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Thread: Bit quiet of late...

  1. #11
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    thinking of integration beyond ... Kevin & xAP comes to mind
    Yo .. I’m still around and a huge proportion of my home chats away on xAP still, including Cortex. It’s just so easy to add xAP support to little devices and, as you mentioned them.. the xAP support on SqueezeBox devices is excellent. The loose (broadcast) ‘udp’ coupling is very powerful still but it’s a tough sell and so time consuming that I keep my head down nowadays.

    As things have evolved Node-RED and MQTT are very much in the frame for me now and JSON payloads even transported within xAP. It was an easy bit of code to transition by pushing every BSC state change from xAP onto MQTT and vicaversa and hence get Cortex reporting status via MQTT. Although I personally haven’t implemented the reverse ... updating devices in Cortex via MQTT ... it would seem very do-able either via xAP or the API.

    What’s great about this ‘middleware’ approach is that it offers so many paths to interconnect A and B either directly ... or via C and that just makes everything possible in HA. It can sometimes get a bit confusing as to quite ‘what’ originated a change and you can get loops if you’re not vigilant but it’s very powerful. You can basically integrate any device supported by any HA app into any other. As this now encompasses so many cloud based services offered by the Amazon / Google assistants there are amazing integration opportunities. IFTTT, Conrad Connect and Stringify are also great in this respect, bringing so many software linkages into the mix. It just makes me smile nowadays when I get something ‘talking and walking’, which is basically the fun of HA for me.

    My main concern with current home automation product directions though is Cloud / Internet dependence to do almost anything. In some cases when you press a switch to turn a light on it fails if your Internet is down as does any scheduling / logic. Not to mention the inherent delays. You MUST have local control in a HA System. Cortex, along with it’s directly attached hardware and node<>node fallback intelligence still excels in that respect.

    K
    Last edited by Kevin; 9th November 2017 at 03:26 AM.

  2. #12
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    >stateless and stateful ...

    had to look that up ... best I found pointed to stateful being in effect living, intelligent ... and stateless being dumb, effectively moronic, in its responses ...

  3. #13
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Kevin, you'll be pleased to know that I mentioned xAP at the afore-mentioned conference just a couple of weeks ago - in the context of interoperability mechanisms

    Chris, just my terminology... Distinguishing between systems whose behaviour depends on a state model (i.e dependent on the states of multiple objects and signals at the time) as opposed to systems which simply act on a narrow set of immediate local data. For example when you press a button to change the state of a light in Cortex the resulting action and how it is achieved depends on what caused the light to be in a particular state in the first place. In a stateless system the button simply toggles the light without being concerned about any consequences on the goal of automation (e.g under what conditions automation should subsequently affect that light). Similarly for occupancy inference - the system has to have a picture of the whole house including multiple sensor types and historical information, not simply work on the immediate signal of a motion sensor. A bit like the human brain maintains a holistic model of the body and the environment rather than simply reacting to singular signals, though of course simpler reactions possible via reflexes.

  4. #14
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    so, how long before people realise the difference ... what could be done to tip the balance in their understanding ... many people are not yet enamoured of HA, and maybe this is why - albeit they couldn't articulate it ...

  5. #15
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    I suppose ultimately its about the user experience - what the technology does on a day to day basis and what flexibility it gives you beyond that. Whether a stateful or stateless approach is better or whether a clear distinction can be seen in various technologies is probably something for the enthusiasts to debate.

    However I know only too well from personal experience how difficult it is to get across the differences between the 'feel' of a home using one kind of technology relative to another. Probably needs a decent video, or I'd go as far as saying a serious documentary - not one of those that simply sets out to glamorize, eccentrify or nerdifiy the technology (hope I'm not adding new entries into the dictionary).

    I tend to use our case study 7 as a good example, because it illustrates usefullness over glamorous gadgetry and co-existence with a user who has no affinity for technology. Of course if I want to impress someone with scalability then its over to you Chris

  6. #16
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    one many people will have come across might be a meeting room, with stateless lights - we had them at work in a new building, no manual switch, just a PIR ... our meetings didn't have people all fallen asleep, but they did need someone to wave vigorously at the ceiling every now & then ... pretty dumb, and it's what many will think of as being what you get when you have automated lights ...

    likewise our office in Germany, with its BMS to control everything - lights, heat, ventilation, blinds ... if we worked late, we were left in the dark and, on sunny days with passing clouds & winter days with a low sun, the blinds would go up & down many times a day with no account taken of glare to our eyes, just heat-gain to the building, and just up & down, no tilting of the angle ... again no manual switches & pretty dumb, and the sort of thing that puts people off ...

    when people here locally ask about our house & its automation, the things that seem to catch their imagination most are :

    - the (as we're now calling them) stateful lights ...

    - not having to hang-around while things happen (eg: being able to fill the bath or a bucket without having to hang around to turn the water off, being able to set the yard gate ajar or double ajar also without having to hang around to stop it when it's opened far enough) ...

    - being told when & where visitors are when then arrive (front door or gate, or on their way to the back door) ...

    - things like running the dishwasher when people are not around without having to think about when that might be ...

    - lighting scenes that cancel themselves appropriately ...

    - heating & ventilation looked-after in a way that takes account of people ...

    - having a button that acts as an alarm-clock that speaks & takes care of things (tells how long we were or have been asleep, tells what the weather forecast is & the temperature outside, tells if any doors or windows are open, automagically deals with all the lights around the house in a sensible way) ...

    - being told useful things (clock needs winding, bins need putting out, something's been left open abnormally, etc) ...

    - being able to check-on & action things from a 'phone or laptop, and do things like put the freezer into boost-mode while out shopping ...

    - being sent e-mails when something particular happens ...

    things visitors tend to worry about are buttons, what they're for - even when told they'll seldom need to touch them ... some sort of neat labelling is on our to-do list !
    Last edited by chris_j_hunter; 11th November 2017 at 01:34 PM.

  7. #17
    Automated Home Guru neilhooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karam View Post
    And here's another anecdote ... been trying to help source some electric binds recently and was really a bit surprised how difficult it was to get some suppliers to provide a quote for a simple 230v motorised set up with up/down/common connections, which we could then control via a relay module - having already routed power, network cable and back boxes to convenient locations for 6. Most seemed to start off suggesting battery and radio based products and then went to radio based 230V driven units but started to suck air when we said we needed just the plain motor (which in fact is cheaper than other two options). Couldn't understand why we wanted to use 'old fashioned' technology. I asked them how long they expected the batteries to last. Most answers were between 6-12 months ('a bit less at the beginning because people tended to play with them more'). So, that's six blinds with fairly hefty dimensions each probably being operated more often than manual control due to automation, with a battery life expectancy of 12 months each (I doubt). Meaning you could be changing/charging batteries every 2 months, let alone the possibility of them conking out when you were away. Then there was the question of integration.. yes it might be possible via this gateway and that cloud service and IFTTT... well I suppose better than hacking a handset, or is it?

    I understand fully well that the reason is that the market for retrofitted blinds is huge, so everyone is focussing their resources on this, but for those who are able to do the job properly I think it is going backward not forward in terms of the final user experience.
    Controllis were doing a 240v blind which can be switched using two relays on a QRH, I have two blinds like this. However they have become very expensive of late.

    The last blind I purchased was from poweredblinds.co.uk and one of their chaps named Paul was extremely helpful. They supplied me with one based on a Somfy LT28 WT motor which is 24v DC. As I'd run separate wiring to the blind's location it was easy to incorporate a 24v DC power supply into my system and it runs perfectly. Being a 24v DC motor it's a bit noisier than my 240v ones but my power supply has adjustable output voltage which i've turned down to 20v. The blind is much quieter and not really much slower but mainly the price was much more acceptable.

    Hope this helps.

    - Neil

  8. #18
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    The client eventually opted to source from 'Mulberry Blinds' who essentially use an equivalent of the Somfy Sonesse 40WT motors.

    Keeping to original theme of this thread, I know you're not going to believe it but we're still stuck on the video component update for Cortex W10. As is usual with anything you try and change, found some late bugs and unfortunately reliant on a 3rd party to fix...
    Last edited by Karam; 5th January 2018 at 03:55 PM.

  9. #19
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    Recently I put in some bifold doors and it occurred to me that here too was an opportunity for door manufacturers to add some value. Why isn't it possible to buy doors and windows with built in reed switches that indicate whether they are closed or open? But as far as I'm aware this isn't possible or is it?

  10. #20
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    when we built our house, we hoped to find such an option ... nearest we found was locks with reed switches built-in ... but we found them impossible to source, despite being listed & advertised ...

    we found the same with between-the-glass blinds - advertised quite widely, but impossible to source ...

    at least for domestic applications ...

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