IVB\’s Home Theater and Home Automation

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

Autopatch, Events, zWave, and more.

Posted by IVB on November 21, 2006

Movement in a few areas, lately. Some good, some bad.

1) Still haven’t gotten the autopatch working with my 777ES changer. Autopatch support is awesome – they replied within 10 hours even though they knew I wasn’t the original owner. They helped troubleshoot it quite a bit, in the end their guidance was to get a DC blocker and try that. I picked one up from HomeTech, but damned if work hasn’t sucked lately and I haven’t had time to try it yet. Alas, my nice new(to me) 4YDM is still sitting there unused. This isn’t technically a huge issue now as I only have the 1 HD zone and can use the MX850 to switch the inputs on the TV, but as soon as I get this working i’ll replace the MBR SDTV with an HDTV and have 2 video zones.

2) I’m now rocking & rolling with my triggered events. I’ve started with automating around bad behavior. On ArmAway, the denon, all audio zones, and the HVAC get turned off. On ArmStay, the door maglock gets armed. I also pretty much finished the MX850 setup so that when I press pause, CQC determines whether i’m watching SageTV/TheaterTek/777, and sends the pause to the right line. That took some mucking with due to how SageTV and the 777 report status when they’re up but not in-use.

3) I started reripping all my CDs with CQC. I ripped all 350+ of them 3 years ago, but that’s when I didn’t know from lossless formats, and I ripped to mp3. The mistake I made was to listen to some lossless formats, and now anything else is quite noticeable. Alas, I was better fat, dumb, and happy. I got a Sony 200 disc firewire changer as there’ll be an auto-rip utility for that soon enough, but given the speed of the new Core2 Duo machine i’m using, this may be done before the drive is.

4) On the bad movement side, I just found out that my HomeWorks lighting project is competing for funding with some kitchen stuff. No joke, my wife wants to buy a $3K-$5K range hood. Not the range, just the dang hood that goes over it. Dunno what’s wrong with the fan we got now. Plus, the primary source of funding is an investment that has dropped 25% in the past 3 weeks, Dow-at-a-high-my-a$$.
The wife doesn’t think automated lighting is a value-add activity, even when I explained Alan’s “but we can centralize all the new loads we’ll run and use keypads” approach. So I’m on to Plan B. I’m going to put in a handful of zWave stuff, and get some basic stuff working. It’s pretty cheap – $35/switch. Mark (CQC CEO) is potentially rewriting the whole zWave integration in Q1 to make it much more robust, esp given that some of the newer zWave controllers haven’t been playing nice with CQC. I figure I can probably get 15-20 switches and 2-3 keypads for <<$1K. Even if it isn’t 100% stable or reliable, as long as the manual usage works and the lights don’t randomly come on at the wrong time, I can show her the value. Then, when she’s hooked as she always ends up being, I can tell her that if she’s interested in serious reliability, she’ll have to accept a cheaper range hood so we’ll have the room under the budget cap to pay for it.

5) On the ludicrously bad news side, in retrospect I have been colossally stupid building a new office PC using a new Core2Duo cpu, and making that a dual-purpose office PC and CQC server. Not b/c it can’t handle the load, it barely notices, but because I didn’t realize my wife has a habit of installing crap on that machine.  I’ve been stable for so long, primarily b/c I used to have a headless SageTV/CQC server box that was almost never directly touched. I came home on Friday, and the Core2 server was throwing all these generic services svchost issues.  Upon examination, the wife had installed some strange photo software on it and some other things “to make her life easier”.  Well, there’s a distinct possibility I have to rebuild that whole freakin’ thing. Serves me right for not treating my automation controller like a piece of “must not be touched, mission critical” piece of equipment.

Oh, and this is also where I mention that I installed Ghost on that box, but never actually made a backup. Dang, dang, dang.

I’m probably going to go back to a CQC/SageTV Master server machine, but i’ll keep the CQC portion to just be the Master Server running the events system, interface manager, etc. I’ve currently got an HTPC client that houses all the mzone hardware and software drivers, i’ll leave that be.  I’ll also keep that office PC as a CQC server so I can have 2 concurrent HD video sources if me/wife want to watch different TV shows or DVDs in different rooms concurrently.

So, tha’s where I’m at. Never a dull moment. If I can get zWave up & running, I think i’m going to take a 2-3 month break from installing new HA stuff and do some of the attic buildout I’ve been planning. Expanding storage space up there is sure to get me some WAF points that I could spend on, say, installing a voice-recognition hardware setup next summer/fall…


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