HomeVision - Version 2.4

HTINews Review

HTINews Review

HomeVision - Version 2.4 - Custom Solutions Inc.
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My HomeVision test system arrived from Craig at Custom Solutions Inc. in a small box which included everything needed to get up and running. The controller itself is literally a small black box with LED's and IR Send and Receive Windows on the front and ports for power, serial cable, video in and out, TW-523 and IR extension on the back. All the cables (except video) are included as is the TW-523 for X10 communications. The software comes on 3 disks and a comprehensive manual tells all. Inside the box are the Input / Output terminals (8 relay drivers, 8 digital inputs and 8 digital input/outputs). Unfortunately you must take the top off the box to get at these and run the wires out a slot in the back. (CSI offers a "Port Extender" that brings these out to a separate board to simplify connections.)

I turned to Chapter 3 of the manual for "Quick Start" instructions and had the connections done and software installed in no time. The instructions for setup are well done and there are self tests for verifying operation of X10, IR, serial interface and video. This is handy as you can readily make sure that each function is operating before you start to program the system.

X10 Setup

As with any control system, the first thing to do is define the devices. One of my only criticisms of the manual and help system is that it really doesn't tell you to do this first (although it's obvious to those familiar with home controllers, it may not be to a novice). Setting up X10 devices is easy however ... just fill in the name of each unit by it's corresponding code. The "Load Name" column should be checked if you want the system to display the name rather than the code alone on the TV screens. Although there is no "Help" button on the summary, context sensitive help is available from any screen by pressing F1. The column entitled "ON ACTIONS DEFINED" allows you to use one X10 code to run a series of commands (more on this later). There's also a field to define OFF actions and a field to write in a description.

Another screen allows you to manually control all of your X10 devices and a handy "Grid Controller" lets you see the status of all devices. Right click on the grid and you can manually control the corresponding device. The little window in the bottom right hand corner lets you see the X10 signals received by the system. A handy way to make sure your remote controller is working.

I/O Port Setup

Inside HomeVision you'll find terminals to connect 8 relay drivers, 8 digital inputs and 8 digital outputs (actually the last 8 can be configured as inputs or outputs). The relay drivers can be used to drive relays, solenoids, LED's etc. The digital inputs are for such things as motion sensors, magnetic switches (security systems), smoke alarms etc. Digital outputs can be used to drive digital logic or low power peripheral devices such as LED's. As with your X10 devices, you must tell HomeVision what each device is that you connect to these terminals. For example the relay driver outputs are defined on the following screen.

Inputs on the other hand provide more options to set up since you will probably want the system to do something if a signal is received from one of these devices.

And of course you may want to test or manually command these devices. HomeVision lets you do that as well.

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