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Thread: Automating our boiler; a beginner's query.

  1. #21
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005


    Quote Originally Posted by kris2lee View Post
    I'm actually really sorry that Idratek invented it's own communication protocol instead of using existing standard. It really looks like their idea could work really well in the KNX system.
    The IDRANet protocol was developed (roots at Newcastle University, UK) with full knowledge of the EIB protocol as well as others that existed at the time, because these were considered a bit limited for the required purposes. It is also true that at a Reflex level the IDRATEK system can be considered similar in some respects to the likes of EIB/KNX and the more limited C-bus. Though at that level you can program it for free using the free Cortex license. This includes an auto reflex programming utility which tries to re-create some of the basic controls at Reflex level based on the more user friendly connectivity entered at a floorplan level. Very handy when you may have 150 lights to control ..

    But really the whole ethos behind the IDRATEK system is wide scale integrated automation, not just control. This distinction is very important. So, looking at earlier posts, whilst its true that we are essentialy a single source for the underlying technology its not that you are comparing like for like. An IDRATEK system is not really comparable to an EIB/KNX system nor any other that I'm aware of. So its more a case of whether you want the level and style of functionality provided by an IDRATEK system or not.

    You are tied in to one extent or another whatever technology you choose. Even though you may have many vendors they may be all producing variations of the same limited functions. There are also sometimes other not so obvious tie ins. As mentioned for example, KNX systems require a good level of understanding to perform the programming and the tools are expensive, so a qualified installer is often required even to change minor things at a later point. Wider ranging functionality at present requires adding on other systems in a not very integrated manner. And I think it may not be so easy to add external hardware in a more than simplistic manner and to dedicated modules.

    On the other hand an IDRATEK system already includes system wide integrated functions which automatically provide complex behavioural logic without the user needing to program this in. It already contains very sophisticated heating/cooling, security, lighting, direct remote access (without some kind of subscription...), data logging, and much more all in one structure, and also includes intercom and real time spoken information features. Also you can add in your choice of external hardware quite easily in quite a few areas. For example if you want to use an off the shelf PIR or your own wall switches these can be connected to any digital inputs on any module that has them (and since many modules do, there are usually quite a few spare). But perhaps an example of the conceptual distinction of the system is that once you add this external hardware it is not just considered as a simple digital input which then requires significant programming to integrate. Instead you simply indicate what type of device is connected and it automatically acquires special meaning within the logic. So if you say it is a PIR you will automatically find it available for connection to Room presence logic, to security system logic with all the special functions that a PIR has which say a switch does not. Similarly a push button is given its own set of special characteristics. If you want to change what the push button does at any time then its just a simple menu selection exercise.

    One could be really cautious and choose X10 since the cost is low, supported by more than one vendor and it can all be unplugged/changed at any time, why then go for something else? If you understand the differences between X10 and KNX then you may accept the risk and expense of installing KNX, similarly so for IDRATEK or any other system. So I guess its a case of understanding more clearly what different systems provide and weighing up the various factors which no doubt will have different value to different people.

  2. #22
    Automated Home Sr Member wywywywy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005


    Do you guys not think the original poster might have been scared away. :O

    Anyway, Plavixo, to get you started, have a look at the HomeEasy range. It communicates wirelessly, and is sold in HomeBase (and other places) for very reasonable prices. Specifically you need to use the HE105 Heating Control module. Plus a remote control from its range of course.

    To control it remotely and/or to program it, try this product here - It is a USB stick that you can plug into your Windows Server in the loft. It comes with software that allows you to schedule events (on/off). You can also write a simple web page (IT graduates, right? ) to interact with its software to control devices.

    After that you might want to expand to its other products. Hope it helps!!

    Note - it is only a simple system, but if you are just starting out, it is brilliant!

  3. #23
    Automated Home Jr Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by wywywywy View Post
    Do you guys not think the original poster might have been scared away. :O
    Noo. I just want to provide the data so he can make an informed decision. There are many products that look quite appealing but do have many draw backs. Usually such you can not think of when you just started playing with the idea to have some home automation.

    Quote Originally Posted by wywywywy View Post
    Anyway, Plavixo, to get you started, have a look at the HomeEasy range.
    This is the easy route. Cheap one too. Almost so cheap that it kind of eliminates some possible problems I mentioned earlier because you can just throw it away and buy something else instead (when you do not invest into the more fancy looking versions). It may also become de facto standard.

    But it is a wireless system. It works kind of like the weather stations with the wireless remote thermostat do and not like the WiFi. So they are not secure.

    I can think of the following possible problems. When you have armored concrete walls between the rooms then there may be a reliability problems but it likelly is not an issue.

    Another issues are more fundamental ones. The ones you can not work around easily.

    Because this system does use wireless communication then everyone in the reach can read it (with proper equipment of course but it is not expensive). So this can give out some usable information against you (when you are at home and when not for example).

    Another attack vector I can think of is the signal jamming (when it is possible to jam the mobile phone signal then this also should be not an issue (both are using quite similar frequency)).

    This makes it possible to make all the transmitters unusable. When you are using the wireless movement sensors then they can not send the status.

    When you are using the wireless light switches then you can not turn the lights on.

    Well, I do not want to scare people away but I do not think that people should be unaware of these questions.

    But this system can be quite fun too. For example it is possible to install a battery powered Arduino with the wireless transmitter next to your place and switch your lights on/off randomly or set the alarm on.

    This is quite cool, is'nt it?

    Well... More seriously when you take the wireless system then you probably do not install the wires. This means that when you later want to install a wired system then it would be more exepensive.

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