In addition to automating and controlling lights and appliances, true whole house automation can also include audio and video systems including your television, stereo receiver, cable box, blu-ray and other AV equipment.
All of the above products are traditionally controlled by a hand held infrared remote control. Plus many newer devices are connected to the home network and can be controlled by IP commands over the network. Last but certainly not least, some devices such TV’s and whole house audio systems can be controlled by RS232 serial commands.
So how do we go from using a hand held remote provided by the equipment manufacturer, to controlling from smart devices and/or integrating these systems in to a whole house automation package? What’s needed is a smart device that we can talk to over a network to talk to our various devices. Enter two prominent manufacturers in this category – Global Cache and Bitwise.
Global Cache has three series of network or WIFI enabled devices for controlling equipment – iTach, iTach Flex, and GC100. The iTach line can be purchased with either IR emitters or RS232 serial output. IP2IR for wired Ethernet IR control. WF2IR for WIFI connected IR control, IP2SL for Ethernet connected serial control and WF2SL for WIFI connected serial control. There is also an IP2IR-P and IP2SL-P for power over Ethernet rather than using plug-in power supplies. The iTach Flex is the new generation – a single product with multiple ‘plugs’ that connect to enable the type of control needed. Moving up, the GC100-06, GC100-12, GC100-18 and the rack mount GC100-18R are for larger projects and provide one or more serial ports combined with multiple infrared, contact closure and inputs. The 12 and 18 versions would be suited for central installation with wiring run to the various homes in the room and for controlling rack devices.
All of the Global Cache models are supported by a variety of software and smart phone applications designed to allow you to control your home theatre devices from a smart phone or tablet interface. You can search your app store to find some. One of the most popular for creating theatre control is called iRule and it’s available for iOs and Android devices. iRule has a HUGE database of direct IP, infrared (IR) and RS232 serial codes for controlling almost every device out there, and you can either learn or hunt down other codes from third party sites. The idea is to create iRule screens exactly the way you want them to control on/off, volume, channel selection, menus, macros and more. It’s incredibly flexible and powerful. For professional installers, OnControls is the customer pro series version. These programs will all take advantage of your tablet’s connection to your home network to talk directly to IP enabled devices as well as through a Global Cache gateway to other devices. The fun doesn’t stop there either – it’s also possible to control automation hubs like the ISy994 or Vera series, Leviton HAI systems and more!
Taking a different turn, Bitwise Controls, which was purchased by Leviton some time ago, has become a professional installer’s favourite for in house, commercial, restaurant/bar and boardroom control of nearly any sort of electronic device. Bitwise control boxes have built in timers for scheduling and intelligence that goes beyond Global Cache and the higher end models also integrate well with Leviton’s HAI or Security and Automation panels.
The purpose of this post was to provide a general overview of the concept of automating and controlling electronic and AV devices. Stay tuned or email us to learn more about HOW this all works in more detail.