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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been pricing Grafik Eye 3000 series 4 and 6 zone controlers (I have 5 potential lighting zones in the HT room). Though I'd love to have programed lighting scenes I keep balking at the price. I keep thinking about the AV upgrades or tweaks I could do with the $550 to $75O. On the other hand I've put a lot of work into the room, including doing the lighting myself, and having Grafik Eye type control would be really nice.


Does anyone know of a cheaper alternative that will give me similar, if less elegant, control at a cheaper price tag? A batch of x10 type swithces perhaps? Are there x10s that use wireless remotes ? Should I just bite the bullet and go for the Grafik Eye?


Any suggestions appreciated. bd
 

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X10 will work similiar to the grafik eye. You can use wireless remotes, set up scenes, put lights on a timer, etc. Smarthome is a good source of info regarding X10 and what you can get.
 

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I have a 4 zone Lutron Spacer system. It works well with 4 zones, but not so well with more than that.


Don't skimp on the lighting control. It's one of the most visible features of your theater and remote control really adds to the experience.


--Burke
 

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I really hate to re-invent the wheel, so...


I am looking for similar information to wire my lights in the HT.


I have tried the search engine & it either gives me nothing (if I am specific) or gazillions of hits (if I leave my search generic)


I want to be able to scene control theater lights with IR or RF (Pronto). No three-way switching needed in the theater. Ceiling cans, wall sconces, stage/proscenium rope lights & platform accent rope lights.


The Smarthome site is a little overwhelming. Hoping someone has done a similar set-up & might have model numbers or other suggestions.


I like the look of the 2392 (middle of the page) but I'm not sure this is remote controllable.

http://www.smarthome.com/2390.html


(I do have CAT-5 running from HT light switching area & from hall-way/lobby 3-way switches to central component closet. Wiring boxes are still accessible)


thanks in advance for your help



[ Projector in the crate & ready to ship-I've got lots of work to do...]
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the ideas and link. I haven't had time yet to price out a system of X10 dimmers and a controler. I'm not sure yet if the money I'll save putting together an x10 component system will be worth it yet but I will look into it. The capabillities of the various components are not completely clear to me yet either.

-bd
 

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I'm trying to figure out the exact same thing right now. I'm doing some wiring this weekend for my cans, sconces, and rope lighting. I'm not sure what system I'll be getting.


Another system to look at is the Leviton Mural system.


Shawn
 

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You might want to check out the following IR dimmers:

http://www.davidsteele.com/rcd.html


I just ordered one of these to see how it might work out. The remote that comes with this IR dimmer can handle 4 dimmers. That won't handle 5 zones, but you were looking for something cheap. It will work with any learning remote, so if you were using an MX-500 or similar, you could program macros to handle your needs. I haven't gotten that far, but first impressions are positive.


BTW: They shipped item very quickly. Good communication.
 

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I used PCS X10 switches in my theater. I considered going with Lutron, but decided to go with X10.


I have a theater and a lobby. My theater has a door to to the outside, and a door to the lobby. My lobby has a door to the theater (duh), a door to a bedroom, a door to a bathroom, and a door to stairs. No doors involved in the lobby . My lobby also has my equpiment rack.


Theater Lighting: Sconces (4 lights), Recessed ceiling lights (4 lights), 1 string of rope lights around the ceiling.


Lobby lighting. 1 overhead light.


I needed a control for one set of lights (I decided on my recessed lights) at my outside entry door into the theater. Also, another control at the entry point from my stairs to the lobby. Obviously, some kind of "switch" at a point to control the theater lights too.


Future expansion.


I wanted the ability to add future zones, particularily the stairs and hall coming down to the theater. I also wanted to have the *option* to do rope lights and similar around my stage and riser, but didn't know exactly what/how.


If I'd gone with the Lutron, I'd have needed 2 remote switches and a control point that could control at least 4 light zones (more if I wanted to run the stairs).


I decided to go with PCS switches. I bought the following items (rough costs included).


4 PCS switches (3 black, 1 white) - $75 each

1 slave switch to put by the entry door - $25.

1 controller switch to go by Lobby entrance. This can turn on all lights and also sends X-10 signals to my PC so the PC can turn on my projector, etc. KeypadLink 6 button ($75)

CM11a PC Interface - $30

IR to X10 converter - $30

Phase coupler - $20-50+ (could be optional, but not likely - I bought one).

Other "reliability" hardware - +++++ (I didn't buy anything else)

-------------

Total: ~$500.00


If I'd gone with a lutron system, I would have been out about somewhere between $600 and $1000 (from memory), depending on 4 or 6 zone and how hard I shopped. It would have cost more if I'd wanted to have my computer able to program / control it.


In the end, I decided to go with X10 for the following reasons:


* Easier expandability - I can add a switch anywhere in the house for $75.00 without having to rewire anything. My stair lighting can be done for $100 ($75 for bottom and $25 at the top), and I don't have to worry about running any custom wiring to that point - it'll just work.

* Easy interface to computer. Girder controls / reads commands and can augment functionality (example, if a certain zone command is sent, the lights turn on but the computer also turns on the projector). Also, when I hit "Pause" on my remote, the computer receives that, pauses the movie and *also* turns the lights on dimly.

* Flexible - can do pretty much anything with this. Add zones, Add switches, Computer, More rope lights, turn off the washer/dryer - whatever.

* Don't need a dedicated 4-gang box PLUS another low voltage box nearby. Can just put switches in where you need/want them.

* Now low voltage (proprietary or otherwise) wiring to connect anything.


- Downsides


* X10 is slow. Lighting turn on/off delays are roughly one second from any button/switch hit. Lutron would be instant.

* Complex. This system is easy to *install*, but then you have to figure out how you want zones to work and configure that. PCS Lighting has a nice software tool for this which made things easier, but it's still not easy.

* Not as reliable. X10 is notorious for its unreliability. I've not had *any* problems with mine, but some people fight this a lot. I paid for top-quality (PCS) switches to help mitigate this risk, and so far have had no problems.


The bottom line is that I'm *very* happy with what I did (but aren't we all happy with most of our HT decisions?). I have a really, really flexible system that runs off my remote control, has reliable, solid light control, and is computer interfaced. Everything I wanted in a lighting system for $500.00.


Note that I did have one PCS switch stop responding to signals (but still worked), in addition to my IR->X10 converter going bad. Both were fixed under warranty. It happened at the same time, so I suspect some kind of power surge. I don't know if that would have happened with Lutron.


Wow, that's a rambling summary! I hope you get some value from this.

http://www.nessoft.com/gallery/theater


- Pete
 

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I went with PCS as well. Very happy with it. I also have lots of standard X10 switches in my house and have had my share of ghost triggering. But never with the PCS stuff. They must have better filtering circuits that won't respond to line noise.


I bought the 4 gang dimmer unit. True, it's a bi*** to set up but once done it does everything I need. They also have 6 and 8 buttom wall switch modules where each button can be programmed to do anything you want. Each button just sends out an X10 command but by programming the dimmer units they can trigger fades and presets. You can have multiple of these units as well. I don't think Graphik Eye even has that level of flexibility. One word of advice, keep good written notes of all your settings. They provide forms in the manual to do this.


I bought all my PCS stuff from www.smarthome.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Great suggestions and the details with up and downsides are appreciated Pete.

I have not done any X10 or PCS stuff before so appologies for newbie questions.

Re. the PC interface. Is it necessary to have a PC for set up or online all the time, in order to program and run the system, or does it just make programing and control easier and more flexible? I hadn't thought about controlling the entry hall to the theater but now that you mention it, that would be very nice to do as well. I just found this site for general X10 info http://x10ideas.com/articles/display...p?articleid=18

I haven't had a chance to read much more than the intro to X10 yet.

If there is a link to x10 & PCS set up and programing manuals online, that might be helpfull in the decision.
 

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I will vote for Lightolier's Compose system. I just got through putting one in my basement home theater and it works great. I have 2 separate lighting circuits with 4 dimmers on each circuit. I have a master controller at top of the stairs as a all on and all off. In the theater I have a scene controller that has 5 scenes and can be controlled IR. I can't rave enough about this system. It's even X10 compatible.

greg
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bonedog
Re. the PC interface. Is it necessary to have a PC for set up or online all the time, in order to program and run the system, or does it just make programing and control easier and more flexible?


If there is a link to x10 & PCS set up and programing manuals online, that might be helpfull in the decision.
The PC interface can be used for a variety of things. As I refine my system more, I become more and more reliant on the PC.


PCS has a pretty nice piece of software for programming the switches. This is used to make things easier (but isn't necessary). Flexability is all possible without using this software, but then you'll need a Maxi-controller (something I forgot to list in my equipment list above! Add a Maxi-controller for another $30 or so to the list of equipment). If you have a PC you won't *need* a maxi-controller, but ... I bought one.


You can get downloads for manuals at the www.pcslighting.com site. Manuals are all available there. Look for the scenemaster stuff.


I would probably recommend against using the X10 branded *switches*. Not the sending pieces, but the actual light switches. There are numerous reports that these "ghost" more when line noise is present. They're cheap, though! I use a number of the X10 branded items - maxi-controller, CM11A, IR->X10 converter. Just not the switches themselves.
 

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Pete-


Where did you get your PCS stuff?


The 6 button PCS switch I'm looking at is ~$120. Apparently this has a dimmer built-in versus the ~$75 non-dimming Keypad-Link. Is this the unit you have? Is the price difference worth it? Can I get by with one less dimmer if I go with the 6 button switch with a built-in dimmer?

http://www.smarthomeusa.com/Products...ct=pcs/SMST6-W

http://www.smarthome.com/23796.html


thanks,


I have had Smarthome's site up for about 3 days trying to figure out what to order...


BTW, here is a link for Smarthome discounts.

(Just in case some of you aren't on their e-mail list.)

http://www.smarthome.com/asp/cl/cl.a...03landing.html


thanks again
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bentson
Pete-


Where did you get your PCS stuff?
Smarthome. There are some possible cheaper sources, but the customer service and selection at smarthome is quite good.

Quote:



The 6 button PCS switch I'm looking at is ~$120. Apparently this has a dimmer built-in versus the ~$75 non-dimming Keypad-Link. Is this the unit you have? Is the price difference worth it? Can I get by with one less dimmer if I go with the 6 button switch with a built-in dimmer?

I bought a keypadlink: http://www.smarthome.com/12061.html.


The one I got was the 6 button, and when I bought mine there was no option to get one with a built in dimmer (ie: it was a controller only).


Mine is in my lobby - and it is mounted in a 2-gang box with a PCS switch beside it for controlling the lobby light. Most people use the PCS switch (just a standard decora toggle PCS) because they are scared of all the buttons on the keypadlink - it's unfamiliar.


If I had to do it again, I'd do it the same way - use PCS dimmers for all lights, and only use other branded stuff to transmit. The advantage of this is that you get to use the same "scene" commands for all your switches, which I think makes things easier to program and maintain.


To the best of my knowledge, the PCS controller does not include a dimmer - so you can't control one of your lights from it - it's an add-on. The $129 for the PCS version was a bit rich for me, so I bought the Keypadlink (half the cost) and decided I could buy a PCS if I wanted to later. I'm not sure ... the keypadlink is very functional, but the "look and feel" isn't quite as clean as I'd like it to be.
 

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I will have to check to see if it will control as well as run its own circuit. I agree, if it only acts as a controller it is a little steep. However if it works as a dimmer as well as a controller it might be worth the extra $$. The smarthomeusa site makes it sound like it is a dimmer as well.


The WAF is higher with the PCS vs the Keypadlink. But, I like being able to change the labels. Oh, the confusion...

http://www.smarthomeusa.com/Products...ct=pcs/SMST6-W


Ordering Information - Part Numbers

SMST6-X (Dimmer)

SMST8-X (Dimmer)

SPM-3 Programming Manual

X=(color): White(W), Ivory(I), Almond (A), Gray (G), Black (B)
 

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Hey bonedog, checkout www.mainstreetshowroom.com for grafik eye prices, they have the by far the best prices I could find. The 4 zone Grafik eye in the 2000 series $369, in the 3000 series $499 I think.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bentson
I will have to check to see if it will control as well as run its own circuit. I agree, if it only acts as a controller it is a little steep. However if it works as a dimmer as well as a controller it might be worth the extra $$. The smarthomeusa site makes it sound like it is a dimmer as well.
No listing of wattage rating there - and without a load rating, I suspect that it doesn't drive any loads. Also, the wiring instructions are: "Mount a standard single gang wall box. Run two #14 or #12 wires for line and neutral." This implies that there is no line for a load anywhere - and the fact the there isn't even a *ground* needed extra-emphasizes that.


WAF is important, so I'd buy what she likes . The ergonomics on the Keypad link isn't great (the buttons are a bit "stiff" - they have a very firm "click", and they are a bit too big. Also, no backlight), but I don't know how good it is on the PCS either. There seems to be a few too many controls in one area - which is confusing to use unless briefed. The keypadlink version has no backlight illumination (although some buttons can be configured to be lit - they are a bit bright when lit) - so that's a serious plus for the PCS version.


- Pete
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
One question about the switches. Does anyone know the difference between the switchlink plus ($59) and the smartswitch ($75) ? It's not clear to me from the descriptions.


I am starting to get psyched about the PCS / X10 options. I am resigned to the fact that I'm going to have to spend some cash either way but I like the expantion potential of this system. There have been some two & three way switch wiring and lamp outlet control wiring jobs I've been procrastinating around the house. This system should make those a lot easier and less messy once I get the hang of it. I did download the scenemaster programing manual and programing by controller button sequences does look like a pain however. I hope the software option will make it easier. (I haven't downloaded the free PCS software yet)


Thanks for the discount code link bentson.

For anyone still shopping Grafik Eye, 325bim's link: www.mainstreetshowroom.com

does indeed show some very good prices.
 
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