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Thread: Server or computer for home automation. ?

  1. #1
    Automated Home Jr Member
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    Default Server or computer for home automation. ?

    Planning to have much of a new build house automated & was looking to have the automation on its own dedicated computer.
    Is there any proís & conís or advantages to using a server instead on a small desk top computer for this type of work.
    This will be running cctv, power & lighting automation, heating/cooling & would need external access.
    The alarm will be independent from this system.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Automation takes virtually no processing power so you could run it on a 10 year old computer. However, CCTV may take up a lot more depending on your setup. If you have two or more megapixal network cameras with movement detection software running on your PC then the spec of the PC gets more important.
    I've got one megapixel camera running active webcam and this takes up 30% CPU on a Pentium dual core E2500 with 2GB of memory using onboard graphics.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by raven View Post
    Automation takes virtually no processing power so you could run it on a 10 year old computer. However, CCTV may take up a lot more depending on your setup. If you have two or more megapixal network cameras with movement detection software running on your PC then the spec of the PC gets more important.
    I've got one mega-pixel camera running active webcam and this takes up 30% CPU on a Pentium dual core E2500 with 2GB of memory using on-board graphics.
    Thanks Raven, something else to think on. Fortunately the whole house is being wired radially to a central area & will hopefully this will give the versatility needed. But i see many camera systems have their own built in server, so might have to look into this. But thanks for the tip.

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    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raven View Post
    Automation takes virtually no processing power so you could run it on a 10 year old computer. However, CCTV may take up a lot more depending on your setup. If you have two or more megapixal network cameras with movement detection software running on your PC then the spec of the PC gets more important.
    I've got one megapixel camera running active webcam and this takes up 30% CPU on a Pentium dual core E2500 with 2GB of memory using onboard graphics.
    This all depends on what HA software you are using. Homeseer would have difficulty running on anything less than a 1.2GHz machine, it can be done but not recommended. Yet Homevision comes in a self contained box and only uses the PC to program the box. If you want it to do some of the more complex tasks then a decent PC or LINUX box would be needed.
    I would keep the camera system separate. And use a DVR with network conections. Such as DVR with 16 inputs or this one which is a bit less OTT 4 Channel DVR.
    That way if the PC has a problem you don't loose everything.
    Last edited by toscal; 11th August 2009 at 08:27 AM.
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  5. #5
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    I'm probably going to use my media center for the automation

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    I used to run my set up like this. Had a mini-itx VIA 1200MII with 500Mb running Homeseer1.7 and also running the Showcenter server software. This would work fine for about 3 or 4 days but then the system would then lock up, needing it to be re-booted. One of the reasons I went for the Homevision unit for the HA. If the PC crashes or there is a power cut, the Homevision comes back as soon as there is power, then works out how long its been off and goes through its internal checks to see what should be on and off and updates everything accordingly. You do need to set this function. My unit has so far been running now for well over 3 years without a problem.

    One of my clients bought 2 Dell PCs on special offer from Dell. They where less than half price. He runs his file server off one and Homeseer2.0 on the other.
    Dell are currently selling a Vostro 220 MT for 159 pounds plus vat and shipping. See here http://www1.euro.dell.com/uk/en/busi...bsd&cs=ukbsdt1
    And you don't need to be a business or company to buy it. Mind you knowing Dell this will be a pretty basic machine.
    Last edited by toscal; 12th August 2009 at 10:21 AM.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for the feedback every one.
    Toscal: Looks like Dell are getting desperate with the deals these days. But good for us. I run 2 cheap dells at home for work & have found them quite reliable, or at least no worse than most others. If there has been any problems it is usually been software related.

    Cheers.

  8. #8
    Automated Home Legend TimH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Collectors View Post
    Planning to have much of a new build house automated & was looking to have the automation on its own dedicated computer.
    Is there any proís & conís or advantages to using a server instead on a small desk top computer for this type of work.
    This will be running cctv, power & lighting automation, heating/cooling & would need external access.
    The alarm will be independent from this system.

    Thanks.
    Just a couple of comments to make...

    If you buy a computer called a "server" you may find you don't get the best graphics card / highest resolution, so if it is supposed to perform as a multi-purpose machine that may be a consideration.

    Some of the £99 Dells from a few years ago, and some recent HPs were/are a bit picky about which OS you can install onto them (i.e. a server machine expecting a server OS). Mostly driver issues I think. Sorry that's a bit vague...

    As others have commented, it might be a good idea to separate-out the CCTV function onto a separate machine. The Geovision system is very capable and Zoneminder (Linux) is also popular.

    As for brands, I'm a fan of Dell machines and have seen very few failures over many machines for work & home. What was the Optiplex (business) range were particularly easy to open up & configure, and were also reliable in Industrial Control applications.

    HTH,

    Tim.

  9. #9
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    Default dedicated controller

    there are many advantages in running a purpose-built, dedicated controller for domotics.

    here's a great example:

    http://iks-automation.com/imca/contr...se_options.php

    it's a small-footprint embedded pc in a robust enclosure that can be installed in an Elk M1 cabinet, cabling cabinet, secured under a bench etc.

    it takes a flash card on which all the controller software is pre-configured ready to go: it contains Linux/Windows OS, webserver software, the iMCA application and all services such as ftp etc set up

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