Home Control Assistant Newsletter for July 12

Have you looked over the version 16 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.
Thanks for the feedback!
I want to thank those who took a minute to respond to my feedback request and I want to say two things. First, as there was a request to do more technical stuff, I have created three new technical notes and they are available today. Details below.

Second, I fully admit that this weekly message is part marketing. Anything you get from any company has an aspect of marketing to it. Clearly, I want you to stay interested in HCA and recommend it, purchase products and upgrades. But I like to think that the balance in these emails is much more technical than marketing. Like the six weeks of a “deep dive” into the program debugger I recently did. If you don’t think I’m hitting that sweet spot between marketing and technical, please let me know. Feedback of all kinds is always welcome.

Where is automation going?
Another user asked me to say where I thought automation is going. I’ve previously written about how the world has changed from “all one protocol” to a mix of technologies into one system. This will only accelerate.  I recently worked with a user who had a huge number of Insteon wireless thermostats to, I suppose, keep track of temperature in different rooms. While that was the only option a while back, the better option – especially because Insteon thermostats can be difficult – would be the more modern temperature sensors available for SmartThings and Hubitat. 

I also suspect that we will move away from products that are wired directly into line voltage. Fewer wall switches and more Wi-Fi or other wireless protocol enabled light bulbs and plug in devices like LIFX and TP-Link. Anything where installing requires shutting off power to a circuit is a bridge too far for most individuals.

As the months and years pass, I suspect that at some point one of the big dogs, like Google with their Assistant product, will be able to talk every possible protocol and have aspects of programming rather than the primitive “routines” they now have. And for 90% of users that will probably be all that they need. But for the 10% of us who want to integrate at a much deeper level we will continue to need something with more capabilities to create that intelligence.

In my own home I use mostly UPB but also have a Nest thermostat, Ecobee thermostat – two different heating systems – several Nest cameras, a Ring floodlight Camera, LIFX Lights, and several sensors managed by Hubitat.  Why all the different stuff? Well, I could use only one thermostat brand, but it was better to get some real-world experience with both. The Nest cameras are great for indoor, but I wanted something better for outdoor and Ring had the better product in my opinion. The LIFX lights I admit are a toy – do I really need different colors in my front entryway? Probably not, but it’s fun! The sensors are where I’m spending time right now. I’m doing a lot with them and will continue to do more. And this is the point: Integration across different types of devices, each doing what I need. I expect that your experiences will be similar as time passes.

Fun with Sensors?
By request I put together new technical notes about using sensors with HCA to accomplish three different goals. Rather than me discussing the details in this message, here are the links. Read at your leisure.
#135: Best way to handle sensors messages
#136: Determining Home or Away with a Presence sensor
#137: Determining light and dark with a light sensor

V17 Open beta now available - beta 18 now available
The HCA 17 open beta this week gets a new release:17.0.18. Want in? All you need do is to enter your HCA registration code into the
online form as usual, and the resulting page contains a link to the beta page for download. The beta zip file password is the same as your V16 password. Please read fully and carefully the build notes. One suggestion: If you are using SmartThings or Hubitat you really should get on board with the beta as there is new stuff heading your way that needs this beta version.
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.
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