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C-Bus help for new lighting install
#1
I'm going to be building a house within the next year and I am taking the opportunity to kit it out with all things automated. I'm looking at lighting right now and like the look of a C-Bus wired system.

I will have a node-0 for all of the lighting circuits to run back to and this is where the heart of the home automation system will live, including the CQC master server, stb's, C-Bus modules etc.

I'd like some advice about the set-ups of other users who have integrated C-Bus with CQC and an alarm panel.

1. Which interface is best to connect the C-Bus system to my CQC MS?
2. I'm finding it hard to imagine what the various C-Bus wall switches can do in order to achieve my lighting control needs. Could someone give me a brief overview of what kinds of lighting control can be created with 1, 2, 4, etc button switches. E.g. for a 4 scene, raise/lower, all off type wall control, is that 7 buttons or can it be done with fewer buttons on C-Bus?
3. Which alarm panels are people using in conjunction with C-Bus and CQC, I've seen the comfort and the Clipsal panel 5400 16 zone, what are people's preferences?
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#2
1. The PCI (serial interface)is the way to go. The down side is that the driver that uses the PCI only supports one application.

If lighting is the only application you are using then this wont be a problem There is also a driver that uses the CGate server, but you need to keep C-Gate running all the time and you will still need either a PCI or CNI (network interface).

My opinion is that you will only need the lighting application and so the PCI is the way to go. Make it a dedicated one that way you can configure the system without having to go an unplug it from the server and connect the PC you are using to configure the network. I have a CNI for configuration and a PCI for CQC.

2. The wall switches all do the same things - change the level of a group. There are different styles available. Satrun, neo , standard, and stainless. Each perform the same function and that is customisable via toolkit (utility for configuring the network).

There is also a DLT (Dynamic Label Technology) switch as well. It has small LCD text displays adjacent to the buttons that can be used for not only switch labels but also other things like temperature setpoints etc.

A button can be as simple as on/off, or dim up and down. It can be a timer or a scene (where multiple groups are set to a predefined level. Then there are the fancier things like timers and dimmer combined, or scene modifiers. It will take a bit of practice to get this right, but you can't really stuff it up because you can just go back to a basic on/off or dimmer

Other things that can be controlled via C-Bus
- Ceiling fans (via fan controller)
- Curtains (via blind controller)
- roller shutters (as above)

Then there are things like temp sensors (not supported through CNI in CQC), motion detectors (indoor and outdoor), low voltage relays.

3. Clipsal make an alarm panel that of course has a connection to the C-Bus network. No one here (CQC world) uses one. Ness Australia make two panels with C-Bus on board. They are an 8 & 16 zone panel with the nice Navigator touch screen keypad. Ness also made a C-bus interface for the M1. (Ness re-sell the Elk M1 under their name and are involved in its development - they even manufacture for Elk). The best part here is that the M1 is supported by CQC out of the box. The other two panels do have a serial interface and the protocol is available but no driver has been written yet. So my suggestion is go with the Elk.

HAI are supposed to have a C-bus interface as well. I have spoken with the reps here about HAI and its on my to-try-out list. They say C-Bus is supported but I have no first hand experience. HAI is also supported by CQC.

A node 0 for everything is fine, but not really needed. The best part of the network is that it is topology independent so the Cat5 you run can be daisy chained around and have trunks/starts off the chain at any point. Basically if its connected then its OK.

You will of course have to take all your low voltage (230VAC) for each light (or lights grouped together) back to node 0, but don't be thinking that it has to be one spot. As the relays and dimmers have the power supplies in them it is actually better to distribute them around a little so that the network voltage is not too low at the far end. e.g. I have some dimmer and relays in the server room at one end of the house and then others in the walk in robe at the other end of the house. This also helps to keep the cable usage down as well. All C-Bus cable is daisy chained with stubs here and there. You can break into the chain at any time to add something new with no drama just power it off first).

There are also logic modules. This is the PAC or the Wiser. Wiser has a lot of other feature such as web interface etc for iOS/Android integration and the PAC is just an automation controller. Hard to say if you really need one when using C-Bus with CQC.

Hopefully this is enough to get you started - just ask if you have more questions. The Clipsal website has training manuals etc that are of big value - http://www.clipsal.com/cis

Mick
Mykel Koblenz
Illawarra Smart Home
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#3
Thanks for the comprehensive reply. I'm going to try and find somewhere I can go and look at some C-Bus in action.

Can a single button on a wall control perform more than one action? E.g. hold to raise/lower, tap to turn on and off. What about multiple key presses, e.g. press 2 buttons together to do something else?

As for the interface. My plan is to connect it to CQC via my CQC master server, but I think what you're saying is that the PCI being serial I can only connect to CQC OR the config software at a time. If you're using the CNI does that mean multiple devices can communicate with C-Bus at the same time? Do you know if the USB PCI has the same one device limitation?

I like the look of the Elk panels, only problem is being in the UK it's not easy to get hold of and it's not (at last time of checking) approved for the UK market in terms of safety certificates etc, so could be an issue for insurance. Comfort is available and has a C-Bus interface so I might look into using that with C-Bus.

Thanks again.
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#4
just commenting here as I'm in London and have a cbus install, in a 2bed flat i have dlt switches, and have moved to the cgate driver, using the PCI, cgate runs as a service on my CQC machine, this driver has the benifit of being able to send any cgate command out should you want to... i will be looking to automate temperature control so will use this feature in the future.

there are other systems rako springs to mind, but cbus is nice if you want to do a rewire.

do have a look at rako http://rakocontrols.com/ very similar, there is a cbus driver, and it's more flexible if you are retrofitting.

I'm looking at moving, and i have to say that if i could pull all wiring to a central point i would go cbus again.

will
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#5
Yes, a button has four states. short press, short release, long press long release.

If you look at a button set up to work with a dimmer channel, it will have the following config (or close to).

Short Press - idle
short release - toggle
long press - rampup/down
long release - idle

That allows you to turn the light on and off with a simple quick press, but if youwant to dim you press and hold.

Multiple keypresses are not supported (but can be done to a degree if using a pac module).

The caveat here is that it only works on a single group. you can say turn a light on and off with a short press and dim a different light with a long press.

The CNI is basically a lantronix serial port server so only one connection is permitted. The USB PCI has the same limitation as well, and Yes, teh PCI can only have one connection.

If you use the C-Gate driver, then it will be possible (I think) to have both connected at once because toolkit connects to C-Gate and C-Gate connects to the network (either PCi or CNI). C-Gate will support multiple connections so the driver can also connect.

The config software is rarley used once the system is up and running and final changes have been made. The driver has an offline mode so if the CQC MS has the CIS Toolkit also installed then you can share the PCI.

The USB PCI has been confirmed as a viable CQC MS / C-bus interface.

Mick
Mykel Koblenz
Illawarra Smart Home
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#6
willplaice Wrote:there are other systems rako springs to mind, but cbus is nice if you want to do a rewire.

do have a look at rako http://rakocontrols.com/ very similar, there is a cbus driver, and it's more flexible if you are retrofitting.

Not sure I totally agree here. C-bus has a wireless version specifically for retrofits. It is fully compatible with CQC when used with a wireless bridge and one C-bus device on the hardwaire side.

I have seen some pictures of battery operated C-bus switches as well - [took them a while], but opens up more options for where power is not available.

The wireless may not be available in the UK, but tal to your rep to find out if you need to do a retrofit.

Mick
Mykel Koblenz
Illawarra Smart Home
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#7
Hi Will, I use Rako now in a couple of rooms but when building the house want a lighting system which I can get the status from, you can't do this with Rako, even using the bi-directional serial interface (when I bought my Rako kit at least you couldn't). Having the ability to wire everything from scratch exactly to my needs is obviously a major plus and knowing that there is C-Bus wireless should I need to retrofit in the future and can't easily wire it in is also a great bonus. I'm going to sell the Rako bits I have and start fresh, in fact I think I'll post on here in the classifieds and see if there are any takers.

Mick, thanks for the info, I thought that might be the case with the controls, I'll have to figure out what patterns and effects I want the lights to achieve so I can figure out how many buttons I need on each controller, I can use my CQC interfaces to create some more elaborate scenes and events.

I'll see if I can download some of the C-Bus software and play around with it even though I don't have any devices yet, it might give me enough to see what it can do.
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#8
Toolkit is a free download from the CIS site as are all the other software packages for configuring the system (the PAC, multiroom audio, touch screens etc.)

Read the training manuals as well - ther eis a lot of good info there as well.
Mykel Koblenz
Illawarra Smart Home
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#9
I have been looking at lighting options again and having been around the houses to; Insteon (now available in the UK!), LightwaveRF, z-wave and a few others, but I keep coming back to C-Bus.

I think in the interests of cost and the inevitable over run of the budget while building the house I'm going to phase the c-bus install to cover the key areas first and wire in for c-bus in all locations for use at a later date, then have std switches in the non key areas in the interim.

In terms of integration, I also want a HA panel / alarm and have been looking at the Cytech Comfort Ultra II (Elk products are not available in the UK as far as I can see). I want this to take care of core automation logic so I'm not dependent on a windows PC, and then for CQC to do the more touchy feely stuff like music, home cinema, interface viewers etc. I think the Comfort panel will be similar to an Elk M1 approach and can interface with C-Bus and my planned heating controllers.

My preferred method of connecting devices is so that the core devices (alarm/lights/heating) can run via the comfort panel and everything else (music, movies, touchscreens) can run on CQC, the idea being that I could turn off the CQC server and not lose the important device control from my system. If I do this I still want CQC to be able to access the core stuff so I can display temps, light levels etc on CQC IVs. So I'd want the Comfort Panel to pass all commands it sees from the core devices across to the CQC via a custom driver. That way CQC can see all the core devices but isn't the primary controller for them.

Alternatively I'd connect both the Comfort panel and the CQC server to the core devices at the same time, but not sure this is possible and would cause problems having 2 points of control for some devices. For example on C-Bus I could use a PCI and a CNI to give Comfort one and CQC the other interface?

I wonder if anyone using Elk or Hai HA panels along with C-Bus can share how they have them set up, or better still someone with Comfort and C-Bus alongside CQC.
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#10
C-Bus will handle many points of control.

I have the M1 and CQC both connected. The M1 through its dedicated interface board and CQC via the PCI. I also configure the network through a simultaneous connection via a CNI. Multiple CNI/PCI's are possible (up to max number of devices on network).

I also phasedin C-bus. I put in the relays and dimmers for the main areas (still need a relay to go in 5 years after building) and only put in four light switches.

The house was designed and fully wired as per the design and it was only last week that I purchased 15 Saturn key inputs to finally fill the holes in the walls that I made five years ago. Still more to go though.

So with some planning I had control over the lights without too much issues.

Things like the Laundry lights were turned on by opening the door. The M1 monitored the door status and then the M1 turned the lights on or off.

The kids did not have a light switch in their bedroom, but in the hallway (just outside their door) was a switch that did theor rooms and the hallway. Its funny how you get used to something. They now have a switch in their room and yet they still want one in the hallway as well so they can turn it on before they get there.

A lot of lights were turned on and off via the function keys on the M1 keypads as well.

So what I am trying to say is that because of the flexibility of C-Bus and its ability to be reconfigured easilty and accept multiple command inputs you can sucessfully stage an installation and not missout on having light when its needed.

The best scenarion is to have all core system with simultaneous connections that way should one fail (such as the Comfort panel) the other still works.

Mick
Mykel Koblenz
Illawarra Smart Home
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