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Version 1.1.1 is now posted
#1
Charmed Quark Software is proud to announce the 1.1.1 release of CQC (The Charmed Quark Controller), its Windows based, distributed control and automation software suite. CQC provides a secure, network distributed, highly integrated, software based control and automation solution, based on commodity personal computer and home networking hardware.

What's New in 1.1.1

This is a 'minor' upgrade of the 1.1 version, but it does offer some very useful new features and fixes a few small but annoying bugs. The most significant changes are:

- Driver Packager. Charmed Quark can now package CQC device drivers into a single 'driver pack' file, which the user can easily import via the administrative client. This takes care of an ongoing issue where drivers arrived between official releases but there was no clean and simple way to get them to users. The new driver packing system will allow us to put such drivers up on the web for easy download and import, so that they can be made available as soon as they are ready. With more third party drivers coming along, this is becoming more and more important.

- Theta Dreadnaught Driver. A new driver for the monster sized Theta Dreadnaught amplifier. This amp has a serial control option, which this driver supports, allowing it to be turned on and off, the surround buss activated or deactivated, and the status of the amp monitored.

- Extron System 8+/10+ Driver. Andy Swingler has provided a driver for the popular Extron System 8+ and System 10+ A/V switchers. These are pretty full featured switchers, and this driver provides good control of it's features and provides plenty of information from the devices as well.

- Lexicon MC-12 Driver Updates. Eric Bariax's Lexicon MC-12 driver is updated in this version, providing some performance improvements and access to more device data.

- Per-Device IR Repeat Count.Some IR blasters support a 'repeat count' which simulates how long the user would hold down an IR remote button in order to get the device to see the signal. Some devices are more 'twitchy' and will do the command twice if the button is held down too long, and some need more repeats or they won't see the signal. So you can now set the repeat count per-device, which will allow you to deal with either type of device. It will default to a repeat count of 2, which should be fine for 99% of the time, but just in case you can adjust it.

- Special Actions Button. The interface designer provides a new special actions buttons that allows you to invoke a set of system defined actions, as apposed to user actions, such as exiting the current interface or invoking the blanker window.

- Kiosk Mode Support. CQC's Interface Viewer program, which is a dedicated program for viewing the CQC interfaces you draw, has always been basically a good way to support a kiosk style interface for CQC, since it has a full screen mode that completely covers the screen with no title bar or borders or anything. However, you could always double click on the background to exit full screen now. It now has a /Kiosk parameter that puts it into kiosk mode, in which case you have to provide system admin credentials to get out of full screen mode. So, lock up the keyboard and mouse, and run the interface viewer in kiosk mode, and you have a nice little touch screen kiosk for your automation system.

CQC's interface designer allows you to create systems of link interfaces (or to overlay multiple smaller overlays into an area of an underlying interface), so your kiosk can provide a navigable set of interfaces that show status information and allow the user to initiate the actions you've configured. And, since CQC is secure, you can limit which users can get to which of the navigable screens, control which aspects of the system they can modify via the interface, and even control the range of movement on things like volume control widgets based on user level.


What's Coming Up

The major feature in the next version, which will be 1.2, is going to be the extension of CQC's powerful device control model to GUI applications, a la Girder but better because it will be built into a powerful integrated front and back end. So you HTPC folks can have a single system that provides the two way active GUI, the powerful distributed back end architecture, great two way device control, security, powerful macro capabilities, and application control all in one highly integrated package.

There will also be a number of device drivers coming up over the next month, which will be distributed via the new driver packaging system above, so you won't have to wait for version 1.2 to get ahold of them. THese include:

  • NAD T762 A/V Reciever. Andy Swingler is looking to take this on as his next driver.
  • Marantz VP12-S2 Projector. Eric Bariaux is working on a driver for this projector.
  • Lutron 3003/4000 Lighting Systems. I have a serial module for these two systems coming and it should be fairly easy to get this driver done. This will allow CQC to control those residential 3000 and 4000 model systems.
  • Denon 3803 A/V Reciever. I have one on the way and it will be nice to get this popular reciever, which is very inexpensive to have such a good control protocol, under control.
  • Denon 5900 Player. Same here, a universal player with a good control protocol.
  • CenterStage CS-2 Scaler. A relatively simple protocol, but it's good enough for what it has to do. This is a pretty widely used scaler, so it will be good to get a driver in place for it.

As always, if you do a good driver for CQC, and let us ship it with the product, I'll give you a free copy. ANd if you keep it updated in future releases (which mostly will just be a matter of verifying it's still happy), I'll give you the upgrades for free as well.

If you really want to use CQC, but need drivers for your devices and cannot do them yourself, please consider shipping us the device for a few days so that we can do the driver for you and return the device. We want to support as many devices as possible and want to do whatever we can to make CQC a useful tool for your automation needs.


Test Drive It

CQC comes with a 30 day trial period. So just download the Zip file (Download link on the left of the main web page), unzip it, read the release notes, look at the Get Started section of the web site which will give you an overview of how CQC works and want it can do for you, and then install it and use it unencumbered for 30 days. At any time during that period you can purchase a license and upgrade your trial version to a licensed version without any interruption.

CQC is a networked product, so the license is for your network, and only applies to the machine on which you run the CQC Master Server. You can run as many other clients or servers as you need and your network capacity allows. So give it a spin and see what it's like.

If you have any questions, you can e-mail us at support@charmedquark.com, or better yet sign up with our support forums (link is at that bottom of the main web page), and start a discussion of your issues and questions. This way, other users can benefit from the discussion, and other old timers can help you out if I'm not immediately available. We look forward to your feedback, whether happy or brutal, since it's the only way we can understand what works for you.

Dean Roddey
Explorans limites defectum
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