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Old 10-14-2015, 01:03 PM   #1
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In another thread regarding the liquid flags, some interest was posted about smart lighting and such. Feel free to continue here and ask away.
I am by no means and expert but I have diplomas in electronics and computers, so I learn quick. I learn new tech as it appears when I am interested in it.

Now, many years ago, I got involved with X-10 smart devices. It was more or less plug in switches that can be controlled manually or via proprietary software such as Homeseer. While it was a cheaper alternative to Z-Wave, (a more expensive tech that came out later), it had its caveats. X-10 passes signal over your electrical lines. For the most part, riding a free road with your electric. If the house was old, had bad electrical wiring, old motors from fridges or air conditioners, it was interrupted and failed. The software would send a signal via serial connector which was interfaced with a controller and plugged into your computer. Devices were reasonably priced and you could control lighting and certain appliances with the software via manually switching it on or off or via schedule. One advantage was for example, making your house look lived in when you were away. Unlike motorized timers, you can have multiple schedules for each light, change dimness levels, go on and off at sunset based on your location and even engage a security mode where no times are exact. This way nobody would see patterns.

Later on, this concept was reinvented with a different way of transmitting signals called Z-Wave. I won't elaborate on it because it is essentially similar to X-10, but more reliable. You can google z-wave to get various specs. With z-wave, the modules where more expensive and software became more powerful. Giving you more bang for the buck.

Ok, fast forward a tad. Several months ago, I started replacing all incandescent bulbs in my house with LED bulbs. Not a cheap endeavor, as they cost a lot more than old bulbs. Don't you wish you discovered something better before blowing money on all new bulbs? Lol. Well, the lighting industry is slowly suppose to be phasing out old style filament bulbs. Forget by what year. They want everyone to go by way of LED for the most part.

Anyway, as I was replacing bulbs and almost done, I discovered Philips Hue lighting. Go figure, they come out with a whole new tech and not so long before saying they were getting out of the lighting industry. Filthy liars, hehe. Instead, they decided to get involved with Smart devices.
A whole line of color led bulbs, strip lighting, etc. I was so intrigued, I stopped my original project and started investing in their Hue line.

Just a short deviation. You remember when video tapes were poplular?
First Beta by Sony, the VHS? Beta was much better quality for recording. But Sony being greedy, would not let other companies develop players and have their licensing. If I recall, VHS appeared and basically gave every company a way to develop with their format. Essentially giving Sony the middle finger. Shame...

Ok, point. Z-Wave was a bit like that. But then other companies started developing similar stuff and just changed signal frequencies. Z-Wave required a router type bridge to talk to. This would only let one companies device to talk to their interface. No others. They are either hard. wired or via wifi.
Moving forward, Belkin came out with theirs, Philips, GE, etc... The kicker is, software developers were allowed the code for the software. Most devices will talk to any of these bridges which made life easier and flexible for the consumer. There are others too, but rather than list everyone, the kicker for me was Amazons new Echo, kindly named Alexa. Amazon built a ton of features into it and still is adding more. Further, they have given developers packages to create new software for various devices. For example, Echo will communicate with Hue, Wemo, Wink and other party goodies.

To be continued: finger needs a break from this ipad typing...
Be back in a few.


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Old 10-14-2015, 01:31 PM   #2
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Home Automation

Ok, so what is available that talks to each other. Hue lighting: they have conventional bulbs in white or color modes. They have light strips, etc.
GE has Decor light switches that have wifi built in. Incedently, most of these devices need at least one bridge. For instance, Hue has a little bridge a tad bigger than a hockey puck that plugs into one of your router ports. Other companies have their bridges which some can be just wifi connected or hard wired.

Best bet is ask yourself what you want to do. Are you turned on by that sweet voice in your iphone named Siri? Then you may like Amazon's Echo. Her name is Alexa. It sits on an end table in my living room and connects everything via wifi and accesses the internet. It was speakers built in and one kick as sub woofer. It also has 7 microphones and can sense were your voice is coming from. Kind of freaky but if you remember the original Battlestar Galactica with the Cylon robots and that eerie moving red eye, Alexa has a blue one. If you talk, it looks at you. The light ring it's on is multi purpose and the colors also indicate status. To name a few things she does is the weather, set reminders, shopping lists, schedules, play music, and a lot more.
What I have her doing is controlling parts of the Smart lighting we've been talking about.
Example: Alexa, turn my reading lamp on. Or turn on dining room and set to 50% Dim.
She will gracefully say ok after performing the task.
I have various smart wall switches in the house. Sometimes switches are cheaper than the actual bulbs, especially since smart bulbs are not weather proof. Others good reasons for switches is for like chandeliers that have multiple bulbs. One switch controls them at the same time.
I have my front door light set to come on around when my wife comes home. I have a schedule that turns off most lights before we go to bed. Another scheduled to turn on before we go upstairs to our bedroom so the room is lit before our arrival. My den light comes on just shortly before I sit at my desk in the morning. Turns off after sun has risen, etc., etc. There is even Geofencing if you know what that is. Ability to know to perform a task when you get within it's range, is the easiest way to explain it.

So you can see some of the things you can do. It's not a cheap hobby, but it can grow slowly at your leisure or when money is avail. But it also in a long run adds additional security to your home.

They are constantly coming out with Smart devices. They already have a smart Mr Coffee, a Smart Humidifier and some other stuff. Not sure I think they are worth it, but hey....someone will.

The flag thread that started this one was when I eluded to install smart lighting behind the flags. I still have not decided what I want to do, but I will. I'll take photos of it lit when I do.

Here are some vidz and links for the products. The Hue one will enlighten you some and was very well put together.




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Last edited by bhunted; 10-14-2015 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 10-14-2015, 01:34 PM   #3
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Alexa commercial:




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Old 10-14-2015, 01:38 PM   #4
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Belkin's WEMO:



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Old 10-14-2015, 01:40 PM   #5
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Philips Hue:



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Old 10-14-2015, 01:44 PM   #6
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GE Wink: http://www.wink.com/products/



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Old 10-14-2015, 01:54 PM   #7
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I investigated home automation from the perspective of a manufacturer and supplier in the early 1980's. Ultimately, we concluded that the market was insufficiently mature to make the business profitable.

In 1988, I met with representatives of the company that held iron-clad patents to X-10 technology. I purchased a passive infrared outdoor floodlight control and mounted it high on the back of my house. It had an X-10 interface that I used to turn on a lamp in my living room. I could have had it turn on a radio if I wished. Whenever the floodlights turned on in the back yard, the lamp would light, and I could get up and go look out the window to see what was in my back yard. It worked very well, but X-10 was quite expensive.

Home automation has a future, but the main obstacle to be overcome is that electronic devices require electric power to operate, and most homes are not wired in such a way that electric power will always be available to the devices we want in the places we want. Batteries are a nuisance to replace, and they can go dead without us knowing about it. We want to install a video camera security system where I currently live, but the cost of rewiring the house to provide power to the cameras is prohibitive.

Some things to think about.



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Old 10-14-2015, 02:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by bhunted View Post
Alexa commercial:

http://youtu.be/KkOCeAtKHIc

This device is nothing more than a cleverly-packaged network computer with a voice response capability and a voice synthesizer. It appears that, in addition to the device, you will need a wireless router and an Internet connection to make it work. If your connection is slow, Alexa won't be so quick to answer your questions . . .



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Old 10-14-2015, 02:07 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Richard View Post
This device is nothing more than a cleverly-packaged network computer with a voice response capability and a voice synthesizer. It appears that, in addition to the device, you will need a wireless router and an Internet connection to make it work. If your connection is slow, Alexa won't be so quick to answer your questions . . .

Yes, no and not a problem. She's quick. I have a lot if wifi and she blends in no prob.
Would't you like to ask your computer something and have it answer faster than you can type without software and a headset?I do. But it's much more than that.


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Old 10-14-2015, 02:08 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by bhunted View Post
I saw a lot of sizzle, but no steak. How does it work?

The laws of Physics tell us that the energy to light a light bulb must come from someplace, but Phillips fails to tell us where. Any electromagnetic field powerful enough to power all the lights in a house would also probably be powerful enough to stop your watch, interfere with your television, of produce other unwanted side effects. If NV Phillips has really learned how to circumvent the laws of Physics, then their discovery would be truly revolutionary.

I remain skeptical. I think Phillips is selling sizzle.



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