Ok, to say I’m a noob would be an understatement of epic proportions. I just ordered an ST hub, which is still sitting in the box by my desk. The reviews and info I had read to date made it seem like the right tool for the job, but as I dig a bit deeper I’m starting to have doubts.
My basic goal is some specific automation, no security or the like involved. I have an alarm system that handles security and most of my z-wave devices. Where the ST comes in would primarily be a home theater and a combination of z-wave and IP control devices. My goal is to control the lights (both fixtures and LED), drapes, screen, and equipment power states (on and off primarily, no real need for function or volume control). Final goal is integration with Amazon Echo. I’d like to say something like “turn on the theater” and have the drapes close, screen drop, lights dim, LEDs set to a specific color, and equipment power up.
From what I’ve been digging into the last couple of days, I hadn’t realized that ST doesn’t have a native concept of scenes, but it seems there are ways around it. It also seems I could control the equipment with an additional integration from the Harmony hub, but since my equipment is all IP controllable, I’d like to avoid that if possible. I’ve seen some device type apps (or groovies or whatever I haven’t learned about them yet) for the AV equipement, though some of it seems to have been withdrawn recently.
So the bottom line question, can I actually achieve what I’m after with ST, and if so where’s the best place to start?
If you could tell us the specific brand and model of the IP addressable equipment you’d like to use, that would help a lot as far as looking at existing solutions.
You’re quite right both that SmartThings doesn’t have a built-in concept of scenes, but that you can get the same end result in a number of different ways.
But sometimes exactly which ways do depend on the specific device involved.
Your general concept sounds very doable, it just comes down to the details.
And a quick note on terminology.
The language in which code for the SmartThings environment is written is “groovy.”
Customers can write both “smartapps” and “device type handlers,” or use ones written by other community members, if the stock versions don’t give them all the features they want.
All the drape and lighting controls are Z-Wave, so hopefully no issues there. As to the IP addressable equipement:
Denon AVR X6200W
JVC RS400 projector
The screen is an EliteScreens Spectrum 2, but I don’t have the remote kit for it yet. Since the power cord is just a 3 position toggle contact switch (1 each to up/down power and 1 no power), I’m toying with the idea of trying to hack together a z-wave switch to control it. Failing that, I’ll probably fork over the dough for the remote/trigger addon and use a trigger off of the receiver.
The SmartThings hub is an excellent endpoint for the Amazon Echo, allowing you to set up custom skills to control practically anything, and with far more flexibility and reliability than the stock integrations.
For me, I have a little Mac Mini as a media server, and setup and control complex scenes by running scripts from it. I wrote a program called HAM Bridge that lets SmartThings, and anything capable of sending a simple HTTP GET (iRule, Tasker, browser, etc.), invoke those scripts.
The scripts control Hue lighting, network controlled gear, IR controlled gear via (Global Caché iTachs), media playback (including playlist selection and setting various AirPlay zones), and more. Also, editing these scenes is much quicker and simpler than having to go through the painful multi-step processes that SmartThings and Harmony impose.
And of course you can do this with just SmartThings and an Echo, but the script based solution means no custom device type handlers, simpler SmartApps, much easier setup/editing, and better control over the timing of numerous commands in complex scenes.
Thanks to a meeting cancellation, I had time to pull the hub out of the box and get it set up. Played around for a bit and was able to get the drapery controller paired (though it’s seen as a dimmer it works) and get the withdrawn Denon AVR device handler working. This gives me hope that it won’t be as complex as I feared.
Searching around, I don’t find any reference to the Oppo player on the community, so not sure anyone has worked on that. I haven’t done anything resembling coding in better than a decade, but I might have to dive back in to that world for the Oppo.
I’m really hoping since my main goal is state automation that I can avoid needing to add any additional hardware (like a Harmony hub or Global Cache, or simple control hub) to the equation.
At present, no IR… I think. I’m still looking into the Oppo and JVC network controls. Both devices support it, but with the Oppo, the app only comes alive if the unit is powered on, so have to see if there’s a setting to allow IP based power signals. JVC has no app, but has published specs for the RS232 controls via IP.
The only wild card right now is the screen. Should be able to trigger it from the projector, but worst case would be IR control.
(Different Computers. So happy with Indigo.)
Keep in mind that what you’re designing is all cloud based. I notice that Harmony can be quite slow for me, and wish I had gone the Global Cache route for purely local control via my Indigo setup. In your case, I’m jealous that you have a receiver that is directly controllable by Indigo via the free Cynical Denon plugin.
The upshot of ST/Harmony is: don’t expect to do any home theater if your network connection is down.
If you want something that will keep working even when there’s no Internet, you’ll need a local IR controller and home automation that runs entirely locally.
In my case, the ST automation is not for control of the devices. I already have a remote (ironically an older Harmony 700) for that. This is simply automation of the startup/shutdown functions. Set lights and LEDs at given level, close drapes, lower screen, turn on all equipment. Granted, even that goes offline with loss of internet, but I can live with that risk.
Haven’t tried any scene type stuff yet, just working on control, but so far have lights, led, drapes, and Denon working with ST. Oppo and the JVC projector look to be trickier (especially the projector). The screen I’m starting to lean towards just using a 12v trigger and be done with it. That way it only drops when the projector fires up.
I did, but not directly through ST. The screen has an RJ45 port, but it’s just a wire connect point for the 12v trigger. You could in theory build a little switching device that combined a 12v trigger and z-wave receiver, but for the effort involved, probably not a great option unless you’re good at that level of tinkering. In my case, I went with the IR, and extended the cable to put the IR receiver next to my Harmony Hub.
So for my setup, I’ve got a combination of SmartThings, Harmony Elite w/ Hub, and Amazon Echo which results in a fully automated theater. Ask Alexa to turn on cinema mode, the drapes close, screen drops, lights come on at a set level, LEDs in the soffit come on at a set level and color, and all AV equipment powers up. Now if Logitech would just let us make plain old fashioned macros instead of forcing it to be the stupid activities thing, I could take it a bit further, but for now it works perfectly.