Author Topic: An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware  (Read 1845 times)

acromion

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An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware
« on: November 04, 2007, 02:04:01 am »
After playing with LinuxMCE for a while (and Pluto before that) I think I might be ready to take the plunge.  I'm hoping to start construction on a new house in a few months and I'd like some opionions on what I should include.  Currently I'm mostly using Misterhouse and Mythtv with a few custom scripts to pull some stuff in from Asterisk.  I use X10 for lighting control and a 3Com Audrey as a touchscreen interface. If I decide to go the LinuxMCE route what should I be shopping for and what is the best way to set it up?    My goals are:

1.  Distributed PVR system -> Mythtv!  We've used it for 2 years and we love it.  Any good suggestions for lightweight frontends?  At the moment we have a 3 full pc's for frontends.
2.  Automated Lighting/Appliances ->  Insteon?, ZWave? X10?
3.  Phone system ->  What makes sense here?  IP phones acting as orbiters?  Traditional Analog?
4.  Distributed Audio ->  I've no Idea here but my wife says we should do something.  Controlled from Orbiters?  Seperate from Media Centers?
5.  HVAC ->  Probably AprilAire Thermostats.
6.  Security -> DSC System with serial interface?
7.  Orbiters -> I'd like a few dedicated locations with orbiters mounted to the wall.  Anybody seen reasonably priced hardware for this?
8.  Locks -> I'd love some automated door locks with proximity sensors that work like the new cars do.  Get close to the door and it opens.  Perhaps bluetooth could be used like this.

Thanks for any advice, thoughts, rants or whatever.  I'd just like to see what people are thinking.  I have some budget to do this during construction so I'd like to get at least most of it done right.


tschak909

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Re: An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2007, 02:50:33 am »
After playing with LinuxMCE for a while (and Pluto before that) I think I might be ready to take the plunge.  I'm hoping to start construction on a new house in a few months and I'd like some opionions on what I should include.  Currently I'm mostly using Misterhouse and Mythtv with a few custom scripts to pull some stuff in from Asterisk.  I use X10 for lighting control and a 3Com Audrey as a touchscreen interface. If I decide to go the LinuxMCE route what should I be shopping for and what is the best way to set it up?    My goals are:

1.  Distributed PVR system -> Mythtv!  We've used it for 2 years and we love it.  Any good suggestions for lightweight frontends?  At the moment we have a 3 full pc's for frontends.
2.  Automated Lighting/Appliances ->  Insteon?, ZWave? X10?
3.  Phone system ->  What makes sense here?  IP phones acting as orbiters?  Traditional Analog?
4.  Distributed Audio ->  I've no Idea here but my wife says we should do something.  Controlled from Orbiters?  Seperate from Media Centers?
5.  HVAC ->  Probably AprilAire Thermostats.
6.  Security -> DSC System with serial interface?
7.  Orbiters -> I'd like a few dedicated locations with orbiters mounted to the wall.  Anybody seen reasonably priced hardware for this?
8.  Locks -> I'd love some automated door locks with proximity sensors that work like the new cars do.  Get close to the door and it opens.  Perhaps bluetooth could be used like this.

Thanks for any advice, thoughts, rants or whatever.  I'd just like to see what people are thinking.  I have some budget to do this during construction so I'd like to get at least most of it done right.



1. Why does it matter? just set up as media directors.
2. All three of those options are good. Insteon support is forthcoming.. PeteK will announce when we are able to successfully get it folded into sqlCVS and ready to go.
3. You have a lot of options here. I currently use a Cisco 7970 as my main phone, it works well..has full support for the orbiter panel..overall very nice. Look at the choices for Phone periphreals inside the Web Admin, those phones work well.. Other SIP phones also work well, if you add them as a generic SIP phone.
4. Slimboxes work excellent here. Just plug in, go.. use any of the orbiter choices to control them.
5. Those will work well.. Honestly, you can also just use temperature sensors and relays, and forego the whole thermostat control as well.
6. Again, you don't really NEED the security panel....they make sense if you WANT the dedicated panel and control..and the DSC works really well.. But again, you can string a series of motion, and binary sensors (door, window, etc.), and pair them with IP cameras to provide both security and surveillance completely controlled from the system.
7. well.. I would recommend probably a Nokia N800 as a house controller.. or any of the Windows CE/Mobile PDAs..the orbiter software on the latter work really well... If you have access to any web-accessible appliance, you can also use the Web Orbiters effectively. The Nokia 770, while very inxpensive, tends to be unstable due to wifi issues.
8. I am still researching this.. will let you all know as to what I come up with....

the overall descisions you make, really come down to:

* Do you want the climate, and security systems to be autonomous in and of themselves? if so, get dedicated systems and connect them to LinuxMCE... If not, get simple sensors, and relays a la GC100... the latter is cheaper and much more unified...but the system will cease to work when the system is down. It is worth noting that the most stable parts of the system ARE the lighting, climate, and security parts... It's the TV and Media parts that need work.

I am currently investigating stringing a series of 1-wire sensors across the house to get temperature data that I can use to trigger climate events to a GC100 connected HVAC... if it works well, it will be very cost effective for a new installation.

-Thom

teedge77

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Re: An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2007, 03:22:34 am »
Quote
1. Why does it matter? just set up as media directors.

 :D

they have full pcs....they want something lighter...maybe thats why it matters...

theres some other threads about thin clients or if you are interested you could get something from fiire.com to use.
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tschak909

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Re: An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2007, 05:48:10 am »
ah, i had misunderstood.. I thought he had said he was using them as mythtv front ends.

yes, fiire.com sells very good front end machines.. and you can build your own as well.. they just need to network boot.

-Thom

teedge77

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Re: An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2007, 03:51:43 pm »
well i think you were right on that part thom. it does say theyre using mythtv and misterhouse and using 3 full pcs as frontends. its the lighter part they seemed concerned about.

acromion, have you looked at what a media director is at all yet? a media director is similar to the mythtv frontend but has some other features. one big one is that it can be PXE booted, so it doesnt require a hard drive. its possible you could just get new cases for those full pcs and take out the drives. all you would really need is the motherboard, ram, sound card, some sort of video and power of course.....if your onboard nic doesnt support pxe (or doesnt exist) then you would need a nic that does support pxe booting. but thom was just trying to let you know, you wouldnt need to use a mythtv frontend anymore.

thanks for not getting mad i razzed you some thom. ;)
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acromion

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Re: An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2007, 05:24:24 pm »
Thanks for all of the advice. 

1)  I took a look at the fiire boxes and they look quite nice.  I think I'll buy a few of their fire stations.
3)  What interface is best for connecting an analog line?  I use a generic xp100 right now.  Is that going to work?  I'd like for outgoing calls to continue to use the analog line.  I like the reliablity and quality over using a voip service.  This all works reasonably well for me right now with a sip-> anaog converter for my old phones.
4)  Did you mean squeezeboxes? 
7)  Any ideas for orbiters with larger screens.  I don't care about mobility for some locations (ie front door).  My Audrey has an 8" screen and I don't want anything smaller for these spots.

What is 1wire support like in linuxmce?  I have a number of temp sensors now and I'm building a relay board to control sprinklers etc.   This works great with misterhouse.

tschak909

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Re: An open discussion on LinuxMCE and Hardware
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2007, 06:13:55 pm »
Thanks for all of the advice. 

1)  I took a look at the fiire boxes and they look quite nice.  I think I'll buy a few of their fire stations.
3)  What interface is best for connecting an analog line?  I use a generic xp100 right now.  Is that going to work?  I'd like for outgoing calls to continue to use the analog line.  I like the reliablity and quality over using a voip service.  This all works reasonably well for me right now with a sip-> anaog converter for my old phones.
4)  Did you mean squeezeboxes? 
7)  Any ideas for orbiters with larger screens.  I don't care about mobility for some locations (ie front door).  My Audrey has an 8" screen and I don't want anything smaller for these spots.

What is 1wire support like in linuxmce?  I have a number of temp sensors now and I'm building a relay board to control sprinklers etc.   This works great with misterhouse.

Analogue line control can best be done with Digium FXO cards. I don't do it this way, I just got a broadvoice account and have it go directly into my core.

and yes, I meant squeezeboxes.. they work incredibly well as audio players for remote areas of the house.

As for Orbiters with large screens.. Look at the wiki... Any Windows CE/Mobile or x86 Windows tablet will work correctly. As soon as someone makes a self contained linux orbiter package, those will work as well... but basically, for native orbiters, you have:

* The on-screen orbiters on the media directors (read: the TVs)
* The Windows based orbiters
* The Symbian and Windows Smartphone based Orbiters
* The Nokia 770/N800 orbiters.
* The Web Orbiter, which can handle any web browser which has basic javascript and image loading capabilities.
* The Cisco 7970 orbiter, which could be extended to handle other phones with similar XML based browsers as well.

As for 1-wire, the Dallas Semi 1-wire interfaces are supported... i.e. the DS9490R.. they can be attached to temperature and light sensors. Theoretically other things could be written as well. You'll find the entire architecture is incredibly open, and backed by a web frontend which can help facilitate creating new devices..which...once we have sqlCVS ready, be able to share the new devices with others.

Basically, if the device is RS232, Infra-Red, or TCP/IP, you can make a device template for it and make support for it without needing to go to write a new DCE device in C++.... For more advanced stuff (such as new media players and plugins), the web frontend will make the necessary database additions so that you can run DCEgen to create the needed C++ skeleton for the device.

I would suggest, you start reading the wiki. There is tons of information and possibilities.

-Thom