Local Time: Thursday, 18-Jul-2024 18:14:04 CDT

Equipment Used

JDS Stargate

RCS Thermostats

Stargate Users Group

PCS Lighting Control

Nutone Central Vac.

Comdial Telephones

Caddx Alarm System


Home Automation

This page describes our home automation system, and some of the things our house is programmed or wired to do for us. For example, when someone turns in the driveway, the house announces their entry over speakers in the comdial phones, then if it's dark out, it will turn on the front yard lights and porch lights. The system controls the three A/C units in the house as well as the pool pumps, security system, garage doors, and irrigation system. It also integrates with the entertainment systems and lighting to allow macros to be defined for any action that it detects.

A Nutone central vacuum system was installed to get all the dust out of the house. I had watched enough air around normal vaccum cleaners on sunny days to see how much dust that put back into the air. With a central vac, all the dust goes to the central vaccum system, and the exhaust air is piped outdoors. After getting everything in-hand to install the vac, it took me the good part of one day to install it with 7 inlets spread across the house. This was on an existing house that wasn't piped for it.

Our entertainment system consist of a Denon AVR-5803, predesesor to the Denon AVR-5805 currently being sold by Denon. Both units have RS-232 ports on the back. My TV is a Pioneer 52" Plasma, and also has an RS-232 port for control. I'm using a HD-Direct Tivo for Satellite into the system, and a Sony ES DVP-CX777ES 400 Disc DVD changer with an RS-232 port. I've got all the different devices that have RS-232 control connected to a PC. (If you don't have enough serial ports on your pc, you can get USB<->Serial/RS-232 adapters and add as many as you need.) That PC is running a piece of software by Cinemar called MainLobby Server. I have other PC's in the house with touch screens running the MainLobby client program. This software allows you to quickly build a nice Touchscreen interface to control all the other RS-232 supported products. One of the products Cinemar sells is a DVD library that shows the album covers of all the DVD's stored in your SONY DVD changer, allowing people to browse the DVD library and touch the picture of the DVD they want to watch.

Prior to this setup, I had to start DVD's for my 4 year old, now he can walk up to the touch panel, hit the movie button ( it puts the TV/DENON/DVD player in the right mode and launches the DVD Lobby program. He picks the DVD he wants to watch and it starts playing.

If I were starting over, I'd probably go with an LCD rather than Plasma, as the burn-in problem worries me, and the quality is acceptable on the LCD's today. I'd also look at either a Yamaha or Sony AV controller with RS-232 support. Alot less expensive, and most of the same features. I'm sure the Denon has better audio quality that most of the others, but for my use that isn't a big issue.

I've also used the SonicBlue ProGear's as touch screens with Mainlobby. They are wireless (802.11b), can run Linux or Windows 98 or XP, and can be found for under $500 on ebay with docking cradles.