Control Protocol Design
A Guide for Controllable Hardware Manufacturers

This document is for developers of hardware devices which are intended for external control by automation systems, specialized control applications, or hardware controllers, via some sort of wired or wireless connection. Any such device must expose a 'control protocol' which defines the form and meaning of commands and information passing between the two involved parties. This document describes how to create a high quality control protocol, and the considerations thereof. The information in this document is intended to improve the quality of automation at the most fundamental level, because automation systems are no better than the extent to which they can reliably and conveniently provide control over the customer's devices, and long experience has shown that far too many devices have substandard control protocols. This document starts out fairly simply and generically, so if you already have some experience in this area, you may wish to skip forward a bit to the more detailed technical sections.

Control Protocol Design

This document is for developers of hardware devices which are intended for external control by automation systems, specialized control applications, or hardware controllers, via some sort of wired or wireless connection. Any such device must expose a 'control protocol' which defines the form and meaning of commands and information passing between the two involved parties. This document describes how to create a high quality control protocol, and the considerations thereof. The information in this document is intended to improve the quality of automation at the most fundamental level, because automation systems are no better than the extent to which they can reliably and conveniently provide control over the customer's devices, and long experience has shown that far too many devices have substandard control protocols. This document starts out fairly simply and generically, so if you already have some experience in this area, you may wish to skip forward a bit to the more detailed technical sections.

Cooling Large Home Theater Installations

The easiest way to overcome the noise and control issues is to use cooling devices that: are located away from the enclosure, turn slowly, and are controlled by the temperature within the enclosure.

Facebook … The Next Best Thing to Buy, Like

While 93 percent of Facebookers like "Like" buttons at least monthly; the action/commitment means different things to different people.  With some, it's merely a way of social bookmarking so they can quickly find the location again. Companies, brand managers and communications people walk a fine line as they begin to engage more and more with customers and users on a one-to-one basis.  But with more than 800M (and counting) Facebookers out there brands simply have to work harder, do more to be Liked … and stay Liked.

HDMI: Extension, Distribution and Switching via Cat5e/6

Due to the fact that Cat5e/6 is not designed like HDMI cable, additional connectivity hardware is needed to interface between the HDMI equipment and the Cat5e/6 cabling system.  This connectivity hardware comprises three main functions; Distance Extension, 1xN Distribution and Matrix Switching.

Health, Privacy and Security within the Smart Grid

On the surface, a smart grid system sounds like it has great potential from controlling our appliances and saving us money to keeping the world green.  On the other side, we could face security, privacy and health issues.  These concerns need to be addressed before we can feel comfortable with the smart grid.

Home Automation Protocols, Networks and the Smart Grid

We have a long way to go before AV, lighting, HVAC, and appliances come together within a home automation network that will work with smart meters and the utilities' back office system to communicate both ways flawlessly, controlling how and when energy is wisely consumed.  Strides are being made in each area and we will see more systems coming together for the perfect balance of energy consumption and energy savings. 

Home Surround Sound vs Movie Surround Sound

For one thing, it's a heck of a lot cheaper to fill your living room or dedicated basement home theater with top performing surround sound than it is a big movie theater. What's even better, you'll enjoy even greater fidelity and natural surround sound in your home if you get your home surround sound speakers from a dedicated hi-fi speaker manufacturer with a long history of research into loudspeaker design and surround sound setups.

How to Build Your Own Home Theater - Part 4 - Everything Else

This is the last of a 4 part series that will walk you through the process designing and building a home theater. Here is a link to Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3 Well, we are getting close to sitting back and enjoying the movie experience in your own home. Just think how much you will be saving on popcorn by not having to take out a loan to see a movie on a commercial theater screen.

How Will the Smart Grid Affect The Home Tech Industry?

All aspects of home technology will be affected by the country's need to conserve energy on a mass scale, placing the systems integrators and equipment manufacturers in a position for growth. Integrators will have the responsibility of suggesting the end devices that work with the energy management control systems and then tying these devices into a HAN that integrates with the smart grid to control HVAC, lighting and other power usage devices.   Such a connection will improve the operation of the device and lower the cost of energy for your customer. 

Keeping Afloat in Down Times

Infocomm reported a 30% decrease in attendance for the training sessions, which is a big indicator that business is weak, because companies tend to cut their training allowance, all though training is critical to an integrator.  Fall behind in training, and an integrator will see problems crop up when business picks back up.  When business is slow, this time should be used to get as much training as possible, learn about new technologies and plan for the future.  Even in a down economy, people and companies still buy.  They just make more conscientious decisions, and do more comparison shopping.  If they believe that they need a product or service, they will buy.  It is up to you to take advantage of these opportunities.

OLED Televisions, Myth or Reality?

OLED is a "green" technology.  An OLED TV will not use any electricity when turned off, contrary to LCD, which has power to the backlight at all times.  When viewing action scenes, the images will not blur because of OLED's faster response time.  OLED TVs will look like a picture hanging on the wall since it is so thin, rather than sticking out because of a heavy duty wall mount.  In fact, you might be able to roll it up when it's not in use and it can be stored out of sight, until the next viewing.  You can even roll it up and place it in a tube, and take it with you on vacation or a business trip.

On Energy Management, Manufacturing and Factory Automation

It's not enough to monitor our energy use. We don't really care about that unless it does something to change our lives or save us money. So, let's put a solar system on the roof. Now that can do both of these things and should attract our attention. But let's take it a step further. With that solar system there is a new variable in the mix --- FREE CLEAN ENERGY. What can and should we do with it.

Project Showcase - NR Audio/Video

This project was a culmination of many years to trial and error.  The house was built in 1995 and at that time, there were few options in multi room A/V.  I originally had a soundstream music and video distribution system which lasted  a few years.  When an addition was added to the house in 06, that is when I decided to change over the system.  I upgraded an old Omni to the latest Pro II and during the construction, ran all new cabling to the rooms and theater. Everything is now networked. I changed out the switches to UPB and installed the Russound system.

Review - Long-Runner HDBASE100MSW HDMI Extender

We use this solution for conference rooms, lunchrooms, hospital waiting rooms and nearly all-custom Home Theater projects. It's the bang-for-buck theory. HDMI, IRE and Ethernet from one cable save time, costs and headache. When you add up the cost of twin CAT5 x5 for typical baluns and Ethernet equivalent plus an IR Repeater you're WAY higher than the cost of this single unit.

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