Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Somewhat Quiet Last Few Months

I've been a little preoccupied with other things, but I have been working on some small projects here & there. I just haven't felt like writing about them. I'll try to summarize what I've been doing for the past several weeks/months.

Last night, I hardwired the sensor that detects when our alarm is armed. Originally, it was a CDS cell covering the armed LED on one of the alarm keypads. The sensor was then connected to the CDS input of an X10 Hawkeye. It worked well 99% of the time, but once in a while, it would a miss detecting a change due to some RF collision. Not a major problem as the alarm is completely separate from the HA system, but annoying for automating events. So, I ran a pair of wires from the CDS cell at the keypad to the wiring closet. I terminated it on the X-Axis of the third gameport controller I've deployed. It works perfectly now.

I've gotten fairly adept at fishing wire with no special tools. For the CDS wire, I routed it from eyelevel where the keypad is to just above the baseboard. I used a string with bolts tied on and dropped it into the wall from an eyelevel hole. I drilled a small hole above the baseboard and used a vacuum to suck the string out. I then fished the wire through by taping the string to it.

I also added a 2nd HDHomerun (which also involved fishing wires - some Cat-5E and RG6.) I have it currently connected to an HD antenna in the attic.

I've been slowly deploying more of the UPB modules I got on clearance from Fry's. As my UPB network got bigger, I started to notice some limitations in my handling of it. I wrote my own code to handle UPB since my old TimeCommander+ does not have the capability. It resides in my xPL starCOMUltra bridge as described here. It's actually just a generic serial interface in the bridge. All of the actual code handling UPB is in the hosted JScript.

To make a long story short, I was having problems with retries and sending commands to the UPB PIM too fast. I solved this by adding JScript code to build a command queue and beef up the retry/busy/NAK logic. It uses the built in Queue structure, similar to JavaScript and described here.

I also bought a couple more HP thin clients off of eBay. I am now planning on installing .NET on them, so I've also purchased these 512MB flash disks so I have enough room for it (.NET needs about 150MB free on the C: drive). I also found some cheap 512MB RAM upgrades as well. One will be deployed at our other house for more minor automation projects and the second one will replace the current T5700, which functions as a networked contact closure device. I want to test out & phase in the new one before taking the existing one offline to upgrade and move elsewhere in the house.

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