Home Control Assistant Newsletter for October 20

Have you looked over the version 15 release notes? Lots of changes that you can incorporate into your designs right away.

And if you are looking for answers to the most common questions about HCA check out our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Want to read message from past weeks? Here you go.
October. It’s all about the run up to Halloween, right? At least from what one sees in the stores these days. And while we have really worked hard to make sure that HCA isn’t a scary product there are some dark corners in it - full of useful but little explored features. Not scary at all once you know how they work and how useful they are. So, done in the spirit of Trick-or-Treat, here are yet two more new treats for the week.

The Visual Program Debugger
If you find your programs becoming like the Jabberwock (monster), then the program debugger is your Vorpal sword (best tool ever). At some point your programs were simple: Turn on a light, wait 30 seconds, turn off the light. A hole-in-three and made par. But as time passed you started to create much more complex programs, performing different actions at different times of the day, combining different inputs to make decisions, and starting auxiliary programs. You get the idea. With the debugger you can start the program and go element-by-element as it performs its actions, seeing how the flow goes and possibly changing the flow to try out different paths in your program. It’s something so big and so important you really should review the user guide chapter on it.

And to set a trap for the next monster that comes calling, you can place breakpoints (an element marked so that when it is about to be executed causes the program to hold and the debugger started) in your program. Then ready the debugger by enabling the Just in Time Debugger option. Go to the Tools ribbon category, Just in Time Debugger button to configure this.

Really, you must investigate the debugger before that monster arrives and, we both know, it will.

Network Device Tool
Look at your router interface sometime and count the number of devices with IP addresses that are in your home. Then look again a day later and like the flocks of birds in the Hitchcock movie there will be more. That’s because so many things are connected to the internet: TVs, refrigerators, lights, phones, tablets, trackers, and the list goes on and on.

HCA has a tool accessed from the Design ribbon category, Network Devices button that allows you to ask HCA to periodically see if a device is in range of your network or not, and perform different acts depending upon what side of the wall of stones it is on. One good use is to perform some actions when a TV with an IP connection is turned on, or when a family member’s mobile goes in range or out.

There is a lot of setup parameters in this tool as you must handle what happens if the device doesn’t respond, if it goes out of range momentarily, or when it first appears. When you work with this tool make sure you enable the logging for it as it creates an extensive log showing what is happening and how it interprets what it sees vis-a-vis the configuration supplied.

HCA Server Computers
Several users have taken advantage of our special deal on small footprint, fanless, no-moving-parts computers that are really good for running the HCA Server 24/7. If you want to learn more take a look at the server page we have for that.

We got a super price on them and if you are interested please let me know. One nice thing is that before they ship, we do all the Windows setup and updating – to the latest Windows (1903) – and install the HCA Server and make sure it is all ready to go. And we have done something else to help you get started with the new Backup Assistant. All the details are in tech note 105 Moving HCA to a new computer.

If you have any questions about these machines and their use as an HCA Server, please just drop me an email.
Want to watch instead of read?

If you are interested in watching some videos about how HCA and Insteon can work together, George De Luca, a HCA users of a few years and technology video creator, has started to add HCA videos to his channel. He has a good knowledge of HCA and its ins-and-outs.
His channel can be reached at: While I’ve offered him some thoughts on the videos, his opinions and advice on using HCA are his own. If you have questions about something you see, ask them in the video comment section and you may see a video with an answer.

User-to-User forum

An HCA User who wanted to set up a forum for user-to-user communication. I'm passing this on, but please know that this is not a HCA company project and I will not be spending much time there so I don't know how this will work out. Here is a link to what he set up.

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.
Copyright © 2019 Advanced Quonset Technology, Inc, All rights reserved.

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