Author Topic: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation  (Read 11155 times)

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #30 on: September 21, 2012, 04:52:50 am »
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.

What makes it "worth it"?

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #31 on: September 21, 2012, 05:07:15 am »
They asked me how I'm going to communicate with the KNX equipment. is it possible to use IP with LinuxMCE, or should I ask for a RS232 connection?
 
Do I need to plan for connections on the KNX system for door locks, drapes, blinds, sprinklers, etc?
... or is it only for lighting? (see hari's post)

Also, the wiki states that "The Core also generally has the TV tuner card for the entire system". Is it possible to use the MD instead of cable boxes to watch different live tv shows at the MDs?
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 07:16:13 pm by mcefan »

posde

  • Administrator
  • LinuxMCE God
  • *****
  • Posts: 3059
  • Wastes Life On LinuxMCE Since 2007
    • View Profile
    • My Home
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #32 on: September 21, 2012, 06:40:46 am »
Are you referring to the TP used for signaling? I thought the power had to be homeruned to a central location?

The KNX/TP cable just needs to run throughout the whole house. But it is not needed to be star organized, like CAT cable for example. It is mainly a bus. The reason why people install it as an open ring has to do with fault tolerance. If it breaks someplace, the former purposefully kept open ring, can now be closed at that location where it was kept open, to circumvent the breakage happening elsewhere.

If you need more details, I suggest to read the KNX Basics in our wiki, as well as KNX handbook, which should be available from knx.org.

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #33 on: September 21, 2012, 08:19:32 am »
If you need more details, I suggest to read the KNX Basics in our wiki, as well as KNX handbook, which should be available from knx.org.

I did (both), but I'm new to this (a few days), so I don't have the full picture yet. Getting there though...
Since KNX communication could happen over power lines, I wanted to make sure. The details you just provided (TP+ring) are valuable insight that I would not have come anywhere close to getting from my previous readings.
Now that that's clear to me, what about the electric cables themselves? The KNX stuff in the link I posted above requires a star configuration, but since I don't know what installers normally do, I though I'd ask instead of making mistakes. In my book, instruction beats correction any day!

Thank you for the clarifications!

About the ETS software: i get that it is used to program the bus (whatever that means). Is that a separate function from what software on the MCE provides (i.e. additional cost)?

posde

  • Administrator
  • LinuxMCE God
  • *****
  • Posts: 3059
  • Wastes Life On LinuxMCE Since 2007
    • View Profile
    • My Home
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #34 on: September 21, 2012, 12:40:45 pm »
The power cables should be star wired, it is the KNX control cable that is ring/bus/tree layouted.

ETS is additional software that the KNX installer usually has to configure the KNX devices, and is outside of the LinuxMCE scope.

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #35 on: September 21, 2012, 05:59:24 pm »
ETS is additional software that the KNX installer usually has to configure the KNX devices, and is outside of the LinuxMCE scope.

Since in my case, I am the one that will be doing the physical install, does that mean that I will need it to do the install or is it simply about assigning IDs and some other basic things that I can ask the supplier to pre-configure for me? And how often is it necessary, will I need it if "something" goes wrong (I don't know the frequency/likelyhood of that - mean time between failures)?

tschak909

  • LinuxMCE God
  • ****
  • Posts: 5505
  • DOES work for LinuxMCE.
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #36 on: September 21, 2012, 10:02:34 pm »
You need ETS any time that you need to configure the KNX network. Keep in mind, LinuxMCE can't and won't change your KNX network topology. It is just utilizing it. Any time you need to make changes to your KNX network (adding, removing, or otherwise shuffling around devices and their relationships with the other devices in the KNX network), you will need ETS.

Good thing it is easily available. :)

-Thom

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #37 on: September 21, 2012, 10:49:22 pm »
Keep in mind, LinuxMCE can't and won't change your KNX network topology. It is just utilizing it.
Good to know!

Good thing it is easily available. :)
Looking at KNX site, from my perspective, it looks like a $500 investment for a one time use just to program lights. That's not very appealing and adds to the cost of the project.

Any time you need to make changes to your KNX network (adding, removing, or otherwise shuffling around devices and their relationships with the other devices in the KNX network), you will need ETS.

Good thing it is easily available. :)
I don't know what "configure the network" means in this context, but I'm familiar with computer networks, so, I can easily understand addressing and protocol parameters. What's involved in the KNX programming and involved does it get? Is it a skill I can/need to pickup or will I get by by just having someone else do it (idea that I don't like - I don't like dependency)?

Since everything is star homed to the control center, and power is provided to the loads from there, can't adjustments simply be made from there by moving wires around?

tschak909

  • LinuxMCE God
  • ****
  • Posts: 5505
  • DOES work for LinuxMCE.
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #38 on: September 21, 2012, 11:44:06 pm »
No, and that's the point. The devices themselves are programmed by ETS to have their topology characteristics. This way, you can re-map a push button sensor to turn on a completely different lamp, at any point (as one example). The sensors have no physical relationship to their actors.

-Thom

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #39 on: September 22, 2012, 12:14:44 am »
The devices themselves are programmed by ETS to have their topology characteristics. This way, you can re-map a push button sensor to turn on a completely different lamp, at any point (as one example). The sensors have no physical relationship to their actors.
OK, I really misunderstood this!
So, the buttons are just signals that the responses are programmed with ETS.
Then what's being programmed?



On another note, I just received a quote for the recessed LED fixtures, nothing special, but, at an average $200 per light, I den up at $10,000 already without the controls yet. When I asked why, I was told that it;s because I asked for LED, and dimmable.
I think I will have to shop around for the lighting, this is too much for me. Where can I look at some dimmable recessed LED lights. I'd rather be careful before rather than after. I don't want to have flickering problems, communication issues and the like: what should I be looking / looking out for?
« Last Edit: September 22, 2012, 12:59:42 am by mcefan »

jacac

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #40 on: September 22, 2012, 05:43:38 am »
I just hope the products are affordable for some home owners projects.

Hope the same. Would really like to use KNX. Would be nice to know start package cost.


posde

  • Administrator
  • LinuxMCE God
  • *****
  • Posts: 3059
  • Wastes Life On LinuxMCE Since 2007
    • View Profile
    • My Home
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #41 on: September 22, 2012, 10:58:38 am »
Dimmable is always $$$ - especially if you go with home automation gear and want good quality. Dimming LEDs is another thing that makes it more expensive.

I have in my house most of the lights as regular switched LED stripes. I got the LED stripe (on rolls) from eBay (search for SMD 5060 5m), and got the fixtures to put them into from klusdesign.eu, after a German company wanted 30EUR/m for the fixtures, and Klus wanted something like 8EUR/m

I also have some RGB LEDs. Those are switched on and off using KNX, but the color is not done via KNX but using DMX. DMX is around 10EUR per port for dimming.

Another option others are pursuing with regards to dimming LEDs is using DALI. DALI is an architecture specifically designed around controlling lights efficiently. There are KNX->DALI gateways available.

Regarding what's being programmed: The application itself is programmed into the device. i.e. the devices are fairly dumb out of the factory, and an application is loaded into them, as well as parameters what to do etc. - They are little computers, and just like the PC can't do anything without an application, the KNX appliances (actors and sensors) can't do anything without the application.

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #42 on: September 23, 2012, 07:25:22 pm »
Hope the same. Would really like to use KNX. Would be nice to know start package cost.

I will definitely post my findings. I'm researching the matter. I tried, but it was too late, but come tomorrow, I'll be calling all the competitors I recently found. I really like the guys at EC though, great team! I like the service. The only problem is that it seems to be a small size enterprise, and they're busy at times. Getting to them might not be straight forward, but I can tell you, they're really serious and they take good care of people, call back, and care. I did not expect that!

I will post my experiences as I progress. I indent to document things so this thread can be a reference for someone else that would like to start with LMCE, including, but not limited to KNX.

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #43 on: September 23, 2012, 07:55:43 pm »
Dimmable is always $$$ - especially if you go with home automation gear and want good quality. Dimming LEDs is another thing that makes it more expensive.
Well, when I was studying my load center, I came across this light in the electrical store for $53 (4in). It is dimmable to 20%. That's $150 less, but then again, I don't know the difference. Someone please enlighten me.

Quote
I have in my house most of the lights as regular switched LED stripes. I got the LED stripe (on rolls) from eBay (search for SMD 5060 5m), and got the fixtures to put them into from klusdesign.eu, after a German company wanted 30EUR/m for the fixtures, and Klus wanted something like 8EUR/m
WHAT!???? These small strips actually light up your WHOLE house?
Now, THAT sounds interesting. I'm looking into it right now...
I like all the options  you suggested, espacially since they don't come anywhere close to $10,000!


Quote
Regarding what's being programmed: The application itself is programmed into the device. i.e. the devices are fairly dumb out of the factory, and an application is loaded into them, as well as parameters what to do etc. - They are little computers, and just like the PC can't do anything without an application, the KNX appliances (actors and sensors) can't do anything without the application.
OK. So, is the application the same on all of them?


I'm off to do some research on all the above...
I will report soon..
« Last Edit: October 01, 2012, 07:26:12 pm by mcefan »

mcefan

  • Veteran
  • ***
  • Posts: 89
    • View Profile
Re: Linux MCE beating as the heart of whole house automation
« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2012, 04:48:17 am »
Taking my first baby steps. Here we go:

I finally got my system up and running. Last week, I could not get it installed. After failing a few times, I figured it was the medium I was using, and the methods I was trying. First, the DVD had a problem. It left with the past trash truck. Second, even though I downloaded another copy, I could not virtualize it to test. I will revisit that when I'm comfortable with everything and can make more educated decisions.

I ended up installing from a fresh DVD after re-downloading the 4th and final  time (10.04). I pulled a new server that I had laying around from a sale dell had a couple of years ago. It was too good to pass ($250). It's brand new. I just fired it up, and installed with no problem.

Once installed, the confusion started. I went back and read again, and it was a little better. I have to say though, it's a bit difficult to grasp the concepts from scratch because the "non geek" info is not "evident" on the wiki, and you really have to explore. If any of the admins read this report, please PM me so I can help create a few pages to help remediate this. I am working on this right now, so I might as well...

After I completed the install (which I went through jut to see what it's about), I started looking at some of what was involved during the install because there were too many questions I could not answer. I also wanted to have a look at how the system works, so I spent some time typing the hardware items one after the other in the search boxes of our local stores and was able to find out that the HD PVR and the Soundblaster Audigy were available, so I went to the store to get it.
After a long time searching for stuff that's listed and mostly outdated, I was glad to be able to find something, anything!
While at the store, I discovered that the zbox was a barebone computer, and even though I could not find the exact model I had on my list, I decided to chance it on a HD ID33BR that was on the shelf on clearance. To my great surprise, it worked from pxe. I did not even have to use a hard drive! That was a shocker.
Another surprise was that it's on the list (at least the ID33 is).
I just added a 1GB stick that I had laying around from one of my netbooks (they take up to 2GB but only come with one, and I have had to replace a few over the past 3 years).
During that setup, I realized that I needed input devices other than the ones I had. I went back to the store today (after the same long trial and error on the whole list) and picked up an Air mouse GO plus (came with keyboard - 100ft/32m range!). I also took the 2nd (probably the last one) zbox that was on the shelf. They cost me $330 and came with a $50 rebate = 270! I got lucky!

So, now I have a core with a SB audigy + blu-ray burner in it, a HD PVR, 2 zbox ID33BR MDs, and a Air mouse go plus.

I am SUPER exited!

Tomorrow, I'd see about picking up the alarm panel. I will need help with choosing it. I'll take the time to do the usual local search first, then I'll engage you to find out if I'm on the right track.
Now back to playing with that ...

I'll report as I go.