This is potentially a good section but....

No matter how large or how small, the area of Home Theater is what we all have in common. So...Let others know your configuration. List your components first and then if you care to, a small history. Be sure to come back and keep it updated!
Engerland
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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby Engerland » Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:40 pm

DaveB wrote:Not to turn this into a debate, but Insteon does not currently integrate with HAI and probably never will. Elk did buy in. The ISY works, but adds $$ into the buy in price tag as compared to Z-Wave or UPB and adds yet another layer to what should be a simple lighting control system.

I own a complete UPB home that is controlled by HAI and have had this configuration for years without one issue. I have 42 UPB devices in total. When I moved from X-10, which I had for many years prior along with it's growing pains, I could not have been happier. When Insteon came on the market, I simply looked at it as an extended X-10 and still do (probably unfairly). Insteon still has not been widely accepted in the integration community. It is OK for the DIY.

I closely follow both ZigBee and ZWave and like where they are both moving. I think that both of the Z options are more forward thinking and have more potential then either Insteon or UPB. I have no clue who will come out on top.

Like I said, many solutions here.


Would/is Cinemar able to control zigbee lighting devices? If not, is there a plan to do so at some point in the future?

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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby bigDvette » Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:23 am

Dave,

He has already stated he has Insteon. I don't want him thinking that with Cinemar and Insteon he will have less functionality than with any other lighting solution because he can have a good system. Adding an ISY to Insteon is still much cheaper than UPB. The fact that HAI doesn't support it is another issue entirely and the ISY is worth it's price in simplifying the process of creating scenes and linking devices in complicated circuits.

I have a complete Insteon solution and I have over 100 devices including i/o interaces, irrigation and thermostats in addition to lighting. The ISY box acts as the scene controller and setup and reports status (much like Elk or HAI would) to ML, it has a webservices interface if you want to talk to it directly and the ability to swap in and out devices is genius. I put it in back in 2005 and had issues until 2008 when I bought the ISY controller. Most of the issues were with getting the links setup in the PLM using Cinemar's plugin and not getting the links setup between teh devices themselves. Since then it has been butter. Additionally, Insteon is moving to all devices being "dual" wave and broadcasting RF and over power line like the Z devices to create both a wireless and wired mesh..

You are right, it hasn't been widely accepted in the professional integration community and if I was an installer I would be leary based on previous records of bad batches of switches. But their support has been outstanding and at one point they replace 70 of my 100 switches due to a potential paddle issue and extended teh warranty to 6 years so for the DIY guy, it has been very effective.

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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby bigDvette » Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:31 am

Engerland, I don't believe Cinemar has a plugin to Zigbee or Zwave, but that solution is really being suggested based on a decision you need to make.

If you decide to have a hardware based automation controller like an ELK or HAI do the day to day automation tasks (turn on light when garage door up...) then those platforms support a number of different lighting solutions including zigbee and zwave. Elk also supports insteon. People I know with Zigbee or Zwave love them and UPB has been rock solid. Insteon has taken a while, but it's reliability is just as good as the others at this point if you already have those devices.

If you go the MLServer as the automation controller and also the Media Controller/UI Delivery engine, then I think your lighting choices are more limited. There may be a 3rd party Mainlobby plugin for Zwave if I remember correctly by tallusllc. I can't stress enough if you don't want to bang your head against the wall on the lighting side and decide to stay with Insteon that you already have, spend a little money and buy the ISY.

Good luck.

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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby Engerland » Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:36 am

Sorry if I have led to confusion anywhere along the line, but I do not have Insteon at this time. The advice regarding Insteon has been very much appreciated: in particular going with an ISY controller to provide stability.

From the above posts I am leaning to an Elk-centric system with Cinemar software in support. I will research that a lot more. I also like what I have read about Xantech's audio and av products.

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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby bigDvette » Wed Dec 15, 2010 1:10 am

Ok so I am ready to give you my non-professional yet 10 years of experience take on some of your questions for what to use. I have installed 15 or so systems as a hobby for friends building theater rooms and in a couple of my houses.

VIDEO / AUDIO Distributin and IR control
===============
Since you stated you want to keep your equipment centrally located I would suggest you invest in and look in to a matrix distribution system.

Both Russound and Audio Authority offer solutions as well as Xantech which has been mentioned. I have a Russound CAV for audio and a Audio Authority AVAtrix for video distribution. Both are 6x6 devices. When I bought them AA didn't do Audio and Russound didn't have component video. If you plan to do HD over component video, AVATrix is a great solution that will give you 2 benefits.

1) you can do you video runs using Cat5
2) you will get an IR pathway for using IR remotes at the TV locations back to the central stack of components.

You will also want to get a USBIR6 to put in your MLServer so you can sense IR commands to know when someone has turned on TVs and changed sources in other rooms. Control of the AVAtrix is done using a cinemar plugin.

AA also has an Audio option that would allow you to integrate audio and volume in to the same zones and use the same switching. Down side is your audio and video will share 6 sources and that likely isn't enough. As such you may be better off with something like the Xantech or some of the lower end Russound Audio only controllers based on your budget.

You could simply buy a matrix switcher without IR pathway and without cat-5 distribution, but the costs and compatability issues add up quickly. I can attest the AA solution has been rock solid. Prior to buying the AVAtrix I used a video-storm 8x8 matrix component swithc (no IR pathway) and plugged in to Audio Authority cat -5 distribution blocks which worked fine, but had some limitations.


Touchscreens
==================
the iPad makes a compeling hardware platform but lacks the Flash support. You can head over to the iPad section to see what myself and other have built, but it is not a trivial task. There are plans for cinemar released screens, but my guess is they will be much less user friendly to modify. Portable touch screens that will run flash will likely be Andriod based and not out for a few more months. You can use tablet computers, but the battery life is less than desireable. As for having a cenrally located fixed panel, it is a good idea. You can always mount an iPad to the wall, but it really isn't the same. I run chromium in kiosk mode and I am using my iPad screens being fed off of my MLServer computer. What I mean is I have a touch panel connected to my MLServer box (monitor 2) and use a balun to get video to a panel mounted in the wall. I can run either the mainlobby client or my iPad client using Chromium in kiosk mode so it is full screen. It works great.

Thermostat
===========
If you stay with Insteon, use the Venstar tied in to the ISY.
If you go the HAI/ELK route for automation control, get one that integrates with those platforms and they can have rules built around events in the system.

As an example of what you can do with Cinemar, I monitor my media closet since I don't have a seperate AC in the rack area. When the temp goes above 92, I use MLServer to execute a rule that tells my ISY to start a program (scene) that lowers the AC for 30 min and then sets it back to the normal run temp.

TV Control
==============
I too use remotes an panels. Key is to figure out a way for panels to know things like if the TV is on and what source it is currently on. With my AVAtrix, the current source is reported to teh plugin so if I change the source via IR, the Mainlobby server gets that update via the plugin. I use that information to automatically change the scene on the touchpads if they are currently controlling video or audio. i have had a lot of Universal Remotes (Pronto, Nevo, URC ...) but none of them have been easier to keep maintained than the logitech. i don't actually have one, but I maintain a few for my mother and brother, neighbors ...

Streaming Movies
==============
I've moved away from this recently as it requires me to have too many machines on an I pretty much only watch bluray. I plan to get a multi-disc player soon. DVD Lobby can control some brands of these.

Security
===================
I have Elk and have been pleased.

Remote Access
===================
I have been running MLServer on my custom build Windows Home Server box for at least 2.5 years maybe longer. If they hadn't removed some features from the upcoming release, I might have recommended this as a solution. If you build the right box and since you need a machine running 24x7, this has worked great as my MLServer machine. All the add-ins to get you available for business on the net are buit in and there are plugins galore to rip discs, send e-mails and remote desktop in to the server. As for text and e-mail, you can do that natively in MLServer, you will just need an email address to send texts to.

My .02. I'm not a professional, but haven't paid a cent to have anyone do anything from install switches to run cable to diagnose video and audio problems and I've built a few theaters, so I have the DIY battle scars. I have found it fun with Cinemar because the possiblities are endless. The lighting debacles back in 2007ish were not fun, but you can see a lot of those threads are pretty dead now.

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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby ricks » Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:00 pm

Just to follow up on the Xantech control panel question... no, no control panel is required. The MRAudio can be controlled either directly by the HAI panel via RS-232 or by the MLS computer via RS-232. Nothing other than the MRAudio is required. I believe all of the other audio matrix devices can be connected in the same maner.

I am one of the few that use the Xantech so you may want to check out all of the other choices. Cinemar doesn't really have a supported Xantech plugin, you would have to use the MLGeneric Device plugin. The reason I use the Xantech is because 1) very long history of high reliability, 2) integration partner with HAI (my core system), 3) 8 sources/8 zones compared to 6/6 for most other system, 4) 30 RMS/channel vs 15 RMS/Channel for most others, 5) impedance matching on all channels allows 4 speaker per zone on one channel pair for larger areas, 6) Zones 7 and 8 allow addition of a separate larger amp for areas like very large rooms or outdoors.

Lastly, there's a lot to be said for brand-continuity - having as many parts of the system from the same manufacturer. This eliminates most of the "buy it, try it, shelve it" expense since they have been designed and tested extensively to integrate. I choose HAI which I believe to be best in class for automation/security systems. Unfortunately for me, Cinemar's HAI plugin is junk and they don't have a legitimate Xantech plugin :evil: so you may want to go ELK.

As for lighting, UPB works very well with HAI so that's where I went although I have Z-Wave and X10 still installed. Just my opinion, but z-wave seems to be geared toward the DIYers while zigbee seems to be where the serious players are headed. I wouldn't be surprised to see the final solution for wireless lighting be a zigbee solution but its not there yet.

You're at a confusing yet exciting stage of HA, enjoy it now. It becomes addicting, and expensive and very time consuming. :)

Rick

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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby Texsun » Wed Dec 15, 2010 8:39 pm

I'll throw in another recommendation for using Homeseer as the core as it is has a very large installed base, many hardware devices able to be interfaced, dozens of plugins with decent support, good communication with ML (MainLobby) and good reliability. Mine's been running for almost 3 years with no downtime. Mainlobby is a great front end to Homeseer and really shines with cataloging and playing media. I use UPB lighting, have around 75 switches, very reliable, but not immune to interference. I use RCS thermostats along with their zone controllers - no problems in nearly 10 years. Movies are streamed from Lime Technology unraid systems - robust - can stream 3 bluray movies simultaneously with rendering done using low power duocore PC's running PowerDVD (which basically gets the job done but sucks in general). I use Sonos for audio - haven't found anything better yet. I use ML for irrigation along with Rain8net - works great - very flexible zone programming and high WAF (wife acceptance factor) - VERY important ;-) Have fun!

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Re: This is potentially a good section but....

Postby Engerland » Wed Dec 15, 2010 11:31 pm

Thanks for all of the insightful posts: HomeSeer, Audio Authority, Lime Technology etc are all very new to me so lots to dig into. Thanks also for putting together details of your systems as it really helps me consolidate all of the information out there and see it in a more applied manner.


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