Plugin question...

Plugin for the HAI family of security panels
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Plugin question...

Postby Near76 » Tue Aug 14, 2007 11:02 pm

I am thinking of using MLHai for an install and have a couple of questions:

1. I am concerned about the polling delays...whay kind of polling rates are people using?

2. I would prefer the HAI control the TStats and UPB lighting as well as security zones...how well does the plugin handle these "full up" type of installs?

3. I am concerned about having many devices, say 60 UPB switches, 4 TSTATs, and 30+ security zones and it bogging down MLS when they get polled. Can anyone comment on the performance of this plugin?
-Matt

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Postby ricks » Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:17 am

Hi Matt,

I have been using MLHAI for several months now and definitely would not recommend it for customer installs. Here are the issues I've seen:

1. Slow updates. Consensus says its a polling issue but personally I don't believe this. I've run MLHAI with as little as 6 zones, 2 thermostats, 2 temp sensors and no lighting control with polling set at 1 second and updates take about 4 seconds on average. I haven't tried lighting due to this delay.

2. For some reason the following HAI variables were ommitted from this plugin: Special Status, Alarm Type, Last Code Used, Button Pushed, Freeze Alarm, Fire Emergency, Police Emergency, Auxiliary Emergency, Duress Alarm, Battery Low Trouble, AC Powerfail Trouble, Phone Line Dead Trouble, Digital Communicator Trouble, Previous Security Status, Zone Change Indicator, Special Status Change Indicator

3. In the event a zone is tripped or a smoke/CO/NG detector is activated, there's no way for ML to know this and take action. I believe the missing variables above would/could solve this.

4. Zone ByPass and ReStore don't seem to work.

5. A few things are missing from thermostat control. There is no method to increment/decrement HSP/CSP by 1 degree.

6. There is also no way to access the thermostat's schedule. Variables for Weekday/Saturday/Sunday, morning/afternoon/evening/night should be created so the user can create weekly recurring schedules.

7. The following variables have been omitted for the thermostats: Current Run Time, Last Run Time and Operating Status: On or Off.

8. No data on lighting control or HAI Audio since I have not ventured into that realm with MLHAI.

I recently did a report on MLHAI readiness for a few customers so that is why the comprehensive list above :) I'm hoping Cinemar puts more work into this $99 plugin so that it will be ready for deployment.

HTH,
Rick

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Postby Near76 » Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:17 pm

hmmm...thanks...do you know if the Elk plugin has the same issues?
-Matt

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Postby DavidL » Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:51 pm

The ElkM1 plugin has been working trouble free relatively speaking for several years now.

The ELK was designed for PC automation connectivity and doesn't experience the issues that the HAI has.

We will be reviewing the HAI plugin after the current course of workload to see if things can be sped up. We have quite a few MLHAI customers and have recently polled them on their experience with it and it is overall favorable and meeting their needs.

As with any very configurable product, the HAI is extremely difficult to test in all of it's states. Each customer has a very different HAI install.

Things like thermostat response just isn't an issue to most users as temp is a very slow moving thing. Prioritization of the plugin pollling was put into place to prioritize the speed of things like security zone changes.

To create a better user interface responsiveness, you can update the MLServer state variable at the same time as sending the command to the HAI panel to update. This gives the sense of instant updating, and might just be the trick that others are using with HAI software plugins. In reality, the panel works no faster for any of the software products.

As a technical note, the MLHAI plugin was built in C++. Those familiar with software development know that C++ is generally the fastest hardware control higher level language. That is why it was picked for this project. The MLHAI is also multithreaded to minimize stress on MLServer while MLHAI is doing it's polling. Lots of technical choices were made to make it a quality product. It took a lot of development time and expense.

We will take Ricks note as a benchmark on what may be needed to be added to the HAI plugin when we get the opportunity to open it up again. All good points. Thanx for spelling them out.

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Postby Near76 » Wed Aug 15, 2007 10:22 pm

Thanks...I just went through some extensive training on the HAI OmniPro II, which is why I am inquiring. Is the control of the panel over Ethernet, COM port, or either one? My concern with slow polling rates is when customers want things to happen based on motion or a door opening and closing...like turning a light on if a door is opened to the Garage. Also, can you confirm if lighting can be controlled through the HAI panel or is it possible to have 2 UPB controllers, one for ML and one for HAI to directly control the lights...obviously I would prefer to go through the HAI controller as more realtime events could be programmed in their interface. Possibly an MLLighting plugin could be written to talk to lighting through the HAI panel?
-Matt

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Postby cborod » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:33 am

ricks...THANK YOU! Crystal clear. Smooth.....would be nice if you could make it functional.....remember I'm a co-investor in that plugin too!

fwiw I am biased toward the HAI panels.....my opinion....

that said....all the automation functions can (and should) be done via pcaccess inside the HAI box. No polling delays, no problems...lights on/off, temps, flags, you name it.

I have various plc, plm, x10 lighting sensors on both MLServer and HS (separate box) with no problems. They read what the omni panel does, but the panel does all the work. AND...best part. when the power goes out or the pc's shut down, all the logic is on the omni....keeps running and rinning no matter what.

example, zoned heating....temp in bathroom up to 70 at 5 am. motion detectors turn on lights when i ener room (offf again) when I leave room. Door sensor lets me know door is open, shuts off ac in that room, ceiling fans set for time or temp, security...time or event...all programmed in the omni...shown in web pge in hs, shown in pretty flash pix in ML.

It's the right box (my opinion again) ML is the right display, just needs an interface and unfortunately MLHAI doesn't cut it but HS>ML does


I see ML as a graphical interpretation of the panel. Until MLHAI is ready you could use HS and the MLHS plugin for fast/accurate polling and variable creation.

the omni's a powerful box....
ChrisB


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Postby ricks » Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:45 am

I have no experience with the Elk but everyone who is using it appears to be very happy. I have been a long-time HAI supporter because of its power and more importantly, its reliability. In 6 years I have never had one fail to execute a command or routine and had only one board go bad due to a failed UPS during a lightning hit. HAI replaced the board at no cost. The HAI is rock-solid... an installer's best friend.

The key to the HAI is the firmware. I run the obvious, security and lighting on the Omni, but also Life Safety (fire, smoke, heat, water, CO, natural gas) and Energy Management (HVAC, motorized window treatments, air flow, etc). I wouldn't trust these to a PC-based system.

The "ultimate" HAI/ML solution would be to have ML/MLS facilitate the programming of the HAI via PC Access or similar to PC Access. ML/MLS does all the reporting and programming of the HAI, HAI does all of the execution. Easy, customer-driven programming via touch screen built on rock-solid, never-fail execution.

Two hard-learned lessons from installations: never give the customer the keys to the castle, ie. no PC Access access, and avoid call-backs to make minor changes to programming, ie. lights on/off at a different time. The first kills system reliability and the second leaves a bad taste when the customer has to pay for minor service calls. Unless its a customer with a $750,000 system, they don't bother and live with a less-than-perfect routine because of service call cost and inconvenience. Customer satisfaction suffers.

Sorry, enough preaching :oops: . Just trying to advocate for more HAI development. I guess my point is that Cinemar should develop products that do not require the user to access any supporting software as in the case of MLCID and WeatherLobby (need to access MLS for the plugin) to name a few. And hopefully place some additional cycles into MLHAI, a rock-solid, professional, core automation product.

OK, I'll go away now :D

Rick

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Postby DavidL » Thu Aug 16, 2007 11:38 am

Ricks,
MLCallerID is being changed so that the Alias's will be able to optionally be managed in Outlook (including Pics). this will be via the MLPhoneBook plugin that will be updated very shortly. The MLCallerID changes to integrate these two follows a little while later.


MLDMR's role is to eliminate the need for users to get into MLServer for media management (add media to their collection).

We hear ya!

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Postby ricks » Thu Aug 16, 2007 12:51 pm

Thanks Smooth,

Thanks for listening. And since you're listening...

A little off topic but, by tying MLCID to Outlook you've just eliminated anyone without Outlook from using something so basic as caller ID with ML. Same goes for calendar. I know its been said in other forum posts so I won't drag it out here.

Once I get a little breather I plan to attempt to tie MLCID into MLDB: new CID comes in, touch number, asks if you want to add to phone directory, if yes, records in MLDB and allows edit of contact info with new MLKeyboard!!! Sounds simple enough :?

Thanks for listening.
Rick

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Postby DavidL » Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:34 pm

yes, did say Optionally managed in Outlook :) . There could be multiple means, including one involving MLDatabase.

the MLPhonebook integration was a natural because of the work that had already been done with Outlook. Not to mention, this by far will be the popular means to manage this stuff. There is quite a bit of work you would need to do with MLDatabase to approach what Outlook does. But, I agree that a basic model could be done without too much pain.

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Postby CinemarDave » Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:25 pm

I have begun a complete detailed review of the MLHAI plugin. One thing that I note is that the plugin was written using vesion 2.10 of the HAI OmniLink protocol document. Version 2.10 dates from 2005. I know there exists at least version 2.12 of this document. There is no reference to this document on the Homeauto web site. If anyone has access to the lastest version of the HAI OmniLink protocol specifications will you please email me a copy. I want to make sure the plugin supports the latest control features.

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Postby ricks » Thu Aug 16, 2007 9:38 pm

Your version is actually newer than the one I have. HAI no longer provides? I will check my sources to see if I can find the latest version.

Rick

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Postby ricks » Fri Aug 17, 2007 1:38 pm

Dave,

I emailed the latest version, v 2.12 dated April 2006.

Rick

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Postby Ranger Home Automation » Fri Aug 17, 2007 4:32 pm

Add me to the list of those EXCITED about progress to be made on the HAI plugin. This is a must for my sales in production environments!!!

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Postby CinemarDave » Fri Aug 17, 2007 4:35 pm

Thanks for the updated document. This will help a lot!


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