player and a Projector. There is also an X10 motion detector elsewhere in the house. The light is X10, and the DVD and Projector are controlled via IR. All devices use the Ocelot. If enabled from the client, the motion detector will cause the movie to pause if activated.


The sample won't run because the IR codes are not correct, but you can use to to see how to set things up. Notice how the IR codes are assigned to the Property Values (you have to dig into the Property view to find this).


Also note how the Theme Panels use Initialization Tasks that run when the Panel is entered.


I threw this together pretty fast, so you get what you pay for with this one :D


When you are done, just rename your old 'Config' directory back.


You can download the sample at www.cebotics.com/Samples/Sample1.zip


If anyone wants to make a better sample, I won't be offended and will be happy to host it.


Good luck,

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by paul_mullen
Scott,


Now that is service :) What part of GA are you in? I am still setting up theater control and was looking at several options. Any advice on Ocelot vs. Slink-e vs. Other for IR transmitter control? Right now I am just trying to get some Girder commands to work from HouseBot. I have a couple of serial devices set up in Girder to control my projector and A/V Receiver. Could this be done straight from HouseBot? I understand the Device / Property concepts, but I'm not sure where to go from there. I set up a Girder bridge device, but could not get the .gml file to save in that property. Also, in the theme editor, I could create buttons but do they have to be on another machine do actually do something? I just feel totally lost. Any type of example or helpful hint would be great. If anyone could just tell me how they set up one device and one command that would be great. This tool seems very powerful.


Thanks again,

Paul
Paul,

I'm really not an expert all of the IR control hardware. I really like my Ocelot. If you don't need the Sony "S/A1 Control" that the Slink-e provides, I would definitely lean toward Ocelot; it's cheaper and more functional. I compared the IR transmission speeds of the Ocelot and Slink-e and the both seemed about the same.


There are other IR transceivers out there, but HouseBot does not have Hardware Interfaces for them (yet).


If you are controlling your devices through a serial port with Girder, you probably won't be able to control them with HouseBot, unless you want to write your own Hardware Interface. However, it should be no problem to use Girder. Also make sure you 'Enable' the Girder device before trying to import the GML file. None of the Properties will stick if the Device is not enabled.


Generally, you create Themes in HouseBot to run on remote hardware such as Pocket PC's or tablet computers. However, if you want to run them on the server machine, or any other Windows machine, you can do that too. After you create the Theme, create a Client and select the Theme you created. Then start a Software Remote (installed in a 'Clients' directory) and use the same client name configured at the server when prompted by the Client/Software Remote.


I think once you break the surface, things will start to fall into place.


I used to live in Cumming also. Now I live right below you in Alpharetta.


Scott
 

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Thanks Scott. Things are starting to make sense to me. A couple of follow up questions, that I might just be overlooking.


I set up a Girder Bridge device. Was able to set the .gml file (I used the full path to the file which I wasn't before). I thought HouseBot was polling Girder to see what it had loaded. I created a task to change the property of the Eventstring and it changed this in HouseBot. How do I set a task to call a command I have set up in Girder? This has to be something simple I'm not seeing, but I've tried several things and none of them is working.


Also, I downloaded the sample config and it helped alot to understand the structure in HouseBot. One more question on the themes. I knows this sounds stupid, but where do you set the properties or actions of the buttons. I assume that in the sample config the DVD button on the first panel calls the DVD-init task to run. Where do you set this or other properties of the ui elements (color, name, action, etc.).


Do you know of a good source for the Ocelot?


Thanks again for the hand holding. I'm making progress and hopefully will be able to help others that will be looking at this software. It's so powerful, I know alot of people out there will want to be using it.


Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Paul,


You will want to set things up so that when the Girder Property Value changes in HouseBot, an event is automatically sent to Girder.

Here's a post that describes the Girder Plugin setup. It may help.


When you first click on a Theme, a small property window with multiple tabs should be displayed. This window displays the properties for the selected control. If you can't find this window, let me know... a lot of people seem to miss it somehow.


The best source that I know of for the Ocelot is Worthington . They have it for $149.


Scott
 

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Thanks again Scott. It all fell into place just like you said. I have the Girder bridge working now. Also, it was my stupidity on the Theme properties. I saw the windo that popped up and went through the different tabs, but after naming the panel, etc. I closed it.


Thanks again for you patience and creating such a great program. This will be great for controlling my theater and has gotten me thinking of more home control ideas.


Paul
 

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Hi, I am exploring HouseBot and while my learning curve is slow it's a really fun process and a great program! I have some questions about themes. They're probably super-basic (sorry!) but I'm new to the whole graphics thing...


- Why is it that when I create an image outside of HouseBot and then try to use that image as a button within a panel, the image is often cropped so only a small portion of it is showing? This doesn't happen when I designate the image as an "Image" button, but it does happen if I make it an "Execute Task" button, for instance.


- Is there a way to put text across the top of a panel? Or does it have to be pre-formulated as a bitmap and then placed in the panel as an "Image" button?


- What's the best way to find/create images to populate the themes / panels - use something like IconWorkshop? Are there libraries of pre-made icons out there that would work?


Any help you could provide would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks very much in advance!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
- The reason that you are getting 1/2 sized buttons is because the button bitmap actually contains two images. The leftmost image is of the button in its normal state. The rightmost image is of the button in is pressed state.


- There are three ways to include text on a panel.

1) Include the text as part of the panel background bitmap

2) Add the text (and other graphics) in an Image control and place on panel.

3) Add a 'Static Label' control to the panel (probably your best solution).


- In my experience, I usually find the style somewhere like:

1) Skin from another app (WinAmp, 3DFtp, etc).

2) www.skinz.org or other skinning site.

3) Web site

4) RemoteCentral. Check out the Pronto section for images.

Then I use PaintShop Pro to build the graphics I need using the borders, buttons, or anything I can cobble together from the source graphics. At some point, I'd like to provide a library of image styles on the web site, but I haven't had the time to put anything together yet.


FYI: Next week I hope to have an update with some on-line help. That should help you brave souls who are actually using HouseBot.


Scott
 

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A question for those using HouseBot. I made a theme with a 1024x768 panel to cover the entire screen. Can I somehow also cover the Windows task bar. I tried the auto-hide and it's not bad, but there is still a line showing from the task bar. Also I read in another post that we would be able to have no cursor in the theme (I'm using a progear and don't need a cursor). Is this in the current version or still something to be done? I've been playing with this for a couple of weeks now and it is GREAT. I just ordered an Ocelot and hope to have it this weekend.


Also for those that are using this, post some screenshots of what you're doing with it. I think that helps everyone generate some more ideas on how to use this powerful software. I hope to have an initial test theme done soon and will post what I have.


Thanks,

Paul
 

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Wow those are some sweet buttons. I recognize the background's source, did the buttons come from the same, or did you develop them? I haven't yet purchased the latest version of that program (as my pay pal account is not my friend at the moment.)
 
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