Link Posted: Tue Jan 23, 2007 10:30 pm Post subject:
Damn, I wish you guys had AMX instead of Crestron. I bought an AMX controller, some touchpanels, and a few other doodads because I had dabbled with AMX about 4 years ago doing some work for a VR company. Seemed easy enough and it'll be a fun project to play with AFTER the theater is completely finished.
I know there's good remotes and girder and all that stuff, but assuming good equipment, room construction, and sound treatment are done right, I full automation with custom touchpanel really sets apart a well-done theater from the average DIY theater (no disrespect to anyone NOT using system automation, of course). It takes things to whole other level, but the work involved in setting it up is a whole other level, too.
I'll be interested to see how you guys make out. Sorry, that was bad. You started it, Curt.
Link Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 4:32 am Post subject:
A full automation system is absolutely worth the hassle, an ST-CP and the 1500c ehhh not so much. They are 3 generation old units and had very limited features as far as looks and feel of the touchpanel or the amount of memory it can support. Truthfully a new QM-RMC can run most simple theaters and is very cheap comparatively.
You will have a problem with getting the crestron software though as they have locked down access to only authorized dealers, government or university workers and such. An mx-3000 or RTi or Nevo touchscreen remote will give 90-95% of the functionality of the ST-CP and touch panel, with a fraction of the headaches.
Link Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:35 am Post subject:
I got a Crestron controller and a touchpanel with some HT furniture I bought. I think it's a Cresnet II? - looks like pretty old stuff - probably mid 90's?. I assume it's worthless, but if anybody wants it for whatever reason, let me know.
Here's a picture on fleabay I found of what it looks like...
Joined: 08 Mar 2006 Posts: 18053 Location: Langley, BC
Link Posted: Wed Jan 24, 2007 6:12 am Post subject:
I worked with one AMX system in the early 90s. Very coo, but you had to be a master at code to work with it.
I understand that all of the later AMX and Crestron stuff is drop and drag Windows stuff. At least that's what I'm betting on, since I'm NOT a programmer. All I want to do is use the CTx1500 I bought new in the box and have had sitting here for 4 years....LOL!
It only needs to control about 6 units in the HT. I'll report as I get to it...
Link Posted: Thu Jan 25, 2007 9:45 pm Post subject:
Guys, I bumped into some files this afternoon you'll probably want to grab 'em for later. I was looking at the support page for my Marantz receiver to get dimensions (I'm drawing up my rack) and noticed there's AMX and Crestron sample files for it! Nice.
It's great because as you've probably found out, one of the worst things about the high-end control systems is that DIY/forum support is practically non-existent (I suppose it's because it's all pros with pro support using the stuff and neither company sells to or supports the individual). Regardless, there are almost no "sample" files out there to get started with. That's one of the best ways to learn how to do stuff is by tearing apart other people's code. Without code to tear apart and look it, and it's MUCH more difficult to get your head wrapped around it.
At least it's a starting point for a serial device. If you're using IR, that's a whole other ball of wax, IIRC.
Curt, I wouldn't say it's "drag and drop" exactly. It's definitely easier to build a basic shell nowadays, but making it all work is still a lot of work - especially if you're trying to control a component that isn't in a database and you have to figure out and hand-code all the functions into your program.
Anyway, hope this comes in handy. I know I was overjoyed to find it. Saved me a ton of work - getting the receiver working, at least.
Link Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:25 am Post subject: Don't discount old crestron stuff!
Hi all ,
This is my first post to this forum so let me give you a little background, I have been building and programming home automation and home theater widgets for all my life. My first system was a kludge of relays from pinball machines and clicker remotes from the earliest R/C TV's (back in the late 60s!, my rooms and now house have always been automated to some degree by whatever means I had possible, Using early computers (trs80, commodore, etc) to full PC control. Over the years I have had to build my own hardware interfaces and in many cases modify the target systems in order to gain control. All that said, if you have ever fooled with a Time Commander, Ocelot, Home Vision or an equivalent HA box you know they have some real shortcomings, mostly in processor power, Connections or memory limits.
Now to the point of this post,
I have always steered away from Creston and AMX because of the lore of needing to be certified to get the tools to use them not to mention the 10's of thousands needed to put together even a moderate system. A few months ago I tripped over a Creston rack like the one pictured above at a flea market- of course I had to have it and when the vender said $10, history was in the making. At first after accessing 8 serial ports, 24 relays, 8 IR channels, 2 volume control channels and some analog I/O (a pretty complete system), I figured I would make a killing putting it on Ebay and put it down for the time being knowing I could not program it.
Well that rack (Model CNrack) is a late 90's model and are selling on Ebay for $30-$100 depending on the cards in it, not to much of a killing to be made even though it was about 5k new if you had to go buy it. And the reason, DIY'ers can't program them and the professionals won't use anything that old, all they want to do is resell new stuff and make 4 and 5 figures all over again!!
I set out to see if I could program it, what the heck- was not worth selling that cheap knowing what it could potentially do. After some Googling and weeding around the net I came up with the software, at first it was confusing, using symbols instead of line by line programming. Now I am an hardware engineer and have made many custom circuits, many with TTL and CMOS chips dating back to the beginning (of chips). After reading some of the great built in documentation in Simpl (the software's name), I realized the symbols were just TTL chips!!! Basically just a collection of gates in different configurations, AND, NAND, NOR, NOT, ETC. While it won't actually let you draw a schematic you can program as if you are laying out a digital circuit, you just use tags instead of the connecting wires. If you can layout your rack setup on paper you can make this software work.
After that light bulb went off in my head I went to work.
No matter what I threw at the box it just WORKED! No bugs, no crap with the software, Thousands of preprogrammed IR codes and it will import pronto IR codes for the rest. It was some of the most professional and capable software & equipment I have ever worked with all for $10 at an flea market. I can't believe it's all been around since the 90's, I have built so much of that same stuff from scratch when it was already on the shelf, but a very secret and expensive shelf.
Now I really was hooked and Ebay is giving the stuff away, the Cresnet (4 wire interface) can be connected to 200+ nodes and on Ebay you can get power controls, remote serial ports, IO ports, volume controllers, Remote gateways and TOUCH PANELS, the works for 5% of what they originally cost.
So don't let the pro's out there fool you into thinking this stuff is paperweights and only the new stuff and thousands in programming is the only way you can go- that's just not true.
I have been looking for a forum to share my tips, tricks, hacks and secrets on the Creston venture and from what I have read here so far I hope this is the place because it seems no one is willing to share or make room for this excellent older equipment!
I hope that was not too long wind-ed and I can be helpful to others wishing to make the journey,
Link Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:44 pm Post subject:
Thank you for the kind Greeting, This truly sounds like the right place to pry open these great widgets.
To start with a quick Crestron history lesson,
The rack pictured above is 2nd gen, properly called CNrack or CNrackD (D for disk drive), also has the Moniker "Cresnet II and CN series", it has a NEC 70320 processor running at 14mhz, 64m of flash memory + PROM boot monitor 16m of battery backed NV ram and a real time clock. if you have the "D" version it also has a PC compliant 1.44m disk sub system which can be used up upload/download programs and NV ram data. Firmware is uploadable. Most require a external 24v power supply, they are not picky-there is a very good switching power sub-system under the hood, all Crestron devices use switching power supplies, little heat and very thrifty on power consumption. 25W (3A) is more then enough to run a full rack and touchscreen. An 1A wall wart will run a rack with min modules. Note: From what I can tell 1st gen systems are non-existent and were mostly protos and startup installs, they quickly moved to the CN series and many (most) people call it 1st gen so I will follow suit and call it first gen from here on out.
Compare the CN-Series to the Ocelot and other HA DIY widgets and you will see there's allot of horse power there.
The usual complement of plug in cards consist of the processor (required), Power converter (required), Crestnet (for external I/O and touch panels) then one or more of the following;
RS232 2-way (2 ports up to 115k each)
IR output card (8 channels)
Relay card (8 or 16 each)
DC Input card (8 or 16 channels)
DC outputs (8 or 16 channels, open collector)
Analog I/O 4 channels
Volume control (2 or 3 channels, balanced or unbalanced audio)
And many more different cards!!!!
Oh, I forgot to mention that the IR outputs can also emulate RS232, Sony S-Link, and other popular 1-way control formats!!
Now that being said, there is another CN series rack called the MS or Mini System. It has the most popular cards built right in and slots for 2 additional CN cards for upgrade. It's a 2H rack vs. the 3H CNrack and most of the time is called the CNMS.
It's built in complement is;
Processor and Power board
25w AC power supply (optional but installed in most units)
2 RS232 2-way ports
6 port IR outputs
15 Relay outputs
8 I/O DC in/out's
Cresnet (of course)
For almost all HT setups the CNMS box is all you need and they are plenty-full on the bay.
Ok, this post is getting long and I am going to skip forward a bit so I can address some items that have came up in this thread.
Curt and others already have a ST-CP, this is a 2nd gen cpu with 1 channel IR, 1 RS232 port, Cresnet and 1-way RF gateway used for the older touch panels ST-1500, ST-1550 (monochrome) and ST-1550C (color), I also have a hack to make a RF equipped pronto to work with it (much more on that later). The ST-CP can be used as a RF-gateway attached to the CN racks I described above so start there and expand by adding a rack. You can also upgrade or downgrade CPU's at anytime and keep your current program!! (backward/forward compatibility, what a concept!). Don't pay more the $80 for a ST-CP on fleabay.
Another note, each IR channel can output any number of devices, you can have 20 different drivers attached to a single port- the only reason for multiple ports is for when you have multiples of the same equipment that use the same IR code, also you can't have serial and IR on the same port so one port is still very capable making the ST-CP an extremely strong device which for instance the ocelot does not come close to comparing to.
I will describe the later gen's of equipment in more detail in future posts but this is a good primer for now. Please pm me if your interested in getting started.
Link Posted: Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:47 pm Post subject:
Sorry, it won't work directly with any crestron system but you do have a nice front end for any PC, just determine if it's Elo Touch or Microtouch and go to the proper site for drivers. Standard serial and VGA port hookup. You will have the start of a IP (web) based touchscreen control system which I hope to cover soon.
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