Home Control Assistant Newsletter for June 5 2022

Have you read the Important Announcement posted on August 1, 2021? If you haven't you need to.
This week's message was guest written by Don M, a long time HCA user from Canada.

Quick Device Control

Using the Windows PC client, or Android/IOS client, it often means that you are faced with loading a program into a device that you may not have handy. So, what if you want to run a program or turn on/off a light (or whatever) when sitting at your PC? It can take way too long to load all this stuff, and it can often be easier/faster to just walk over to a physical switch and make things happen.

What if you could have a "shortcut" on your desktop that all you need to do is click to start, and then it all happens right now? Enter the HCA Command Line Interface (CLI). With this tool, contained in your programs folder, you can make all this happen. Here is how.
  1. Find the HCACLI.exe in "Program Files (x86)".
  2. Right click it, and select create a shortcut which will be named "HCACLI.exe - Shortcut". It isn't a real executable, and it will be created in the same folder (usually right after HCACLI.exe or at the bottom of the window). Just take the shortcut and drag it to the Desktop. It will not impact anything about HCA.
  3. Right click the shortcut, and you will see a long path called "Target:" and another called "Start In:". If you install to the default location for programs on C: drive, the Start In can probably be ignored. It is useful when using a different drive for the programs. It will initially contain: "C:\Program Files (x86)\Home Control Assistant Plus\Program\HCACLI.exe" in quotes as shown. This is important because spaces are an issue without them, and Windows won't find the executable file.
  4. We now need to ADD to the end of the Target: details about what you want it to do. I have added on mine
    /HCAServer: /Port:2000 HCAObject Device.On "Other Downstairs - Office Light"
  5. Stepping through this, the first part is "where is my HCA server?". You will need to enter the IP address of it, and the port number (default is 2000). If you have changed from defaults, then use your values.
  6. To turn on a device like a light, then the next portion is needed, I want to turn on Office Light that is in my HCA design in the "Other Downstairs" folder.
  7. Most of these a reserved words the follow HCAObject are for control of a specific device. So next is the command Device.On (turn on the device), and the last is the device name IN QUOTES with all the right spaces please! One missing space means it won't work. Once all your changes are complete, click OK on the Properties dialog in Windows.
Ready to give it a try? Double-Click on the shortcut to activate it. Did the light on on? If so then great! If not then some troubleshooting is needed. To see what the problem could, be start your HCA Client, and go into the HCA Control tab, and open the logs (I like using View 1-2-3 for this so I can switch logs if I forget how I've set things up). If you see log entries like this right after clicking the shortcut, it is working.
  • Send,2022/05/17 16:11:46,1,ON,M15,Other Downstairs - Office Light,
  • Send,2022/05/17 16:11:52,1,ON,M15,Other Downstairs - Office Light,
What if I didn't see those kind of entries? It likely means that the device name IN QUOTES in the shortcut is not accurate. It must specify the device like "HCAFOLDER - DEVICENAME". So, in the case above, HCAFOLDER is "Other Downstairs" and DEVICENAME is "Office Light". Glue them together and you get "Other Downstairs - Office Light". 

If at first you don't succeed, give it another try this time checking the addresses, ports, and even "passwords" to access the HCA Server. Locally, I don't use a password, so it is simpler.

Last thing for now, if whatever you controlled doesn't respond, and the log shows all was well, then look for a hardware issue. I have one very old X10 light that I can turn off just fine, but no way it will turn on. More modern devices are less likely to experience that.

There are lots of other options available too, and it is well described in Tech Note #139, with fine examples. Some of the things you can do is
turn devices on/off, change device dimming, suspend/resume a device, start a program, and even set Variables/Flags.

It's a pretty cool tool, and may be a real benefit to your simple use. Case in point, if I am in my office, and it is getting dark, a quick click and ON goes the light. Mighty nice!
If you are using HCA with UPB devices and also use Google Assistant or Alexa for voice control of them, please drop me a note as there are some developments you may be interested in.
If you are using a version of HCA prior to version 17, you may have questions about the wisdom of upgrading to version 17 given the future of HCA. Here is something to consider:

The support policy for older HCA versions has been changed
 as I can no longer devote time to past version users. Support will only be available for HCA 17 users.

If you are on version 16 or earlier and want to continue using the cloud features and want to be assured that if you have a question that it gets answered, it is indeed time to upgrade.

HCA is fully operational for several more years so the update cost, spread out over that time, is very little. Knowing support is available when you need it is worth it.
Upgrade to HCA 17
Anyone who is using Hubitat with HCA – not SmartThings – please drop me a note as I would like to add you to a discussion list for those users. I have some Hubitat ideas that I would like to “kick around” and it would help to have a group of users who have experience with Hubitat. Please just send a note to the regular support address saying you would like to be added to that discussion list.
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