Back in the saddle

So it’s been a year since I really did anything with my home automation projects. In that time we’ve moved, from Missouri to Colorado, and purchased our first home.

It is time to begin again! I recently ordered a Smarthome kit, INSTEON Lamp Scene Lighting Starter Kit. I ended up finding it on a special deal a day website that Best Buy has for its Rewardzone members. The kit was priced at $60, a pretty good deal considering Smarthome sells it for $99. I expected it to show up in a few days and I would hook it up and get a few things running. To my surprise however I didn’t receive the kit in the mail, I got a decent sized box from the deal website, labeled as a smarthome box. I though there must be a lot of packing material in the box, only to open it and find a plethora of Insteon hardware, nothing like the kit I ordered, but WAY better.

I ended up getting around $800 worth of parts, here’s a photo of the score.  So what did I do? I went out to the deal a day company’s website and started trying to buy more! They had them listed on their own auctions, and on Ebay. I ended up bidding on 15 different auctions on ebay over about a week or two. I was sniped by automated tools on every darn auction. The auctions started off finishing around $65 each, but towards the end of the run they were ending at $105 each, still a bargain if what they were really selling was what I received in the box. My guess is that they didn’t know what they actually had, and were selling it far cheaper than it was actually worth. Unfortunately I think someone else figured that out too, thus the run on the product on Ebay. I really wish I had been able to purchase another kit, but they appear to be all sold out now as they aren’t listing them anymore as they were there for the past couple of weeks.

This weekend I decided it was time to move my office around, I didn’t care for the layout I had setup when we moved into the house. In order to move things though I wanted to put my two bookshelves on the wall near the door, the problem with that was the light switches for the office are there. I took this as the opportunity to start wiring up some of my newly acquired, and previously acquired, insteon hardware. I setup a dimmer switch for the overhead light, and just an on off switch for the fan, leaving the original switch in place for the switched outlet. I figured I would just leave that one on all the time for now and not worry about it, if I wanted another lamp in the room I will just hook up a lamplinc module to control it.

Wiring up the switches took me far longer than it has in the past. The switches had three separate neutral wires in the box, unfortunately I tried splitting them up, only to figure out (a few hours later) that they had to all be tied together, otherwise the lights in the office bathroom, and the outlets in the family room didn’t work. After getting the switches in place I moved the bookshelves and got the office situated. Mistake! I should have written down the Codes for the switches before I put the plate back on and moved the bookshelves, so this morning I unloaded a bookshelf and got access to the switches again for the proper info.

I spent a good couple of hours today trying to get the switches controllable. I was using the Insteon Powerlinc Controller (2414U) that came with the recent stash of new Smarthome equipment. I also downloaded a trial version of the Homeseer Software HS2. After a couple hours trying to get that to work I went to the basement to try and locate my other Insteon hardware that hadn’t been unpacked from the move. I knew I had two other controllers in there, one was the developer modem, and the other a INSTEON PowerLinc Modem, USB 2412U.

First I tried the developer modem, but I couldn’t get Homeseer to see the device. Then I hooked up the 2412u, but I also made a few other changes. I hooked up the FilterLinc 10-Amp Plug-In Noise Filter that came with the stash. I also moved the power source for my Windows Home Server (the machine I was hooking the modems up to) to a different power strip that was fed from the filter. Once I made these changes and connected the 2412U up Homeseer was able to see my devices here in the office (2 switches) and was even able to control them.

So at this point I have a trial version of Homeseer that will run for the next 30 days, controlling two switches, both in my office. I have quite a few other switches however and I hope to start wiring those up in the house, possible this week, or after the holidays. Be sure to come back later to see more on my home automation adventures!

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Chris Hammond is a father, husband, leader, developer and car guy. Chris has long specialized in ASP.NET and DotNetNuke development, so you will find a variety of topics here on the website. For more information check out the about me page.

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