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Basic Idea about AMX Home Automation System

microchip78microchip78 Junior MemberPosts: 25
Hi Guys,

I am new to AMX HA System. I have studied so far Clipsal C-bus, Dynalite and Control 4 system. It was easy to understand from their product documentation but I didnt understood AMX from its products documentation. I will appreciate if any AMX expert give some time to answer my following question or suggest some direction to understand AMX System.

1. On which protocol AMX system is based on?

2. Does AMX has only one protocol or it supports multiple protocols based on which a NetLinx central processor communicate with other part of HA System?

3. Does NetLinx controller directly talk to individual driver or actuator or NetLinx controller talk to another system setup for a specific HA Job? For example, does NetLinx Controller directly talk to Dynalite Light Switch or Load Driver or Dynalite Lighting Automation has its own central processor and NetLinx talk to that Dynalite Central Processor to control Lights and other functions under that networks? And same thing applicable to other part of HA System too.

4. What I am trying to understand is, does NetLinx controller directly controls the loads or it controls the other HA System implemented for specific task and NetLinx does a job of synchronization between those systems?

5. On which protocol a wireless hand held LCD Display communicate with NetLinx Controller, 802.11b or anyother?

I have many more questions but I think some of them are inter-related with these and might be answers of these questions resolve them directly or indirectly. But this will give me and many like me an idea how AMX system basically works.

Thanks for taking time and reading this post.

Regards,

MC78

Comments

  • travtrav Get off my lawn Posts: 188
    AMX.. What is it ???
    Hi Guys,

    Hi !
    I am new to AMX HA System. I have studied so far Clipsal C-bus, Dynalite and Control 4 system. It was easy to understand from their product documentation but I didnt understood AMX from its products documentation. I will appreciate if any AMX expert give some time to answer my following question or suggest some direction to understand AMX System.

    I'm sure we can help....

    1. On which protocol AMX system is based on?

    It is not really based on a protocol per se. You have a central controller, or processor, that does nothing when you buy it. You have to write code to get it to do anything. That being said, the general answer to a 'can I control product X with AMX' is yes. It all depends on how much code you need to write, what modules are availible for specific bits of equiptment.

    A Module is a prewritten and precompiled bit of code that you can include in your program that will provide functionality for a given device, say a dynalight dimmer, or an onkyo amplifier.


    2. Does AMX has only one protocol or it supports multiple protocols based on which a NetLinx central processor communicate with other part of HA System?

    Again, as above you write code based on the control protocol for the appliances you are trying to control.
    For example an NI-3100 has 7 RS232/422/485 ports on it that you can connect devices to, you just need to consult the manuals for those device to get the protocol.

    As ALL amx processors have an Ethernet port you can have up to 200 simultanious IP connections from (or to ) your master to control IP based devices.

    It really is protocol independant, as long as you can get information on the protocol, you can write code that will talk to that particular deivce. It really is exceptionally powerful. Not to knock other Automation systems, but I have been to many a job site where they have been sold, say in your example control 4 and have gotten the taste for a control system, but have got to the point where they can't expand their system anymore and have to rip it out and start again. The advantage of AMX is it in infinitely scalable to suit the needs of the particular client.

    3. Does NetLinx controller directly talk to individual driver or actuator or NetLinx controller talk to another system setup for a specific HA Job? For example, does NetLinx Controller directly talk to Dynalite Light Switch or Load Driver or Dynalite Lighting Automation has its own central processor and NetLinx talk to that Dynalite Central Processor to control Lights and other functions under that networks? And same thing applicable to other part of HA System too.

    As I said above it talks (usually) directly to a device, in the case of Dynalite, you talk to a dynalight PC node that then talks to the BUS which communicates with a dimmer. An autopatch switch you talk directly to it with RS232, or an ethernet module. It is device dependant (don't forget we also have IR ports!) Amps can have RS232 ports. In general it is best to get devices that have ethernet or RS232 control so you can get information back from the device. IR you can really only give the user Best Guess feedback, I've sent the IR but what the device has done is hard to say! (you can get current sensors and video sync sensors and the like to make ir a little more friendly )

    4. What I am trying to understand is, does NetLinx controller directly controls the loads or it controls the other HA System implemented for specific task and NetLinx does a job of synchronization between those systems?

    No, think of AMX as a nice programmable computer that you can get to do whatever you want it to. I CAN talk to other Home automation devices, but more often than not it IS the home automation device and it can do WHATEVER (within time and budgetory constraints) you program it to do.


    5. On which protocol a wireless hand held LCD Display communicate with NetLinx Controller, 802.11b or anyother?

    Ethernet, 802.11b/g, the Older VPT-CP/VPN panels used RF, the R4(and R3) wireless handset uses 802.15.4, called Zigbee. The R1 and R2 use RF, all the Touchpanels now use Ethernet, either wired or wireless. Other devices can us Axlink a 4 wire (485 esq) bus that supports up to 255 devices on it, like button wall plates, and a few other 'black boxes'

    I have many more questions but I think some of them are inter-related with these and might be answers of these questions resolve them directly or indirectly. But this will give me and many like me an idea how AMX system basically works.

    Hopefully my answers have helped! If you have anymore questions there are a large number of very talented people who inhabit these forums and collectivly we have a wealth of experience and expertise to draw upon.
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    Thanks for your response

    First of all I would like to thank you for your warm welcome and nice response.

    Most of the time when newbies enter in to the forum and ask any silly questions, get response from Admin or other expert user to look in to other post in forum but they dont understand that we have already looked in to forum that whether it has been posted before or not.

    trav wrote: »

    It is not really based on a protocol per se. You have a central controller, or processor, that does nothing when you buy it. You have to write code to get it to do anything. That being said, the general answer to a 'can I control product X with AMX' is yes. It all depends on how much code you need to write, what modules are availible for specific bits of equiptment.

    A Module is a prewritten and precompiled bit of code that you can include in your program that will provide functionality for a given device, say a dynalight dimmer, or an onkyo amplifier.

    I think your explanation make AMX HA System's picture little bit clear to me.

    But what about those devices / control system which are not based on interface NetLinx controller supports. For example NI-3101-SIG. It has following interface.
    * 8 ? IR / Serial
    * 8 ? Digital I/O
    * 8 ? Relays
    * 6 ? Configurable RS-232 / RS-422 / RS-485 Serial ports
    * 2 ? Communication Networks: AxLink and Ethernet (TCP/IP)

    But what about if target device/driver/system does not have any of these interface or may be your experience says that any HA system / device has at least one of above mentioned interface.

    For example Clipsal switches work on C-bus wired protocol. In that case how NI-3101-SIG control the clipsal switch and load?

    trav wrote: »

    As I said above it talks (usually) directly to a device, in the case of Dynalite, you talk to a dynalight PC node that then talks to the BUS which communicates with a dimmer. An autopatch switch you talk directly to it with RS232, or an ethernet module.

    So In case of Control 4 which works on Zigbee protocol, NI-3101-SIG control central controller of Control 4 system and Control 4 Central controller sent actual command to particular device about what to do. M I right? Please correct me If I am wrong.

    If this is the case customer has to by Control 4 Central controller along with NI-3101-SIG, which add an extra cost in to it. Rather than customer would go for whole Control 4 system that doesnt require them to buy another controller. How you can justify this? And same could happen with another proprietary protocol devices.
    trav wrote: »

    Think of AMX as a nice programmable computer that you can get to do whatever you want it to. I CAN talk to other Home automation devices, but more often than not it IS the home automation device and it can do WHATEVER (within time and budgetory constraints) you program it to do.

    I think it sounds really great as I my self is embedded system programmer working in Automotive (CAR) body control programming.



    How IR ports in NI-3101-SIG or any other NetLinx controller works. I think for IR a transmitter and receiver has to be face to face each other. But when I have DVD player and my NI-3101-SIG stacked on same rack how can NI-3101-SIG IR Port control DVD Player?

    trav wrote: »

    Hopefully my answers have helped! If you have anymore questions there are a large number of very talented people who inhabit these forums and collectivly we have a wealth of experience and expertise to draw upon.

    Definitely your answer solved lots of my unresolved question in mind. I think i was thinking in wrong domain.

    Once again thanks for your response.

    MC78
  • travtrav Get off my lawn Posts: 188
    But what about if target device/driver/system does not have any of these interface or may be your experience says that any HA system / device has at least one of above mentioned interface.

    For example Clipsal switches work on C-bus wired protocol. In that case how NI-3101-SIG control the clipsal switch and load?

    The C-Bus has a box that gives you an RS-232 or ip link into the c-bus controller itself. Not sure what the model number is off hand.

    So In case of Control 4 which works on Zigbee protocol, NI-3101-SIG control central controller of Control 4 system and Control 4 Central controller sent actual command to particular device about what to do. M I right? Please correct me If I am wrong.

    Not that aufai with Control 4 but if you can talk to it with RS232 or IP then you would be able to write some code in the Netlinx to talk to the Control4, then write something in the Control 4 to do something on it's own proprietary network with its devices when it got that command from the Netlinx, and vica versa.. But in reality ? why would you bother.. you'd just spec all AMX equiptment to start with! But if you had to expand on a particular job, then I guess you could, again see answer in first post, ANYTHING is possible, but you have to think also, even if it is possible, is it worth it ?

    The amount of Money (in your time) you spend to integrate with ANY other control system, you are probably going to find that it would have been cheaper simply to start from scratch with AMX.

    If this is the case customer has to by Control 4 Central controller along with NI-3101-SIG, which add an extra cost in to it. Rather than customer would go for whole Control 4 system that doesnt require them to buy another controller. How you can justify this? And same could happen with another proprietary protocol devices.

    I'm am a little confused, if you are buying one of the new signature series controllers, why are you speccing in Control 4 at all ? The AMX touchpanels an SOOO much more powerful. You can do so much with AMX there is no need, as I said above to create a hybrid monster.
    How IR ports in NI-3101-SIG or any other NetLinx controller works. I think for IR a transmitter and receiver has to be face to face each other. But when I have DVD player and my NI-3101-SIG stacked on same rack how can NI-3101-SIG IR Port control DVD Player?

    Correct, you have to wire the IR emitter so that it makes contact with the receiver, so you are limited by this distance the IR port can drive over a cable (in my experience as far as you can get it to work reliably!) AMX also supports what we call Master to Master communications, so you can link Master controllers together via TCP/IP and each master can be running code, but can also see and utalise ports on OTHER masters, or you could just put in a 700 or a 900 series as a room controller, not run anycode in it, but use it like a port extender over ethernet.
    Definitely your answer solved lots of my unresolved question in mind. I think i was thinking in wrong domain.
    Once again thanks for your response.
    MC78

    No dramas at all.
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    Not interested in Control 4, Just trying to understand whole system
    trav wrote: »

    I'm am a little confused, if you are buying one of the new signature series controllers, why are you speccing in Control 4 at all ? The AMX touchpanels an SOOO much more powerful. You can do so much with AMX there is no need, as I said above to create a hybrid monster.

    I am not really interested in integrating Control 4 with AMX. I gave you an example so I can understand how integration between two different system works.
    trav wrote: »

    Correct, you have to wire the IR emitter so that it makes contact with the receiver, so you are limited by this distance the IR port can drive over a cable (in my experience as far as you can get it to work reliably!)

    So you mean to say that IR (InfraRed) Port from NetLinx controller is connected to IR Receiver of device through wire not with Infra Red. Correct me if I am wrong.

    By the way which language used to program NetLinx Controller. Or it is something wizard type configuration just drag and drop the modules and it start working?
  • filpeefilpee Junior Member Posts: 64
    So you mean to say that IR (InfraRed) Port from NetLinx controller is connected to IR Receiver of device through wire not with Infra Red. Correct me if I am wrong.
    Sortof. Think along the lines of removing the IR LED from your handheld remote control, then reconnecting it with a length of figure 8 cable. You can put the IR LED anywhere you want so long as it still has line of sight to the receiver on the front of your equipment. Generally one IR LED is used per device so this LED is stuck onto the front of the equipment.
    By the way which language used to program NetLinx Controller. Or it is something wizard type configuration just drag and drop the modules and it start working?
    Programming AMX is via a 'C Like' programming structure. In other words its all line code that kinda looks like C.
  • travtrav Get off my lawn Posts: 188
    I am not really interested in integrating Control 4 with AMX. I gave you an example so I can understand how integration between two different system works.

    Good! Integration with Any device is basically the same, as long as you have a protocol that you can use it will work.

    So you mean to say that IR (InfraRed) Port from NetLinx controller is connected to IR Receiver of device through wire not with Infra Red. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Sorry, my wording was a little poor. In the phoenix connector on the back of the Netlinx you wire in an IR Emitter that you then place the IR Diode emitting end physically close to, or in contact with the IR receive port of the device you are trying to control.
    By the way which language used to program NetLinx Controller. Or it is something wizard type configuration just drag and drop the modules and it start working?

    We have 2 now! Mainly used is Netlinx, a proprietory language that has its underpinnings in C. Event driven, with Defines, functions, includes. Newly added is a J2ME machine in the processor which gives us the ability to use JAVA to write device drivers basically. You will see Cafe Duet refered to on here and on the AMX site when you start looking at Modules to control devices. Duet Modules are written in JAVA and run on J2ME in the processor, it then uses a standard API (SNAPI, or Standard Netlinx Application Programming Interface) to interface to day to day netlinx code.

    You can program all of a control system in Java, but it isn't worth it. Duet is REALLY good for very complex bits of kit that you need to control, but in reality Duet is being pushed to manufactures to write Duet modules for their products to make it easier for us to integrate with.

    Have a look at Device discovery as well, esentially a Device discovery compatible device will tell the netlinx where to get a duet device module, the netlinx will download it, run it in the J2ME and because you have written Netlinx for a standard API changing Device if they are Device desicovery enabled and have duet modules requires no code changes for you as a programmer.

    Something to look at is the Netlinx programming guide, which I think is linked to from any of the product pages for Netlinx Controllers.

    I feel like a salesman!
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    Is there any documentation available how whole AMX system works

    Hi Experts,

    I got some general idea about AMX System and how it works. Now I am interested to know in detail how can we interconnect different components in AMX System and how it transfer control from end user to destination device.

    Does any one have any idea such documentation available? Not exactly what I described here but anything like an application notes for a small system. For example how a small house can be atomized with AMX System or something like that. I was looking on AMX Website but i didnt find something like this. I found some superficial system diagram but no detail description of it.

    Also one more question? What is difference between NetLinx Controller with Master and without Master?

    If anyone have any idea please suggest me.

    Regards,

    MC78
  • jjamesjjames AMX Sustaining Engineer Posts: 2,900
    Does any one have any idea such documentation available? Not exactly what I described here but anything like an application notes for a small system. For example how a small house can be atomized with AMX System or something like that. I was looking on AMX Website but i didnt find something like this. I found some superficial system diagram but no detail description of it.
    What do you need to know? Typically to control a system, you'll need a touch panel or some other type of end-user device (keypad, touch panel, remote, etc.), an AMX controller (Axcess or NetLinx master will work), then all the devices you wish to control via the Axcess/NetLinx controller. You will also need to write the program and develop the touch panel file using dealer only programs such as NetLinx Studio and Touch Panel Designer 4.
    Also one more question? What is difference between NetLinx Controller with Master and without Master?
    The system with a master will work, the system without a master will not work.
    If anyone have any idea please suggest me.
    You can try calling AMX for an in-depth discussion on becoming a dealer.
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    Thanks for your reply

    Thanks for your response. I know a general idea about AMX System but I am looking for some sort of application note of AMX System.

    But I think its alright. I will go through the data sheets of different component and put them together to find out how whole AMX System works. It will be a good exercises.

    MC78
  • travtrav Get off my lawn Posts: 188
    Might I also suggest logging onto AMX University and doing the Online training courses. They are extremely helpful for anyone new to AMX.
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    Thats what I was thinking now ...
    trav wrote: »
    Might I also suggest logging onto AMX University and doing the Online training courses. They are extremely helpful for anyone new to AMX.

    Thanks for your suggestions but thats what I was thinking. I also register with that but asking for some company ID to access to register with course. I dont know how to get it. I also email to Australian office to give me advice how to go ahead with online course but no response yet.

    What are the fees for online course? Do you have any idea?

    MC78
  • Joe HebertJoe Hebert Junior Member Posts: 2,154
    What are the fees for online course?
    There are no fees, it's free.
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    What is company ID?
    Joe Hebert wrote: »
    There are no fees, it's free.

    I have register for online course but it is asking for AMX Company ID before continue future. There is one link on AMX Australia website. I emailed them but havent got any response yet. Now I have emailed to AMX.com for company ID. Lets see.
  • jazzwyldjazzwyld Registered User Posts: 199
    next step

    You'll have to wait to hear back from Australia. You need to be an authorized dealer, partner, or programmer to be allowed access to AMX university, because with that login you also get dealer pricing, depending on what type of login/access you have.
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    jazzwyld wrote: »
    You'll have to wait to hear back from Australia. You need to be an authorized dealer, partner, or programmer to be allowed access to AMX university, because with that login you also get dealer pricing, depending on what type of login/access you have.

    I am not dealer / partner but I am programmer but not AMX programmer I am embedded system programmer and working in totally different field not in Home Automation at all.

    What happen in this case ... will the issue me AMX Company ID ?
  • jjamesjjames AMX Sustaining Engineer Posts: 2,900
    I am not dealer / partner but I am programmer but not AMX programmer I am embedded system programmer and working in totally different field not in Home Automation at all.

    What happen in this case ... will the issue me AMX Company ID ?
    Mmm . . . probably not.

    AMX just doesn't hand out their training classes to anyone who wants to learn for the fun of it. This would be like a university security officer asking the US Navy SEALS if he could train with them . . . just for fun.

    When you become an AMX independent dealer (which I have no idea what their requirements are) or an authorized dealer or work for an authorized dealer, I know you'll then have access.

    I've been wrong before on things, and I may be wrong on this but . . . either way - good luck!
  • travtrav Get off my lawn Posts: 188
    ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

    What he said.
  • gusgizmogusgizmo Junior Member Posts: 15
    Honestly, AMX hardware is great, but is most likely marked up at least 10x over component cost. The difference in pricing there is due to the software they put on it. It's great stuff, but it's really tailored for home automation type stuff. There are alot of gotchas in netlinx that make it a real pain to use, but it's totally worth it for all the stuff they make real easy, especially the premade modules for common A/V stuff.

    There are alot of embedded solutions out there, if you aren't doing home automation, why tie yourself down with AMX's proprietary hardware and language?

    Basically you are paying for:

    1. Name!

    2. The home automation/integration software framework (netlinx)

    3. Support for using the language for automation/integration

    If these aren't important for your application, you have still have a whole ton of options out there ranging from C to Python to Lisp on whatever hardware you choose. You can get an embedded hardware device w/ network adapter and a network serial port expander for well under a thousand dollars and run any language and software you choose on it.
  • patbpatb Junior Member Posts: 140
    For example Clipsal switches work on C-bus wired protocol. In that case how NI-3101-SIG control the clipsal switch and load?


    So In case of Control 4 which works on Zigbee protocol, NI-3101-SIG control central controller of Control 4 system and Control 4 Central controller sent actual command to particular device about what to do. M I right? Please correct me If I am wrong.

    If this is the case customer has to by Control 4 Central controller along with NI-3101-SIG, which add an extra cost in to it. Rather than customer would go for whole Control 4 system that doesnt require them to buy another controller. How you can justify this? And same could happen with another proprietary protocol devices.

    MC78

    It has been explained a couple of different ways, but you might be missing the big picture. AMX *IS* the home automation controller. You don't integrate it to other HA contollers such as Control 4, etc. You would use AMX instead of your other system because AMX is much more powerful. There are different pieces of equipment in the system..such as switchers, displays, sources (DVD, VCR, DSS, etc), lighting, screens, shades, and more and AMX talks DIRECTLY to each of those pieces of equipment through whatever method each equipment uses.

    I'm going to use an analogy so don't think I'm talking down to you, just trying to make it clearer. Let's say you had a task of transporting 25 people across town and you had a schoolbus (AMX) and a VW Beetle (Control 4). The simplest way to get 25 people across town would be to put 25 people in the schoolbus and drive the schoolbus across town and forget about the Beetle. Attaching an AMX to a Control 4 system would be equivalent to putting 25 people inside the schoolbus and stacking it on top of the Beetle and then driving the Beetle across town.

    AMX limits the access to its software because the system is only as good as the software. If anyone could just download software and start programming there would be some really messed up systems out there. And guess who looks bad? Whose name is stamped all over the product? AMX or the programmer? A badly programmed system can cause a lot of grief for AMX and then they end up having to step in and fix the system for free because a rogue programmer didn't know what they were doing.

    I'm not sure how you found this forum, but if you're serious about trying to get into AMX programming talk to the local rep in your area and they can steer you in the right direction. If you have leads on a job where AMX might be used you should partner with an experienced AMX installion company and programmer to get the first few jobs done. Learn from them and work out some kind of process where you can start doing jobs on your own with their support. To just jump into AMX without knowing anything about it is like jumping into the deep end of a pool filled with sharks not knowing how to swim.
  • microchip78microchip78 Junior Member Posts: 25
    patb wrote: »
    It has been explained a couple of different ways, but you might be missing the big picture. AMX *IS* the home automation controller. You don't integrate it to other HA contollers such as Control 4, etc. You would use AMX instead of your other system because AMX is much more powerful. There are different pieces of equipment in the system..such as switchers, displays, sources (DVD, VCR, DSS, etc), lighting, screens, shades, and more and AMX talks DIRECTLY to each of those pieces of equipment through whatever method each equipment uses.

    I'm going to use an analogy so don't think I'm talking down to you, just trying to make it clearer. Let's say you had a task of transporting 25 people across town and you had a schoolbus (AMX) and a VW Beetle (Control 4). The simplest way to get 25 people across town would be to put 25 people in the schoolbus and drive the schoolbus across town and forget about the Beetle. Attaching an AMX to a Control 4 system would be equivalent to putting 25 people inside the schoolbus and stacking it on top of the Beetle and then driving the Beetle across town.

    AMX limits the access to its software because the system is only as good as the software. If anyone could just download software and start programming there would be some really messed up systems out there. And guess who looks bad? Whose name is stamped all over the product? AMX or the programmer? A badly programmed system can cause a lot of grief for AMX and then they end up having to step in and fix the system for free because a rogue programmer didn't know what they were doing.

    I'm not sure how you found this forum, but if you're serious about trying to get into AMX programming talk to the local rep in your area and they can steer you in the right direction. If you have leads on a job where AMX might be used you should partner with an experienced AMX installion company and programmer to get the first few jobs done. Learn from them and work out some kind of process where you can start doing jobs on your own with their support. To just jump into AMX without knowing anything about it is like jumping into the deep end of a pool filled with sharks not knowing how to swim.

    Thanks. I think now i know a bigger picture. Actually I done couple of prerequisite online courses. It makes lots of my doubt clear. But anyway thanks for explaining me all this in simple terms.

    MC78
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