Help me understand what I need....

Discussion in 'C-Bus Automation Controllers' started by countach, Sep 4, 2020.

  1. countach

    countach

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    I have a C-BUS house from 2007. I'm putting on a large granny flat / extension. Currently I have no smarts in the house. I have a "network interface" module, that I used to run with c-gate and run little scripts to turn lights off at certain hours and things like that. And I had a basic knowledge of reprogramming the lighting with the Windows software. But the network interface stopped working a few years ago, maybe it's broken or maybe I need to get the wiring checked. That has prevented me reprogramming the network, or running my scripts.

    In getting quotes for my extension, one of the CBUS contractors gave me a quote for an optional 'Connect -4 integration overlay", which has forced me to go down the rabbit hole of understanding this stuff.

    I presume the Wiser products are Clipsal's answer to automation.

    • What exactly is a "scene" anyway, and what things can it do? I presume it is some combination of lights on or off? What can a basic controller like a 5085EDLW EDLT do as far as this?
    • What is the difference between the 5500SHAC Wiser Automation Controller and the 5200WHC2 Wiser 2 Home Controller? How does the latter connect, it doesn't look like it has a pink wire going into it, or does it require a separate network interface?
    * I see that you can program the Wiser home control (That's the 5200WHC2 right) with PICED, but no memtion for the 5500SHAC. Is that an advantage for the former?
    * How do you know if you need a 5500NAC rather than a 5500SHAC ?
    • Is the EGX150 Link 150 Ethernet gateway the modern equivilent of the old "Network interface"? Or is it the 5500NB? What is the difference?
    • Does the 5500SHAC also act as a C-gate network interface, and allowing one to program the system with the clipsal software, negating the need for a separate ethernet network interface?
    • What product suits my needs? My general inclination is to stay with one vendor, but maybe my thinking is wrong on this. My general understanding is Connect-4 is more powerful, but it may be overkill for me anyway. Or maybe it's simply better, I don't know?
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2020
    countach, Sep 4, 2020
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  2. countach

    philthedill

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    Are you referring to "Control-4"? If so, go with the SHAC (the domestic version of the NAC). I have both systems across 2 properties. Control-4 requires a human integrator between you and the equipment. The downside being that any changes need to be made by this person at $$$$ and frustration of delays etc plus there is an annual fee for remote access if you require that! My advice is to spend the odd $600 for the SHAC online training (which includes a SHAC for you to experiment with) and then decide if you up to the challenge.
     
    philthedill, Sep 4, 2020
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  3. countach

    chromus

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    How far away is the granny flat? You may be able to simply add it to the existing network either direct or via a CBUS network bridge (not a CNI) then you really only need to treat it as another set of rooms.

    A relay module and or dimmer module at the granny flat and whatever switches. Many contractors over complicate this stuff.
     
    chromus, Sep 4, 2020
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  4. countach

    znelbok

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    If you are interested in something like Control 4, then take a look at CQC. I have been using it for about 15 years and it is about to go open source so it will be free. It can connect to almost anything (write your own driver if one does not exist).

    The SHAC is definitely the way to go if you want to stay in the eco system. It can talk to at least one serial device, but if you have Ethernet based devices e.g. (TV with Ethernet control Sony Bravia is what I use with CQC) then it should work. I have setup control of a fireplace with Ethernet control from a wiser in the past. You light the fire by pressing a button on a key input.

    So what I am getting at here is understand what you want to control and then decide what you need to do that. If its only the lights and one or two other devices, then the SHAC or wiser will do, but if you want to integrate most of the house (AC, TV's, Amps, Alarm, the list goes on) then you will want something like Control 4, Open HAB, CQC that will allow "integration" of everything. The decision is yours
     
    znelbok, Sep 4, 2020
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  5. countach

    countach

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    Ha yes, I meant control4, for some reason connect4 is on my brain. I'm a computer programmer by trade, so I'm sure I can do whatever, if I put my mind to it. So are you saying control 4 is much harder to do yourself without a professional?
     
    countach, Sep 4, 2020
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  6. countach

    countach

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    Yes I will be using a network bridge. And yes I don't want to over complicate things.. but on the other hand, if one invests in Cbus, one wants a few bits of automation to make it worthwhile.
     
    countach, Sep 4, 2020
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  7. countach

    countach

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    I presume whether I use control 4, or CQC, I'm going to need a working CNI network interface , is that right? And is the SHAC also functioning as a CNI that can be used to talk to CQC or control 4?
     
    countach, Sep 4, 2020
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  8. countach

    znelbok

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    Depends, CQC uses a PCI but there is also a driver that uses C-Gate which thus means serial or Ethernet.
    Most installs have a PCI dedicated to CQC and then a CNI is used for configuration and changes.

    A later release of a driver used C-Gate so multiple connections could be made (CNI only accepts one connection). C0Gate on a RPi was the most popular option but you could run C-Gate on the server as well. This means that toolkit could also connect to the remote C-Gate and it kept the whole network config in one place only.

    Not sure if Control 4 is using a PCI or CNI - I suspect a PCI.

    I run a PCI dedicated to CQC and now a SHAC for the CNI (my CNI died so I replaced it with a SHAC) and I will get my Pi going again shortly
     
    znelbok, Sep 9, 2020
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  9. countach

    countach

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    So when you say PCI, you mean the serial port style interface, right? Wouldn't that mean the controller would have to be in close proximity to a pink wire? But control4 seems to encourage you to locate the device near a TV, which in this age probably has ethernet, but maybe not a pink wire. And serial ports are hard to come by now.

    I didn't realise anybody talking to CNIs directly, I thought the only way was via c-gate.
     
    countach, Sep 11, 2020
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  10. countach

    philthedill

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    Correct - It is impossible because that is the way the licencing works. If you are a programmer and like to meddle (like me) you will find C-4 frustrating. There is a half-way house product that they offer to owners call Compose home edition (HE). I have this and you can do some basic stuff but you cannot add any new objects.
     
    philthedill, Sep 11, 2020
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  11. countach

    znelbok

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    Yes and no.
    I use a serial to Ethernet adapter (Digi but a Global Cache works just as well) so it is on Ethernet if you want - all depends on the location of all the gear. In my particular situation, the PCI is in the same cabinet as the server but the server is virtualised and I use an Serial to Ethernet adapter so its on the network anyway. The server has the drivers loaded for the adapter and the software is presented with a serial port and does not know any different.

    Serial can run a long way - I have serial connected TV's (over CAT5/6) way down the other end of the house - about 40m of cable length away and have no issues at all.

    No ideas why C4 would want it near a TV - it can be anywhere that both the pink cable and the serial/ethernet cable can reach.

    C-Gate is not the only way, but it is easier to do it that way from a coding perspective
     
    znelbok, Sep 15, 2020
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  12. countach

    chromus

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    For all the hassle this seems to be you could have had Homebridge on a Raspi running and fully configured in a few hours.
     
    chromus, Sep 19, 2020
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