How To: XBMC Control of INSTEON via ISY99 / ISY994

In an earlier blog post we wrote how XBMC can take control of Insteon lighting through an ISY99/ISY994 controller so it can automatically:

  • dim the lights when you start playing a movie or TV show
  • brighten the lights a bit when you press pause and dim them back down when you resume (munchies or bathroom break!)
  • turn up the lights when the show’s over
  • start up your party lights when the music starts

If you’ve never heard of XBMC before, you owe it to yourself to check it out here.  XBMC is a FREE media center that keeps your TV shows, Movies and Music in a library that can be easily browsed or quickly searched so you can play your stuff any time.  There are iPhone/iPad/Android apps available for control and play back and there are tonnes of free add-ons that extend the functionality by adding Internet Radio, access to TV shows and movies from the Internet and more.  Once you try it you’ll be addicted.  Adding Insteon lighting to the mix will complete your theatre experience and will no doubt impress your friends too!

Before you go through this tutorial make sure you’ve enrolled your Insteon lights in to the ISY99/ISY994 and also take a moment to set up a ‘movie or showtime’ lighting scene with your preferred light level and ramp rate for the light(s) in question.  This guide assumes you have your XBMC system(s) and ISY99/994 on the same network.

Once that’s done just follow the detailed steps below.

1. From the home menu, navigate to Programs -> Settings

2. Select Add-Ons


3. Get Add-Ons, then Program Add-Ons

XBMC Get Add-Ons Program Add-Ons

4. Find ISY Browser and click on it – then Install

XBMC ISY Browser XBMC ISY Browser Install

5. Step back to the menu, you should see ISY Browser as ‘Enabled’.  Click on it and go to ‘Configure’

xbmc-isy-browser-07 xbmc-isy-browser-08

6. Enter in the username, password, IP address and Port of your local ISY.

XBMC ISY Browser Settings

7. Exit setup, exit to the main menu. Go to programs and find your newly installed ISY browser.  When you click it you’ll see an option to Browse Nodes, Browse Programs and Configure Events.  At this point we want to find the light or scene we want to control with XBMC so click on Browse Nodes.  You should see a list of rooms and/or devices at this point.

Browse Nodes Browse Nodes

8. Hilight the device you want to control, and right click to bring up a menu.  Choose ‘Show Info’ and then it will give you the node address.  Take note of this address number.   Do the same for any other scenes or lights you may wish to control.

Show Node Info Node Address

9. When ready, exit back to the menu and click on Configure Events and you’ll see Node Events.  This is where we’re going to pick which XBMC events will trigger Insteon actions and which lights or scenes to control.  You can set up events based on XBM starting or ending, screen saver starting or ending, Video starting, pausing, resuming or ending and so forth.

Configure Options Node Events

10. Select the event to which you would like to add an Insteon action and then you can enter the Device Address that you took note of earlier and tell it to what ‘level’ to turn on.  In the case of a single light, this will be the light level.  In the case of a scene where you may have already specified a number of lights and levels, this can be 100%.  Do this for as many XBMC events as you like.

Node Events 2 Node Events continued

Save and exit.  That’s it folks.  I found that it’s best at this point to restart XBMC to make sure all the changes will take effect.  If all went well and you entered in the right information XBMC should now be triggering Insteon devices or scenes based on the events you set up.