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Thread: xAP on the Joggler

  1. #41
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Hi 'Steelercaz'

    Welcome out of the shadows...

    To use the xAP Joggler app you will need to have the devices that you need to control or monitor talking xAP already. xAP conduits, applications and devices exist for many technologies including in your case X10 but not Alert Me.

    I have looked at Alert Me many times and studied their developer API but it is fundamentally lacking in terms of realtime integration with other home automation setups. I haven't checked recently but I haven't heard it's changed either. The ZigBee is closed/proprietory - as are most implementations - but the bigger problem is there is no way of getting realtime information out of the system - for example when devices turn on or off.

    This is because Alert Me require you to access the system via their (chargeable) servers and not directly. So you need permanent Internet connectivity and you have to constantly poll their servers to see if anything has changed state, which is totally unsatisfactory. They also implement a lockout period to avoid you doing this excessively.

    So whilst certainly appealing as a contained system it didn't suit me at all and doesn't lend itself to xAP control which is purposed for inter device/system interactions.

    I do use some ZigBee modules (Plugwise) that offer appliance switching and power consumption measurement/logging and although these have similar issues (proprietory ZigBee implementation and poll status) they are useable directly on your network via a http API. There has been quite sucessful work done to reverse engineer the protocol too. Because there is a HomeSeer plugin , and also a xAP plugin for same then the Plugwise adaptors become xAP.. and hence Joggler controllable.

    K

  2. #42
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Default xAP Joggler beta 4

    I have just sent beta 4 to the 'trimmed' beta list .

    If you are wishing to participate (and contribute) to the beta testing and I didn't email you then please make sure I have your email address - send me a PM or email.

    Those who tested the pre beta over the weekend - there are no changes - except to the instructions which I keep updating ...

    enjoy K

    PS I will post a list of know outstanding bugs/ fixes / ToDo's etc soon - they are listed at the start of the .FLA file but that's not currently in the beta zip.
    Last edited by Kevin; 19th July 2010 at 09:28 PM.

  3. #43
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    Hi Kevin

    Thanks for the speedy response. Disappointing to hear about the serious drawbacks of AlertMe, at least for Home Automation, but thanks for the feedback - ultimately I know that whilst starting small I'll soon end up adding more & more as I learn, and the limitation of such a closed system would frustrate the hell out of me!

    So, whilst I've done a hell of a lot of reading lately about the various HA options, I don't *think* I've seen an affordable energy monitoring device/system that is integrated into a basic X10 system and be accessible via the web - any ideas?

    Or, as xAP is clearly a protocol that integrates various systems, would you (or anyone!) be able to recommend something that doesn't use X10 but could, even if not right from the start, be integrated into an xAP-controlled system?

    Ultimately, as a starter I would definitely like to be able to monitor energy usage, preferably remotely, plus control some basic lighting requirements - on/off/dim for mainly standalone lamps, but also light switch-controlled room lights in some rooms. I would love the system to be able to, initially or in the future, have the capability to create preset scenes.

    I think the work you're doing on the Joggler app is brilliant, so xAP 'enabled' would be a goal! iPhone control would also be perfect.

    Feel free to just point me in the right direction - I don't want to eat up lots more of your time! As I say, I'm reading a lot, but it's the possible integration of the various technologies that's really hard to research when you don't have a starting point in mind.

    Thanks again,
    Caroline

  4. #44
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    In the beta distribution there is a basic XML file included ( xAPconfig.xml some details in the documentation).

    What I failed to mention is that there is an element in that file called "button_example" that was intended just to list and explain the possible key parameters within a button. You can safely ignore everything between the <button_example> ... </button_example> tags and indeed delete this should you wish to make things tidier. I intended to remove it but forgot.

    There is also a more complex file called xApconfigLARGE.xml - which you can try by renaming it xAPconfig.xml. It should draw the screen OK and the page toggle buttons along the bottom should work - but wont do anything useful as it is customised for my own xAP setup. Perusal of this file should help you get some ideas on how things are structured in the XML file.

    K

  5. #45
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    Hi Caroline,

    Creating an ideal HA system is still a labour of love and usually a compromise between technologies, desires, money and time. The ability for many different systems to integrate seamlessly isn't there yet, and may never be for both technical and commercial reasons.

    xAP is still very much a HA enthusiasts tick item. It's goal is to provide the cross product interaction in a standardised and expandable way but it still needs quite an investment in understanding and time to usefully implement . Much as we would like it to be transparent / plug and play... it isn't.

    So from where you're starting from at the moment I wouldn't place too much insistence on xAP support. Products like Alert Me are very consumer friendly. I am not a fan of X10 - although that is where I started from. Its lack of reliability, status information and confirmed actions are serious problems - particularly in this large old house. IIRC Alert Me does not offer a lamp dimming solution and if you are truly retrofit then wired solutions are probably out so you're left with X10 or RF - and my choice would likely be RF (Z-Wave, ZigBee or other two way system). The range of products can be restrictive though.

    What I would suggest is posting again here, but in a more general forum and asking for suggestions . There are many software solutions at various pricepoints. Or indeed are you a member on the the UKHA mail list ?

    Most of the commercial HA applications have a plugin for xAP and so if you can choose one that supports your intended hardware then that usually means it can be exposed via xAP which is useful for your future aspirations eg with the Joggler.

    I do like Plugwise and it offers most of what you need but, like ALert Me only with appliance type modules (no dimmers yet). The switches are limited and no sockets or wall switches with relay/dimmers inbuilt. .

    I would seriously still consider Alert Me (again no dimmers) as the lack of realtime event feedback may not be as bad as it first appears . It integrates security and an iPhone app nicely too.

    Also take a look at Harmony and their range of supported hardware ( although there is no xAP plugin). I use HomeSeer but when you add up HS + their iPhone Client it not an inexpensive solution.

    BTW The iPhone is always going to be a 'no' for any Flash based control application.

    I'll think some more too - on what's out there - do you want integrated security (alarm functionality) too ?

    K

  6. #46
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    'couple of thoughts, hopefully useful, to throw into the mix :

    1) energy-monitoring - many devices use a clamp-on sensor that just senses current, so the voltage has to be assumed, meaning errors in power / energy figures could be quite large ('though still useful as a guide) - ie: using a power meter might be a good idea, with suitable ouput - eg:

    http://www.rayleigh.co.uk/metapdfs/p...e_2008_eng.pdf

    long discussion/ thread here :

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/vbull...ead.php?t=1699

    2) if wiring-up is an option, Idratek could be good (with xAP possibilities) ... if not, Rako might provide another option :

    overview :

    http://www.rakocontrols.com/download...tion_sheet.pdf

    RAVFR volt-free switch to RF interface :

    http://www.rakocontrols.com/download...tionmanual.pdf

    RACUB in-line RF relay module :

    http://www.rakocontrols.com/download...sheetlores.pdf

    RDS800C units :

    http://www.rakocontrols.com/download...sheetlores.pdf

    They do dimmers, too, of course ...
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 20th July 2010 at 05:21 PM.

  7. #47
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Default iServer install

    Forgot...if you are a new beta user then you also need a Joggler ACL file - placed in the same directory as iServer. This enables the Joggler logon.

    http://www.ukusa.demon.co.uk/acl_Joggler.txt

    If anyone experiences problems with iServer - particularly it not showing incoming xAP message bottom left then do post. Do check you have a xAP hub running and let me know if you have more than one NIC and the software platform. The left and right "To/From remotes" panels will only show traffic when a client connects.

    K

  8. #48
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    if not, Rako might provide another option
    Bear in mind that Rako is a one way wireless system, (but popular).

    K

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    Creating an ideal HA system is still a labour of love and usually a compromise between technologies, desires, money and time. The ability for many different systems to integrate seamlessly isn't there yet, and may never be for both technical and commercial reasons.

    xAP is still very much a HA enthusiasts tick item. It's goal is to provide the cross product interaction in a standardised and expandable way but it still needs quite an investment in understanding and time to usefully implement . Much as we would like it to be transparent / plug and play... it isn't.

    So from where you're starting from at the moment I wouldn't place too much insistence on xAP support. Products like Alert Me are very consumer friendly. I am not a fan of X10 - although that is where I started from. Its lack of reliability, status information and confirmed actions are serious problems - particularly in this large old house. IIRC Alert Me does not offer a lamp dimming solution and if you are truly retrofit then wired solutions are probably out so you're left with X10 or RF - and my choice would likely be RF (Z-Wave, ZigBee or other two way system). The range of products can be restrictive though.

    What I would suggest is posting again here, but in a more general forum and asking for suggestions . There are many software solutions at various pricepoints. Or indeed are you a member on the the UKHA mail list ?

    Most of the commercial HA applications have a plugin for xAP and so if you can choose one that supports your intended hardware then that usually means it can be exposed via xAP which is useful for your future aspirations eg with the Joggler.

    I do like Plugwise and it offers most of what you need but, like ALert Me only with appliance type modules (no dimmers yet). The switches are limited and no sockets or wall switches with relay/dimmers inbuilt. .

    I would seriously still consider Alert Me (again no dimmers) as the lack of realtime event feedback may not be as bad as it first appears . It integrates security and an iPhone app nicely too.

    Also take a look at Harmony and their range of supported hardware ( although there is no xAP plugin). I use HomeSeer but when you add up HS + their iPhone Client it not an inexpensive solution.

    BTW The iPhone is always going to be a 'no' for any Flash based control application.

    I'll think some more too - on what's out there - do you want integrated security (alarm functionality) too ?

    K
    Hi Kevin

    Interesting reading, thankyou.

    Regarding HA being a complex 'labour of love', that requires a lot of time and effort to understand - I suppose if that wasn't the case we wouldn't be quite so interested in it! You have to love a challenge. And I genuinely am prepared to invest the time and effort (been spending a couple of hours a day researching for at least 4 months even now, before I was ready to start anything) - it's just the money that I'll be short of for a while.

    I do really like the look of the AlertMe system, and from spending time on their forums it seems like they are intending to expand the capabilities of the API and other services, and there is a little community springing up writing little programs to extend the capabilities of the system. I think for the energy monitoring side right now it looks like the best option - particularly at only 29.99 with a free iPhone app/web control. I know longer term I'll want something that can be integrated with what system I set up, but this may be a temporary starter, at least on the energy side.

    I'll take a look now at the other things you mention, but I do have a fairly strong gut instinct to only commit to systems that might in the future allow integration via xAP - just as it seems like the only realistic way right now to bring seperate systems together. RE security, unfortunately we commited to a 'standard' alarm from a sparky my parter knows some months ago, a Veritas alarm, though I won't know the exact spec until it's fitted in a couple of weeks (all the wiring's in, just waiting to get plastered before fitting the PIRs & keypads etc).

    I've put a post on the 'General' forum as advised (with a LOT of detail ) - and thanks again for the advice, much appreciated!

  10. #50
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    If anyone experiences problems with iServer - particularly it not showing incoming xAP message bottom left then do post
    ....

    The left and right "To/From remotes" panels will only show traffic when a client connects.

    K
    Red herring... just checked the code and the bottom LHS message received field also only updates if a client is connected ... so you will see 'No Events yet' until a Joggler connects to the iServer.

    This recent change was to minimise CPU usage (avoiding parsing all the incoming xAP messages) when iServer is idle. So all seems well. However I will change this again in a later iServer release to help with diagnostics.

    K
    Last edited by Kevin; 21st July 2010 at 04:26 PM.

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