How to Automate

I couldn’t think of a better place to put this than the lounge.

Ok here’s the deal for this. Yes I’m bored so here’s the game. Present something you want to automate BUT you either can’t or haven’t figured out how to do it yet.

Wait did you say CAN’T??? Ok this is a can’t because of a limitation of your control system aka hub, or skills (programming) or devices or maybe just not aware of pieces to fit together to make it work.

I’ll start. This is a scenario I wanted to do a long time ago and I couldn’t. I couldn’t because it was a lack of functionality in the control systems and pieces that connected it all together. Now IF you also have a solution then make sure you quote the scenario block and include your solution to it.

Scenario:

  • Turn off lights when starting a movie (press Play on remote)
  • Brighten lights to % when pausing a movie (press play/pause on remote)
  • Turn lights off again when un-pausing a movie (press play/pause on remote)

This can be extended to include environment factors such as ambient light and such but those are easy :slight_smile:

Solution:

  • This is where you people come in. I have my solution now lets see what others come up with.
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Multiple solutions for this come to mind… The easiest 2 to implement probably are…

  1. A RM4 mini set up near the devices so it catches the remote commands as well, use those inputs to trigger off the automation that do what you would like.

  2. Most newer AVR’s have built in lan controls you can interface with which include live status updates and CEC enabled controls as well. With one of these you can simply monitor the status feed from the avr and trigger your automatons on the given change. This route is probably better as you don’t have to program or find remote codes for all the devices you may want to tie into these controls, just plug it into your AVR

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Well I had no idea those existed … very interesting!

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Broadlink RM Mini and Pro can send IR/RF commands but NOT receive them unless in learn mode. This method of intercepting hand held remote commands does not work. Unless you know of some trick?

Whats the front end on your HTPC…

For example, with Kodi I can do this via scripts. When it detects Kodi play/pause it can send a command to my hub to trigger anything I want.

Emby has webhooks I think that can do something similar, not sure about plex.

That’s part of the game. It has to be universal. I know it’s “old school” to use a actual DVD/BD player but keep that in mind.

Does it have to work with any remote. I can’t remember if the Harmony hub advertises its button presses to the event stream. If it did could action on that. I know it does for its activity selection. This would require a bit of scripting and a hub etc…

Also, maybe something then like mentioned above. You can probably intercept the remotes using a small pc device and a flirc then and use scripting to activate whatever you want? I use flircs on all of my HTPC’s… it converts IR commands into keyboard commands.

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No.

Can’t be done natively with harmony. Perhaps at the integration/driver level if it’s advertised on the event stream. I did spend a lot of time looking at this option and it went nowhere. There’s always the likelihood of this breaking at the whim of Logitech too. I don’t like “hacked” solutions prone to error and change. Kills the reliability which kills the WAF.

Flirc could work as a method to receive the IR. This would need a box (rPi or similar) running to intercept the commands and send them to the processor. Added component/system/maintenance. Another option would be Global Cache to receive and also to broadcast the commands. Again it would have to send that to a system and process the commands. The GC option I know works if the control system has GC drivers.

This particular scenario stems from a convo I had with @markus about a common problem with all of the DIY systems and media interactions… :wink:

Yup. Just looked at my drivers. On the websocket it shows when the activity is started etc… but doesn’t show when a button is pressed. So that doesn’t help.

Everything requires some extra hardware. There’s not easy solution. I was even thinking that you can throw out the remote all together and setting up a tablet interface that then can send the commands via the broadlink or whatever you want. Then you can create actions on whatever you want. But again, more hardware, more hacked solutions.

I was recently on a hometech.fm group call where they were talking about video distribution and remotes was one of the topics that I brought up. Their were a number of pro installers on the call too. In the end, the pro market has the stuff you want because its all integrated to work together but also requires a lot of money and a pro to install/program it as we don’t have access to the tools or devices. To do similar things in the DIY requires a lot of hacked solutions to get it all to play nicely together.

As a DIY, when I’m trying to solve a solution I always start with “what do I have to work with”. In my place because I have Kodi front ends and Emby back ends, I would tie into Emby to trigger the lights etc. This would work great as it won’t matter how the video was started/stopped emby knows exactly that something is playing or paused. But then if you have somebody with netflix or other streaming services that don’t integrate you lose that visibility.

Its never easy.

I thought there was a homebrew solution involving a pi that allowed you to get input from them for use in automation, but honestly I may have dreamed it up. By the time i got around to getting one to mess with I couldn’t remember why i wanted it, and still haven’t found a real use for it other than fucking with my neighbors when they have their music up to loud now that I have the AVR system

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Yup all of the Pro systems have this functionality. Why? Because they provide remotes that integrate with their processors. The remote doesn’t care what Source you use or what it’s running. The control processors handle all of that and send the commands either via IR, RS232 or IP to the system. What are all DIY systems lacking?

  • A Remote
  • IR Distribution
  • RS232 Distribution
  • IP Drivers

The remote should be the absolute easiest for a new system to produce. Work with a remote vendor (ODM) customize an existing either RF or Zigbee (most pro systems use Zigbee remotes BTW) remote and then provide programming functionality into the hub.

IR Distribution would be solved with good Global Cache drivers. GC is industry standard and used by many professional systems and installers.

IP Drivers would be easy. Direct integration with Roku is a joke as it is with many other IP based systems as they make them easy for Integrators/Installers in the CI field.

RS232 interfacing should be very easy as well and could again be accomplished with good Global Cache integration.

Global Cache would also provide Relay integration for device and “sense” ports for determining if a device is on or not… think Amps…

Is the picture coming together? :slight_smile:

Now that all of this functionality is available within the control processor it can be accessed by a hand held remote or tablet or phone or… whatever.

This “Problem” is a common thing I can setup very easy with pro systems. Are they cheap? Nope. Can other’s do it? Not with out a lot of hacking and changing around things and saying Oh you can’t use your high end Dune or Zappiti player anymore you have to now install a server and run Kodi/Plex/Emby/Whatever and jump through hoops and hope one of the pieces in the middle doesn’t go to lunch.

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I love the idea of having a

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Oh Look a Pro Control remote… I have a Pro 24.z on my desk currently :slight_smile:

Info for Pro24.z:

The T3X is very nice:

Notice how RTI has an entire section of remotes? Some are lower cost (none are cheap) but some within the Harmony Elite price range and they all interface with their control processors… same goes for Control 4, Savant, Crestron.

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Next Item? Something to automate that has been hard or seemingly not possible?

I have to look this up. I’ve never heard of GC but it sounds great.

I think cost is a big thing. Us DIYrs are doing it mainly because we can’t afford the pro system.

I’ve integrated and simplified my home systems so much to make it as simple as possible for the household. Its still not at the point I’d like it though but close.

Garage doors seem to always come up. Especially when trying to find a solution that doesn’t use MyQ on the newer doors. It shouldn’t be that hard. Though it looks like some devices are showing up to solve the problem. I personally did the soldering of a remote to a zwave relay and it works great. But its a hacked solution.

Fireplaces? Some use low voltage switches, some use RF remotes. I use a bond bridge to control mine via RF but I wish I could have better integration.

Anything with RF. Hmm… if only the hub could send out RF. I was setting up my neighbors system and his projector screen uses RF. It was the only thing i couldn’t integrate for him so he has to do it manually or buy a new screen.

I have a few others, but it all comes down to trying to do it without breaking the bank.

PS… loving this topic. lol

The cost is not as much as you imagine. Everyone jumps to cost when something resembling a pro system is mentioned even with Mid-Tier systems.

In the past and today people still give the cost reaction to

  • HomeSeer
  • MyServer
  • CharmedQuark (which is free now)

What if I told you a pro system didn’t cost as much as you imagine?

How many HE hubs did you end up with? People flock to the cheap “hub” and then need another and another and another… adds up really quickly.

Did features/functionality increase each hub? No. So what did you get other than “hope” and a band-aid for a perceived problem that actually wasn’t fixed by adding another hub but was just delayed. So for the costs of the 2, 3, 4, 5? HE hubs that people bought they could have bought a full HomeSeer Pro and plugins or a full MyServer setup. Could have also bought an entry level Pro system for not a whole lot more and grow it as needed/wanted.

MyQ is super simple:

That is your best friend. Wire it to the garage door opener and the other set of wires to your choice of pulsed relay. My preference is a Lutron VCRX.

This is possible with RF as you stated and lots of systems have direct wire capabilities for this. However as it’s a fireplace and liabilities are involved I will not discuss possible options on public forums.

Today Bond is really a great option and there are drivers for most pro systems. Other options for DIY besides Bond are RFXCom or RFLink. RFXCom is less DIY as in you don’t have to assemble it but supports a wide range of RF devices.

RFXCom:

RFLink:
http://www.rflink.nl/blog2/

I thought the problem was we broke the piggy bank and weren’t supposed to? :slight_smile:

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I’m always open to learning more. Its a side of the industry I never hear about. A lot of the stuff you mention I’ve actually bookmarked to check out. I’ve never heard of CharmedQuark. Is it allonis Myserver?

I’m a 1 hubber. I’ve never had issues with it and I run a heck of a lot on it. I think because I wrote my own drivers and apps I know exactly what is going on with my devices and I don’t overload the hub. I’ve also tried to minimize the number of different manufacturers I’ve integrated. For example, all of my switches are Inovelli RED switches and dimmers.

I wanted to be able to upgrade my zwave firmware. Especially on the Inovelli switches as they had some features/fixes I wanted. Took the opportunity to do that and sell the old hub to my neighbour. But other than that really there was no critical reason. The 700 chip was a pain at first but I’ve been able to get things settled down since.

Shutters? Seen anything for this? I’ve been trying to automate mine but all the DIY solutions are pretty intense.

Something like this…