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Serial Ports
#1
Hi,
With the current talk about serial ports, i was curious what the best way to add serial ports to a MS running CQC. Im yet in the planning stages of a new house and planning cable runs and equipment locations. 
Say i have four or five LG tv's with serial control (1/8" connections really), an Elk M1, and RadioRa2. What is the best method (hardware-wise) of adding at least this many serial ports? 
The GC-100 stuff seems to be fairly dated. 
Thanks
Eric
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#2
The Global Cache stuff is not dated at all but you will need a driver for your particular TV model if you want to do serial control. If you simply want IR control of your TV, I would highly recommend the the Global Cache products. You can then purchase a GC-IRL and download their iLearn utility and learn all the codes from your remote. You would then add a new make/model for your TV in CQC and add the hex codes for that make/model for each command. It's pretty easy.

It gets complicated with the serial control for TV's because, as I mentioned, you have to have a driver for your specific TV series as the codes are different.

In my case, I have a Samsung ME Series TV and it uses RS232C codes (the HEX codes start with AA) whereas consumer grade Samsung TV's use Ex-Link codes (the HEX codes start with 8).

I am currently writing a Samsung driver for the ME Series because I have the manual from Samsung that details the codes.

Happy to help and discuss further based on my growing pains Smile
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#3
For devices in the closet with the controller, just an inboard PCI-e board is a cost effective way to get a number of ports with minimal moving parts. There are also external boxes like Edgeports that do USB to serial. For distant stuff, if there's a computer there, of course you can install CQC on that and run the driver on that machine and use local ports. Else you can use something like the GC-100.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
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#4
I use the Digi EtherLite, which use the TCPIP protocol and its accompanying Windows driver (RealPort), to allow multiple serial ports (in my case 16) show up on the CQC Server.  The plus on it, is that it does not have to be close to the server like a USB based serial server.  The negative is that all of the plugs are RJ-45, so you will need to be handy with crimping RJ-45 ports, as their pin-outs are unique to their box.  I think some other guys on here have used the Moxa serial port servers, of which I think they are USB based.

I currently have 9 devices that are controlled serially, but I do think that if I could, I would convert any device that could communicate via TCPIP over the serial option.  Lots of pros and cons to both, but it is easier.  I have an Elk M1, and have the Ethernet expander, and that has worked well for 10 years.

One other comment on the LG TV's - maybe they have changed this, but a TV I purchased from them about 4 years ago that  had serial control, but it did not have the ability to turn it on from an off state.  I played around with one of the GC-100 optional components where it detected light, and used that to detect whether the TV was on or off, and then the LG serial driver controlled everything else - eventually I just went to having the GC-100 control the entire TV via IR, as it never worked quite as good as I wanted, and the GC-100 is pretty rock solid once set up.  The older LG's I had would power on through the serial port, but somewhere I read (maybe here), that they changed that option in the later models to get a better EnergyStar rating.
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#5
(07-18-2019, 08:16 PM)kblagron Wrote: I use the Digi EtherLite, which use the TCPIP protocol and its accompanying Windows driver (RealPort), to allow multiple serial ports (in my case 16) show up on the CQC Server.  The plus on it, is that it does not have to be close to the server like a USB based serial server.
GC-100's do not have to be close to the server either. They connect to the network and you access them via IP Address. Global Cache carries networked and wireless devices.


(07-18-2019, 08:16 PM)kblagron Wrote: One other comment on the LG TV's - maybe they have changed this, but a TV I purchased from them about 4 years ago that  had serial control, but it did not have the ability to turn it on from an off state.  I played around with one of the GC-100 optional components where it detected light, and used that to detect whether the TV was on or off, and then the LG serial driver controlled everything else - eventually I just went to having the GC-100 control the entire TV via IR, as it never worked quite as good as I wanted, and the GC-100 is pretty rock solid once set up.  The older LG's I had would power on through the serial port, but somewhere I read (maybe here), that they changed that option in the later models to get a better EnergyStar rating.
Interesting. Serial commands should work, including on and off. Perhaps a certain HEX code is needed for that make/model?
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#6
Use caution with TVs though. I bought one that has serial support but it only works when the TV is on. What a downer that was.
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#7
But the GC-100 ports have to be manually configured, whereas real ports we can configure appropriately for whatever you selected to talk to it through. That's one benefit of something like the the Edgeport or Digi or the internal boards.
Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
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#8
After doing many MS, the easiest way to add a serial port is via USB. A 4/8/16 port usb to serial is the easiest.

Next is using Ethernet - like the Digi realport. I personally use a Digi Etherlite 32 port serial server. Has worked flawlessly. I also have two 4 port digi that are installed in each shed.

The Global cahce iTach would be my go to for a single serial port at a device such as a TV. You need to weigh this up here. You are running a UTP cable to the TV (which can be used for serial or Ethernet). The advantage of using Ethernet is that if you now add a second device (say a soundbar with Ethernet), you just install a small switch to expand the number of Ethernet ports. (Global Cache really need to add two Ethernet ports to their line up to allow daisy chaining).

I would avoid plugging in a card, they dont migrate well as form factors change. PC's are getting more powerful and smaller. That PCIe card that fits today will not fit in SFF PC in four year (heck, it could be a Raspberry Pi 6 running the MS in four years time). USB will always be USB (until it gone), and Ethernet is here for a very long time.

With regards to LG TV's. (6 installed here) LG have never changed the protocol, only expanded it to take in new features on newer TV's. Even those without a serial port can be controlled via RS232 when using an ATEN USB/Serial adapter plugged into a particular USB port on the TV (I have two this way). Not quite as good. Some, also as mentioned will not turn on and some flash the volume on the screen when CQC polls the volume (this was taken care of in the driver and there is a no poll version). THis is firmware variations across models. Never understood why. The turn on from serial I can understand - green eco mode. The TV can't go to sleep power off completely if it is watching for a serial command.

I have not tried an Ethernet enabled TV to see if they can be controlled that way. My last TV was a Sony and it has excellent IP control - turn on from off via IP command, and a nice simple easy protocol (a driver also exists for these)
Mykel Koblenz
Illawarra Smart Home
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#9
Control4 uses an IP driver to control TV's and the drivers for SONY and LG are the best from what I have read. So, IP control is not out of the ordinary if your TV supports. I am experimenting with my ME Series and IP control to see if it's better to use IP vs Serial.

So with my TV's (ME Series) when using RJ45 control (ie, network cable plugged in to TV directly) and TV is off, the IP control does not work and you have to transmit the WOL protocol instead of the Multiple Display protocol (MDC) using TCP/IP Format for Power On which is something like this:

wolcmd MAC IP_ADDRESS SUBNET PORT

Example:

wolcmd 009027a324fe 195.188.159.20 255.255.255.0 7

then you can start using MDC commands.

When I use RS232C port and GC-100 and TV is off, the serial connection works using MDC commands. You can even get power status when TV is off. Looks like I will be going this route.
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