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Today’s Show:

HD Fury 2

How many of you have a TV that was purchased in 2005? If you raised your hand there is a good chance that it does not come with an HDMI input. Today we take a look at a device that bills itself as the world smallest and most powerful HDCP deciphering converter ever built. The HD Fury 2 takes an HDMI input and converts it to component in a device that fits in the palm of your hands. All this for about $200 and that includes cables and power adapters.

Setup:
Plug the HDMI cable in one end and the component cables into your TV. In most cases the bus provides enough power to run the Fury. In our case our DirecTV box worked fine with bus power but our receiver needed a power adapter which costs extra.

Use Cases:
  • Blu Ray player with older HDTV – in the future some discs may restrict component playback to 480p
  • Switching receiver with older TV – this becomes a simpler setup and requires less cables
Performance:
It worked as promised! The picture looked almost as good as the original. Most people we showed it to couldn’t see a difference. The Fury even supports digital audio via a Mini TOSLINK port. The original HD Fury had some issues with handshaking or picture shifting. These issues have been specifically addressed in the HD Fury 2. We did not experience any of these issues with the gear we connected (DirecTV, Oppo Blu Ray Player, and Pioneer Switching Receiver).

Conclusion:
The HD Fury 2 just works. A good device to keep your older TVs viable in today’s world.

 

Home Automation with Insteon

As Daylight Savings time draws to a close those of us with lights on a timer need to do our bi-annual ritual of readjusting the settings so lights are on when it gets dark. This year I decided that I want to look into home automation so my lighting can be set once and from the comfort of my office chair. I decided to go with an Insteon System for no reason other than they are located two miles from where I work at my day job. I ended up going with a starter package that included two lamp controllers, one appliance controller, a computer interface, access points for the mesh network, a remote control, and software. The total cost was about $420 at the Mac Home Store. The system I bought works with both Macs and PCs the only difference is that you need software that runs on your platform. On the Mac I am using a package called Indigo. On the PC you can use a package called HouseLinc but there are others as well. Since my original purchase I have also added multiple wall switches, keypads, and thermostat control. Braden too has jumped on board and has begun automating his house.

Setup
The setup was straight forward. The entire process took about an hour. First I installed the two access points. This ties your power lines to the devices plugged into your walls. Then I connected PowerLinc to the computer and installed the Indigo software. The last step was to install the LampLincs and ApplianceLincs. Once the physical installation is complete its time to setup the software. You have to add devices and that’s done by providing a 6 digit address code. The software finds the devices and adds it to the database. Once all your devices are added you setup triggers, actions, and actions groups. This is where the fun starts.

Trigger
Triggers are events that under certain instances cause an action to take place. The event can be but is not limited to the receipt of an email with a specific subject line, a device state change, or a user defined variable value. These triggers are then evaluated against some criteria like “Always”, “If Dark”, “If Daylight”, or if a variable is equal to a specific value. If the trigger is set and the criteria is true then an action takes place. These actions can control a device, set a variable to a specific value, execute a script or start a sequence of events defined by an action group. More on action groups in a bit. The the possibilities are endless.

With the use of motion sensors, custom variables, and action groups I am setting up my automation system to text me when a motion sensor gets tripped if I have set my user defined “Security” variable to armed. The arming can be done from my iPhone or button on a keypad. I am looking into writing an Apple Script or develop an application that will tie the home automation system in with these cool personal video cameras from VueZone.

Actions
The software allows you to create actions for each device. I’ve configured the inside lights to turn on 15 minutes before sunset. The outside lights come on 15 minutes after sunset. You input the Latitude and Longitude of your location and then the software will adjust the event each day. You can program your thermostat through the automation software or through the thermostat GUI. Its nice having control from anywhere on earth, provided you can get to the internet.

Action Groups
The software allows for defining action groups. Think of them like macros for your remote control but this macro controls lights, shades, and anything else Insteon controls. The concept is pretty straight forward but the power comes when you execute the action group from a single button press on a remote, key pad, or just by pausing your movie.

Odds and Ends

The Indigo system comes with an iPhone app that controls your system which is pretty cool.  There are all kinds of devices that you can control:

  • HVAC/Thermostats
  • Input/Output Devices
  • I/O Linc Kits
  • Remote Control
  • RF Receivers
  • IR Products
  • Motion Detection
  • Lamp Control
  • Appliance Control
  • Keypads
  • Wall Switches
  • Wall Outlets
  • Leak Detection
  • Irrigation
  • Accessories
  • Audio and Video
I have multiple wall switches that include keypads. You can have custom labels made so anyone who comes to your house knows how to set scenes of start your Jacuzzi.

Conclusion
Home automation is fun, functional, and habit forming. With that said this is one area my wife is not complaining about me spending money. She sees the value every day she turns a light on.

Posted by The HT Guys, October 22, 2009 11:37 PM

About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.