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Thread: starting from scratch - Recommendations

  1. #1
    Automated Home Sr Member jaffab's Avatar
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    Default starting from scratch - Recommendations

    All,

    I am looking for a recommendation of a direction to look. In my new house, I am looking to build up home automation over a period of time, gradually. I am looking for suggestions of which technologies will best meet my needs and if there are any 'starter' kits out there to get me going.

    I currently have a beefy home server, which acts as my media streamer(music and video)/email exchange/web portal.

    My wants list (which will be developed and built up over time) is as follows:

    1) Want a central PC controll with a device in wall
    2) Want to be able to automate the house temperature
    3) Want to be able to automate lights, based on a program of time
    4) Want a system that I can extend myself through application development (I can code with the best of them, so dont want a closed black box system)
    5) Want to control home applicances as technology improves (i.e, switch cookers on, etc)
    6) Want to be able to access the controls over the internet (again, if their is some form of API, I can write a web portal myself)
    7) Want to plug it into an alarm system

    thats about it for now.

    Or am I shooting for the moon?

  2. #2
    Automated Home Ninja Andrew Millne's Avatar
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    Take a look at the system from Idratek. Everything you are looking for and more. Gumby also has a very good blog which will give you a good overview of his installation. I look forward to seeing what you produce with the API

  3. #3
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Doing a home automation system gradually is I think is better than trying to do it all in one go.
    When choosing a suitable system. Think about does it have a proven track record. There is nothing more annoying than investing in a system and 18 months later when you want to expand its no longer available.
    Also look at what the system can do, does it tick your boxes. Many systems have the ability to interface to other things such as temp sensors, digital inputs and or outputs or has RS232 ports etc. This gives you greater flexibility when communication with the outside world.
    Some systems to consider there are others.
    Idratek probably ticks most of your boxes, maybe Karam can give you a better idea.
    X10 this ticks all of them. See my recent post on touch screens in the X10 forum.
    PLCBUS may tick all the boxes.
    Cbus may tick all the boxes, don't know too much about it.
    KNX/EIB this will tick all the boxes if you have the money.

    Software / controllers
    Homevision can be used with a touchscreen especially if you use Schelte's HVXL software (works with Linux or windows). With the custom lighting module you are now no longer limited to X10. www.csi3.com
    Homeseer excellent piece of software. www.homeseer.com
    Idratek is a complete package www.idratek.com
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu

  4. #4
    Automated Home Sr Member jaffab's Avatar
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    Default Thank you

    Thank you. The irdratek looks like the sort of thing I am after. My only concern is that it is cabled and therefore my house would turn into a spiders web of cables running to all the switches, applicences, thermostates, windows and radiator valves etc.

    I supose I would have to do one room at a time as I decorate, otherwise all the holes in the walls to thread cables will soon get some nasty responses from the wife - whatever the benifits of the end results.

    One further question - on the 'ocupied room' options, how does this work. Is it through movement detectors? What about when you are in bed or sitting watching a film and you dont move, or you move into a blind spot?

  5. #5
    Automated Home Ninja Andrew Millne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jaffab View Post
    therefore my house would turn into a spiders web of cables running to all the switches, applicences, thermostates, windows and radiator valves etc.
    In my opinion the free topology of the Idratek system keeps this to a minimum. Yes there is a little disruption in a retrofit situation but like you say doing it a room at a time keeps this to a minimum. (Fortunately?) there are only 2 rooms in my house which don't really need redecorating. There are also options for integrating with other systems like X10 and anything that uses the xAP or xPL protocols. I intend to temporarily use a few X10 modules in these rooms before redecorating at which time I will be installing some conduit in the walls (with suspended timber floors I can live without flooring conduit).

    You should also use this time to put some ethernet cables in.

    Quote Originally Posted by jaffab View Post
    One further question - on the 'ocupied room' options, how does this work. Is it through movement detectors? What about when you are in bed or sitting watching a film and you dont move, or you move into a blind spot?
    It works using a variety of sensors not just movement. This philosophy of occupancy detection rather than just movement detection is central to the system. You can integrate a number of sensors such as in-door reed switches, Beam breaks across doorways and PIR's, People pressing switches etc will all register presence. A room is usually considered occupied after such an event until something occurs to alter that state.

    See the following PDF for a more general overview

    http://www.idratek.com/public/datasheets/IDRASYS.pdf

    You may also find some benefit in downloading a trial of the Cortex software if only to read the very well detailed help files.

  6. #6
    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
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    I've updated the FAQ recently so you might want to take a look in the idratek forum here on AH.
    ----------------------
    www.gumbrell.com

  7. #7
    Automated Home Guru JonS's Avatar
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    I was in a similar position a few years ago. I came to the conclusion that while a standard didn't exist (then nor now) the Idratek solution did tick all the boxes and has ample scope for expansion and further integration. I've documented the early stages in my blog (below), more to add when there is time! Even if going room by room, perhaps more so, planning is really important, much can be done with Cat5 but if it is at a wall-plate rather than in a convenient for a motion detector it doesn't help much! Routing the cables can be quite a challenge but they can be left coiled in a floor void to be dropped into position later. So flood wire, but plan carefully too!
    HTH
    JonS

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