January 08, 2008

How's that heating going ?

I haven't made any real effort to tune the heating control, but already I can feel the benefits of the tighter control.

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More Blogs

More Idratek install blogs are popping up

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January 07, 2008

Heating Control

After some time with a simple heating control scheme I have now pretty much fully automated my central heating.

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January 02, 2008

Using GU10 energy saving lights

It's barely home automation but I've been experimenting with GU10 CFL energy saving light bulbs in the bathroom. After some extensive googling for reviews (not many) I settled on the Megaman brand and got a bunch to put into the bathroom - the thinking was that with 5 x 50W halogen it might be worthwhile.

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December 07, 2007

Emulating a toggle action with a Macro

My central heating is currently controlled by Cortex using an SRH in parallel with the normal thermostat. Actually, it's not quite in parallel, I've got a switchover control so I can select the SRH or the thermostat.

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November 14, 2007

Internet Time and Cortex

I noticed that time server updates were failing in my log the other day and I wonder if this explains a very occasional delay in Cortex actions I had been seeing.

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October 12, 2007

An End to My RDP Woes ?

I've previous mentioned using RDP to control my Cortex computer remotely from both XP and now my Mac. But I have suffered an issue when restarting Cortex under RDP.

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September 11, 2007

Finished Curtains

In a totally gratuitous piece of HA porn, here is the finished curtain installation

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September 04, 2007

Bye Bye LD-11

It's served me reasonably well for a couple of years but my last LD-11 has just been removed. It's funny really, I thought that dimmable lighting on the (unlit) stairs would be a good idea, bright during the day, trending to almost nothing at night for those middle of the night bathroom trips.

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August 30, 2007

Colour coding of connections items

It must have been thought too minor to mention in the release notes ...

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August 26, 2007

Cortex v22

It always seems that by some strange synchronicity major Cortex upgrades appear when I have visitors.

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August 25, 2007

Automated curtains

Since we had some really nice curtains made for the bedroom I decided this justified splashing out and getting a motorised curtain rail. I bought one of the Autoglide units, the cheapest version has a dawn/dusk sensor and a manual override switch. It's going to be integrated under Idratek control so none of the timer or IR remote control options is relevant.

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It's Been A While

So I haven't posted for quite a while, but I have been busy completing renovations.

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March 30, 2007

Decent UK Caller ID Modem

Telephony integration is an important part of any home automation set up and Caller ID usually forms an important part of it. Unfortunately BT uses some BT specific method of providing caller ID data and modem support can be a little intermittent, to say the least. Many modems promise Caller ID support, and most of them have a little * to exclude UK support.

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March 22, 2007

Windows Help files on the Mac

Now that I've switched to the Mac I can no longer read the Cortex help file on my main computer's big screen whilst remotely controlling Cortex via RDC.

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February 27, 2007

More New Idratek Modules

A bit more poking about in the new Cortex v21 reveals some new modules on the way.

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February 26, 2007


Ok, so maybe my teaser didn't work, since some other people have read the release notes and noted the new

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February 21, 2007

Cortex is 21 today

Got an email from idratek ... version 21.0.0 of Cortex is out. Release notes are a bit tantalising, some choice goodies are on the way.

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February 10, 2007


I'd noticed occasional delays in the lights switching on as I walked around. Not serious, but noticeable. It wasn't entirely clear what was causing them.

Continue reading "Fragmentation" »

November 18, 2006

IPS-002 Power Supply

I've been running the Idratek IPS-002 intelligent power supply for a few months now.

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October 16, 2006

What I did in my summer holidays

I used to hate that essay title. How inspiring was that ? And why did the teachers want to know anyway ?

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New Idratek Install Blogs

A gigaOm posting about Technorati inspired me to have a look this evening, and in a moment of narcism I used "idratek" as a search term, just to check whether this blog was top :-).

It's not, it's third, sixth and ninth (hmm) but never mind, because there are two new blogs detailing Idratek installs (or, in one case, the intent to install, because it hasn't started yet).

So keep an eye on Darren and Kira to see how they get on.

July 21, 2006

Finished Bathroom Default Reflexes

I'm on a roll now I've figured out the X-10 stuff.

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Default Reflex involving X10 units *updated*

I've been working on default reflex behaviours to provide back-up functions if Cortex is unavailable. So far I covered the simple direct switching case and a more complicated 3-way remote switching example. The most complicated behaviour required for my backup lighting control is to handle X10 dimmers via Reflex from the DRB panels.

Continue reading "Default Reflex involving X10 units *updated*" »

June 30, 2006

More Default Behaviours with Reflex

The previous example was for a very simple case when the button and relay are in the same module. So what happens when the relay and buttons are in different modules ?

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Setting Up Default Behaviours in Reflex

Although Cortex provides a very extensive automation capability, it is still a good idea to set up default Reflex behaviour. I have found Cortex to be very stable, but there are still various circumstances that might lead to Cortex failure, such as a partial power failure, PC problems or Windows updates leading to reboots. Or possibly you might want to maintain basic functions on one network segment whilst you are messing around with other segments of the network, you could maintain power to a network segment to keep functions alive without needing Cortex to be connected.

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May 21, 2006

Yet Another Small Victory

A recent visitor:

Wow, all the lights come on as you go round the house

Updating Cortex

I've just updated Cortex to a beta version of v19.

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Leaving Cortex Alone

I've left Cortex alone for a couple of months, mainly due to some other distractions, but it has been an interesting experiment in stability.

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April 26, 2006

Small Victories

Tamzin, on visiting a non-HA'd house :

It's a bit weird walking round the house and none of the lights coming on

At least, I think it's a victory.

Things Not To Do with Your HA System #1

Forget to reconfigure the spare room lighting operating period such that lights come on at 7am at the first motion detect when the almost-in-laws are staying overnight.

Optimal Placement and issues with ceiling modules

My default has been to install most sensory modules in the ceiling, limiting the number of modules installed into walls to light switches modules (usually DRB-001) replacing existing switch plates.

Continue reading "Optimal Placement and issues with ceiling modules" »

February 14, 2006

Finishing the Kitchen Install

In my previous kitchen entry, I mentioned that the automation of the light switch was going to be a bit of a challenge, since chasing the walls was verboten.

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Holes in the Bedroom Wall

I caught up my HA plans a bit this weekend. Apart from spending a day PIDing my Silvia, I also spent some time completing the half temporary main bedroom install.

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February 06, 2006

How Orange are Idratek Modules ?

The UKHA online community seem to have a slight hang-up regarding the aesthetics of the Idratek modules. Several times I have read that they are orange. My eyes seem to be deficient in the orange region, because I just can't see it. I tested Tamzin's eyes too and she sees no connection with easyJet either.

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February 05, 2006

What, No Hot Weekend Home Automation Action ?

I was _planning_ so much, connecting up the door switches on the bedrooms, getting the last two DRB's in place, getting the boiler networked.

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January 29, 2006

Using Cortex on XP with Remote Desktop Connection

My original Cortex PC was an Asus Terminator, with an Athlon XP1200, running Windows 2000, accessed remotely using VNC. This had done sterling service for a couple of years, but since I wanted to have everything neat up in the loft, and also wanted to minimise power consumption, I moved to a rackable 1U PC based on a VIA mini-ITX PD-10000.

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Installing a temporary MFP in the living room

I am Mr Temporary. Here's an MFP installed in the living room. This allows me to get all the functionality whilst I'm waiting for the opportunity to access the floor above.

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Temporary installations in the bedroom

Since the ceiling needs replastering, I decided to temporarily fit the intended modules onto the ceiling, rather than in it. This will allow me to confirm operation is problem free and move them around if needed.

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January 26, 2006

Configuring the humidity controlled fan and light

I briefly touched on using a humidity controlled fan in my bathroom install article. Here's some more details and an example of how well it can discriminate shower usage.

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January 22, 2006

This weekend's project was the Bathroom

Just in case you've been wondering why it's been so quiet round here, I've been working up the courage to start cutting holes in the bathroom ceiling. Since the bathroom is "finished", there is no margin for error.

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January 10, 2006

Landing Light Automation using Idratek + X-10 LD11

My landing light is one of my favourites. Mainly because before I automated it I would forget to turn it on, get half way up, remember, decide to be too lazy to go down again, and then trip over something that had been left on the top step.

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January 09, 2006

Loft Fan Automation

I previously installed a fan in my loft in an attempt to control the temperatures reached due to solar heating.

Continue reading "Loft Fan Automation" »

Initial Idratek Module Configuration

The newly arrived Idratek module will be recognised when first connected and will need an address to be assigned. When installing multiple modules, it is easier to pre-configure them at the computer, label them up, and then run round installing them.

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January 08, 2006

My Idratek Node-I

Since AutomatedHome seems to have a bit of a Node-0 fetish, I thought I'd better show some pictures of my Idratek Node-I !

Continue reading "My Idratek Node-I" »

Kitchen Idratek Sensor Modules Installed

Installing the Idratek system in the kitchen has caused a degree of controversy in the house. Since the kitchen was renovated before I started on the whole HA journey, chasing of walls for additional wiring has been strictly forbidden. This has left me with some dilemmas on how to fit the switch module. Stay tuned for another episode to see how that was solved, but in the meantime, here's the installation of the sensory modules (THS-001 for temperature/humidity and LPS-001 for light-level and PIR presence).

Continue reading "Kitchen Idratek Sensor Modules Installed" »

January 04, 2006

Dining Room Idratek Installed

It's been done for a while, but finally I get around to making some notes. The dining room automation (phase 1) is complete, consisting of 4 Idratek modules, an LPS-001, ITR-001, THS-001 and DRB-001. This provides most of the functionality of the MFP panel, except anything to do with audio - like speech recognition, annunciation or spoken menus.

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March 07, 2005

WiFi and Walls

Anytime I tell someone I am rewiring my entire house with Cat5, they ask "why don't you use WiFi"? Usually I burble on how actual solid copper wires can be repurposed for anything: telephones, Ethernet, sensors, video distribution, or how they have in-built security that can't be hacked like WEP and has wider support than WPA. But now I can say - "I tried it and it doesn't work very well".

2' thick solid stone walls and WiFi don't seem to mix too well. Out of the box transmit power can't hold up a decent link. My off-the-shelf WET54G bridge can only support one connected client, even though I have 3 ethernet devices in one corner of the room.

Using a WRT54G with Sveasoft firmware allows multiple clients to be connected, but still requires configuration that isn't immediately obvious. As with many open source projects, the information is there - somewhere - but buried amongst a hailstorm of help requests and inaccurate suggestions. I hold that configuring routes on a Linux command line is beyond the average punter.

Compare that to wires. Once they are there (and that's just DIY and mess, nothing technical), it's zero configuration - plug into a switch/hub at one end, plug into device at other end. Most consumer devices have server software that sorts out DHCP and auto-discovery, so you don't even have to set up IP config.

Copper ain't dead yet - not in my world.