When EGi began working with the concept of using powerline communication around the home, a great deal of research went into finding the most appropriate technology. CEBus was ultimately selected because it combined reliable, robust communication with configuration methods specifically developed for residential application.
Since becoming a member of the CEBus camp, EGi has developed an impressive line of products for the home automation industry. Here are a few highlights:
EGi’s dedicated CEBus display unit, CEScreen, was originally designed to be the user interface for a gateway system. However, the interest expressed by others in the home automation field convinced us to make it available as a generic CEBus appliance.
The unit combines a monochrome LCD display screen with a keypad. It plugs into any electrical outlet using a special CEBus transformer â€“ power and communication are provided by the same wires.
It comes with a reversible back plate so it can be either wall mounted or used on a table or counter top. The attractive wedge-shape design and colors make it a standout in any home.
CEScreen is available to developers as an OEM device. A developer needs only to write their application software using CEBox developers’ software from Domosys. The kit even includes some examples and test code to make it easier. A programmer with moderate experience should be able to write the application layer in a day.
Currently, CEScreen 832 is available with an 8 line by 32 character text display. In the near future, EGi will be introducing CEScreen 420 which will have all the same features but with a four line by twenty character display and a price tag that is sure to please.
CEBus Adapter Modules
EGi is developing a series of CEBus adapter circuits. These printed circuit boards make it possible to operate CEBus home automation devices using any controller. All versions of the Adapter series have an interface to CEBus powerline communication. At the other end, they interface to one or two communication standard protocols.
The CESerial module provides two way translation between CEBus and the 5 volt serial protocol used by PCs and many other embedded processor devices. This makes it easy to adapt an existing home automation controller to take advantage of the superior performance of CEBus technology. It also opens up the possibility of using a programmable thermostat to control home automation devices.
The CE-10 provides a one way translation of X-10 signals into a form that can be understood by CEBus terminal devices. It directly replaces the X-10 PL513 module.
CE-10 provides an easy and inexpensive way of updating an existing X-10 automation system, by replacing unreliable communication without changing the master controller.
The CECard module was developed specifically to interface between DSC security panels and CEBus end devices.
In addition to the standard CEBus interface, CECard has two other I/O ports:
A four wire terminal strip that provides two way interface with Keybus (a protocol proprietary to DSC)
An RJ-11 receptacle that accepts X-10 commands from the Escort module â€“ an add-on device that offers remote control capability from any telephone.
EGi offers two versions of lamp control modules – a dimmer and a basic ON/OFF unit.
These units are as simple to configure as they are to use. Once the module has been plugged into an outlet, and a lamp or other load plugged into the module, configuring requires only pressing the ‘learn’ button, then toggling an address in the master controller. When the module is waiting for an address, an LED flashes slowly; when configuration is complete, the LED flashes quickly.
EGi Lamp Modules feature a load circuit impedance check. If the load is switched off downstream from the module, the module senses that the load will not respond.
CEBus Starter Kit
EGi has assembled a kit that includes all of the components necessary to get started with a basic CEBus control system. The kit includes:
Choice of CE-10 Converter or CECard (interface to DSC panel)
Dimming lamp module
On/off lamp module
At the present time, this kit does not include a master controller and is being sold as an OEM product to developers. However, EGi is working on a controller which will be available in the near future.