Homeseer Home Automation Software

Homeseer can be a complete solution to your home control or interact with other software such as Cinemar MainLobby.  I use MainLobby as the front end and Homeseer as the 'i can do anything' back end.  There seems to be nothing Homeseer can't do.

Homeseer_start_page

 

Homeseer isn't the best looking interface around but don't be fooled because it's one of the most flexible and reliable pieces of home automation software I've seen or tried.  It's not super user friendly like more simple software, but that's the trade off for having something which can do exactly what you want.  You don't have to be a coder to use Homeseer though.  It's interface is friendly enough to get things up and running fairly quickly.  As you can see from the image above there are plenty of tutorials, guides and an excellent forum.

 

What does it do?

To make Homseer work you need devices to control.  A simple example - You want to turn a lamp on and off.  You need to buy a device to do this such as an X10 lamp module for instance.  If you did choose X10 as the method of control you would also need to buy an X10 interface for your computer so Homseer can send and recieve commands.  Any electrical item in your house can be turned on or off using the various devices available from different providers.

If you are a code monkey you can also use Homeseer as a means of scheduling scripts to run.  Like cleanups, backups, whatever you can think of!  Below is a screenshot of the Homeseer server log(not the web interface) updating the state of my Sonos audio system.

Homeseer_Sonos_status_screen

What I use it for

Because I use MainLobby aswell, I don't use Homseer to it's fullest, but here's what i do use it for at the moment as an example:

  • X10 device control - lights, gate, TV's, powersaving
  • Z-Wave device control - lights, powersaving
  • Sonos multiroom audio control
  • PIR Sensors
  • Monitoring Motion on CCTV and comparing to PIR sensors for accuracy
  • Annoucements to any room in house
  • Backend to MLserver
  • Performing scheduled tasks - cleanups, back ups, energy saving
  • Managing alerts
  • TV pop up alerts - CCTV pops up on TV if someone at the gate

For a full list of what it can really do visit the Homseer website here.

Configuration

You can do nealy all your configuration via a web browser which makes it very handy for setting up devices in other rooms if you have a wireless laptop or even an ITouch to carry around with you.  This means you can actually stand in the room and watch the light go on and off rather than running backwards and forwards!  It also means that you can change configuration or control devices when away from home.  You need to have you network set up correctly to do this, but there is a wizard to help you.

Below is a screenshot of Homeseer webcontrol showing the state of a few of my devices.  It's all fairly simple and if you do get stuck someone always has an answer on the forums.

Homeseer_device_web_control

Plugins

You'll normally need a plugin of some kind.  Some are free and some you have to pay for.  If you are on a budget plan ahead.  If you know what equipment you're buying you can easily find if the drivers or plugins are chargable or not.  Having a browse through the plugins available might give you some idea of the tech you want to buy, so check it out first.

I mainly use the MLHSplugin which connects MainLobby Server with Homeseer.  It allows you to share variables or the state of devices between the two and gives you the ability to excute commands from one to the other.  Below is a screenshot of the configuration screen.  Nothing complicated, you just simply check the boxes of the variables you want to share.  Worth the money as it works well even if i close one down and restart it.

Homeseer_MLHSPlugin

Scripting

Homeseer lets you execute your own VB and VBscripts. Very useful for lots of things like controlling unsupported devices or just moving or reading files on your PC.  If you're not a coder you still might have to use this feature.  I control Sonos using a really good script called SRSL.  It's on the homeseer forums here.  The instructions are pretty good too, so even non coders could use it!!  Homeseer also provides a great GUI for making your own scripts using dropdowns and stuff.  Below is a screenshot of my gate alert script.

Homeseer_gate_script

Intially i thought a PIR sensor would be good enough to alert me when someone came to my gate.  Problem was, living in the countryside animals and birds tend to trigger the alarm more than visitors.  I cut quite a few false alarms out by aiming and masking my PIR sensor correctly, but it still wasn't foolproof.  I also have a camera at the gate which can trigger alerts on movement.  However, this wasn't 100% foolproof either therefore I used Homeseer to run a check on both if either detect motion.  If the PIR sensor is triggered the script will check to see if any motion has been detected on the camera within a certain time frame.  Most CCTV systems save the motion as a series of Jpgs so you can also count how much motion by looking at the number of images within a certain time period.  I did spend alot of time playing with variables and every setup will be different, but it hasn't missed anyone yet and false alarms only occur when larger animals such as deer or foxes decide they want to do a show for the camera!

So why run MainLobby?

As I'm writing this I'm starting to question why I use MainLobby as the front end.  Have i wasted my money?  No, when i bought it in 2005 it had the best front end and examples for the iphone which made it easy and quick to implement.  I also think the IR database and matrix switch controlling is very good.  I'm sure there are many other factors to consider, but together, Homeseer and MainLobby server work very well together.

HSTouch

This is my next project which I'm downloading whilst I type.  This could possibly be the solution I've been looking for - an all in one app for different platforms which doesn't need a browser. Have a look at HSTouch here.  Looks good, but it's more money at $199.  I shall update later.

Update here

 

 

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