Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Home Automation?

  1. #1
    Automated Home Lurker
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Home Automation?

    Hi All,

    First of all I would like to say what a brilliant forum and enriched with great information from experienced home automation specialists. I am a builder based in the east of England currently looking to install a vast home automation system into my own new build.

    I have read the forums and studied structured wiring systems and the important use of using enough CAT 5 data cable. Also I have read mixed reviews on the X10 systems regarding their reliability.

    With this all in mind it brings me to a rather simple but embarrassing question. How does it all work?

    I understand that you will need to run CAT 5 data cables to the device you wish to automate from a central location, but for example if you wanted the lights to go on full brightness and a film to pause when the phone rings, how would that work? Is it done via circuit boards connected to CAT 5 data cable or am I barking completely up the wrong tree?

    Any help would be much appreciated.

    Many Thanks,

    John

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Near Alicante Spain
    Posts
    2,004

    Default

    If you are using X10, then this doesn't use any new wiring. X10 utilises the existing mains wiring in your house. What X10 does is it transmits a digital signal over your mains wiring.
    Now to do the scenario you suggested would require some form of Home automation controller, such as a Homevision unit www.csi3.com. This can be programmed when you pause the DVD player it brightens the lights. I have had my controller I guess now for 4 years and its never let me down.
    The CAT5 cable is often used to distribute signals in a system that's called structured wiring. Look at Abitana www.abitana.com or www.minitran.co.uk. Mini Tran supply several product ranges for structured wiring.
    There are other systems that do use CAT5 cabling to send and receive signals to the automation or control modules. Cbus, KNX/EIB, Domitel, Simon Vox, Idratek and many many others. Think of the VHS Betamax video wars but with more competing systems.
    Hope this helps and welcome to the crazy world of home automation.
    Last edited by toscal; 3rd November 2009 at 11:30 PM.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu

  3. #3
    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Gloucestershire
    Posts
    437

    Default

    Hi John,

    It's good that you have seen how beneficial structured cabling can be, but I think you might have got your wires crossed slightly on the whole story (sorry )

    Structured cabling is an arrangement where you take an individual run of cable from a specific wall outlet to a central patch panel. This is incredibly flexible since you can use each cable for different purposes, such as computer networks, phones and video, but it also requires a lot of wire.

    Home automation usually requires a variety of devices, roughly: actuators, sensors and controllers. An actuator might be a relay to control power or a dimmer for lighting, or perhaps something more sophisticated. A sensor might be something like motion detector, a temperature sensor or a touch panel button. The job of the controller is to take information from the sensors and turn it into the correct actions on the actuators. Put all three together and you have an HA system.

    There are a variety of systems available produced by different manufacturers with varying capabilities. The method used to get the data between the various devices varies depending on the system used, X10 uses mains borne signals, some systems are wired (often but not necessarily using Cat-5) and some are wireless.

    In wired systems often you do not need to follow the structured approach, that is, each module does not need to be wired individually back to the central location. Most support daisy-chaining multiple modules onto a single cable run, which obviously saves on wiring costs. You are also likely to install modules in fixed positions, like light switches, so don't need an outlet.

    The ability to support your example depends on the integration capability of the system you chose to use, can it talk to both telephone, lighting and DVD player? Sometimes you have to find a way to interface different equipment together to get all the features you need.

    So in a sense you are exactly right, you will have circuit boards connected to (probably) Cat-5, but hopefully I have clarified things a little more.

    What I can say is that the system with which I am familiar, the Idratek solution, can do the example you give, since it includes built-in infrared to simulate your DVD player remote and command your DVD player to pause, telephone interface capability and lighting dimmers, as well as much more. The Idratek forum is but a short walk from this one, feel free to join us and ask more questions.
    ----------------------
    www.gumbrell.com

  4. #4
    Automated Home Lurker
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default

    Hi All,

    Thankyou very much for your quick and informative responses. Already that has made things a lot clearer, I now understand that the controller is the brains of the system and that it is at the controller you set up your requirements for your home automation. These actions are then carried out via actuators or motion detectors.

    Although I am still slightly confused on how they all work together. For example when I researched actuators, the results displayed linear actuators could these be used to eject a projector from the ceiling?

    Also is there anyone who could give me an example on how I would wire and what components I would need if I wanted to have the lights go on full brightness the DVD player pause if the phone rings Im still very baffled how that would work?

    Would you have your controller linked to your phone via an Ethernet cable and programmed so when the phone rings the signal is sent from the controller to the DVD player via infered signal to pause the DVD with an actuator wired up with CAT 5 cable to the lights from the controller?

    I am still a little confused about the exact process and what actuators to use and how they are all linked to the controllers and house hold appliances e.g. DVD players, home entertainment systems and coffee machines.

    I feel like I am progressing though, Thankyou very much for all of your responses it is very much appreciated

  5. #5
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Near Alicante Spain
    Posts
    2,004

    Default

    Hello again.
    here is quite a good explanation of the x10 system
    http://www.marmitek.com/en/basisimages/x10_protocol.PDF
    and for a simple explanation of how it fits together
    http://www.marmitek.com/en/klantense..._hoewerkt.html

    It is possible to connect the phone to many controllers either directly or through some sort of modem interface, the cable can be ethernet or normal telephone cable, depends on your situation and location of controller and phone line.
    You can get special projector lifts for lowering or raising projectors from a ceiling.
    Normally controlling a DVD player would be done via IR, though the physical power on and off to the unit could be done with an appliance module. This will switch the actual mains on or off to the unit. Just like having a switched mains outlet.
    You could set up your controller so that when it also receives the pause DVD command via its IR sensor it will brighten the lights. The actual brighten commands will be sent to your lighting control module via the controller. If you are using X10 then this command is sent along the mains wiring.

    To give you some more ideas as to what can be achieved:
    Something we did in a recent install is to use special shutter control modules for a client's electric window shutters. So now he just presses one button by his bed to shut or open all the shutters in the house. We also programmed in a solar tracking script. So during the summer months shutters will close to block the sunlight coming in, but during the winter they remain opening. Then as the sun moves round the house some shutters open and others close. This is also great for giving a simulated lived in look. Once the rain sensor is installed the whole system will then know when its raining and leave the shutters open, but close the ones in the bedroom (they still suffer from power outages during storms). The rain sensor will also stop the irrigation system from coming on. The whole thing is controlled via one controller
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu

  6. #6
    Moderator Gumby's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Gloucestershire
    Posts
    437

    Default

    Hi John,

    "Actuator" is a very generic and quite technical term, and perhaps not one that you see appearing in HA literature that much. So my apologies if that has mislead you in your research.

    In the case of your example, in general terms your own answer is correct, but I think you are trying to understand what you would actually have to buy and wire up to do this.

    The thing is that there are a very large number of different ways that you could do this depending on your own motivation and skills. For example, there are people who would solder up their own circuit boards and write their own software. But I suspect you want to buy things off the shelf. Even then there are many different manufacturers of systems, each of which could implement your example in different ways, and with different costs and difficulty.

    Since I can only really talk about the Idratek system, I shall answer using their equipment as an example.

    Firstly you would need a controllable dimmer to control the lights. Let's assume that this means a single main light for the moment. This would require a SLD-002 module which is wired in place of the current dimmer. If you had more lights involved (may be side lights or more than one set of ceiling lights) you would approach it differently, but I'll ignore that for now.

    To control your DVD player you will need something that can emit IR signals. The Idratek module would be an ITR-002. This would have to be mounted somewhere, I like to use the ceiling.

    In the Idratek system the controller is a PC running some software called Cortex. You might put this somewhere else. To connect the PC to the modules above you need some cabling (cat-5) and also an interface between the cabling and the PC. This would be a PCA-001 module.

    The modules require power, this is delivered via the cat-5 cabling and is supplied by a power supply unit, the MPD-001 + a wall wart type adaptor.

    The final piece of the jigsaw is connecting the phone. The Idratek solution would use a modem (old fashioned kind 56K voice) connected to the PC, either by USB or as a card fitted inside the PC. This card can be connected to a phone extension, and will be able to inform the Cortex software when the phone is ringing, picked up and for some cards the CallerID of the dialler.

    Your modules need to be connected up by Cat-5. With the Idratek system you have a lot of flexibility, but for simplicity you could do it with one cable that runs from one module to another: IRM --- SLD --- MPD --- PCA.

    Having wired it up, you would configure the cortex software so that when the phone rings it should cause the lighting to be set full on and the infrared to emit the DVD "pause" signal.

    So that's an example using Idratek. As I mentioned, there are alternative systems and components. You can read more stuff about Idratek on the forum here at AH - feel free to ask questions there, we are very friendly, or at the Idratek website. You could also have a look at my blog to see various things I have done to perhaps help with your understanding.

    To understand some of the other systems available just have a look around AH at some of the other forums.
    ----------------------
    www.gumbrell.com

  7. #7
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    North Lancashire
    Posts
    1,670

    Default

    John -

    you didn't say much about the current state of your build - eg: not yet wired, first-fix done, second fix done, or ... a wired Cat-5 approach might be best, but its acceptability might depend on the disruption it would cause !

    another point is that some of the systems can do quite some clever things that go beyond your example & might also be of interest - eg: efficiently control the heating system, automate the lights throughout (based on true presence sensing, worked-out from fusing together all the inputs from all the sensors), use audio system control panels to display messages, provide an intercom system ... etc, etc

    as well as those already mentioned, AlertMe (wireless) might also be worth considering, and Comfort ...

    BTW, Gumby's Idratek blog is well worth a look ... others, too, as listed in the Idratek forum ...

    Chris

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •