Home Control Assistant Newsletter for May 9 2021

Have you looked over the version 17 release notes? Lots of changes that you can incorporate into your designs right away. Easy upgrade.

Looking for answers to the most common questions about HCA? Check out our
Frequently Asked Questions page.
The log is your friend – but one who may be feeling a bit stressful
I’ve written several times about how the log can help you solve many issues with getting your home design to work the way you want. It’s a way to see if a program worked as you expected, if a schedule sent commands at the time you specified, and that a device’s transmissions are being received by HCA.

Because of all the new things being added to HCA via programs- think Hubitat, Ecobee, SmartThings, Sonos, and lots of library packages – programs are getting a real workout. In my own home it isn’t unusual to have over 10,000 programs executed each day. Many of those are due to very “chatty” Hubitat managed sensors. The problem is that the log fills up fast with both those sensor receptions and the programs that process them. It gets hard to find anything. Here are some tips that may make it better for you.

Use all three logs for different purposes
HCA maintains three log files and it helps to use them for different purposes. I configure Log 1 for device receptions and transmissions. Log 2 is for program action and Log 3 is for special use. I use Log 3 when I’m working on specific programs. While you configure the general use of logs from the Tools ribbon category Log Usage button, you can change the log used for a specific program by opening its properties and making the selection on the Log tab.
If I configure HCA to use log 2 for programs, then any program “Log to” set to “Default for programs” uses log 2. But when I want to isolate logging for a specific program I’m actively working on, I set the “Log to” to Log 3.

Log less
An obvious way to keep the logs less overburdened is to log less. What I do for programs I know operate as expected, and for devices that are too “chatty”, is to disable logging for them. Again, on the Log tab of a program or device’s properties there is a way to disable logging for it.
The less that goes into the log the better. If you have many programs or devices to change, you can make a multi-selection of devices or programs, and then change the logging options for one and the others will be updated with your change as well. Another quick way to changing logging for a group of programs in a folder is to right-click on the folder.
There are menu choices that enable or disable logging for all programs in a folder. This is a quick way to change a set of programs that work together and is organized, as is a good idea, into a single folder.

Log filters
Finally, once you have the log showing only what is essential, the log can still get big. That is where filters are useful. At the bottom of the log viewer is a button to create a filter and there are lots of options to configure the filter. But a quick way, assuming you want to focus in on a single device or program, is to right-click on that object and select “Show Log” from the popup menu.

This creates a temporary filter for just that device or program. It then opens the log viewer showing the log that the device or program uses and applies that filter.

Program Notes viewer
While not part of the log, the Program Notes viewer – which shows diagnostic messages that programs create as they execute – can have the same problem of too many messages in the viewer to find what you want. The program notes viewer has an Options button that allows you to select only those programs you want to see notes from. Use it to limit which programs can place messages in the viewer.

The log can still be your friend, but be nice to it and don’t stuff it full. Then it can help answer your questions about why something “isn’t working”.


When was the last time you made a backup of your HCA design? Not a month goes by without at least one tale of woe from a HCA user. Please use the "Design Backup Assistant" on the Tools ribbon category. The work you save will be your own.

Want to take the next step in automation? Want to get started with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and control HCA by voice commands? Even if you are a long-time user of HCA, the Getting Started guides have all the info you need on client-server, mobile applications, DDNS, and voice assistants.

All of the
Getting Started Guides are available on the support website.
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