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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just purchased a model home that has an amazing amount of audio/ video gear. More than I could ever imagine purchasing separately. After two days programming by a Crestron professional, I miss not having the ability to program stuff myself. In addition, there are tweaks I would like to do, but not at $125 hr. I do not have the means to continue to spend at that rate.


I used to have a fairly simple setup with a URC MX850, and had no problems controlling a single room setup with all my A/V gear. I am now contemplating trading my Crestron gear, and the time spent programming my MC2E and Crestron TPMC-8X, for a simpler solution that I could maintain once set up. A URC 880 or 980 comes to mind, although I have never programmed one. My components are as follows:


Great Room:

Sharp HD TV

Integra receiver

LG BluRay

Powered sub woofer

Ethernet controller/ switch

Dlink wireless router for my notebook


Speakercraft Time Controller

Crestron MC2E

Crestron TPMC-8X


Downstairs control room

Integra receiver

CD player

Niles MSA-10A speaker controller

Speakercraft amp BB2125

Ethernet router

Qwest DSL router


Other rooms

Wall volume switches in about 10 rooms

Speakers in about 10 rooms


My question is: If I have this A/V company do the initial setup of a URC 880 or 980, could I maintain the system? I am a fairly component PC user, but not super experienced with networking. I am hoping once setup, I could tweak and maintain the 880 or 980 when adding or changing components. Is that realistic considering the complexity of what I have? Is their a better way to go?

Thanks!

Todd
 

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Whats with putting the "professional" part in quotes? Did you have a bad experience? Your system sounds pretty straight forward. Was it operational when you moved in? If so.. what were the changes you wanted to have done?


Also.. see my second response at RC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I changed from cable to directv, and changed from standard DVD to a blu-ray player. Twelve hours to do that? I am not a professional, but in my novice experience that seems excessive. Your thoughts?
 

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Obviously there are some guys who are faster than others and some companies who will charge more or less depending on many things. New Mexico is probably less expensive than New York City.


This is something i typed out in another post to explain what takes place when a source is swapped. 12 hours @ 125.00 is $1500. 12 hours seems like a lot but time can quickly add up. I would have guessed 9 hours. Did they handle the actual swap of the hardware or spend time coordinating with DirecTV? Or just the programming? That might explain the extra time or they may have run into something tricky. I would suspect that the bill would have been very similar if you had a professional URC company come in. $95-$150 is the typical range for programming. Programmers typically make significantly more than installers so their labor is billed higher.


Having said that.. I can completely understand why you would be interested in moving to something that you can manage yourself. I still stand by my advice in the other forum about keeping the Crestron system because of distributed audio. I wonder if your wired for keypad control. Something like speakercraft where you could have source control in each room. This might make it easier to lose the TPMC-8X.

Quote:
Swapping out the drivers is a small part of what actually happens when you want to change sources. A CI firm will typically need to get the shipping/receiving department, a technician, a programmer and a user interface designer involved.

Creating the IR driver:


You first need the IR commands for the new device so that you can learn them. Since the dealer did not provide the product the customer will need to ship or deliver the remote & device. Dealer has to receive the remote & device. Labor clock just started ticking.


Then you have to hunt down discrete commands that DO NOT come with the original remote. This is why you need the device also vs just sending the remote. You have to be able to test the commands.

Plugging it in to simpl:


Now that you have the IR file, everything tested and working its time to plug it in to simpl. Your command set is very different from one player to the next and the new one is a mega changer so there will be additional buttons.

Updating the user interface file:


Add/remove buttons so that it jives with the simpl file. Hopefully the original design allows you enough space for the additional commands. If your friend has a single touchpanel you can stop now. If he has multiple touchpanels its time for rinse and repeat. Different model panels with different resolutions mean you may have to create multiple sets of the same graphics.

Update software and firmware:


Firmware and software are constantly updated. Everytime you make a change to the system you find yourself upgrading every products firmware so that it works with current software. Firmware & software upgrades can cause issues with existing programming so there is always the possibility you will need to rewrite something that isn't even related to the source swap.

Uploading the files:


If your friend has remote access setup and he is savvy enough to connect cables for uploads and knows enough about the system to test... remote programming will usually be ok. The CI will usually spend as much time on the phone during this process as they would if they just rolled a truck out to the project.

Testing:


Every button on every panel should be tested after programming changes are made. The larger the home, the more time it takes. Why do you want to test every button? Just in case the dealer updated the wrong file, Just in case a new firmware/software update broke some of the logic in your program. etc.


$600.00 is quite the bargain IMO. If this is not within your friends budget or if your friend is interested in learning to do it himself then i would agree that maybe they should remove the professional control system from their theater and install something more cost effective and DIY friendly.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by toddbe /forum/post/17005730


I changed from cable to directv, and changed from standard DVD to a blu-ray player. Twelve hours to do that? I am not a professional, but in my novice experience that seems excessive. Your thoughts?

If your description is accurate and that was ALL that was required, yes it is excessive. As an integrator I am getting sick and tired/embarrassed of hearing these types of stories. 4 hours on-site MAX. More likely about 2. I'm not saying you were blatantly ripped off, in almost all of these cases it's a programmer who is under skilled, or a company that sends a different programmer every time and the second guy can't figure out what the first guy did or who knows.


This ASSUMES there are not details being left out as often details which seem small to the Client add a lot of time to the project.
 

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I want to add some qualifications to my post because I am concerned I may be unfairly critiquing someone elses work without all of the facts. My comments in the first post that it should take about 4 hours max assumed that ALL that needed to be done was one DirecTV box swapped and one cable box swapped and the system reprogrammed accordingly. Nothing else. If for instance, it also included mounting a satellite dish to change from cable to directv, or wiring in DirecTv thoughout the house, all bets are off, that's a lot more work. Even calling DirecTV and getting a box activated can easily take an hour plus, i.e. it all add up.


My comments also assumed the components were easy to get to (as they should be) and disconnect and reconnect. That's not always the case. To be honest I'm suspecting there is more involved here if you were billed for 12 hours of work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by QQQ /forum/post/17005872


I want to add some qualifications to my post because I am concerned I may be unfairly critiquing someone elses work without all of the facts. My comments in the first post that it should take about 4 hours max assumed that ALL that needed to be done was one DirecTV box swapped and one cable box swapped and the system reprogrammed accordingly. Nothing else. If for instance, it also included mounting a satellite dish to change from cable to directv, or wiring in DirecTv thoughout the house, all bets are off, that's a lot more work.


No


Even calling DirecTV and getting a box activated can easily take an hour plus, i.e. it all add up.


No


My comments also assumed the components were easy to get to (as they should be) and disconnect and reconnect.


Yes, easy to get to.


That's not always the case. To be honest I'm suspecting there is more involved here if you were billed for 12 hours of work.

The only other work was adding a 4-port switcher so I could get ethernet in three other locations that were already wired.
 

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Well, than as I said, it seems very high. Did you ask them why it was so high? Were you there while they were doing the work (i.e. was this all work performed on-site)? Did they give you an estimate ahead of time?
 

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A 4 port ethernet switch is plug and play meaning you take existing ethernet cable and plug it in then plug new devices/locations in. This should not have taken more than an hour. The hour includes locating the wires, testing them and wiring the switch up.


It seems that DirecTV handled the hardware installation. I assume the CI spent 10-20 minutes making sure the device was setup and the IR emitter was good. Who installed the Blu-ray player? If it was you did you also install the IR Emitter? These minor issues can easily add up to an hour between both devices.


Basing a project on time and material is the only way that a contractor can be paid for all of his time. On a brand new project, the contractor has control of the variables. Installing a Blu-ray player and a DVD player and a Directv receiver are easier to install when you do it all at once. You pull cables to the display once, you wire up and install the components in the cabinet once etc.


To clarify, im not saying you should just accept this, you have the ability to negotiate these things. Asking for a fixed bid for this sort of work may be difficult but its not impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp /forum/post/17006543


A 4 port ethernet switch is plug and play meaning you take existing ethernet cable and plug it in then plug new devices/locations in. This should not have taken more than an hour. The hour includes locating the wires, testing them and wiring the switch up.


It seems that DirecTV handled the hardware installation. I assume the CI spent 10-20 minutes making sure the device was setup and the IR emitter was good. Who installed the Blu-ray player?


They did, I bought it.


If it was you did you also install the IR Emitter?


No.


These minor issues can easily add up to an hour between both devices.


Basing a project on time and material is the only way that a contractor can be paid for all of his time. On a brand new project, the contractor has control of the variables. Installing a Blu-ray player and a DVD player and a Directv receiver are easier to install when you do it all at once. You pull cables to the display once, you wire up and install the components in the cabinet once etc.


To clarify, im not saying you should just accept this, you have the ability to negotiate these things. Asking for a fixed bid for this sort of work may be difficult but its not impossible.

This was a home that was sold with all this gear. This company did the original installation. I wanted 4 changes:


1- Directv - install done by directv

2- Swap Blu ray player, for the DVD already in the system - purchased by me

3- 4 port ethernet - purchased by them

4- Add my dlink wireless router to the network


I am afraid to see what the bill will be. I was around about half the time. Two guys, one doing programming of Crestron, the other I am not sure of.


They never game me a quote, still haven't received a bill.


Which one would you recommend? Not sure I understand the difference beteween the 880,880Z and 980. Which bast station - MRF-260, MRZ-260, or the MRF-350 + RFX-250?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by toddbe /forum/post/17006910


This was a home that was sold with all this gear. I wanted 4 changes:


1- Directv - install done by directv

2- Swap Blu ray player, for the DVD already in he system - purchased by me

3- 4 port ethernet - purchased by them
4- Add my dlink wireless router to the network

This is what i was getting at. This detail that was left out of your other posts just added another hour to labor. Not that it matters.. just pointing out how seemingly minor things can begin to add up making a 4 hour install be 6 hours.


One thing that concerns me is that you mentioned 12 hours @ $125 an hour in one of your posts. Then you mention not being billed yet and 2 guys being there. If 2 guys were there and the bill is for 12 hours that means 2 guys 6 hours each. This sounds right IMO. If they are billing you for 12 hours X 2 guys. Then there's definitely a problem because there's no way you should be paying for 24 hours of labor for the work you describe.

Quote:
Which one would you recommend? Not sure I understand the difference beteween the 880,880Z and 980. Which bast station - MRF-260, MRZ-260, or the MRF-350 + RFX-250?

If i understand your system correctly... and you just want to be able to have control over the great room so that you can make changes and upgrades on your own... I would probably go with the MX-880Z & MRZ-260. These are technically professional products so you will need to find a dealer who will give you access to the software. The software does not ship with these remotes so make sure the seller understands that you want it. If they say no hang up and call the next dealer.


What changes to your system would you make today... that would make you 100% happy with the system? Does everything work properly? Do you have control over everything? Are you just interested in tweaking the user interface? Do you just not like a touchscreen and you would rather have a hand held remote?


Your choices are to learn how to program the crestron system & keep what you have. Or.. Add the URC remote and keep everything else as is. Or.. Get rid of the Crestron gear and replace it with something DIY friendly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by 39CentStamp /forum/post/17007107


This is what i was getting at. This detail that was left out of your other posts just added another hour to labor. Not that it matters.. just pointing out how seemingly minor things can begin to add up making a 4 hour install be 6 hours.


Yes, I left out the wireless router earlier. I forgot about that.


One thing that concerns me is that you mentioned 12 hours @ $125 an hour in one of your posts. Then you mention not being billed yet and 2 guys being there. If 2 guys were there and the bill is for 12 hours that means 2 guys 6 hours each. This sounds right IMO. If they are billing you for 12 hours X 2 guys. Then there's definitely a problem because there's no way you should be paying for 24 hours of labor for the work you describe.


The first guy was out for seven hours the first day. He worked on the system, but did not complete anything. He told me the "Crestron programmer" was $125 an hour, he never told me his rate. Two days later they BOTH came out for six - seven hours. I am assuming they toke time for lunch, email, other calls, etc. since I wasn't around much of the time. That would equal a lot of hours. The 12 hours @$125 hr was a guess at the combined rate for both. I should have been more specific.


Guy #1 Monday 6-7 hrs @?

Guy #1 Wednesday 6-7 hours @?

Guy #2 (programmer) Wednesday 6-7 hours @ $125



If i understand your system correctly... and you just want to be able to have control over the great room so that you can make changes and upgrades on your own... I would probably go with the MX-880Z & MRZ-260. These are technically professional products so you will need to find a dealer who will give you access to the software. The software does not ship with these remotes so make sure the seller understands that you want it. If they say no hang up and call the next dealer.


What changes to your system would you make today... that would make you 100% happy with the system? Does everything work properly? Do you have control over everything? Are you just interested in tweaking the user interface? Do you just not like a touchscreen and you would rather have a hand held remote?


1- Everything works properly except three things:


a- Security camera used to work through TV/ Crestron - no more

b-Internet Explorer used to work through Crestron - now no input

c. Touchscreen is now too sensitive - many times a input is a double select.


2- I like to see the complete remote offering of each component on the remote - like my MX-850


3- I like buttons better, and a lighter remote.


Your choices are to learn how to program the crestron system & keep what you have. Or.. Add the URC remote and keep everything else as is. Or.. Get rid of the Crestron gear and replace it with something DIY friendly.

I think I will add a MX-880 or the new Logitech 900.
 

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The Estimated time for driver swapping is correct, learning codes, replacing the ir file with the one for the new devices, UI changes according to device specific commands, testing,


Crestron is NOT for the do it your selfer, If you have experience with programming languages you MIGHT be able to swap out ir files.


I would not give up on the Crestron hardware at all, but understand that there ACTUAL coding / work involved, there are no functional friendly wizards.


Also The sensitivity and cameras are related to program / panel setting changes.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by toddbe /forum/post/17007897


I think I will add a MX-880 or the new Logitech 900.

This is what i would do if faced with your situation. One reason i would go with URC is that you can expand later with products like this...

Touchscreen / WIFI panel



Native Lighting Control Right From The Remote.



System Controller



Your system would be relatively easy to control if you added a handheld remote in each zone. If you start out with just the great room and leave the system as is.. It will make transitioning the rest of the system easier down the road.. if you even need to. You might find the dual product system works well. An inwall dock at the entry or kitchen would be a nice place to move the TPMC-8X so that it would become the centralized home control panel.


This what it looks like docked.

 
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