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Messages - mcefan

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Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« on: September 21, 2012, 04:47:29 am »
- lighting control

I'd recommend a cabled system like KNX over wireless solutions like Z-Wave

Can you elaborate on why?

Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« on: September 21, 2012, 04:35:30 am »
KNX cable can be intersected however you like. i.e. you can build a tree, or a single line, doesn't matter. I have a tree with lots of branches. As long as you do not produce a loop, everything is allowed.

Are you referring to the TP used for signaling? I thought the power had to be homeruned to a central location?
I'll ask the engineer @ element controls what their requirements are tomorrow. They were already closed when I called (he still picked up my call an worked with me for an hour).

Please take a look @ the elements in the "smart box" and tell me what you think:

Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« on: September 21, 2012, 04:24:49 am »

let me know if you get a reply form element controls. I've contacted them twice and never heard back.


I finally just spoke to the engineer @ element controls: very nice guys. I just kept calling every couple of hours until I finally got him. He immediately listened to my plans, asked me to send him some drawings by email, which I did, and we discussed the whole thing for over 30 mins. Outstanding service. He is going to give the drawing to the lighting guy tomorrow to size the loads, then they will call me and we'll work out the switches and all, so I can have a quote. Definitely more than anything I expected.
I don't know what the rules are on this forum for contacts, but I have his email. He says that he is easier to get via email because of all the meetings he has to attend. Apparently, they do a lot of on site customizations and installations and work with all the people involve in the building industry, especially on large project like hospitals and the like, where automation has to be serious, advanced and reliable.
I just hope the products are affordable for some home owners projects.

I'll keep you posted

Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« on: September 19, 2012, 04:07:32 pm »
I run my KNX wires directly alongside my 230V power cables, my CAT6 and CAT7 cabling, 3x 30m speaker wire, and the low voltage stuff from my 30kWh peak PV installation, without any problems.
That won't meet code over here. The inspectors would fail that setup. They actually come and look at each wire, gages, routing and all...
It has to be kept 16in away.

What's "30kWh peak PV" used for?
Once you pull your bundle as you said, do you just continue to pull to the individual locations, or is there any kind of junction boxes used in the process.
Where do the cat wires terminate (switch/lights/plugs/junction...)?

Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« on: September 19, 2012, 03:03:49 pm »
    Different busses each require their own wiring and signalling requirements. None of the busses can share the same physical topology, as they are each proprietary.
    (... for obvious reasons: they'll talk over each other and no device will understand anything since no communication sent remains unchanged.
    ... and there is no arbitration...)

    Boy, this thread is quickly becoming a stickie for noobs (like me). I don't know if it's me, but I did not have as clear an understanding from my previous readings. This kind of stuff should be placed on top of the wiki. I will even volunteer to write, if someone will work with me.

    That said, now I understand why I was asked to pull cat wire: with KNX, it's used for signalling, and it needs to reach wherever there is something to control. Which brings me to another conclusion: I need to use different color wires to distinguish the control bus to from the LAN that I am pulling.

    Now my concern is crosstalk and power surges:
    if a cat bus wire is pulled along side or parallel to the electric wires,
    • communication will not be clean (there will be errors in transmission caused by electric surges)
    • there is a high probability that a power surge will damage the equipment on the bus.

    To avoid those problems, I need to keep the cat wires at least 16in away.
    Good thing I'm replacing the breaker panel also! I'll purchase one with whole house surge protection, and I think there are breakers that come now with surge protection also, I'll use that on the KNX bus (if I can afford to go that route).

    So, that's where my understanding gets me so far...

    Which leads me to:
    • Where does the cat wires terminate (KNX)?
    • How is the setup for the lights over cat supposed to be done?

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 19, 2012, 06:06:24 am »
    All that LinuxMCE cares about, is its interface to the bus, and that it knows what is on the bus, so it can know where things are, what commands can be sent, and if an event comes across the wire, where it came from.

    So yes, you don't NEED the computer, but the computer opens up additional possibilities, and as long as there is an interface to the bus, and LinuxMCE knows how to talk to it, LinuxMCE can be used to either send commands to it, or listen to events from it.

    It also opens up the possibility to mix and match. If you have, say, Z-Wave, and KNX devices, you could attach computer interfaces to the LinuxMCE core (or media directors, it really doesn't matter, especially if the media directors stay on), and then issue commands from LinuxMCE and LinuxMCE will do the right thing. It makes LinuxMCE a sort of United Nations in the middle, and ultimately allows you to have a wider selection of choice.


    Thank you for making it plain for me Thom. Despite the reading, it was still a bit elusive (I think it's because the documentation focuses mainly on the technical aspects of things). You've made it clear: the LMCE core is essentially a command and control center for various HA technologies, each with their own merits and problems.
    So, now I need to wisely choose devices.

    Just out of curiosity, if the wire is used for signaling, how do the different protocols avoid conflicts?

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 18, 2012, 08:02:38 pm »
    and if you're smart you're running your cabling for switches, lamps and appliances in a star originating from your closet. That way you can devices with multiple channels (cheaper) and easily replace them if some other system evolves over the next decades.
    actually, everything  homeruns to the breaker box now. I was actually thinking of doing exactly that, but I don't know how the HA equipment works, so I was not sure it was the right thing to do. I will reroute the electric then.

    To make sure I get it right:
    • run homeruns to a ???? in the wiring closet
    • wire all switches from the ??? location
    • do the same with cat6

    is that right?
    All the KNX stuff I've seen so far here seems to not need the LMCE. It is advertised as "no computer needed", and pricey. What should I be looking for?

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 18, 2012, 06:22:09 pm »
    Echoing what several have said, enjoy the flexibility to wire the place 'til it looks like charlette's web.  And run extra. 
    Great suggestions! I will apply them all.

    I have a couple of questions:
    What do you mean by extra? Length, or extra runs?

    • New LED lighting is coming out that will allow lights to run using a standard POE switch and be controlled by it.  I would venture to run some cat5/6 to the light fixtures or at least nearby.
    • Run a neutral everywhere, many controllers need the ability to power themselves without trickling power through the device.  This includes at the light switches.  Instead of running the power to the fixture and then a switch leg to the switch, run the power to the switch and then up to the fixture. 
    Would you have links to these lights?
    During wiring, I labeled both ends, and homeruned to the switches. I kept the low voltage 16in away because of potential power surges. How should the cat wiring for lighting be done while keeping away from the fixture? I would like to reuse the same locations. I'm thinking of coming from the opposite direction with the cat, ending at the fixture, without terminating both ends. I can always disconnect the romex when needed, but how would you do it?

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 18, 2012, 06:05:06 pm »
    I don't know how it is that I can't find these things, but thank you!

    I did some reading, made some calls, waiting for return calls from element controls and others ...

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 18, 2012, 01:57:48 pm »
    Good to know! Thank you.

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 18, 2012, 01:38:32 pm »
    Not Z-wave...

    You do realize that wireless signals are passing through your body constantly?! Radio, TV, Cell, Microwave, cosmic rays from the Big Bang, even?!

    Z-wave isn't at the normal wifi frequncies by the way,... in the US it's a frequency close to baby monitors.
    My kids are all near the end of school (college). I don't use baby monitors!  ;D
    Naaah! Seriously, joke aside, if the walls are open, I think the safe thing is to run both 3 wires electric and multiple cat 6 everywhere as suggested earlier. But now that I have wires, I'd like to use them!
    I realize we're bombarded all the time with waves. That's probably what makes people crazy and we have all these wars!
    Then again, I may be wrong, it might actually make people smarter, but I have no proofs. All I know, it's unnatural, so if I can cut down a bit on some, I'd rather do that. That does not mean I will not use it. After all, I have a cell phone with me all the time, and I'm constantly surrounded with an average of 3 netbooks working wirelessly...

    ... you can't get 110V stuff in Europe. There is a link in our wiki to a US company doing KNX stuff in the US.
    I don't know why, but I can't seem to find the link. Can you point me to the wiki page please?

    I have good experience with Z-Wave, I'm using it for years and I did write the LinuxMCE implementation. If I were you, I'd prefer wires. Z-Wave is great for retrofitting, but when you have the walls open, get a wired solution.
    What should I use instead?

    I called SH last might, they seem to have a lot of stuff, and they sell that SYI controller thing. I'm not sure how it actually fits is the picture. Shouldn't I have the LMCE control everything directly? Or do I use a "controller" and then use the LMCE to control it in turn?

    I'm not too sure about Insteon though. They keep saying they have sorted out the issues over the past 2 years, but I have no clue. What are my alternatives?

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 18, 2012, 01:14:36 am »
    I've seen the SmartHome site before, but knew nothing about ASI.

    I prefer Z-wave. It's reasonably reliable in my opinion. Because of the mesh network it forms, the more stuff you have, the better it works. Obviously, it's wireless...

    is it only wireless?

    Ouch! Just did some reading on it.

    What's the wired solution?

    Users / Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 17, 2012, 11:36:24 pm »
    Thank you all so much for your replies.
    I've been waiting all day for replies to be emailed, but received nothing on my phone. I was expecting the forum software to send me notifications I requested, but I may be missing something. Please point me to the right setting.
    update: I finally got 1 notification.

    Get quality Ethernet wiring throughout the house as step one,...

    If you want inexpensive hardware, that's one thing,... but,... don't skimp on the infrastructure (Ethernet wiring) ... With walls open, you have an advantage most of us do not...
    That was my idea exactly. I'm glad to see that I'm in the right direction. I replaced and re-framed all the windows. In the process, I made provision for sensors and blinds: 1 run of cat 6, and one run of electric wire, with neutral and ground (at each window/door).

    And if you do not go KNX atm, do yourself a favor, and run a cable ring through your house touching each place where you expect a sensor (thermostate, motion, button).
    will do...

    Most appliance/lighting control is not X10 stuff any longer... it's z-wave, zigbee, etc.
    the only one I had done any serious reading about has been insteon, because it was advertized as the "next best thing" after x10 that was dying. But my reading revealed to me that it was riddled with problems, but they have mostly been fixed.  Most of the posts out there however are old, so, I don't know...
    I'll take anything you can advise, as long as you're confident it's solid as of date, and works properly with LMCE.

    ... wireless stuff...
    not really interrested in it. I'd rather wire. First all these wave HAVE to affect our health somehow, I can't prove it, but I know it's u-natural. There' enough of them in the air...
    and cable is much more faster with no bottleneck. Wireless is still broadcast, so I'm nit sure how well it will work when people start streaming HD movies from each room...
    I'd rather wire.

    Anything with regards to electrical wiring is just a matter of having well grounded, correctly polarized electrical service delivery.
    Glad to hear. Thank you.

    Having Wifi coverage is a matter of strategic placement of wireless access points. Having Ethernet wiring throughout the house helps there...
    One access point easily covers the house. I currently have 2 going.

    Z-wave stuff can be added as needed
    any online store suggestion?

    - lighting control

    I'd recommend a cabled system like KNX over wireless solutions like Z-Wave
    Not much to add to what hari said, except that KNX might be a bit hard to source in the US. BUT, it really is worth it.
    Just say the word!...
    googling "KNX" was not very helpful here. Could you please give me a link?
    I have a sister in england, and a cousin in france. I might be able to get the european stuff, as long as it works on 110.

    - whole house music

    either get squeezeboxes for the zones where you don't have a LMCE MD or use soft squeeze on the core with an audio distribution system
    I'm currently running vortexbox. It does everything, but I don't yet know how it integrates with LMCE. I have a player, and a touch, can control it with my android phone, stream to my android phone, and I am fairly confident I can do the multi-zones with it. But it has to integrate with LMCE, and I have not gotten that far yet. My key thing is that I want LMCE at the heart of everything.
    I tried reading on the audio distribution system stuff, and ended up drowning in the sea of ignorance.Any suggestions?

    - whole house A/V

    done by the MDs
    I'll read more on it. Thank you.

    - temp control

    KNX has nice temp controllers, for Z-Wave there are thermostats, too.
    Please post me some links.

    - tts is built in

    - voice recog is not yet supported

    - proximity detection

    works via bluetooth with mobile orbiters (either symbian or java phones). With some hacking you can also use active RFID tokens
    I use android. I guess it will have to be java?

    - door locks

    KNX has I/O moduls that can attach to any electromechanical door or opener. Z-Wave has bolts.
    Please post links.

    - alarm

    make sure that you've some motion detectors in place, they can also be used for lighting in e.g. the hallway. Run cables to your windows for contact closure sensors.
    I've done the cabling, but how do I interface them to the LMCE?

    - surveillance

    get some good webcams like axis or mobotix (the cheap ones make shitty pictures in the dark)
    Any suggestions, or do I just pick one from the list on the wiki?

    - garden sprinkler

    get a rain8net device (it is supported) and attach 24V AC valves to it (e.g. from Gardena)
    Thank you, I'm on it...

    - appliances control

    plugs ?...(what do I know?-I'm clueless-I just know it'll be nice to control them!)

    - other stuff

    don't forget smoke detectors. What about blinds/drapes?
    Right on the detectors. I wired electric for those too. Which ones to use?
    How about carbon detectors?

    I have wired for blinds also, i just don't know where to buy the stuff, and what's the right stuff to buy, or what's the right price range.

    If possible wire each light directly into a central switchboard, as well as the power outlets.
    By code, the wires go to a breaker box. Are you referring to another location/box?
    I actually thought of that, and I'm about to rewire because I don't like the work that was done, I'm going with heavier wires and shorter distances this week. I can reroute them.

    While you have all the walls open, it will "only" cost you the cable. But in the long run, it will allow you to easily switch to whatever architecture that might come along. Stuff like central off for every light and every power outlet is easily done doing this.
    What would I terminate the wires in?

    Users / Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
    « on: September 17, 2012, 08:35:58 am »
    After quite a bit of reading, I am resolving to posting in hope that I will get a resolution for Linux MCE beating as the heart of my whole house automation.

    I am completely new to HA. I consider myself a bit of a "tech", and do not mind getting my hands dirty. I am currently in the process of whole house renovation and have decided on LMCE as the choice for automation.
    The house is currently gutted out and all floors/walls are directly accessible for wiring/cabling. I have now reached the point where I need to make some decisions and purchase the necessary equipment to accomplish the following:

    • lighting control
    • whole house music
    • whole house A/V
    • temperature control
    • tts/voice recognition
    • proximity detection
    • door locks
    • alarm
    • video surveillance
    • automated garden sprinkler
    • small appliances control
    • ... any other interesting stuff you I am missing (please suggest)

    Since my the house is small, I am hoping to be able to fully automate it at a reasonable cost (I am on a budget, and need to complete the walls and everything else).

    At this point, I need some help deciding on both protocols and equipment. I am trying to avoid making a costly mistake that I will not be able to recover from, since I will not have the finances to "correct" it. My funds are limited, and I need to do this right the first time. If I end up with things that don't work I'll pretty much be fried.

    Please share your experience about what you have that works well, and advise me on what direction I should take.
    (FYI, I live in the US.)

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