NOTE: Although this FAQ was written for HomeVision, most topics apply to HomeVision-Pro as well.
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General Information Questions
Installation and Equipment Questions
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.
Answer: HomeVision 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 times.
HomeVision-PC may be preferable if all of the following conditions are met:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 details.
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Answer: See our wiring tips page for suggestions.
Answer: Two locations are most popular:
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 port:
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.
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.).
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!):