IVB\’s Home Theater and Home Automation

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

Automated Lighting, CallerID, CCTV

Posted by IVB on September 10, 2006

Great progress in 3 main areas: CCTV, CallerID, and automated lighting.

1) CCTV works fine again.
I didn’t actually do anything, the machine must have reset itself into an ok state. It’s set for a nightly reboot at 3am or something like that, so it probably just took 2-3 attempts at that to work. Got a great suggestion from electron over at cocoontech to put an elk relay on the PC reset switch, and tie to a CQC button so I can reset remotely at will.  I’ll certainly be doing that soon enough.

2) Automated lighting
For those of you who didn’t follow (http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=719955&page=1&pp=30) the AVS thread, I got some great guidance from QQQ and audiblesolutions about the value of automated lighting, and whether HomeWorks or RadioRA would be better for me.  I used to think that there were 2 main points to doing automated lighting:
A) Implement scenes
B ) Allow non-lighting events to trigger lighting (ie, I open my mud room door – the appropriate scene comes on if the security system is armed and it’s dark outside).

In reality, I completely missed the boat on this one. Alan over at audiblesolutions pointed out that the real value in automated lighting is the ability to control a large amount of lights in a single room without a whole bank of dimmer/light switches. Rather, mount those things in a room closet, central closet, or other hidden location, and just put keypads in plain sight. That way things are cleaner looking and you can have better control. This really hit home for me as I have 4-5 locations where the light switch is VERY inconveniently located, and we’re constantly irritated at having to go to a non-intuitive location to turn on/off the light. I’m going to look into putting the actual dimmer/lightswitch in the closet or even attic (so I can run a hardwire easily), and just putting a wireless keypad in the room.

I’m also ditching the idea of RadioRA and saving up my pennies for HomeWorks for 4 main reasons:
A) Once we remodel (in 2-3 years), i’ll be at 45-50 loads minimum, esp given the above realization of cleaning up walls.
B) Ability to have hardwired & wireless controls in same system
C) Richer protocol allows a more robust set of control
D) Better options for shade control

This isn’t going to be cheap, I hear MSRP on the dimmer HW switches is $270, but i’ll see what I can do. I’m getting the feeling that this could be 2nd in WAF only to mzone audio, as we’re all constantly irritated at our lights being left on and having to run around turning them off, plus the $400/month electic bill.  Hence, it might not be so bad. Besides, she spent $300 today at Banana republic on clothes she’ll only have for a year – these should last a few times longer than that 😀

3) CallerID
I couldn’t get the netcallerID driver that comes with CQC to work, so I decided to write my own. Besides, I knew I wanted to do massive upgrades, like integration with my outlook contact list, so I needed to understand it anyhow. Better to just write my own rather than learn someone else’s code in a language I don’t yet know.  V0.1 of the driver works fine for the last caller, it’ll get reset if CQC bounces though. I’ll write out to a file as soon as I learn how.  Here’s what the screen looks like:

http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/screenshots/vladstudio/VladStudio_Callerid.jpg

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