While not as sophisticated as HomeVision or TimeCommander, the new controller from X10 promises to be the new entry level standard for PC controlled home automation. This unit takes over where the CP290 left off by adding macros and battery backup as well as an easy to use interface.

To set up your system with ActiveHome (as with any other system) you begin by defining the devices. This is as simple as selecting the appropriate X10 device and setting the housecode, name and ON/OFF times right on the displayed module control panel.

ActiveHome Screen Showing All Devices in the Living Room

Next you can define Macros to do some complex tasks. Again simply use the easy to use interface to drag and drop the devices you want controlled by the macro and then add the actions you want carried out and the time schedule to follow (if desired). A macro is basically just a device assigned to a house/unit code which when turned ON or OFF performes a series of actions on other devices.

Macro Generator Screen

That’s about it as far as setting up the system. Once downloaded to the ActiveHome device you can turn off the computer and the devices will activate according to the time schedules you gave them. There are two types of Macro’s however. A “Fast” Macro is downloaded to the ActiveHome and will operate when the PC is off. A “Standard” Macro only operates if the PC is ON (stored on the hard drive). There are many other nifty features in ActiveHome including a tool called “Find Other Computer” which tells you if others in the neighbourhood are using the same housecodes as you are. The system also provides visual installation guides for the X10 modules (right click on the module)

The ActiveHome is still under Beta Test but should be out in the fall for a price of approximately $50 to $100. This is a bargain for the power of ActiveHome. You can run ActiveHome using Windows 3.x, NT and ’95. The program comes on a CD Rom and includes a tutorial graphically explaining how X-10 works with animated sequences, and also how to achieve control over various devices.Overall this looks to be a great product for X10 control and I’m sure it will eventually put the CP290 to sleep. Looks like the Shareware Authors are in for a challenge here because there are lots of possibilities with ActiveHome.