Insteon Explorer
Overview
Insteon Explorer provides a clean, professional, intuitive interface to aide in the setup and maintenance of an Insteon-based home control network. Manually configuring an installation of more than a handfull of devices can be a tedious and time-consuming endeavour. Insteon Explorer makes this process easy with a simple to use point-and-click interface that completely eliminates the need to repeatedly walk to each device and learn complex "tap-tap" sequences. Plus, Insteon Explorer provides access to some features on devices that are only programmable through computer control, and can not be configured at the device alone. Finally, it's highly extensible architecture means new device types can be added quickly and easily as they are developed and released, without the need to wait for custom, hard-coded changes to be made to Insteon Explorer to support them.
Device Tree: Easy, Organized
Device tree with context menu displayed
Devices and scenes are displayed in a simple, organized tree, grouped by room. The tree fully supports drag-and-drop, both within itself (to easily move objects between rooms), as well as a source for dragging a device from the tree to other windows in the Insteon Explorer application. This makes the device tree an easy to access, consistent, single source of devices throughout the application.

From the device tree context menus, many operations can be quickly initiated on a particular object. Simple management options such as creating new devices or scenes, renaming or deleting existing objects, or accessing an objects's properties are available from here. In addition, a device can be quickly turned on or off, the load can "blink" to help identify the device in the house, the local copy of the device's data can be refreshed, the device can be swapped for a new device, and much more.

Device information including name, room, type, firmware information, current settings, and link database are all read from the device and maintained in the user's save file. These local copies can be used as a backup to restore a device that's been factory reset or has lost its settings, or for other convenience operations such as easily swapping a bad device out for another.
Device Properties: Simple Device Management
Device properties window "general" tab
The device properties window provides direct access to all of the device's information and settings. Identifying information such as the room and device name can be configured here (as well as from the device tree). Device type and firmware information is visible here and can be re-queried from the device. The device type and firmware information are used to determine a device's capabilities and settings, and to only present the user with the appropriate options for the selected device.

Insteon Explorer has no built-in or hard-coded understanding of how to identify or interact with specific Insteon devices. Instead, it incorporates a highly flexible XML-based configuration system that describes to the program how to identify devices, defines their capabilities and options, and how to interact with the devices. Using this method the program can easily be extended to operate with devices that were not available at the time, or add new features for devices that have been enhanced in later firmware revisions.

The settings tab on the device properties window displays the setting options available for this device. For example "dimmer"-type devices may have local ramp-rate and resume-dim options available, while a "relay"-type device would not. A "keypad" device might have an option for 6 or 8 button mode. The interface always displays the options that are appropriate for a device to the user, and nothing more to confuse or clutter the interface.

Finally, from the link database tab, the user has complete, detailed control over the link database on the device. On-levels and ramp-rates can be easily and quickly modified here. Devices can be added to the database by using drop-down boxes, or by dragging a device from the device tree and dropping it on the link database. While the interface does provide complete control over the link database, and it is possible to create complex scenes manually this way, Insteon Explorer provides a much easier and more robust method in the form of scene management, where all the controller and responder records are automatically created, as well as cross-links between multiple controllers.
Scenes: Drag, Drop, Done.
Scene properties window with "responders" tab selected
A "scene" is simply a logical concept that translates into several to many links between devices within the Insteon network. Scenes are made up of controllers and responders, where the controllers activate or deactivate the scene, and the responders actually turn on or off based on the requested scene. A scene can be as simple as a single controller and a single responder (a button on a keypad turns on a lamp), or complex with multiple controllers and responders.

For responders that support dimming capabilities, each device can utilize a specific on-level and ramp-rate specific to that scene. Each responding device's on-level and ramp-rate settings are available on the responders tab in the scene properties window. These scene-specific settings are independent of the device's local control settings, as well as settings from other scenes the device may be a member of. Devices can be added to the controllers or responders list by using the drop-down boxes, or by dragging a device from the device tree and dropping it on the appropriate list.

Whatever the make-up of a scene, Insteon Explorer will automatically create or modify all the required links, including cross-linking the controllers (if there are multiple) so the status indicators on all controllers stay "in-sync" and always reflect the actual status of the scene. As scenes are simply a logical concept, the scenes themselves are not "saved" to the Insteon network (other then the associated links). Insteon Explorer, however, saves scenes to the user's save file, so they can always be modified as needed from the scene properties window.
Device Discovery: What's a Device Address?
Device discovery requester
Devices on the Insteon network each have a unique address. In order to communicate with a device, you need to know its address. Manually entering devices into Insteon Explorer can be tedious, especially in a large installation, as the user needs to find out the address of each device on the network. This is generally accomplished by unplugging plug-in modules, or removing wall plates from in-wall modules to get to the address sticker on each device. Insteon Explorer provides a better way; two better ways in fact.

The device discovery mode allows the user to put Insteon Explorer into a "listening" mode. Then, the user can simple walk around the house, pressing the set-button on each Insteon device he'd like added to Insteon Explorer's device tree. When the user presses a set-button, Insteon Explorer immediately "hears" the device's address, determines its device type, adds the device to the device tree, and begins "listening" for the next set-button press. When the user takes Insteon Explorer out of device discovery mode, it will then automatically query each new device for its current settings and link database entries.

Another way for Insteon Explorer to locate devices on the network is by using the spider devices function. Spidering devices is the process of looking at the link databases of every known device, determining which devices in the link database Insteon Explorer does not know about, and querying those devices. Any new devices found are interrogated for their device type, added to the device tree, and queried for their link database entries. This process continues through the all the link database entries until there are no more unknown devices.
Swapping Devices: Now Headache Free!
Swap device requester
Occassionally it may become necessary to replace a device on the Insteon network with a new one, either due to device failure or some other issue. This presents quite a problem for the user utilizing only the manual "tap-tap" method of programming. Because Insteon devices are identified by addresses unique to each device, all the programming associated with the device across the entire network will no longer work with the new device and all programming must be redone.

Insteon Explorer takes the pain out of swapping a device on the network by performing all necessary reprogramming of all the affected devices on the network automatically. Additionally, the new replacement device will be configured exactly as the removed device was when it was last refreshed. That means in addition to all scenes and links across the entire network functioning exactly as before, the new device will have the same local ramp-rate and other settings as the old device, making the swap-out of the device completely transparent.

The device swapping operation is quite simple for the user (as Insteon Explorer does all the "heavy lifting"). The old device is removed and the new device installed in its place. The two devices must be of the same type (you cannot replace a SwitchLinc Dimmer with a LampLinc Relay for example). The user enters the address of the new device, and Insteon Explorer takes care of the rest. When complete, no one would ever know the device was changed out.
Much More...
Insteon Explorer features much more functionality, including modifying device-specific settings, advanced link database editing, backup and restoring of devices, traffic monitoring, link database cleanup, device control, and more. For a complete rundown of features have a look at the features list. Also, check out the FAQ for answers to common questions.



Screenshots may not necessarily reflect the most recent version of the product

Insteon Explorer and related images are ©2007-2009 Forefront Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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©2007-2009 Forefront Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved