IVB\’s Home Theater and Home Automation

You don\’t have to spend a lot for that smarthome.

Who says Serial Ports aren’t used anymore…

Posted by IVB on June 7, 2006

Somebody over on avs mentioned that "IDE is going the way of serial ports". I replied with what my usage would be. ugh. This is wrong.
COM1 – DirecTV STB <controlled via sage, not CQC>
COM2 – not working

COM3 – Denon3805
COM4 – Aprilaire HVAC thermostat
COM5 – Polk XM tuner
COM6 – IRMan
COM7 – RAIN8 irrigation
COM8 – Xantech ZPR68 (6source/8z preamp for whole house audio)
COM9 – Elk M1, automation panel so I can tie in security
COM10 – DirecTV STB #2 <controlled via sage, not CQC>

I got my COM9 & 10 back as I decided to buy the $200 ethernet interface add-on for the elk [unrelated reasons], and my 2nd RCA D* STB died.

Everything is stable now, but dang I need a 2nd STB for 2 concurrent shows being recorded. Assuming I use COM9 for that, before I'm "done" with deploying HA, I also need:

COM10 – RS232 controllable FM tuner
COM11 – Lighting <either zWave/RadioRA/C-Bus>
COM12 – Sony 777ES DVD Mega-changer
COM13 – SMS Modem, so I can tell system to activate the "coming home sequence (lights/heat/etc)" via a text page from my cellphone, or have system page me in the event of HA issues (ie security alarm trip or power loss)
COM14 – Panasonic Plasma
COM15 – Video Matrix Switcher to send HiDef video to any room (either Autopatch, Neothings, Extron)
COM16 – Denon 2105 for Zone2 digital audio decoder

And, I haven't decided whether to hook the following up to the HA/HTPC server or the Elk. If I opt for the HA/HTPC server:
COM17 – Contact Closure to open/close curtain #1.
COM18 – Contact Closure to open/close curtain #2.


2 Responses to “Who says Serial Ports aren’t used anymore…”

  1. Alex said

    But that IS the way of the dinosaur. There are lots of “obsolete” technologies that are used heavily in embedded systems (hell, ISA), but have left the mainstream PC system usage. My wife has a USB Keyboard (musical, not normal), without MIDI ports, so we retired the USB->MIDI adapter… but it is basically MIDI over USB.

    Serial transmissions are always useful… in PHP programming, we serialize data and stream it to remote computers, but we don’t do it over an RS-232 port. RS-232 will remain where you want the simplicity of the wiring, but already, we run most of it over RJ-45 now, not real big-ass shielded shielded cables from the 80s.

    We’re all in embedded systems here, even if we use off-the-shelf parts. The office PCs are like the office copier, uses whatever parts are cheapest to do the job, not the ideal system.

  2. IVB said

    It’s not an either-or situation with CAT5/RJ45. As a matter of fact, I do my RAIN8 over using RS232 over CAT5e cable(DB9 adapter). No shielded cables needed – it’s all low-voltage. Just don’t cross any AC/HV lines and you’re fine.

    The thing about RS232 is that it’s an easy & simple protocol for a hardware device manufacturer to add. It’s also got very long runs possible, as opposed to something like USB.

    (I think) the thing about ethernet is that you now need another layer of electronics and/or firmware in your hardware device to interpret the ethernet packets.

    With simple line-level signals, you can operate cheap contact closures (ie Carls electronics $10 ones) by just having RS232 turn wires on/off.

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