Anyone with Insteon experience?

Anyone with Insteon experience?

Post#1 » Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:53 pm

I already have some Insteon devices that are NOT connected to or controlled by a computer. Basically, I have a keypad by the back door that controls lights out by the pool. I've always wanted to expand this, but never did it.

Now that I have installed Event Ghost on my HTPC, I am thinking more about lighting automation. There are lots of amazing things I can do, now that I have a PC in my living room! I'm planning to buy a PLM and possibly a PowerLinc Central Controller also.

There are a couple of people who were developing Event Ghost plugins for Insteon devices, but it seems that they have disappeared. I've searched around, and found specifications for communicating with Insteon devices, so I'm considering taking what they have written and extending it considerably. One guy has written a plugin that communicates with the PowerLinc Central controller over ethernet. Nobody seems to have written anything for the USB PLM, but I should be able to take a serial plugin for EG, and write code to send appropriate commands to the PLM. The USB version simply uses a USB-Serial adapter... so Windows sees it as a simple COM port.

I'm interested to know if anyone here has any experience with Insteon devices and controlling them with Windows (regardless of whether or not you're using Media Center or Event Ghost).

I'd be happy to hear from anyone with experience. All information is appreciated.

Thanks,
Brian
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Post#2 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:45 am

I have used mControl and Home Boy in Windows Media Center to control Insteon devices. mControl is quite powerful but difficult to configure. Home Boy is a free beta product that also works in Media Center, but only has simple control using your MC remote control. Personally, I find it way easier to use my iPhone or iPad to control Insteon lights using a Smartlinc.
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Post#3 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:29 am

Thanks for the reply, but I'm really looking for people with experience programming their own custom interface to their insteon devices. Preferably using event ghost... But other software would help too. The doc I found is pretty complete, but I'm always happy to save some work and use existing code to speed up the process.
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Post#4 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:48 am

I recall we had a similar chat some time ago. I use an ISY99i to do the dirty work. I prefer not to use Windows 24/7 to control my automation. I have learned over time that it is not the best choice in my setup. Apart from light scene changes triggered by X10 IR commands, there isn't much more requirement in my home for more HTPC/Insteon integration.
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Post#5 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 5:33 am

The ISY devices are a little more expensive than I'm looking for. Insteon has a low cost solution for simple automation when the PC is off. I'm planning to take it to the next level with scenes that are triggered by the MCE remote (and other ir remote commands). For example, I've setup a profile in Tasker on my phone that wakes my PC and sends an event ghost trigger when I'm close to my house. I want to use this event to turn on the lights in front of my house when I get close to home at night.
The simple controller from Smart Home will suffice for normal tasks, but I want to write code for other stuff that only the PC can trigger... Like when I press play, pause, or stop on the remote. I have plans for other buttons too... But I don't want to go into too much detail here.
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Post#6 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:09 pm

If your remote can send out X10 IR signals, you can do it really cheaply with an IR543 module. I have one and use with a Harmony remote, that's my method of triggering lighting scenes for Movie Mode, Toons & Read etc. If you want the PC to know what's going on and interact, you could use a CM11A or similar. That's pretty much how I used to have things setup, only now I use the ISY as my 24/7 'HAL'.
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Post#7 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:40 pm

barnabas1969 wrote:The ISY devices are a little more expensive than I'm looking for. Insteon has a low cost solution for simple automation when the PC is off. I'm planning to take it to the next level with scenes that are triggered by the MCE remote (and other ir remote commands). For example, I've setup a profile in Tasker on my phone that wakes my PC and sends an event ghost trigger when I'm close to my house. I want to use this event to turn on the lights in front of my house when I get close to home at night.
The simple controller from Smart Home will suffice for normal tasks, but I want to write code for other stuff that only the PC can trigger... Like when I press play, pause, or stop on the remote. I have plans for other buttons too... But I don't want to go into too much detail here.


mControl used to have code built in that would control lighting based play,stop or other things using your MCE remote. I used to have the lights dim to off when I hit the play button for a movie in media browser. Ramp back up when I hit stop or pause. Different house, different setup, so now I don't use that feature. As noted there are others ways to accomplish this.
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Post#8 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:27 pm

A long time ago when I used X10, I used Homeseer installed on an SBS2003 server. I recall this does have an Insteon module. Ideally plan for a logical if and or setup, so that things don't automate when you don't want them to.- such as, is the light already on before you send the dim command? is it dusk? etc etc.
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Post#9 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:35 pm

I can do all of what has been mentioned above with EventGhost. There is a powerline modem for Insteon that plugs into a USB port on the computer. All I need is to write a little code to talk to the powerline modem. There is also an Insteon controller with a built-in web server that can do things like turn lights on/off at dusk/dawn, etc. It even has an interface for a mobile phone, so you can use your phone as a remote for the lighting.

I'm planning to buy the Insteon SmartLinc 2412N controller... so it will handle stuff without the need for the PC to run 24x7. It's much cheaper than the other controllers that are available, and it does everything I would want... including sunrise/sunset tracking.

Then, I'll also buy the 2413UH powerline modem that comes with Insteon software that can be used to schedule stuff... but I'm more interested in the software's ability to program all the Insteon devices in the house. I doubt that I would use their free software for anything but the initial setup of the devices.

Finally, I'll write a plugin for EventGhost that will communicate with one or both of the modules to control stuff based on events on the computer (like play/pause/stop, and the nifty event that gets triggered by my phone when I get close to my house). With the Sun Tracker plugin for Event Ghost, I can test to see if it is dark outside, etc. I think this can all be done pretty inexpensively. No need for software that costs $200+ or controllers that cost upwards of $400.

It will be really nice to be able to control lights and ceiling fans without getting up off the couch.
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Post#10 » Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:54 pm

I tried a 2412N, and sold it. YMMV.
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Post#11 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 3:38 pm

stonethecrows wrote:I tried a 2412N, and sold it. YMMV.

Do you remember what problem you had with it?
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Post#12 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 5:37 pm

It's feature set was limited. It also did not deal with X10 very well and some of my devices and control protocol still rely on X10 signaling.
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Post#13 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:22 pm

stonethecrows wrote:It's feature set was limited. It also did not deal with X10 very well and some of my devices and control protocol still rely on X10 signaling.

I don't have any X10 stuff. From what I've read, the 2412N v2 has a lot more features than the older version. The only thing about it that I don't like is that each scene can only have one ON and one OFF time per day. However, it is possible to put the same devices in multiple scenes... so it is still possible to make a group of devices have multiple on/off times each day.

To be honest, I wouldn't use the timers much anyway... maybe for outdoor lights, but I can't think of anything else I would need it for. I suppose that some day, I could replace my mechanical pool/spa pump timers with Insteon relays... and maybe some day I'll install a sprinkler system that could be controlled by Insteon devices.

Actually, now that I think about it, my spa pump timer needs to be replaced... if an Insteon relay is cheaper than a new timer, I suppose I could go ahead and do that now. I've been too lazy to get out there and replace the timer, so I just have the spa set to heat 24x7. This makes the pump run whenever the heater comes on, and it has worked fine for filtration so far.
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Post#14 » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:51 pm

I like the Insteon 2412N because it is simple and inexpensive and works with an iPhone. It works with X-10, but you have to enter some code rather than simply entering the address. It has simple on at dusk, but no offset (I just set a different city). I have about 25 devices on mine, including a pool light and pump/heater. I'd probably buy the ISY99 if I needed a new controller as their price has recently dropped and functionality is much greater.
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Post#15 » Tue May 01, 2012 1:52 pm

If you are considering one they do offer recons fully warrantied for a further 50 bucks off. Also for iPhone control, Mobilink Pro is the app of choice together with the ISY.
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Post#16 » Tue May 01, 2012 2:01 pm

I just did a quick search, and I don't see the ISY99 anywhere for much less than $300. I don't think I'm willing to spend that much money on it. The 2412N is $99 at Smarthome.com. The iPhone/Android functionality is what I'm mostly interested in... plus maybe some simple timer controls. For the outdoor lights that I want dusk/dawn, I already have them on photo sensors... so no need for timer control on those.
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Post#17 » Wed May 02, 2012 1:13 am

The 2412N is a good product and doesn't need anything else to use with Insteon products or your iPad/iPhone. You can also control devices remotely with no additional monthly fees. Works and is good for simple on/off and dim controls for lights etc. At $99 it is hard to beat. The ISY99 will require an Insteon PLM, and that costs about $90 by itself.
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Post#18 » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:19 pm

Barnabas - I just bought my first round of Insteon products and I'm looking at integrating with MyMovies. Just curious if you ever made any progress with your setup. I'm using HouseLinc software to program insteon events/scenes. I'm hoping there is a way for event ghost or a my movies event handler to send commands to that.
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Post#19 » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:17 am

Event Ghost is your best bet. The 2412N "central controller", which has an EG plugin has been discontinued. The new Insteon Hub is not supported by EG, and probably never will.

The HouseLinc USB device has also been discontinued, but has been replaced by a more "universal" USB-RS232 device that works with the HouseLInc software. The HouseLinc software sucks... but the new device leaves an opening for other software to communicate with it. It should work with any software that can communicate with a serial device... provided that you use the protocol defined by SmartHome.
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Post#20 » Fri Dec 13, 2013 2:21 am

Forgot to mention that I convinced SmartHome to replace my old USB interface that only worked with the HouseLinc software with a new version that works with HouseLinc **AND** any software that can communicate with the serial device that is presented by the USB-Insteon interface device. It should now be possible to create your own software to send commands to Insteon devices using the new powerline-USB modem, using home-grown software!

I haven't devoted any time to this, but it SHOULD work. I just received the new device less than 5 days ago.
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