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HAI Omni, Security and/or Video, Automation, Power Saving, what technology?

HAI Omni, Security and/or Video, Automation, Power Saving, what technology?

Old 07-06-05, 08:25 PM
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HAI Omni, Security and/or Video, Automation, Power Saving, what technology?

I'm hoping that someone can help, I purchased a HAI OMNI board, a few months ago. I couldnít find too much information about systems that were around and their integration. But the general feeling I got, was that HAI was one of the best systems around that followed open standards, therefore it would be easy to integrate with other systems.

Anyway, the main reason that I got a new system was for security I had a alarm system that didnít have support anymore, yes and an expensive alarm system, I also hoped that in the future I could add new features to the system and also make it smarter.

I like technology, but sometimes when technology still new, I pays to just wait. I'm happy if someone tells me that I'm not being realistic, and explains me that this is not possible to integrate these smoothly yet, at this point in time.

I have seen these features around as individual systems, but I don't know if integration is possible.
Iím not going to implement all these now, but I might in the future.

My question is, what to choose in terms of software and hardware, so that I donít waste time and/or money on unnecessary components for a system like this.

This is my dream system,

The OMNI can already support the motion sensors I have inside the house. Iíd like to add cameras around the house to see when and who has been around at the backyard or in the front lawn for example, donít record everything but only record when part of the video has changed within a section of the image, and at the same time trigger some events, like warnings via a speaker, lights on, and phone call notification and an e-mail if it meets some criteria. Iíd also like to have some type of keyless entry mechanism, like a card and a pin, remote control, biometrics device, that will allow me or someone to open the garage door and unlock an internal garage door.
A web interface would also be nice, Iím planning on getting a Windows Media Centre, the OMNI has a Media Centre Application.
This would mean that I donít have to purchase expensive LCD Display control units and would just use one web interface from computers in the house or outside the house.

I know that for the audio and Digital TV channels IĎm limited to the number of sound cards and or decoder cards I have installed on a machine.
Iíd like to be able to schedule to record from digital satellite, ideally by installing some decoder card(s) on the PC to save space and to achieve the best video quality possible. Also Iíd like to be able to view the recorded or a currently showing programme from any TV in the house.
Iíd also like to be able to control audio around the house, some rooms do not have a TV but Iíd like to be able to have speakers and allow play from a CD or MP3 library and to control the audio using a remote control from each room.
I talked about the Ms Windows Media Centre, but I think that there are some limitations.

I guess this could be considered part of the entertainment, but Iíd like to be able to do some things via remote control like the sounds in a room, view cameras feed.
Iíd like to be able to close the garage door and alarm the house from the same remote control.
Turn on aircon unit before I leave from work via a web interface or via a pre programmed schedule.
Iíve heard of voice recognition software that can be programmed to run things.
Lights on/off, via schedule or web interface, or remote control.

Power Saving:
I live in New Zealand, most of the houses here have water cylinder, stats show that the hot water uses about 70% of the electricity cost of a household.
Most of the time nobody is home during the day so we should be able to save power by not heating water during the day, Iím aware of some components for the HAI card that can control these type of devices.

There are software components that can do these individually, Iím hoping to get tips and ideas from people that have done something similar, and hopefully find a software package that will handle all these. To have a central management location with external interfaces.
Or individual components that can talk to each other nicely.
Thanks for your advice in advanced.
Old 07-07-05, 10:09 AM
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where to start....


You said you wanted to go the HTPC route using MCE...
You can record digital sat. but it will be analog by the time it gets to your harddrive (at least in the US... we cant use DVB-S cards here due to encryption). You will want to look at the Hauppauge PVR 150/250/500* cards for tv capture as they use hardware to encode the stream to mpeg-2 format.

*There are other hardware cards out on the market as well... some even record directly ino Divx (Plextor?). I just dont know if they are supported by MCE. Regardless... just make sure that the card is a hardware encoder!

Having the HTPC source available on several tvs throughout the house, can most easily be done using some MCE extenders. There are other methods for distributing the video feed, but this is by far the most simple.

Using the MCE extenders will allow you to have access to your music collection via any tv. Thats all well and good, but for rooms without a tv...
Well... lots of ways to skin that cat.

A PocketPC and some software such as Rudeo or Niveus would be easy to setup and would allow you to "see" what you are controlling.

Once again... there are several ways to do this, including LCDs mounted in the wall...
Here's a new, cheap solution: ACS Graphical Media Center Remote Front Panel

For more information on HTPCs, take a look at http://www.htpcnews.com/. Great community of friendly, knowledgable people.

There are many, many different software apps out there: Webcam software feature matrix. Some are even free (look around that site)

Viewing the camera feeds on tvs around the house can be accomplished several different ways. The easiest would be to use a modulator. The more complex would be to use a video switcher. And thats only two methods. Mainly depends on how many cameras you wish to use around your property.
Your situation will more than likely involve a DVR card for your PC. Lots of choices... just make sure that it is WDM compatible.

Keyless door entry:
There are several products on the market today.. keypads etc. How they connect to your Omni panel? Not sure. One other thing to consider, RFID tags: This is a link to discussion on RFID and Homeseer I didnt want to link directly to dealer's site. That and the fact that at this time, I only know of support for Crestron and Homeseer... The nice thing about RFID, is not only could you open your garage, but you can use the tags for a lot of other things!)

Just throwing out something else to consider... since you dont have enough on your plate as is

As to which software will tie all of this together? Once again... there are many, many control applications out there. For your particular needs, I would take a look at Homeseer as it already has support for your Omni panel, and has a built in web server (two thing you mentioned). I do not have any experience with HS, as I dont use it... but I know lots of people that do (some of them finally gave up on trying to convert me :P )

Anyways, I hope this answered a few of your questions. If not, I gave you some links to explore, which, if nothing else, will give you more to think about (and they may possibly give you some answers too!)

I could go on an on... but I should probably get back to work..

Good Luck,

Last edited by Treetop; 07-07-05 at 12:39 PM.
Old 07-10-05, 07:10 AM
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Thank you for your help, I had my doubts that I was going to get a reply, most of the automation forums i've seen din't not have too much going on, in them.
I've donwloaded homeseer, but i'm having a few problems with the demo verions and the OMNI plugin. I've receieved reply from the suport team, but I hav not tried their suggestion yet.
It looks like there might not be a one solution for all, but it might do most things.
If you don't mind me asking, just to satify my curiosity, you say that pepole have tries to convince you to change to homeseer, so you oviouslly have some type of automation hardware and software, it would be interesting to know what you have and some of the reasons that you have chosen to have these.
Thanks again.
Old 07-10-05, 06:18 PM
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I use a program called Girder.


The reason I use this program is that I began using it for application control on my HTPC. I then began to look into having the lights dim when I began playing a movie, and the next thing I knew, I had it controlling a lot of devices thoughout my home.

Girder was not deleveloped as a HA program, but it does have the ability to control many devices. Here's a bit I wrote about my trials and tribulations when I first began my adventures into HA and Girder: http://htpcnews.com/forums/index.php...ion,and,girder

The main reason I have never "upgraded" to a different HA app is that I already had girder (was familiar with it), it only costs $20, and barring a few things, it does almost everything I need at the moment.

I just remembered that Girder has a Omni plug-in as well!! Here's some discussion about it (I havent read this thread through, so I dont know how good it is (or if its finished), but...


Here's a good list of many of the HA apps out there: The Ultimate Home Automation Software List
There are many apps that will do most of what you want, but I'd definitely make sure that the one you go with has support for the Omni panel.

For the hardware, Im just using some el-cheapo x10 stuff... waiting for them to die, and waiting for the other techs to come out and be "tested". My favorite piece would be the W800 receiver. Those ds10a sensors are just too fun

For IR receiving and transmitting, Im using a USB-UIRT. This controls not only controls my tv, stereo, and cable boxes, but some window blind controllers as well (I use a power-mid to send the signal to other rooms).

I use several different sources for controlling the house... email, web, palmpads (stuck to the walls), stick-a-switches (soon to be used for zoned audio), a remote control (one IR for the HTPC, and one RF for the other rooms), a mini-timer (by the bed), and a 12" touchscreen.... I would love to add a PocketPC to the mix, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

I am still considering an Ocelot, but may hold off, as Im giving serious consideration to the Elk M1 now that they have come out with a cheaper version of the panel.

I have MCE, but it doesnt play nice in a dual-monitor configuration, so I went back to using BeyondTV for the PVR duties. Been using myHTPC for the frontend for some time now, but recently purchased Meedio when it was on sale for $20 (normally $60)... though I have been to busy (err.. lazy) to set it up yet. I use a Hauppauge MVP for sending the video/music/etc in the bedroom (I didnt want a noisy pc in there)

Theres a few other things I have setup but none all that exciting to really write about... I tried VR a couple of times, but I havent gotten to the point of spending money on nice whole-room mics... At this point, I have very simple and inexpensive equipement, but the stuff it does is the magic! Like my morning wake up routine... music begins playing getting louder over time, window blinds open up a little a bit at a time, etc...

The project on working on right now, is using a Delta M1-Audio 410 card and J. Rivers Media Center for whole house zoned audio... Just got the card last week... When I finally get this setup, I will probably start giving serious consideration on picking up a PocketPC. I'll probably use netremote when that time comes (hopefully, their new designer will be finished by the time I get to using it)

I had my doubts that I was going to get a reply, most of the automation forums i've seen din't not have too much going on, in them.
Yeah, there are a lot of "dead" forums at out there. One of the best places I've come across is CocoonTech, from newbie to advanced, you can get answers to almost anything. There is also a "chat" button that opens up a java applet, so you can get help in real-time from others (any IRC program will allow you to connect to the room). I also read the Homeseer forums to grab ideas, along with other various sites.

Regarding the water heater... look into insulating it better. I dont see turning off the power as a solution, as the water will cool.. when you turn the power back on, it will have to run longer just to heat the water back up to temp. If you wanted to control it though, I would think hooking up a simple relay would do the trick. If you could do a temp setback, that may be a better option. Not really sure, as I have never looked into something like this.
In other words... get a second opinion

Old 07-11-05, 03:29 PM
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First off Congrats on you HAI Purchase, I have sold and installed many of these systems, worked as an HAI sales and training manager for 3 years, and personally use an Omni Pro II. I think they are the best systems out there, with the nicest features.

To you questions for some alternative thoughts...

Security: Yes HAI can support all the existing sensors in the home. HAI Web Link software will record up to 40 cameras, but only one at a time, and will record on demand based on a security sensor being tripped. With HAI, I can program the system for a trigger to call you on the cell phone, record the video cameras, sound an alarm, turn lights on, and send you an email if you so desire. Keyless entry would be handled by a third party manufacturer, and connected to the serial port or a zone input. The Web-Link interface is nice, visit the HAI website www.homeauto.com to see a demo of the software. You can use the Media center as you describe.

Entertainment: Side note on the Media center, overall I am pleased with it and the HAI integration, where I am unhappy is the extenders by Linksys. They do not allow you to watch movies recorded from HBO, or other movie channels, very annoying. You may desire to look at a Nuvo or Russound distributed audio system with the media center, they also integrate nicely with programming on the HAI.

Automation: All of these items are possible; Home Automated Living makes voice recognition software that works remarkably well.

Power Savings: Assuming the water heater is electric HAI can control this via a relay.

Central software, HAI weblink does this well, with the media center. These are already developed and supported by HAI. I have developed a small app that allows you to control the Omni Pro II via the system tray of your PC. HAI's weblink software allows control from any web device, PC, PDA, or Smartphone.

By the way, I hope you realized by buying an Omni Pro II you have opened a can of worms...lol I hope you enjoy it as much as I have...
Old 08-31-05, 08:54 AM
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I agree with Brett,

The HAI system is an awesome system. I would suggest that before you go down the path too much about other software, etc. Take a look at what the HAI panel will do for you straight out of the box. I think you'll find that it should be able to handle a lot more than you think!


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Last edited by majakdragon; 08-31-05 at 06:29 PM.

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