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Full Version: batwater's Walk Into The HA Light
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This is the beginning of the documentation of the batwater household home automation journey.

Preface: The journey truly started when my wife uttered the faithful words nearly a year ago one evening after having sorted through 6 remotes, 7 buttons and still didn't have a movie to watch because Vista Media Center had just gone south again, "I just want to be able to push one button and watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it!!!" "You're sure," I said, "I'll have to buy stuff?" "Yes!!!" was the response. Having just been given approval to "do and buy stuff" I was, to say the least, giddy, oh, how little she knew what she had just unleashed on our household...

Here we are today almost a year later, 2 WHS rebuilds bigger and better under my belt, many device dots connected together, haven't gotten her quite down to 1 button yet but I do have all the media sources in one spot under the control of 1 remote, a huge improvement. That was, until progress struck yet again, a new TV, woot, finally, an HD flat screen TV, and a new AV receiver to go with it have temporarily complicated things again.

It's Sunday 4/28, needed to document what I had built in the last 11 months. (really should have been doing that all along) Decided it was time to bite the bullet and upgrade the believed to be a culprit for some reason that no-one can currently figure out because it won't play well with Win7 Vista master server to Win7.

And so the upgrade started... Backed everything up, checked it twice, document all the com port settings and what's plugged into each port (needed to do that anyway), cross my fingers and start. Argh, 1st problem, Win7 install hangs after 20 minutes of grinding, :confused: kill it, try again, same result. Doh! Confusedhock: I check on HP website, discover I should have updated the bios, did it on an identical machine a month ago prior to it's Win7 upgrade.

Now what, there's no OS, crap!?!? Stomp upstairs kicking myself for not checking the bios first, how many times have I done this I ask myself as I'm searching for the Vista DVD. (time for a beer) Load Vista, update the bios, stick the Win7 DVD in the computer and walk away with fingers crossed to type this first entry, wonder if it worked this time? More to follow...


Dang, install failed again. Time to Google. Found a thread taking about KVM causing a problem during Win7 install, install hangs, hey, that's what my computer is doing! Pull the KVM keyboard and mouse and hook up separate keyboard and mouse... Install again, Woo Hoo, it works 2 hours later after first starting the install. $%!@!& I hate computers, it's the freaking KVM!?!?!? Note to self...
Whew, careful preparation paid off! :-) After the 2 hour KVM road trip the system came back on line after only another hours worth of work. So now the Master Server is up and running on Win7 64bit, no issues and my weather station is back publishing to the web on the Weather Underground.

How did I do it?
  1. Installed CQC
  2. Stopped the CQCAppShell service
  3. Manually deleted the CQC directory
  4. Copied the backup of CQC directory from the old system of the external hard drive
  5. Installed all of the com port devices making sure they each landed in the proper port# and physically labeled each device this time. (This is where the documentation came in) Also numbered each usb port and corresponding device as I re-attached so if I have to unplug it is a simple matter of matching #s.
  6. Restarted CQCAppShell service
  7. Tested
  8. Did a joy dance :-D
I'm really disappointed that I didn't have to stay up for another 4 hours to get everything back up and running, not! Quitting this round while I am still ahead!
batwater Wrote:Preface: The journey truly started when my wife uttered the faithful words nearly a year ago one evening after having sorted through 6 remotes, 7 buttons and still didn't have a movie to watch because Vista Media Center had just gone south again, "I just want to be able to push one button and watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it!!!"

Ha - isn't this how we get them to agree to our dreams, make it bad to start with and get them to insist that it is to be made better.....
Ya, in my case I had help. Dear Vista, sitting minding it's own business, being nothing but a Media Server sitting in a corner in our basement feeding our master bed room, no user skullduggery, just faithful updates whenever The Software Man Windows Update wanted. 1 year later, creeping crud, behavior issues, frustrated, irritated wife (as was I)
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batwater Wrote:[*]Did a joy dance :-D

Yep, I know that dance...but more often you first have to suffer the head banging dance :-?
Been too busy, forgot I had started this until I went searching for an old thread, I'm back, now a new chapter in the journey...

I was inspired over the weekend to finally set up (after years, pathetic really) my AVR3805 to take advantage of its multi zone capability. Up until that point I had no real need to control the unit as it was only used for a home theater.

Task List Planned:

  1. Clean up the cabling mess that had accumulated
  2. Figure out how zoning works with a Denon AVR-3805
  3. Run the zone wiring based on decisions from #2
  4. Cable the RS232 port
  5. Run USB cable for USB hub to support USB to RS232 adapter and a Creative Labs USB Sound Blaster box.
  6. Map serial port in Serial Port Splitter and then to CQC and Hyper Terminal
  7. Template, gotta have something to show for this...

Task List Reality:

  1. Wire: The journey started with cleaning up the mass of wires and connections that had accumulated over several years of change. This included putting in a new slotted wall plate to facilitate pass through of cables for zones 2, 3 and USB into the back room where the HA System mess, um, pile, um quasi rack (in my dreams some day) is located. (this was the 2nd easiest one, physical almost always is)

  2. Denon - Zones: I'll state the obvious, the documentation was written by foreign engineers and then translated. <head pounding brick wall> Finally figured it out, pictures were the most useful, I ended up running zone 3 as speakers (I don't have 7.1 so had the spare amp) and zone 2 as line level to another receiver in my shop area that will feed that area as well as outdoor speakers on my deck. (future project).

  3. Zone wiring: Once i figured out how I was going to set up my zones this was the easiest. Funny thing though in that moving ceiling tiles in my basement to run cable I found a hidden stash. Now, one would expect pot or something like that, but no, I found my missing (for years) Godfather DVD collection and a ceramic cereal bowl with a burnt piece of paper, no writing. Both were ensconced in freezer grade ziplock bags. My Wife and I have no idea what this is about, we are going to ask our 3 kids if they know what this is about. Very very weird find.

  4. Denon RS232 port: Ack, A DCE connection, didn't have the parts to build a cable... Just so happens that I had a DCE db9 to 25 cable so with the cable, a db9 to 25 adapter and 2 db9 gender benders (to get it out away from the back of the 3805 far enough for to connect) this combination of stuff results in a working DCE connection, I'll take kluge for now. (verified everything was working by hooking up a laptop directly to the USB to serial adapter and sent commands via Hyper Terminal) Will build a real cable some day, this works, so moving on...

  5. USB Cable: Run USB cable for USB hub to support USB to RS232 adapter and a Creative Labs USB Soundblaster box. This was also easy was able to use a just long enough cable to run to a 4 port USB hub (thanks Dean, the one you sent with the UPB stuff I bought from you is now in service) Running a USB Gear buffered adapter (dang, the prices have gone up on these). For the SB box I'm planning on running a Squeezebox software client to provide CQC controlled music sources to the Denon. Will see how that goes...

  6. Map serial port: To provide flexibility in debugging of serial I/O I invested in a software package called Serial Port Splitter which allows me to, amongst other things, map multiple software packages to a physical serial port. I configured and mapped the new physical port for the 3805 to 2 virtual ports, 1st for CQC and 2nd for Hyper Terminal. Started by re-verifying via Hyper Terminal that everything was still working, doh, it wasn't. Communication to the Denon was absolutely flakey and kinda worked. Okay, so what's the problem, into troubleshooting mode I go (actually I went to bed because it was late) Next day (a snow day here in the Midwest, woo, didn't have to take a vacation day) I start working through the USB cabling wondering if the run is too long, if the hub is defective, upgraded serial port splitter software since it was several revs back level thinking that perhaps I had exceeded the number of ports it could handle, nada, nothing made a difference. :-x Add, delete, re-add the physical port to lower than 10 range to see if that is the problem, nope. Finally in a fit of "taking a step back" I went through from the beginning and mapped the port, set the settings, whoa, what's this, hardware handshaking was checked, doh Confusedhock: , the 3805 does not use flow control, unchecked that flag, mapped the virtual ports fired up Hyper Terminal, sent commands, everything worked. Whew.

  7. Was up until 2am this morning creating 1st set of templates to control the zones via RIVA (not a big fan of that stupid Denon remote) Progress...

Hmmm, what next...

Dear Diary it's been a very long time, I am so sorry for neglecting you...

The first step in curing a problem is acknowledging that you have one. Well... I am done fighting making/keeping X10 lighting control 90% reliable. The straw that broke the camel's back, why my lovely Wife of course! When she dropped the f bomb Confusedhock: because her closet light would not turn on when she opened the door (repeatedly open and closing that is) I knew it was time to throw in the towel. I would have said that the other factor is switching to florescent lighting but other than laundry and shop areas I refuse to use them! Not trading one "evil" for another. It's LED lighting for the batwater household, but I digress...


What to do with her closet, I needed a replacement for the x10 screw in socket controller. Zwave to the rescue, there exists a screw in controller that provides the function I need. Thus the odyssey begins, what controller to purchase? I landed on the new Leviton RC0P-3 (firmware up-gradable version.) After ordering what I thought was the correct controller I was informed that it had been discontinued, what? :-? Turns out I had poor timing, there are still inventory of the older units, the company I had ordered from had run out prior to shipping my order. Whew, saved by what I will call poor customer service. Through Cocoontech I found a supplier and ordered. Still waiting to receive, should be here tomorrow.

I ordered the Leviton programming USB stick as well and have that in hand. I ordered 2 screw in lamp units from Tiger Direct as I found out that the screw in module has been discontinued (Intermatic) Well, nothing is easy, originally I was going to order from but after researching the company found that nobody was happy with them hence the use of Tiger. Well, it turns out Tiger Direct is sourcing the Intermatic parts from, yes you guessed it, Why is this important to know, well, even though I went through Tiger zwaveproducts was able to screw my order up, they only shipped one of the 2 units I ordered. So had to contact Tiger Direct who offered me a refund or to replace my order, I elected to replace my order, it's their problem to make it work, besides I need 2 modules. Still waiting for the 2nd unit to arrive. Bottom line on this Stay away from!

The other challenged I faced is that not all of my switch boxes have a neutral available so UPB was out for those switches. I located several switches (again through the help of folks on Cocoontech) that do not require neutral in order to function. Ordered and waiting for them to arrive as well.


In the mean time, I had 2 separate Simply Automated (SA) UPB starter kits that have been waiting for me to install. Yesterday I set up the controller and programmed my 1st switch! Success! :-D A flaky x10 switch that controlled my backyard floods is now 100% reliable and I can still control it with x10 rf switches (not going to abandon the RF stuff, works very well and inexpensive!)

Today I programmed the remaining modules and switches that I have and am now in the process of installing. I have to say that SA UPB (all that I have had experience with thus far) devices are just amazing! The flexibility these things have is just too cool to put into words.

As I transition off of X10 I have to be creative with functionality as I cannot afford to replace all of the current switches at once. I am now experimenting with using UPB scenes assigned to specific buttons on the switch to trigger the control of lights that are still on X10. I'm also being selective where the higher quality UPB and ZWAVE modules go balancing out cost / benefit.

The flexibility of having CQC in the middle for command and control with technologies like UPB is just unbeatable.

One x10 dead, 20 or so to go...
I have been transitioning for the last year or so, on a tight HA budget. I actually have several SA UPB scene keypads controlling both UPB devices and X-10 devices through my HAI panel. The two systems exist together very well. I am down to two dimmers, one relay and one outlet in X-10 land now. The plan is to have it all out by the end of the year. We will see.

I have about 25 UPB devices and in four years, only one stopped to function. All are very reliable and easy to program. I control everything through HAI via my CQC system.
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