NOTE: Although this FAQ was written for HomeVision, most topics apply to
HomeVision-Pro as well.
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General Information Questions
Does HomeVision require a TV?
Does HomeVision require a PC?
How do I choose between HomeVision and HomeVision-PC?
Can HomeVision be installed by a do-it-yourselfer?
Can I get voice recognition with HomeVision?
Do you have an Apple version of the PC software?
Will there be any software upgrades to add more features?
Installation and Equipment Questions
What accessories do I need?
Can HomeVision be installed in an existing house or apartment?
What wiring should I run?
Where should I put the HomeVision controller in my home?
Can I use a long serial cable to connect to HomeVision?
Is the HomeVision video overlaid on top of the TV picture?
What do I need to view the HomeVision video output?
Can I control HomeVision throughout my house with a remote?
following questions and answers apply to both HomeVision and HomeVision-PC, except where
HomeVision require a TV?
Answer: No. Although the video menu
system that can be displayed on a TV is HomeVisions most unique feature, you
dont have to use it. HomeVision can be controlled in many ways, including by
computer, infrared remote, X-10, and digital inputs. Many people choose HomeVision because
of its powerful non-video capabilities, and dont use the video system.
HomeVision require a PC?
requires a PC for initial configuration and downloading a schedule into the controller.
After that, the PC may be disconnected. Alternatively, you can leave the HomeVision
controller connected to the PC to provide more capabilities.
HomeVision-PC does require a PC to be operating at all
Question: How do I
know if I need HomeVision or HomeVision-PC?
Answer: The vast majority of users
prefer HomeVision or HomeVision-Pro, as they provides much more power and can run
"stand-alone" (i.e., without a computer running).
HomeVision-PC may be preferable if all
of the following conditions are met:
|Youve selected a PC-based program (such as HAL2000,
ECS, or others) to be the "brain" of your system.|
|You dont need any of the accessories (which work only with HomeVision).|
|Youre willing to have your system dependent upon the PC (i.e., your system
will go down if the PC crashes or shuts down).|
|Youre on a budget and cant afford HomeVision (HomeVision-PC typically
sells for about $200 less than HomeVision).|
If you meet all these conditions, you may prefer to use HomeVision-PC as the
hardware interface to the PC. HomeVision-PC provides the X-10, infrared, I/O, and video
interfaces, while the PC software acts as the "brain". If you choose
HomeVision-PC and later decide you need the more advanced capabilities of HomeVision or HomeVision-Pro, you
can easily upgrade.
HomeVision be installed by a do-it-yourselfer, or is professional installation required?
Answer: The choice is yours.
Physically installing and connecting HomeVision is quite simple in comparison to
installing other automation devices you may have (X-10 wall switches, thermostats, alarm
panels, drapery controllers, etc.). HomeVision does require "programming" in
order to control your house. However, no computer programming experience is needed.
Youll simply be "pointing and clicking" to tell the controller what you
want it to do.
If you prefer, professional installation is available from most home automation
installers around the country.
Question: Can I get voice
recognition with HomeVision?
Answer: You can run HAL2000, Home Voice, or Dragon Dictate on your PC to provide voice
recognition. We recommend Home Voice for voice recognition and response, and HAL2000 if
you also need its many other capabilities like Internet access, phone control, etc.
Home Voice can also "speak" upon command from HomeVision.
Question: Do you
have an Apple version of the PC software?
Answer: No. However, you can run
VirtualPC on your Apple computer, which in turn can run the HomeVision software. You may
need an adapter to connect the HomeVision serial port to your computer.
Question: Will there
be any software upgrades to add more features?
Answer: We are regularly developing
new upgrades of software and firmware (a PROM chip in the controller) to add features. See
our upgrade page for details.
accessories do I need?
Answer: HomeVision is the central
controller for a house. You need to provide all the systems to be controlled and any
inputs you want to use. For example, you may want any or all of the following:
|X-10 devices (wall switches, lamp modules, drapery controllers, etc.)|
|Door/window contacts or similar switches|
|Whole-house audio/video distribution system|
|Whole-house infrared distribution system|
|Infrared remote control|
|Relays to control sprinklers, motors, etc.|
HomeVision be installed in an existing house or apartment?
Answer: Yes. HomeVisions
primary control method is X-10, which uses your existing AC power lines to communicate
with other devices. Some of HomeVisions other capabilities may require dedicated
wiring, depending on how you choose to use it. See the following question for more
building a new house. What wiring should I run to take advantage of HomeVisions
Answer: See our wiring tips page for suggestions.
should I put the HomeVision controller in my home?
Answer: Two locations are most
|In an entertainment center. This works best for
relatively simple installations and provides several advantages:|
|Easy to connect HomeVisions video output to your TV.|
|Easy for HomeVision to transmit infrared signals to A/V equipment located in the
|Ideal location to use your TV remote to control HomeVision.|
|Easy to connect to A/V equipment sensors.|
|In a "wiring" closet or "mechanical"
room. This works best for complex installations, and installations where other
equipment (security panel, A/V distribution system, IR distribution system, etc.) is
located there also. This is also the ideal location for HomeVision-ProThis provides several advantages:|
|Easy to wire HomeVision directly to the security system and other co-located
|Easier to run wires from other areas of your home into here than into an
|Easier to access than if the equipment is buried within an entertainment center.|
Question: If I put
HomeVision somewhere distant from my computer, can I connect them with a long serial
Answer: Yes. The main issue is the
allowable cable length. The original RS-232 standard (for serial communications) specified
a maximum length of 15 meters (nearly 50 feet). This was later changed to specify a
maximum capacitance of 2500pF. Many HomeVision users use Cat-5 cable runs of 100 feet or
more with excellent results. Weve tested HomeVision with 200 feet of inexpensive
twisted-pair wiring without any problems.
If you make your own cable note that HomeVision uses three wires of the serial
|Pin 2 - TXD (transmit from unit)|
|Pin 3 - RXD (receive input into unit)|
|Pin 5 - Ground|
Question: Is the
HomeVision video overlaid on top of the TV picture, or does it have its own
background (thereby obscuring any underlying picture)?
Answer: HomeVision can work either
way. If you dont input a video signal into HomeVision, HomeVision will display the
text/menus on a solid background (default color is blue). If you input a video signal,
HomeVision can overlay the text onto the video or display the solid background.
Question: What do I
need to view the HomeVision video output?
Answer: The video output is through
an RCA-type connector. If your TV has audio/video input jacks, you can connect the
HomeVision output to one of the video inputs. To watch HomeVision, you simply select that
input source (just like selecting a VCR connected to the A/V input jacks).
If your TV doesnt have A/V inputs, you could connect the HomeVision output
to A/V inputs on a VCR. Tune your TV to watch the VCR, and select the A/V input for the
VCR (since HomeVision can transmit infrared signals, this can all happen automatically).
If you want to view HomeVision on all your TVs, use a whole-house A/V
distribution system and put HomeVision on its own channel.
Note that HomeVision doesnt have any audio outputs, so you dont need
to connect to the audio jacks on the A/V input. However, you could use the audio inputs to
connect a PC sound card output. Whenever the HomeVision A/V input is selected, you could
have the computer provide audio output (for messages, confirmation of actions, etc.).
Question: Can I
control HomeVision throughout my house with a remote?
Answer: This can be accomplished
with an infrared distribution system. Several types of systems are available, listed in
increasing order of power/reliability/cost (since they usually go together!):
|X-10 Powermid. This is a two-piece
system with a transmitter in one room that converts the IR signal from your remote to RF
and a receiver near HomeVision that converts the signal back to IR.|
|Remote control extender. This is a
two-piece system with a small device placed on the end of the remote that converts the IR
signal to RF, and an RF receiver located near HomeVision that converts the signal back to
|Through-the-cable system. This is a
more elaborate system with IR receivers located in different rooms that send the signal
over your existing coax cable line. Another device near HomeVision extracts the signal
from the coax, converts in back to IR, and transmits it to HomeVision (or to your other
A/V equipment). These are often available as part of a whole-house A/V distribution
|Hard-wired system. This is similar
to the "through-the-cable" systems, except dedicated wires are use instead of
the coax cable. This is usually the most expensive system and must be run while the house
is being built, but provides the highest reliability. It also allows IR "zoning"
usually not possible with the other systems. Zoning allows the IR output from HomeVision
to be directed only to specific zones, and may be necessary if you have multiple devices
that use the same infrared remote. For example, if you have two Sony TVs that use the same
remote, you cant control them individually unless you zone the IR output.|