Control heating/cooling from RS232 (Advantage Air GenIII)

Discussion in 'C-Bus Serial Protocols' started by jmbob, Apr 11, 2013.

  1. jmbob

    jmbob

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    Hi all,

    I'm hoping one of you gurus can help me to connect my C-Bus system to a third party heating/cooling system.

    My home C-Bus system is controlled by software which I have developed. It allows me to access my lighting (on/off/dim) from the push of a button on say an iPhone or other device. My software runs on a dedicated PC and talks to C-Bus via C-Gate on the same PC. My iPhone then talks to the C-Gate PC to issue commands. But essentially, commands are issued to C-Bus via the C-Gate system on the PC.

    I have Advantage Air (Gen III) heating & cooling, and am considering purchasing a Home Automation Module (HAM). From my understanding, I need to control the HAM via an RS-232 C-Bus interface (I have the serial protocols from Advantage Air).

    So as I see it, I need to be able to send commands (which I have from the above protocol document) from C-Bus to the HAM via an RS-232 interface, and receive status back.

    My current system has a CNI (5500CN) which it is connected to my network and C-Gate server PC. I also have an RS-232 PCI (5500PC) which is live on the network but currently unused (this originally came with the system).

    I have heard of people using a C-Bus Pascal PAC to talk to third party systems, but I'm not convinced this is necessary in my case - my understanding is that the PAC is essentially a mini-server to run C-Bus programs, and I already have a dedicated PC server doing the same, but with more flexibility.

    So my question:
    Can I use my existing C-Bus RS-232 PCI (5500PC), connected to the RS-232 port on the Advantage Air HAM, and issue C-Bus commands to control the heating/cooling? If so, can anyone point me to an example of how I issue commands to, and receive status from, the 5500PC module?

    For example, to ramp a light to 50% I issue command:
    RAMP 1/56/1 50%

    Is there an equivalent command to send/receive RS-232 commands to the 5500PC, eg:
    SERIALSET 1/56/2 turncoolingon

    Thanks in advance - I'm a bit lost on this one!
     
    jmbob, Apr 11, 2013
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  2. jmbob

    znelbok

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    No, the PCI can not send out serial commands. To do what you want you need a PAC, give it some external power for the serial port and then connect it to the HAM.

    To go on a slight tangent. I have a GenII system as well and instead of re-inventing the wheel again, why don't you take a look at CQC. Not to take away from your hard work, but if you have the talent to write your own programs to do this why not look at something like CQC where you can write your own drivers and interface.

    I had a driver for the GenIII written 6 years ago for CQC. It reads the room names from the system and dynamically sets itself up in CQC. each zone can be controlled by 0.01 deg C (thats what the HAM allows for) if desired.

    Put it this way - I have not seen the GenIII touchscreen in a couple of years as all the control is done via the touchscreen or C-Bus switches (a switch turns on a group which then tells CQC to start the A/C in that room). I am supposed to check it regularly for alarm messages as the HAM does not support alerts like the low battery status of a temp sensor or a blocked filter.

    Integrating is a good idea though. I have ceiling fans and after we installed them we were able to raise the set-point by a degree for the same feeling of comfort. I now have CQC turn the ceiling fan on [if present in that zone] when the zone comes on.

    The money used to buy the PAC would easily pay for a CQC license with change.

    Mick
     
    znelbok, Apr 11, 2013
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  3. jmbob

    jmbob

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    Hi Mick,

    Thanks very much for your detailed reply. I'll definitely spend some time over the next week and go through the CQC documentation and give it a go.

    Having an initial look at the CQC site and based on your feedback, it sounds like instead of using my current method and purchasing both the GenIII HAM and the C-Bus PAC, and controlling everything through my own software, CQC may be better option. Am I correct in thinking it would work like this: -

    - connect the GenIII HAM directly to a dedicated PC via an RS-232 serial port (i.e. bypass C-Bus altogether)
    - connect the C-Bus PCI (5500PC) to the same dedicated PC via a second RS-232 serial port (or alternatively through a 5500CN on the same network)
    - CQC would then directly control the GenIII HAM (unlike my current approach where I'd need to go via a C-Bus PAC instead)
    - CQC would send/receive commands to C-Bus lighting via the RS-232 PCI (5500PC) or alternatively through the network interface (5500CN)
    - try/buy CQC and install on that PC, installing both C-Bus drivers and Advantage Air Gen III Drivers


    GENIII HAM
    |
    |
    | (RS-232 cable)
    |
    |
    CQC PC ---------------------------- TOUCH SCREEN
    |
    |
    | (RS-232 cable or network cable)
    |
    |
    C-Bus 5500PC/5500CN



    Cheers,
    James
     
    jmbob, Apr 12, 2013
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  4. jmbob

    znelbok

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    yep, thats it

    Both the HAM and the PCI would connect to the PC via RS232. Triggered Events would then be how you get one system to trigger actions on the other via CQC.

    If you have a PCI you can do all this for nothing as CQC will run in full operation mode for a 40 day trial.

    Give it a go - I know you will loce it once started and realise what else you can connect to the CQC server and then have everything interacting with each other like one connected system.

    I am here to give you any help if you want it too.

    Mick
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2013
    znelbok, Apr 13, 2013
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  5. jmbob

    jmbob

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    Thanks Mick, much appreciated.

    Cheers,
    James
     
    jmbob, Apr 16, 2013
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  6. jmbob

    MadMal

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    jmbob - running CQC, while it does give other advantages, requires a dedicated PC running 24/7 with all the issues that brings!

    If all you want is integration between CBUS and the GenIII, as you mentioned, you could use a PAC or even one of the Clipsal touchscreens as they also have a full serial port on them. That way you don't need the extra PC, UPS, software patching, windows crashes, etc to worry about!

    You can still do 'fancy' things like turning on the ceiling fan first or at the same time as a zone to help with air movement and many other things (like integration with movement sensors to turn off a zone if no movement detected for 30 mins, or autostarting at differing times of the day depending on work/school start times, etc - a feature I was trying to get AA to implement but they couldn't get the interface component right!, etc).

    I have a few sites running the Gen III with the HAM module interfaced directly to a touch screen and can help you if you are interested.

    Cheers,

    Mal.
     
    MadMal, May 17, 2013
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  7. jmbob

    znelbok

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    Mal - completely true, but he did say he had a dedicated PC already hence the advice given.

    If there are only two devices/systems that you want to control then the PAC may be the best solution - and you would have to write the command logic yourself. Once you start though it gets a little addictive and two serial ports quickly becomes not enough when you learn what else you can connect.

    Mick
     
    znelbok, May 17, 2013
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  8. jmbob

    Faaiez

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    Hi

    I realise this is a very old post.
    But I have an Advantage Air Gen III Series 500 installed and would like to control it without the control panel.
    Complete Newbie, Where do I start?
     
    Faaiez, Jul 20, 2020
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  9. jmbob

    MadMal

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    Faalez - can you give some more details of your system please?

    Do you have a home automation module (they are usually boxes very approx 30cm x 20cm x 5cm) ?
     
    MadMal, Jul 20, 2020
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  10. jmbob

    Faaiez

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    Hi

    Thanks for your reply. No I don't think I have the HAM. Would they mount this in the ceiling?

    F.
     
    Faaiez, Jul 20, 2020
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  11. jmbob

    MadMal

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    Just looking around the net - looks like the 500 series may have had a wireless controller - is that what you have?

    What can you tell me (us) about it?

    Do you have the option to be able to control it from the internet or SMS, etc?
     
    MadMal, Jul 20, 2020
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  12. jmbob

    Faaiez

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    Hi

    Thanks for your reply. No I don't think I have the HAM. Would they mount this in the ceiling?

    F.
    One of the main reasons I bought the system was because the brochure stated:

    The user can even control the system when he or she isn’t holding the colour touch screen control unit. Technology
    known as AAIRWEB allows the system to be activated remotely via the internet, or even with an SMS message. It also enables your air conditioning system to be integrated with most home automation systems.

    But now when I want to use this stated so called function they're telling me I have to install a completely new MyAir5 system.
    I feel like I was cheated and looking for a way around this by accessing it via RS232. Not sure where this port is though.
    Might have to climb into the ceiling to have a look and see what the ethernet cable from the monitor is connected to.

    Thank you
     
    Faaiez, Jul 20, 2020
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  13. jmbob

    MadMal

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    Faalez,

    Unfortunately that is the marketing speak - the automation module was always an extra addon that cost extra money that few people took up.

    I am not aware of any stock of the HAM that are available for purchase and have also been chasing the AA protocol for years to be able to build my own :(

    Send me some photos if you like and I will see what I can do to help.
     
    MadMal, Jul 20, 2020
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