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peecee
2006-02-02, 15:19
I'm looking at redoing my lame-o attempt at home automation. I had a Crestron unit and a bunch of light controls. It has never worked quite right, and my wife isn't all that happy with it either.

I know of OmniPro, Crestron and AMX. Are there any other manufacturers that I should consider? Does anyone have recommendations for what plays well with slimserver? I'm leaning towards AMX, but it depends on what kind of deal I can get for trading in my Crestron stuff. Heck, I may keep that stuff, I just need to figure out how to integrate it with slimserver.

Jeff
2006-02-02, 16:15
I'm a avid user of AMX gear. Furthermore, as you're probably aware, I wrote an AMX module for NetLinx (in partnership with Fred, who did all the CLI work). If you weren't aware of it, here's a screen shot:

http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=62827

The module is released in binary form, but you're free to download sources from SourceForge. I welcome patches so everyone can benefit.

I've had very good experience with AMX gear, and have been using it since 1999 with complete, 100% success.

That said, although I know little about Crestron, my understanding is that, other than different programming philosophies, the two systems are quite good and quite capable. AMX uses more of a programming language, Crestron uses more of a GUI arrangement, making it harder to do stuff that the Crestron folks didn't consider upfront.

If you're having lots of problems making Crestron work "quite right", it might be more your skill level (and understanding of the platform) rather than the platform itself. Or perhaps issues with the lighting system working consistently or something. Again, this is based solely of what I've been told of the Crestron platform from folks that understand both AMX and Crestron quite well.

I've never had any problems making the AMX NetLinx system work perfectly using a wide range of different hardware. As I add something in my household (like the Squeezebox), the AMX NetLinx system accommodates the changes just fine. So, if you're looking for recommendations, the AMX NetLinx system is a very good and capable automation system.

-- Jeff

PAUL WILLIAMSON
2006-02-02, 16:56
>>> Jeff.22mkjb (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com 02/02/06 6:15 PM >>>
>
> I'm a avid user of AMX gear. Furthermore, as you're probably
> aware, I wrote an AMX module for NetLinx (in partnership with
> Fred, who did all the CLI work). If you weren't aware of it,
> here's a screen shot:
>
> http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=62827

Yep, I'm definitely aware. That's the reason for leaning towards AMX.

> The module is released in binary form, but you're free to
> download sources from SourceForge. I welcome patches so
> everyone can benefit.

I'll take a look.

> That said, although I know little about Crestron, my understanding
> is that, other than different programming philosophies, the two
> systems are quite good and quite capable. AMX uses more of a
> programming language, Crestron uses more of a GUI arrangement,
> making it harder to do stuff that the Crestron folks didn't consider

> upfront.

I hate GUIs for doing technical stuff. I'm a developer by day, which
is
another reason AMX is appealing to me.

> If you're having lots of problems making Crestron work "quite
> right", it might be more your skill level (and understanding of
> the platform) rather than the platform itself. Or perhaps issues
> with the lighting system working consistently or something.
> Again, this is based solely of what I've been told of the Crestron
> platform from folks that understand both AMX and Crestron
> quite well.

I have no doubt given more time and patience, I'd be a little better
at this. There is no doubt I am by no means proficient in the
Crestron world. I was over at a friend's house a couple nights
ago who runs AMX, and I was able to do some automation
stuff that has had me perplexed with Crestron for months.
That's why I'm asking if I should continue dumping money into
Crestron or make a move to a different product. I realize they
both can do very similar tasks, just in different manners.

> I've never had any problems making the AMX NetLinx
> system work perfectly using a wide range of different
> hardware. As I add something in my household (like the
> Squeezebox), the AMX NetLinx system accommodates the
> changes just fine. So, if you're looking for recommendations,
> the AMX NetLinx system is a very good and capable automation
> system.

Excellent. This is exaclty the kind of information I was hoping for.

Now, on to the real dilemma. I've got a 3 zone hot water baseboard
heating system and a single zone central air conditioning setup. The
central a/c has a remote control mounted near one of the heating
controls. Yesterday, my heat and a/c were on at the same time.
This happens occasionally in the spring and fall when the temps
are close to having one system on or the other. It drives me
nuts.

Does AMX have a thermostat that can control both a baseboard
hot water heat zone and an a/c zone? My wife is redecorating
and wants to eliminate one of the thermostats in both places
where the systems are less than 4 feet apart.

Ideally, I want to control my heat and a/c from one of the
squeezeboxes in the home, so it is important I get this right.

Thanks,
Paul

Jeff
2006-02-02, 18:02
Does AMX have a thermostat that can control both a baseboard hot water heat zone and an a/c zone? My wife is redecorating and wants to eliminate one of the thermostats in both places where the systems are less than 4 feet apart.

Ideally, I want to control my heat and a/c from one of the
squeezeboxes in the home, so it is important I get this right.

Thanks,
Paul
I'm not an A/C guy. But, back when I had a baseboard heating system, it used standard thermostats (24V) with standard W1 heat calls.

So, assuming that your baseboard heat system uses a standard thermostat (it probably does), then your question degnerates into: "Does AMX have a thermostat that controls both Heat and Cooling?" The answer: Yes, they do. However, I don't use it.

AMX outsources their thermostat from Aprilaire. The Aprilaire 8870 thermostat is a communicating thermostat that is highly configurable to control heat, cooling, heat pumps, etc. The AMX version of the thermostat integrates with the NetLinx via the ICSnet bus. They did that by putting an RS-485 <-> ICSnet converter on it. The standard Aprilaire thermostats just talk RS-485. Note that NetLinx RS-232 interfaces talk RS-485 as well.

So, since I already had Aprilaire thermostats, I had no need to replace them. Furthermore, if you look carefully at the screen shot at:

http://sourceforge.net/project/scree...group_id=62827

you'll note that there's an HVAC button there. This brings up an HVAC screen that allows me to control my 4-zone HVAC system. It's driven by four Aprilaire 8870 thermostats. And, naturally, the HVAC code can be found on SourceForge! ;-)

So, your choices are: Get the Aprilaire thermostat from Aprilaire and use my (open source) module to control it. Or, if you prefer, get the Aprilaire thermostat from AMX, then use their (closed source) module to control it. Kinda a preference thing; they're effectively the same thermostat, they just interface slightly differently.

And, it would only be proper to point out: The Aprilaire 8870 thermostat could almost certainly be controlled via a Crestron system.

This is seriously off topic to the Squeezebox and SlimServer.

To get back on topic: While it took a while (and many more features in the SlimServer CLI than it had at the time), it was reasonably straight-forward for me to create a SlimServerMod module to drive the SlimServer via the AMX NetLinx system. But it was a lot of development hours (both on my part and Fred's part).

And, finally, FWIW: I'm working on the SlimServerMod module as we speak to add new features for SlimServer v6.5. The next version of the module will control: Internet Radio, async feedback, playlist editing on screen, etc.

-- Jeff

Skunk
2006-02-02, 20:45
Jeff I'd like to see the screenshot but the link is broken ( I think ).

I'm very new to all this, so please pardon my ignorance- but does open source software not fit into this equation anywhere?

I know there's a Linux, OpenBSD section at: http://home-automation.org/Software/Linux_and_BSD/
..but will admit to not having read a single thing there..

Jeff
2006-02-02, 20:59
Jeff I'd like to see the screenshot but the link is broken ( I think ).

I'm very new to all this, so please pardon my ignorance- but does open source software not fit into this equation anywhere?

I know there's a Linux, OpenBSD section at: http://home-automation.org/Software/Linux_and_BSD/
..but will admit to not having read a single thing there..

I think the link is good. SourceForge is having problems right now; try again later.

The Linux, OpenBSD link seems to focus on more "hobby-like" automation (i.e. X-10 stuff), which is not terribly reliable.

The system I'm referring to (AMX NetLinx) is a "professional" automation system, 100% bullet-proof, 100% reliable, and pretty dang costly. But these are extraordinarily nice systems to have if you care about home automation.

Yes, source software fits into this equation. The software that I wrote for the AMX NetLinx system to drive the SlimServer is open source, freely available. You can download it from:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/netlinx-modules

when SourceForge is working okay! ;-)

-- Jeff

PAUL WILLIAMSON
2006-02-02, 21:18
>>> Jeff.22mxqb (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com 02/02/06 10:59 PM >>>
> I think the link is good. SourceForge is having problems right
> now; try again later.
>
> The Linux, OpenBSD link seems to focus on more "hobby-like"
> automation (i.e. X-10 stuff), which is not terribly reliable.

This was my problem. I was used to x-10.

> The system I'm referring to (AMX NetLinx) is a
> "professional" automation system, 100% bullet-proof,
> 100% reliable, and pretty dang costly. But these are
> extraordinarily nice systems to have if you care
> about home automation.

It is expensive to get the initial system installed and
set up, especially if you can't do it yourself. The
Aprilaire thermostats (8870) that work with the
netlinx modules run about $280.

> Yes, source software fits into this equation. The
> software that I wrote for the AMX NetLinx system
> to drive the SlimServer is open source, freely
> available. You can download it from:
>
> http://sourceforge.net/projects/netlinx-modules
>
> when SourceForge is working okay! ;-)

I was in the middle of browsing the site when sf.net
starting having problems. I'm quite stoked at
the prospect of this actually on the horizon!

Paul

Skunk
2006-02-02, 21:47
Yes, source software fits into this equation. The software that I wrote for the AMX NetLinx system to drive the SlimServer is open source, freely available. You can download it from:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/netlinx-modules

when SourceForge is working okay! ;-)

-- Jeff

Thanks for the info, and the link to the module. I'll look into AMX Netlinx more for sure. I tried downloading 'the art of residential automation' from their site, but must need to update my version of acrobat. I'm stoked too!

Jeff
2006-02-03, 12:17
Here's the correct link:

http://sourceforge.net/project/screenshots.php?group_id=62827

This works - I just tried it.

X-10 really is lousy for reliability. First, it's very vulnerable to false commands due to noise. When my contractor plugged in a halogen light into an outlet, a bunch of lights started turning on and off on their own. Very annoying. Also, based on distance of the run, commands can get lost/dropped, etc. All in all, I used X-10 for a while, but ended up punting it - it just didn't work well.

For lighting, I moved to Lutron's RadioRA system. Here's a link:

http://www.lutron.com/radiora/default.asp?s=17000&t=17100

If you buy an RS-232 interface, you can hook it up to your AMX NetLinx system, download my module on SourceForge (of course), and off you go. I found RadioRA to be highly reliable, and to offer feedback as well. I've been happy with that.

Skunk
2006-02-04, 06:39
If you buy an RS-232 interface, you can hook it up to your AMX NetLinx system, download my module on SourceForge (of course), and off you go.

Thanks again for your guidance. I made a stupid post on the 'player controls for web interface' thread above, RE: SS needing to be easier to work into these systems. There was of course no response, so I'm really glad I ran into this thread- even though it makes me look stupid now that I 'know'.