Operating my home I originally started with ActiveHome from www.x10.com, but soon
found it wasn't very sufficient for my needs. While this program was adequate for
basic operation, the sophistication of the program was really only useful as a short-term
At that point, I moved onto Home Control Assistant from Advanced Quonset Technology.
This system was more comprehensive, supporting many different devices not necessarily
in ActiveHome, as well as a good macros and scheduling capability. This macros became
much more important and I tried to deal with problems with AC-line noise that caused
distress. In any case, the support for the program has always been constructive and
What kind of distress? Well, when you are sleeping and the lights go on bright then
start cycling up and down continually, and your family doesn't appreciate it, then
THAT is distress.
HCA has been pretty good. I've used at least 4 subsequent releases, and done a lot
of unique programming using HCA's advanced visual scripting system. In July-2008
I moved to the latest version (HCA 8 Professional Version) which has lots of new
Programming Your Home
As well, doing sophisticated stuff using macros is also possible. The most complex
piece of work so far has been in generating GPRS data from the weather station to
the APRS program. What had to be generated was data in the format:
Jun 21 2003 22:11 112/000g000t059r000p000P000wDAV @22:11
Oddly enough, it doesn't look that complicated, but there was a fair amount of programming
required for convert and scale figures into the right terms. That is largely because
of a metric to imperial conversion required on the measurements.
If you want to review the program that generates this rather unimpressive string,
as well as example screens on how programming is conducted, then you can look at
In May 2008, I completed the next step of my home programming by integrating an X10
security system with HCA. This meant that motion detectors, door/window accesses,
and more that might activate a security system could be monitored and responded to
as well by the house system. Tests have shown this to be quite effective with multiple
methods of reporting accidental or unauthorized access so that an appropriate response
can be made.
Designing Your Home
One thing I like about HCA is that it supports creating a design of your home on
which you can overlay device icons. It gives a very good idea of what units are On
or Off. Here is what I came up with using a CAD program. Screen shots of these designs
are shown below.