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  10,000
Posted by: Steve - 12-22-2005, 08:40 PM - Forum: General Automation - Replies (45)

Hooray - Post # 10,000!

What do I win??? Tongue

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  Receivers & pre/pro/amps with bidirectional serial contr
Posted by: IVB - 12-20-2005, 12:16 AM - Forum: General Automation - Replies (73)

List of audio stuff that has bidirectional serial control.

There's obvoiusly many more specs that really differentiate them, there's stuff on here from $500-$5000. The point is that they're all serial controllable by your HTPC and CQC. If you're sick of guessing if there's no sound b/c the stereo is off, muted, or just real low, then use one of those packages to pop up a status window at will [i.e., press the info button on your remote].

All prices are MSRP, and items are linked to the best page I could find.

Yamaha
RX-V1500, 120W x 7.1, 2 Zone . $850
RX-V1600, 3zone, 120w x 7, $1100
RX-V2500, 130w x 7.1, 2 Zone, $1100
RX-V2600, 130w x 7, 3 zone, $1400
RX-V4600, 3 Zone, 130w x 7.1, $1900
RX-Z1, 130w x 6 + 45w x 2, 2zone(?hard to tell?), $2800
RXV 1700
RXV 2700
RXV 1800
RXV 3800

The last two are relatively new with full 1080p upconversion from any input and HDMI 1.3a for dolby TrueHD support

[URL="http://usa.denon.com/ProductDetails/11.asp"]
Denon
AVR-2105: 2 zone, 90w x 7.1, $650
AVR-2106: 2 zone, 100w x 7.1, $700
2307CI
AVR-2805: 2 zone, 100w x 7.1, $900
AVR-2808ci
AVR-2807:
AVR-3805: 3 zone, 110w x 7.1, $1200 (I have this one, it's awesome)
AVR-3806 3 zone, 120w x 7.1, $1300
AVR-3808CI (IP and RS232)
AVR-4306: Also has TCPIP
AVR-4308CI (IP and RS232)
AVR-4802
AVR-4806: 130w x 7.1, 3 Zone, $3500. Also has TCPIP
AVR-5800
AVR-5803
AVR-5805: 170w x 10.1, 4 Zone, $6000. Also has TCPIP

[/URL]

Pioneer [this is their elite series]:
VSX-52TX: 2 Zone, 110w x 7.1, $1000
VSX-72TXV: 3 Zone, 130w x 7.1, $1400
VSX-54TX: 2 Zone, 110w x 7.1, $1500
VSX-74TXVi: 3 Zone, 140w x 7.1, $1700
VSX-56TXi: 2 Zone, 110w x 7.1, $1700
VSX-59TXi: 2 Zone, 160w x 7.1, $4500. Has WMA/MP3/WAV playback via USB.
VSX-94TXH: 140w x 7.1, DTS-HD, HDMI1.3, 1080p, $1800

Onkyo
[url=http://www.us.onkyo.com/model.cfm?m=TX-NR1000&p=f&class=Receiver]TX-NR1000, 150w x 7.1, 3 Zone, $5000


Anthem
AVM-20, 3 Zone/4 path, $3200
Anthem AVM-30, 3 Zone/4 path, $3000
AVM-50, out shortly
Statement D1, 3Zone/4Path, $5000
Statement D2, out shortly

Sony
STRDA3000ES, 2 Zone, 150w x 7.1, $450 Street [seems to be on clearance, so MSRP of $1000 is misleading]

NAD
T762
T763, 2Zone, 100w x 6.1, $1395
T773, 2Zone, 110w x 7.1, $1800

Harman Kardon
AVR-635, 75w x 7.1, $1300 (street is MUCH lower)
AVR435: 65w x 7.1, $1000. (not positive this is controllable, but there is an RS232 port)

Rotel
RSX-1056, 75w x 5.1, $1299
RSX-1067, 100w x 7.1, $2200

Arcam
Arcam AV8

Theta
Casablanca
Dreadnaught

Lexicon
DC-2
MC-1
MC-12

Outlaw
990

Sherwood
P-965

Xantech
ZPR68-10

Integra (Onkyo's high-end division)
All Integra receivers.
DTR-4.6, 90w x 5.1
DTR-5.6, 90w x 7.1
DTR-6.6, 105w x 7.1
DTR-7.6, 105w x 7.1
And also the DTC-7, DTC-9.1 V2, DTC-9.4, DTR-4.5, DTR-4.6-J, DTR-5.2, DTR-5.3, DTR-5.4, DTR-5.5, DTR-5.6-J, DTR-6.2, DTR-6.3, DTR-6.4, DTR-6.5,DTR-6.6-J, DTR-7.1, DTR-7.2, DTR-7.3, DTR-7.4, DTR-7.6-J, DTR-8.2, DTR-8.3, DTR-8.4, DTR-9.1, DTR-10.5, DTX-7, RDC-7, RDC-7 V2, RDC-7.1, TX-DS787, TX-DS797, TX-DS898, TX-DS989, TX-DS989 V2, TX-NA900, TX-NA1000, TX-NR900, TX-NR901, TX-NR1000, TX-NR5000E, TX-SR702, TX-SR703, TX-SR703-J, TX-SR803, TX-SR803-J,

Russound
CAV6.6, 6zone/6source, 20w x 12, $1300 just for receiver (no keypads)
CAS44, CAA66, CAM6.6, CAM6.6X, CAM6.6T CAV6.6

Nuvo
Simplese, 4source/4zone, 30wx8, $999 includes 4 keypads
Essentia, 6source/6zone, 25w x 12, $2000 includes 6 keypads
Concerto, 6source/8zone, 40w x 12, $7000 includes 6 keypads
Grand Concerto, 6 source/8zone, 80w x 12, $7999 includes 6 keypads

Parasound
New Classic 7100
Halo C1
Halo C2

Krell
Krell HTS 7.1 processor
Krell KCT Stereo pre-amp

B&K
B&K CT-600
B&K HD-6 $2065
B&K CT300.3 $1570
B&K CT602 $2125

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  CQC Version 1.5 Released
Posted by: Dean Roddey - 12-19-2005, 11:43 PM - Forum: Announcements - No Replies

Charmed Quark Systems, Ltd is proud to announce the 1.5 release of CQC (the Charmed Quark Controller), its software-based control and automation system.

Charmed Quark System's automation products provide robust, flexible, and cost effective control of lighting, HVAC, security, home theater, media data, and other systems. It is available in various configurations, which will scale to meet your needs, whether large or small, open or secure, a single room or the whole home. Build your own hardware, or use our pre-built systems. Do it yourself or take advantage of our reasonable consulting and customization services, whatever fits your needs and budget.

In the remainder of this document some screen shots will be provided. These are of the interfaces created for various CQC-based automation solutions. Please note that there is nothing, visually or functionally, about these images that is intrinsic to CQC. They were created using the CQC interface designer, using arbitrary images chosen for their asethetics and the functionality provided is purely a matter of design, so they are not 'skins' providing alternate looks for a fixed set of functionality, nor are you in any way limited to a particular visual style. they are pretty significantly reduced in size and quality in order to avoid download overhead

[Image: DR_AudioOverlay_Preview.jpg]
Click here for a full sized version

What's New Overview
---------------------------------------

The list of new features for 1.5 is not long, but some of them are very important and greatly extend CQC's automation capabilities.

  • Web Server. CQC now incorporates a zero configuration web server, so that you can access CQC from devices that only have a web server as a client interface, or remotely via any web browser. It implements digest style authentication and page access can be controlled based on CQC security as desired. Dynamic content pages can be served up via our CML macro language, and images can be accessed from the CQC image repository, as well as from on-disk image and HTML content.
  • Event System. CQC now supports network wide event handling, which allows it to respond to changes in the system automatically, throughout the network. These new 'triggered events' which complement the existing scheduled events, allow you to create very powerful automation logic. There is a simple but powerful filtering language to tell CQC what events should trigger a given action.
  • Web Browser Widget. The user interface system now supports a web browser widget, so you can embed web pages into your user interfaces. The widget supports standard web navigation commands and URL setting commands, so you can allow for easy access to specific web sites.
  • Graphical Text. The user interface system now supports special 'graphical text' effects. So you can now create gradient text, reflected text, blurs, and blurred drop shadows. These effects contribute greatly to the ability to create serious 'eye candy' interfaces.
  • Web Access Classes. The CML language runtime has been expanded to provide HTTP and URL classes. These allow CML based drivers and macros to easily access web-based content.
  • Standalone Viewer Mode. You can now install CQC on a client in 'standalone viewer mode', which just installs the support libraries and the interface viewer, without any background services. This is intended for clients such as tablet PCs or laptops, where you just want to view interfaces, without the extra overhead of background services.
  • New/Improved Drivers. New drivers are available for the Aprilaire 8870 RS-485 thermostat system, the Proliphix NT10e and NT20e IP based thermostats, the Sherwood 965 A/V processor, caller ID modems, Neothings Avalong A/V switcher, and the Elk M1 driver has been expanded significantly.
  • .Net Viewer Updates. The .Net Viewer has been brought into sync with the 1.5 release and now implements almost all of the interface widget types and functionality.
[Image: MS_NowPlaying.jpg]

Web Server
---------------------------------------

The CQC web server is our own, not an existing server that we licensed, so it is fully integrated into CQC. It allows you to access file based images and HTML content, and to generate dynamic HTML on the fly via our CML macro language. File based HTML can use a simple replacement tokens in order to embed live system status values into the HTML, which makes it very easy to use standard HTML editing tools to create nice interfaces which display device status.

[Image: WebSrv1.jpg]

Using CML, you can handle requests for pages and generate dynamic HTML on the fly, which can include device status or any other information you can get to and want to include in the HTML you generate. There is a CML base class that does most of the work, and you derive from it.

Security is based on CQC accounts. So you can limit particular pages to be available to users of particular privilege levels. This applies to both dynamic and file based content. In order to avoid the complexity of the .htaccess scheme used in servers like Apache, the CQC web server just has special areas of the 'URL space' that represent each user privilege level. Any URL not under these areas are freely accessible. Any URL under a particular user level area can be accessed by users of that level and above, as long as they have a valid CQC user name and web password. For security, separate passwords are assigned by the admin for web access. This allows the admin to both prevent any web access at all to particular users, and avoids the use of the CQC internal passwords during remote access over the net.

Event System
---------------------------------------

On the pure automation front, one way in which CQC always suffered in comparison to some of its competitors is that it did not offer an event system. It supported 'scheduled events', which run at given times, but not events that are triggered in response to some change in the state of the devices under control, i.e. things like "If the DVD player door closed and a DVD in in the drive, turn off the lights and switch everything to DVD viewing mode", and so forth. Partly this was due to the fact that CQC's networked architecture makes such event handling far more complex than in single box, single user architctures.

[Image: DR_MediaOverlay_Preview.jpg]
Click here for a full sized version

This architectural hole has now been filled, and you can define 'triggered events' that will fire based on criteria that you express using a simple but powerful filter language. These filters can be quite simple or quite complex, according to need. The DVD in teh driver example above would be a fairly simple one. Other uses include reacting to motion detectors, reacting to a change in security zone status, to a change in a moisture sensor, and so forth.

Web Access Features
---------------------------------------

The new web browser widget provides a lot of flexibility for including external content in your interfaces such as weather radar images, news pages, control pages for devices that only provide web-based interfaces, and so forth. Other interface buttons can send it commands to go back, to go to the home page, to load a new URL, and so forth. So you can provide controlled access to particular web pages via buttons on your interface.

[Image: MA_DVHSOverlay_Preview.jpg]
Click here for a full sized version

The new CML runtime HTTP classes allow your macros or CML based drivers to access web based resources with minimal muss and fuss on your part. They provide nice, high level features for dealing with HTTP PUT/GET exchanges and handle all the parsing for you.


Graphical Text Effects
---------------------------------------

The new graphical text effects support in the interface system significantly increases your ability to create sexy interfaces. Though some of these effects could have been done previously by pre-drawing text as images and using the images, for dynamic text values gotten from devices, that wasn't possible since there was no way to know ahead of time what the text might be, or it might have so many values you couldn't possibly do all those images.

[Image: DR2_Main_Preview.jpg]
Click here for a full sized version

Gradient text effects and reflections are reasonably light weight and can be used very effectively in certain types of interfaces. They can be used subtly such as to blend text into the glare effect of a button image, or can be important visual elements of a particular interface style. Blurs are heavier weight in terms of CPU usage, but most modern multi-GHz systems wouldn't have any problem with them.

Give it a Whirl
---------------------------------------

The product is available in a 30 day unencumbered form, so you can use it to it's fullest extent during that time, in order to see if it works for you. If you decide to buy, you can just license your existing installation, so that you won't have any interruption of your work done during the trial period. To download the installer, click the Try/Buy tab of the main web site menu, or the Try It button in the upper right hand corner.

[Image: MS_Transport.jpg]

Then go to the Learn tab of the new web site, and select the Quick Tutorial link, which will talk you through the whole process. You might want to go through the Using CQC section (also under Learn) first, but if you are hands on person you can just dive right in and come back to the Using section later.

Our license is a site license, and all our device drivers are part of the package. So there's just one base package and a few optional packages to choose from. You can then run the client services on any other devices in your home network that you choose.

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  Air Conditioning and interfacing tp CQC questions
Posted by: znelbok - 12-02-2005, 11:05 AM - Forum: General Automation - Replies (11)

I am getting close to cinstruction starting and need to find an A/C unit.

What is there available that can be interfaced, or what should I look out for.

I have read the Daiken site and they have a Lonworks interface and a BACNet interface.

BACnet is a trademark of the American Society of Heating, refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, so I am hoping that there is some standard protocol out there that can be used for just about any A/C.

Daiken also have their own DS-Net. THis gives you a box with a serial interface
http://global.daikin.com/global/our_prod...index.html
which would seem to make it a proprietry interface unlike what the BACnet is suposed to be.

There is also the intelligent manager that is an IP interface to the units
http://global.daikin.com/global/our_prod...rview.html
may be better still

Does anyone know anything about any of this and can offer any advice or information? It seems that interfacing HVAC is still a bit of a mystery and no on really can do much with what I have seen report on already.

Mick

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  USB-UIRT Question
Posted by: kwoodrow - 11-30-2005, 12:52 PM - Forum: General Automation - Replies (14)

Does the USB-UIRT support a separate IR receiver, such as those from Xantech? My UIRT is located in my equipment closet where it controls my DirecTV receiver via CQC. But I sometimes like to control the DirecTV receiver with my IR remote, which is hard to do with the closet door closed! I've taken to leaving the door open, but it would be great if I could mount an unobtrusive IR receiver in the door and connect it directly to the UIRT.

Any thoughts?

Thanks,
Ken

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  Multizone audio distribution topology
Posted by: MikeW - 11-05-2005, 04:09 PM - Forum: General Automation - Replies (17)

I prewired my house with a whole-house audio system in mind. I have 9 rooms which have speaker wires going to my equipment closet. I purposely didn't run the speaker wires such that I could use an in-wall volume control. Instead, I planned on using an amplifier which can control the volume itself. I was thinking about using a system such as the Nuvo Essentia, but I don't think the Nuvo keypads will do what I want. I want to use a control which will allow me to select any music files or playlists which I have stored on a server. It doesn't seem like the Nuvo system by itself can do this. CQC seems like it will do the job, but I would like some advice on what the best method is for individual room control of the audio. I don't want to rely on having a PC in each of the rooms, but I'm not opposed to having a small in-wall touchscreen which can replace the Nuvo keypads.

A mini touchscreen like the Control 4 system would be ideal for my kids' rooms. Are there any small in-wall CE.Net touchscreens which would be ideal for this? Also, I was looking at the Nuvo and Russound multizone amplifiers, but are there any other brands that are recommended which are compatible with CQC? Please let me know if there are other ways or BKM (best known method) to solve this problem as well. The only constraint is that all the speaker wires are home run'ed back to the wiring closet.

Mike

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  SMS Capability
Posted by: rhamer - 11-02-2005, 12:51 AM - Forum: General Automation - Replies (169)

Well I finally bought me a GSM modem off ebay and I'm going to write a driver to send and receive SMS messages.

I am banking on using it with the events system to send me messages when important stuff happens and me to make important stuff happen when I send a message in.

If anybody else is interested there is a guy selling 50 Siemens MC35 GSM modems for $119 each
http://cgi.ebay.com.au/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?...&rd=1&rd=1

These are quite good ones, and they do GPRS as well (not sure if GPRS is available in the states though)

Cheers

Rohan

As requested I've added a small list of GSM modems and their compatibility that I've worked with.
If anybody knows of others, let me know and I'll add them.

The criteria is they must support sending SMS messages in text mode, which should be anything younger than about 5-6 years.

Siemens M1 Not compatible
Siemens M20 Compatible
Siemens MC35 Compatible
FALCOM A2D-1 Compatible
Ericcson GM12 Not Compatible
Wavecom WMOD2 Compatible
Enfora SA-G+ Compatible

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  Questions regarding Ethernet-to-RS232 converters
Posted by: MikeW - 10-26-2005, 09:22 PM - Forum: CQC Support - Replies (17)

I'm trying to get my wiring closet and network setup for my first attempt at home automation. Over a year ago I had planned on using Premise SYS, but since they (Mot) went AWOL I've decided to give CQC a try. I hope that CQC can accomplish everything that I wanted Premise to accomplish.

Right now I have three devices which can communicate via an RS232 port. These are:

1. Lutron HomeWorks lighting system.
2. Mitsubishi DLP TV.
3. Integra A/V receiver.

I want to connect these devices up to my automation server and my plan is to use ethernet to RS232 converters to do this. I'm planning to use the Lantronix UDS100 for the HomeWorks and either a UDS200 (2 RS232 ports) or a Global Cache device for the TV and receiver. I don't know much about the Global Cache devices, but it seemed like it might work. Is the Global Cache device capable of handling this kind of two-way serial traffic?

I did a little searching for information on these ethernet to serial converters and it seems like there are two modes of operation. In one mode, the PC uses a virtual COM port for communications to the serial device on the other end. Does this mean that CQC would communicate with the devices as if they were directly connected to the PC's COM ports? The other mode uses "serial tunneling" which does not use a virtual COM port on the PC. How does CQC handle these configurations?

Any advice or opinions regarding the best way to connect these devices to my server would be appreciated?

Mike

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  CQC Version 1.4.23 is released
Posted by: Dean Roddey - 10-15-2005, 09:21 PM - Forum: Announcements - No Replies

Version 1.4.23 is now posted on the web site. This is not a major release, but it has a number of bug fixes, a some medium sized but very useful new features, and an important set of new device drivers.

The new stuff in this release are:

  • Remote Serial Port Server. Though not something that you will likely use directly, this release introduces our new remote serial port server, which allows us to access serial ports on customer computers (if they let us), so that we can do remote driver development or debugging. This is a very important capability for us and has already paid off handsomely as the number of new drivers in this release testifies. The underlying architectural changes involved in this new capability also set the stage for supporting non-standard serial ports in the future, such as those on the GC-100.
  • Theta Casablanca III. A new driver is now available for the Theta Casablanca III A/V processor. The Casablanca is a high end, highly flexible processor, though the control protocol has some shortcomings.
  • Meridian 861. A new driver is now available for the Meridian 861 A/V processor. The 861 is one of Meridian's flagship digital A/V products.
  • Outlaw 990. A new driver is now available for the Outlaw 990 A/V processor. The Outlaw is a reasonably priced, high performance processor which supports two way serial control.
  • Xantech ZPR68-10 Driver. A new driver is now available for the Xantech ZPR68-10 multi-zone audio controller. This driver provides two way access to all audio zones.
  • Denon 3805 Driver. A new driver is available for the very popular and feature laden Denon 3805 A/V receiver. This driver complements our existing drivers for the 3803, 3800, and DVD player line (2910, 3900, 3910, 5900, 5910.)
  • Panasonic Plasma Driver. A number of the Panasonic commercial grade plasma displays have a simple but reasonable serial control protocol. This driver should provide basic control over the 4 and 6-series models. It will be expanded over time to provide more model-specific features.
  • Lutron GrafikEye Driver. A new driver is available for the GRX serial control interface to the Lutron GrafikEye system. This is a very widely used wired lighting control system.
  • Elk M1 Driver Improvements. The Elk M1/Gold driver has been improved substantially in this release. Particularly it now deals correctly with the Elk RP software coming up and connecting to the M1, which requires that the driver back off and not trying to talk to the Elk until the RP software disconnects.
  • UNC Path Support in Media Repositories. Disk based media repositories can now handle UNC based path names. This is important because shared drive names are not available within the service-based environment that repository drivers run in.
  • Driver Verbose Logging Control. The administrator can now put device drivers into one of a set of verbose logging modes, which lets the driver log more or less information. This will provide much better ability for us to debug driver issues in the field.
  • Generic Field Browser. As a convenience and debugging tool for administrators, we've added a new field browser window in the Admin Interface, which provides the admin with easy read/write/information access to all drivers and fields. This is also very convenient for new users who just want to quickly see if they can control devices.
The new release is available under the Try/Buy tab of the web site , in the Try It section. If you are an existing 1.4 customer, just install this new version over your existing version. Be sure to follow the safe upgrade guidelines in the release notes file, which will be in the main directory of the installer when you unzip it.

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  CQC 1.4 Released
Posted by: Dean Roddey - 09-04-2005, 09:26 PM - Forum: Announcements - No Replies

Charmed Quark Systems, Ltd is proud to announce the 1.4 release of CQC (the Charmed Quark Controller), its software-based control and automation system.

Charmed Quark System's automation products provide robust, flexible, and cost effective control of lighting, HVAC, security, home theater, media data, and other systems. It is available in various configurations, which will scale to meet your needs, whether large or small, open or secure, a single room or the whole home. Build your own hardware, or use our pre-built systems. Do it yourself or take advantage of our reasonable consulting and customization services, whatever fits your needs and budget.

In the remainder of this document some screen shots will be provided. These are of the interfaces created for various CQC-based automation solutions. Please note that there is nothing, visually or functionality, about these images that is intrinsic to CQC. They were created using the CQC interface designer, using arbitrary images chosen for their asethetics and the functionality provided is purely a matter of design, so they are not 'skins' providing alternate looks for a fixed set of functionality, nor are you in any way limited to a particular visual style. they are pretty significantly reduced in size and quality in order to avoid download overhead

[Image: D1_HomeOverlay_Small.jpg]
Click here for a full sized version

What's New Overview
---------------------------------------

This section will briefly introduce the major new features in this version, some of which will be discussed in more detail later in this document.

  • Media Management. The biggest ticket item in this release is CQC's first steps into the media management world. Our driver architecture has been extended to support 'media drivers'. This allows CQC to provide browsing of media repositories and control of media renderers, and to coordinate them into a coherent media system.
  • New Action System. The 'Action' system in CQC, which is how you configure CQC to carry out tasks in response to a button press, IR signal, scheduled event, and so forth, was vastly reworked in this version. It is now far more powerful, far more flexible, and has a simpler interface.
  • Graphical Interface Features. CQC's user interface designer/viewer system has been extensively improved in this release. Interface widgets were added to support the new media management features, to allow you to view cover art, to browse media categories and cover art. One of the improvements in the item above is that actions were extended to include the interface widgets themselves, allowing you to create very dynamic interfaces without any programming. The new toolbar widget is a very convenient way to provide access to more buttons than you have physical space for. And a new simple animation widget allows you to easily represent the active states of devices under control.
  • Elk M1 Support. A new driver is available for the Elk M1 and M1 Gold automation panels. It supports both the serial and Ethernet based connections. The M1 is a very popular automation panel that is very reasonably priced.
  • Escient Fireball Support. The first media repository device supported in our new media architecture is the Escient Fireball, which is a single zone, media repository and renderer for CDs and DVDs. You can browse the Escient cover art database and control it during playback.
  • Zoom Player Support. Zoom Player is now supported as a media renderer, and is a very powerful combination with a file-based media repository and CQC providing the coordination.
  • J.River Disk Repository Support. J.River Media Center 11's disk based media repository is now supported as a CQC media repository, so you can browse the repository via category and cover art and invoke a renderer to play selected media.
  • Undo in Interface Designer. The user interface designer tool now supports Undo, which allows you to safely experiment or to recover from accidental changes.
  • Z-Wave Driver Improvements. The Z-Wave driver was vastly improved in this release, and now is very quick and very reliable. Z-Wave automation via CQC now shows what Z-Wave is capable of.
  • JPEG Support. You can now import JPEG images into CQC for use in interfaces, in addition to the already supported PNG and bitmap formats.

New Command System
---------------------------------------

One of the core functions of an automation system is to allow you to set up sequences of events that will take place when you press this button or that IR remote button or some event takes place. 1.4 introduces a new command system that is far more powerful than before, allowing you to do much more without having to use our much more powerful (and more complex) CML language. So non-programmers can create much more powerful command sequences ('actions' in CQC parlance) in a purely dialog driven way.

The new command system is much more generic and therefore it can adapt easily to different applications that use it, and it allows for various 'command targets' to be plugged into it according to the needs of the containing application. So in the interface system interface elements (widgets in CQC-speak) can be the target of commands now. So, for instance, one widget can send a text widget a command telling it to display some new text, or to an image widget telling it to show a new image, or to hide or show itself, and so forth.

[Image: MA_SatTVOverlay_Small.jpg]
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This has introduced a lot of flexibility into the interface system, allowing you to do a form of object oriented programming, by having objects on the interface send messages back and forth. An example of its power will be seen below in the media management discussion. CQC has just begun to scratch the surface of what this new command system will be able to do in the future.

Media Management
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1.4 introduces CQC's new media management architecture, which extends CQC's flexible driver system to encompass media repositories and renderers (things that provide media to browse, and things that play media.) So CQC can encorporate various media systems just as easily as it can regular devices.

[Image: D1_MediaOverlay_Small.jpg]
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We've introduced interface elements that support the new media driver architecture, which allow you to browse categories, browse cover art, display track lists, display currently playing cover art and so forth. These widgets talk to the media drivers you associate them with, and handle all of the details behind the scenes. You just drop them on your interface and configure them to look and act the way you want them to. You can control the spacing and size of the browser's images slots so that you can position them over any background image you want and make them fit appropriately.

As mentioned above, interfaces can now send and receive commands, which is very useful in the new media widgets, and in fact they kind of drove the need for this new feature. For instance, in the interface above, the media category browser allows you to browse the categories available in the associated media repository. You can configure it to send a command to the cover art browser to start browsing that new category. The cover art browser in the above example is configured to set the text widget above it to show the name of the current category it is browsing. The list of letters across the button are just buttons that send 'first letter' commands to the cover art browser, asking it to scroll to the first item starting with that letter.

The buttons used to page back and forth through those browsers are just sending scrolling messages to them, to ask them to scroll back and forth. In this example above, when you click on a cover art item, it will start up Zoom Player, if it is not playing already, wait for the Zoom Player driver to come online, then sends the Zoom Player driver a command to start playing the title, then sends a command to the main interface (in which it is embedded) asking it to load the 'now playing' interface.

An important aspect of this new scheme is that you remain in full control of the look and feel. If we built a browser with the buttons built in, you couldn't control where they were placed or how they looked. This way, you can have them look like separate buttons as above, or you can place them over a common image so that they look like part of the thing they are controlling, as is the case in the toolbar widget at the top left. The buttons on either side of it are just buttons without any background so that they look like they are part of that visual element.

So it has the flexibility of a 'skinning' system, but is far more powerful because it can be applied far more broadly and doesn't assume any pre-existing set of functionality.

[Image: D1_NowPlayingOverlay_Small.jpg]
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This example of a 'now playing' interface shows information on the currently playing media, and a track browser lists the tracks. Here again you buttons are used to send messages to the track browser to have it scroll up and down. If you press a track, in this case it is configured to send a command to the Zoom Player driver to have it start playing the new track.

All of this is completely open ended, and very flexible. None of it is hard coded in so you can create many different scenarios based on how you want your interfaces to look and work. And because it is based on a standard driver architecture, you could replace this file-based repository and Zoom Player renderer with an Escient Fireball and the interface would work exactly the same with it.

New Interface Widgets
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As mentioned above there are new widgets for media related activities. But we also introduced a couple other useful ones. The 'toolbar' widget, of which you see an example in the 'black glass' interfaces here, is a scrollable list of buttons. It has no appearance of its own, you just position it over some background image as desired, and configure its button slots to fall where you want them to. This is a very useful widget because it allows you to get a lot of buttons in a small area. You can just page it back and forth to get to the others. Put the most commonly used ones to the left and the less commonly used ones to the right.

We also introduced a simple animation widget, which will cycle through up to 8 images you select, one per 500ms. It has an associated device field and will only animate if that device field is seen to have some particular state. So you can use it to show a rotating fan when the fan is on. Or you can use it to show a blinking light when the DVD player is in play more, and so forth.

We also now support nested overlays. In the sample interface in the New Command System section above, the TV 'overlay', which is a smaller interface loaded into an area of a main interface, in turn has an overlay section, and buttons to load up one of two sets of favorite channels buttons or a keypad. These overlays are very powerful tools for getting a lot of functionality into a limited amount of screen real estate.

[Image: MA_NowPlaying_Movie_Small.jpg]
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New/Improved Drivers
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We've added a couple major new drivers in this release. One is the Elk M1/M1 Gold automation panel. This is becoming very popular as core automation solution. CQC can bring the Elk under its larger automation umbrella and create a very nice solution, with the Elk providing the low level functionality and CQC sitting on top providing the high level control of it and other systems. This driver supports both the serial and ethernet connections, so there's a lot of flexibility in relatively placement of the controller and the panel.

We have a new driver for the Escient Fireball, which wraps it in our new media architecture. Via CQC you can browse the Escient movie and music databases, select titles to play, and provide transport control of the Escient as a player.

We also have new drivers for the J.River on-disk music repository format, via the exported XML file. And we have a new driver for Zoom Player 4.5, which has the best control interface of any of the software based players out there that we are aware of. It provides an excellent software based renderer for CQC.

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And after many trials and tribulations we got our Z-Wave driver up to full quality this time. It was initially introduced in 1.3, but it's a complex device and getting good information was very difficult, so we had to work it out ourselves. But it is now working very well, and we finally see what Z-Wave has to offer.

New Web Site
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And lastly, but not leastly, we have a new web site now up, introduced with 1.4. This one is much easier to navigate, and we think it has a nice look that uses a lot of our blue company color. It also has new online 'Quick Tutorial' and 'Using CQC' sections. These will take you through, respectively, a hands on process of installing and configuring CQC and a functional level overview of the product.

These will really help you quickly evalute what the product does and how it does it, so that you can see if it works for you. The Quick Tutorial works in terms of a device simulator that comes with the product, so that you can go through a realistic configuration scenario without actually having to control any physical devices. So you can do it on the plan while traveling if you would like.

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We know that in the past people had a hard time really getting a grasp on what the product can do, and how they might use it. Hopefully these two new sections will ameliorate that problem somewhat.

.Net Interface Viewer Beta
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Our .Net Interface Viewer is in beta testing now. It works with 1.4, though it doesn't yet implement the new media features. Those are in the works now. We expect it to go 1.0 some time before the 1.5 release. This new optional feature will allow you to access CQC users interfaces, in their full two way glory, on CE.Net based devices such as PocketPCs, Smart Phones, various tablet style PCs and so forth.

The addition of the .Net Viewer and the new media browsing features will make for a very powerful combination as CQC moves forward.

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Give it a Whirl
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The product is available in a 30 day unencumbered form, so you can use it to it's fullest extent during that time, in order to see if it works for you. If you decide to buy, you can just license your existing installation, so that you won't have any interruption of your work done during the trial period.

If you want to try it out, go to the Learn tab of the new web site, and select the Quick Tutorial link, which will talk you through the whole process. You might want to go through the Using CQC section (also under Learn) first, but if you are hands on person you can just dive right in and come back to the Using section later.


Labor Day Sale
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We are having a Labor Day Sale, starting on the 5th of Sept and running through the 21st. Any package you buy during that time will be 25% off, so if you are interested in making the move into home automation, or you are using an existing package and aren't totally satisfied with the direction it is going, this would be a good time to move and save.

Our license is a site license, and all our device drivers are part of the package. So there's just one base package and a few optional packages to choose from. You can then run the client services on any other devices in your home network that you choose.

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