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Adding an mControl Module to Windows Home Server on a Friday night

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I am back from a couple of great week-long vacations and while I was gone Windows Home Server, with the mControl Add-In, has been watching over our home. Windows Home Server controlled two lights I connected so easily I decided to add additional modules for another light and my surround sound speakers. While I was gone Smarthome delivered these control modules and I am going to hook them up tonight. My first two articles about mControl described the process of installing the mControl Add-In, connecting the system via an easy USB cable and then creating some macros to tell the lights when to go on and off.

You can read the articles I wrote showing the easy installation of mControl at:

https://moviesgamesandtech.com/2009/05/16/adding-mcontrol-to-windows-home-server-on-a-friday-night/

and the macro article at:

https://moviesgamesandtech.com/2009/05/30/mcontrol-macros-with-windows-home-server-on-a-friday-night/

mControl Review

As a refresher, mControl is an Add-In that you install on your WHS that controls modules and other communications devices within your home. mControl is the software and not the control modules.

There are three components to a basic system:

  1. The mControl software Add-In on your WHS
  2. A USB device (PowerLinc modem #2412U) that sends your WHS mControl signal to your house electrical wiring
  3. A module plugged in to the house electrical that controls a light or device (add as many or as few as you want, I got two to start)

These three parts are all that you need to begin. Before I started this project I thought it would be really complex but I was wrong!

The diagram below shows how you can connect to mControl via your PC, Internet Explorer, Mobile client, Extender or XBOX 360.

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Equipment Needed

mControl on your WHS

Device Module (I bought mine from Smarthome)

iTunes streaming your favorite station

One Beer (optional as always)

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I bought a couple of extra parts (as shown above) to get a 10% discount and will write about the addition of those items in future articles.

Lets set this pig on fire!

Installation

The module I am going to install is an Insteon On/Off Adapter #2856S3B and I will use it for the surround sound speakers and light. The surround sound speaker system for my Samsung stereo is wireless but I keep the power turned off the other 22 hours a day I am not using it. Currently, every time I want to listen with surround sound I need to get up, walk around the couch and dining room table and flip the little switch on the back of the speaker unit. It is a pain in the ass and quite frequently I either forget to turn it on or leave it off cause I am too lazy to get off the couch. With mControl and WHS this new module can control the surround sound from Windows Media Center. This option is perfect for me since most of the movies I watch are through my Dell Hybrid running Vista connected to my plasma in the living room. Tonight when I queue up the Star Trek Alternate Realities DVDs I just put in my Windows Media Center DVD library, I can also turn on the surround speakers and light.

The first part of the installation is to walk out to the living room and plug in the module. Make sure you write down the address of the module BEFORE you plug it in or you will be making a second trip! The address is on the back of the module.

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Now that I have the address all I have to do is plug it into the wall and plug the devices into the module. For this installation I am plugging in an extension cord that is connected to the surround sound and a small lamp I want to come on when I start to watch a movie. I plan on shutting off the main light, that is already controlled by WHS, and using the second lamp as a “night light” during the movie. Don’t want to kick the side of the table again. *#$&(@&@#

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Now that I have plugged the module in, I am going to open Windows Media Center (WMC) and add the device. You can also add the device through Internet Explorer (as explained in my first mControl article) or directly through the WHS Console. Don’t you just love it already?

mControl for the WMC is listed under Online Media in the program library.

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If you have enabled ISS then it will ask you for a user name and password

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As you can see the main light in my living room is already on because I am running the macro from the last article. In addition, during the first article I created a zone for each room of the house (including the backyard and garage), and will just add this new module (device) to the Dining Area.

Click on Settings from the Zone View screen.

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Click on Manage Zones from the Settings screen.

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Click on the Zone in which you want to add the device.

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Click on Add Device in the Edit Zone screen.

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We are now ready to add the module we plugged in a few minutes ago. This has taken about 30 minutes for me, since I am doing screen shots and typing, so I am ready for another beer. BRB.

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In the Add Device screen give your module a name, choose the type of adapter, module, image and then type in the address from the back of the module.

Before you click on Save walk back out to the location where you plugged in the module and push the Set button on the side of the module. The instructions say you only have about four minutes so if I had clicked on it when I first plugged it in it would have not recognized it. Hold the button down on the module until it starts to flash and then come back and click on Save.

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Once you have clicked on Save you will be back at the Edit Zone screen. Click on Home to take you back to the Zone View screen.

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If the module was recognized (you wrote down the correct address) then you will see the device in the zone. The module recognizes that the light and speakers were already on so the yellow bars are lit. I will turn it off and verify that it is working.

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The module turned off and I walked out to the living room to verify the light and speakers were off. Everything is working. I also turned on the Studio Hybrid PC so I can control the lights from the living room. The wife is out playing Mahjong and I have Star Trek with six beers left! That’s how I roll my friends.

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Everything looks good so lets try it out! I am ready to test the system. I made a short video of the experience.

Conclusion

I hope that the articles I have written about mControl have shown you how Windows Home Server and mControl can enhance your home. I really have enjoyed learning about mControl, Insteon, Windows Home Server and how these simple modules can do so much around my home. Please check back with us to see how we use WHS and mControl for even more great things!

See you next Friday night.

Timothy Daleo

Timothy Daleohttp://usingwindowshomeserver.com
Timothy Daleo is a Project Resource Analyst and Oracle Applications Trainer in Pasadena, California. In addition to financial analysis, Tim has been developing training materials since 2003 and supporting direct projects through various auxiliary databases since 2005.

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