HT automation through an HTPC

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Stephen Heidt, Apr 29, 2004.

  1. Stephen Heidt

    Stephen Heidt Auditioning

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    I was just wondering about how automated you can get in a home theater application. For instance, is it easy to use your HTPC to set up a kind of automated macro to kick off just one command that will turn on all of your components, open an IR-controlled set of drapes in front of the screen, dim your IR lighting system, play a trailer DVD (or some video that you've ripped to the hard drive), turn off the lights fully when the trailer finishes, play the feature DVD, turn the lights on at 50% when the credits start rolling on the DVD, and then turn on the lights fully when the feature DVD is completed?

    I know that you can send IR transmissions from your PC with the use of a USB-UIRT, but can you create a macro that triggers the IR transmission to occur based on a certain amount of elapsed time, or when you hit a certain "chapter" on the DVD?

    This may be basic elementary functionality, but I was just wondering how automated some of you have gone and how you accomplished it. (ie. push a button and then everything else just "magically" happens behind the scenes)
     
  2. Shawn Keeler

    Shawn Keeler Stunt Coordinator

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    I would be interested in hearing any input on this subject aslo.
     
  3. Chris Moe

    Chris Moe Screenwriter

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    Look into a program called Girder, it can do everything you describe except maybe "turn the lights on at 50% when the credits start rolling on the DVD" not to sure about that.

    Girder has a pretty steep learning curve but it is extremly powerful program.

    I use netremote running on a Fujitsu touchscreen tablet as my remote. Netremote has built in girder support (you will still need to buy girder though).

    http://www.girder.nl/index.php
    http://www.netremote.org

    Both of these programs have forums of their own as well and are good resources for getting answers to your questions.
     
  4. Dean Roddey

    Dean Roddey Agent

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    CQC is what you are looking for. It includes the backend and remote control features of Girder, but is also a hard core control and automation system, fully network distributed, secure, and supporting powerful macros, controls serial devices, socket based devices, X-10, IR, and USB, and application control. And, unlike Girder, it also provides a very powerful user drawn interface system that allows you to create touch screen interfaces (though of course they can also be used on a standard computer via mouse/keyboard) that can look at nice and be as interactive as your imagination allows.

    In order to get all of that in a single package, you'd have to duct tape together a few other programs, and handle the integration yourself and the separate management, and the cost of multiple apps. CQC provides all of that in one package, at a single price that licenses you whole home network (if you want to take advantage of the distributed capabilities of CQC.)

    So anyway, check it out, because it's got what you are looking for. I do exactly the things that you are wanting to do. Either via IR remote or via screens that I've drawn using the user drawn interface system, here are some examples:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    There is nothing magical about these. There aren't any fixed set of images or anything. You can download images from the net and upload them to CQC and use them in your interfaces, so you can make them look a lot better than this. I use this background because I bought the rights to put it on the web site. But there are definitely slicker looker images out there to use. And these are more for my own testing purposes more than anything else, not what I'd probably create if I was just doing it for end users.

    In this case, I'm usign the ability to overlay one of a set of sub-templates into an area of a main template. So I can keep all of the standard stuff in the main template, done once, and by clicking on buttons to the left, I can load up different 'overlays' into the central area. This is often a very convenient way to do it.

    CQC is a secure system, so you can give different users in the household different account types, which limits what they can get to. You can, for instance, as in the templates above, allow priveleged users full access to the volume range via the volume knob, while limiting less privileged users to a safer maximum level. And of course you can limit access on a template basis. So you can draw a whole set of templates and link them together however you want, and allow everyone to come up by default on a main template, without worrying about them navigating to templates they shouldn't get to.

    CQC is also fully network distributed, so it can distribute control around you whole network, or it can all run on the same machine, however you want to do it. You can manage any CQC installation from any machine on the network, because it is inherently distributed in nature. Each machine can be connected to devices and serve up that control to every other machine, and every machine can run client services to access any devices under control in the network.

    It's available with a 30 day trial period, so there is no risk is trying it out. As you would expect from a product of this magnitude and power, it's not an instant gratification type of product. It requires some investment to learn it and to get a system set up exactly to your desired way of operating. But that's why it's not instant gratification, because it doesn't impose a way of doing things on you, it allows you a lot of flexibility in how it is deployed and used.

    Feel free to ask if you have any questions.
     
  5. Shawn Keeler

    Shawn Keeler Stunt Coordinator

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    I am downloading the sample today to check it out. Does have to be connected to the internet at all times? All this can be set up to contorl are your equipment via IR control? Sounds interesting... I am very curious about it, since this would solve my theater controls.... equipment lighting, etc.
     
  6. Dean Roddey

    Dean Roddey Agent

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    No internet connection is required. When I refer to network distributed, I mean among your local network. You can distribute control and monitoring among any machines on your network.

    The 'sample' is really the full product. It is completely unencumbered for 30 days, so you can fully check it out before you commit to purchase.

    It can both control IR devices and be controlled via IR, as well as all the hardwired control features and other good stuff.
     
  7. Shawn Keeler

    Shawn Keeler Stunt Coordinator

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    What I am looking at doing is the following; set up a PC with a touch screen, have a front end display interface and use the touch screen to control all the hardware in my theater. Can your software do that, and what else do I need to do that? If possible, I may need your expertise to accomplish this.
    Shawn
     
  8. Dean Roddey

    Dean Roddey Agent

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    Sure, that's exactly what it's designed for. If you want to get some feedback from folks who have used it in that way, sign up on the CQC support forum (link is at the bottom of the main page) and give a quick blurb about what you are wanting to accomplish and I and others can help you out.
     
  9. Dean Roddey

    Dean Roddey Agent

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    BTW, nice theater, though I'd have gone for all black myself [​IMG] And if you need any drivers done (i.e. you have some hardware that I don't already support), I'll be happy to do the drivers.
     
  10. Shawn Keeler

    Shawn Keeler Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the help!! I will definetly be in touch.
    Shawn
     

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