Home Control Assistant Newsletter for January 3

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.
Smarter Keypads
I have a technique that I thought I would pass on regarding keypads and how the button indicators can be improved in some situations. Let me start off with an example that came from a user. 

Suppose you have a keypad with a button that controls three devices. In this case it doesn’t matter if it is Insteon or UPB, but it does have to have indicator LEDs. The keypad button can easily be programmed to activate a scene bypressing the button when the LED is dark. When the LED is illuminated then a push deactivates the scene.

Generally, what is done from HCA is to schedule that scene or have that scene activated based upon some event. By activating the scene not only the devices in the scene get controlled, but the button LED also illuminates, so a press of the button deactivates the scene.

What happens if instead of pushing the keypad button to deactivate the scene you instead manually turn the devices in the scene off? You tap a switch paddle or an event like an auto-off controls a device off? Neither UPB nor Insteon keypads are smart enough to turn the button indicator off. You could have the devices in the scene send a deactivate command when locally controlled. That turns the button LED off but not when they all go off. In fact, if you use that technique then all the devices in the scene will go off when you locally control one to off. That may not be what you want.

What you really want is the button to turn off only when all devices in the scene are off. How can you do that? That takes an intelligence, and HCA is that intelligence.

Create an HCA program that has a state change trigger for each device in the scene. Like this:

The program, when started, checks the state of each device – and it does so in a way that doesn’t query the device as we want this to be quick – and if they are all off, then it turns the button indicator LED off. That’s all there is to it!

You could do this with a series of Test elements, but one Compute element does the job. Note the optional second argument to the IsOff function is used in this case. When the second argument is supplied, and when the value is “no”, then the device isn’t sent a message to get its state – only the state as saved by HCA is used.

Admittedly this technique can become overwhelming if you have many keypads with buttons that operate like this as you need a program per button. I thought about making a parameterized “helper” program that took as parameters the name of the keypad button and the devices controlled, but you still need to create a program with the state change triggers for the button. One can’t have everything I suppose.
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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