Selecting Hardware for Simple Hub


#1

I’m trying to build-up my Simple Control system, but I’m trying to keep initial costs down.

Am I correct it assuming that these devices I own are excluded from consideration (since Simple Control Home can’t be left running exclusively and in the Foreground on these)?

  1. iPad-Pro 9.7" - Stays in Living Room, but is often used to run Apps other than Simple Control Home (ie, gaming, web surfing, Notes, etc.)

  2. Apple-TV4 - We often run various Apps, including games that seem to take all available resources.

  3. Mac-Mini (2012) - Could be left on 24/7, but I sometimes reboot it to native Windows-10 64bit with Boot-Camp.

But at the same time, I don’t want to limit myself.
Is there a configuration matrix or chart that shows the available features for Simple Hub when it’s running on each of the available hardware devices? Also, my final Simple Hub setup will have to be able to get to Simple-Control-5 (and therefore iOS-11 ?).

Is my old iPhone-5 (erased and sitting in drawer currently) my only option? I think it could just be running Simple Control Home (v4.5 or v5) on it in exclusive Guided-Mode, and just lay it next to the router. Oh, wait. This says no iOS-11 for iPhone-5.

macrumors.com/2017/06/06/io … od-models/

I wonder why that is? It’s 64bit and seems to have plenty of horse-power.

Am I going to be able to squeak-by (at least for a year or so) or is Simple Control v5 going to require iOS-11 or higher? What would you do on a budget?

For me, Home Automation funds are limited. I was hoping to next buy some HA-compatible lighting and a Amazon Echo (for voice control). Also, wanted to pick a general open and versatile platform while HomeKit builds-out (like maybe SmartThings ?).


#2

iOS 11 as a base for SC5 is very likely, so I would not recommend the iPhone 5.

Also, SC5 has many new features, some of which benefit greatly from increased processing power (such as transcoding your video cameras for remote viewing over lower bandwidth connections), HomeKit support (requiring iOS or tvOS), and many more. So you will not want to use a dead end device.

If you really want to keep costs down, get a new AppleTV 4 (or much better, an AppleTV 4K) to use as a dedicated device and then don’t let anybody use that device. It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s reliable.

Thank you.


#3

Correction.
iPhone-5 is only 32bit, so that’s why it got axed off the end of the list:

arstechnica.com/gadgets/2017/06 … he-ipad-4/

OK, thanks for the advice (exactly what I was looking for). Good info about Simple-Hub system requirements for HomeKit support (because I want that too).

I will try to free-up an iPhone-5s or iPhone6-Plus (I think one of us is getting an iPhone-8 for Christmas). Or, maybe even pick-up a new AppleTV-4K (only for the extra processing power, my plasma-TV and projector are 1080p) and make the old AppleTV(2015) a dedicated Simple Control Hub.


#4

Just wanted to say thanks for developing “Simple Hub for Mac”. Very nice work and it’s working fine:

Running Simple Hub v4.5.11 (1304) on macOS Sierra (v10.12.6)
The MacMini(Late 2012) is connected to LAN with ethernet wire (WiFi is disabled).

Hopefully I can get another Apple-TV (Gen 4 or higher) or maybe another Mac soon. However, I picked-up an Amazon Echo Dot and needed to do something else in the mid-term. Glad I did because I got some exposure to this awesome program.

Do you plan on keep developing it for both platforms (macOS and tvOS)?
Will the 5.x version of “Simple Hub for Mac” ever do HomeKit, or it that only the AppleTV/tvOS version?
Do you think the macOS version will ever do cameras?

The only problem I see with using an AppleTV is that there is no way (that I know of) to remotely-admin-control-it (like with VNC). Well, that and lack of even limited Multi-Tasking ability (obviously). And while I currently run my Kodi on a Windows-box, it’s nice to have the option to run it on the Simple-Hub Mac instead (concurrently).


#5

I was a little surprised Apple didn’t add HomeKit to macOS this year. I assume it’s due to the lack of a secure enclave on most Macs. In any case, I would consider macOS a long-term platform for us that I don’t see going away. But certainly, lack of HomeKit will be increasingly an issue for some there. Apple will probably add HomeKit there eventually.

I think “most people” should be dedicating an iPad to be Simple Hub – the same iPad already dedicated as the controller for the Living Room is the classic use case there.

While macOS has reasonable video acceleration, iOS blows it out of the water. Our ability to transcode video cameras remotely or many other video processing related tasks is much better on iOS. It’s really the sweet spot right now. Apple TV 4K now is comparable to recent model iOS devices, quite good. Original Apple TV 4 can start chugging along after just 2-3 cameras at a time. A top end iPad Pro 12 can easily handle 10 cameras streaming simultaneously.

So, really, just to re-iterate, we recommend dedicating an iOS device that was probably already going to be dedicated anyway.

Thank you.


#6

I have set up my Apple TV as my Simple Hub, and I have 3 iOS devices running Simple Control in the house. What happens if the Simple Hub app stops running? Do the Simple Control devices still work?


#7

In some cases, it’s harmless. A few devices require Hub relay. Most Denon receivers would be a good example. That class of devices won’t work if your Hub is not online. Synchronization obviously won’t work. Remote Access won’t work. Picture in Picture video camera access will not work. Activities that require a long time to execute and are thus relayed to the Hub will not execute. Other than that, the majority of direct device control works fine if your Hub goes down for a short period.


#8

Thanks Will, really good to know. I suppose also related …

If I have to Reboot my MacMini-based Hub for some reason (very rare) … as long as no commands were entered anywhere for that short period … the system as a whole seems to recover nicely.

Oh, and Simple Control Hub for macOS v4.5.11 still seems to be working fine after upgrade to High Sierra (currently, v10.13.6 ). More good work by Will and Developers.


#9

I’m assuming you’d have to set the IOS device to not sleep and insure it is on some kind of cradle/charger. Correct? Is the only advantage between the IPAD the video acceleration? It would seem an ATV is easier to ensure power and can be put on a UPS. Can you have a backup Hub should the main go down for some reason.


#10

Remember most UPS systems last 5-20 minutes. An iPad battery will last many hours. So in terms of resilience there is no comparison. The iPads have access to the highest end CPUs. It’s up to you. Both work well. I think the ideal model is the Living Room iPad on a stand with charger. I also recommend Ethernet ideally.


#11

Any thoughts on using an iPod touch (6th gen, iOS11) for a simple control 5.5 hub?


#12

I would strongly discourage that. Having been down this road for many years, I see almost every year disappointed users when Apple deprecates several devices each year and then we move our supported OS window up by one and then it seems to come as a surprise even though this happens every year and is usually announced a year ahead.

As it happens, this year iOS 12 for the first time deprecates nothing. To me, that means iOS 13 will be cutting a huge chunk of devices so next year is likely to be a big one. You can rest assured the iPod Touch 6 is coming soon on that chopping block.

My recommendations in order of preference remain:

  1. iPad Pro latest model at the time, doubles as living room control pad, dedicated, guided access never leaves Simple Control, with Lightning-USB-Ethernet, wall mount or on keyboard stand.
  2. Apple TV 4K dedicated, in central closet/rack, on a UPS, wired to Ethernet. Single App Mode is not really necessary but feel free.
  3. Lastly, if you have one, running in the background on an always-on macOS remains a fine option but remember it won’t support HomeKit until mid-2019.

#13

@Will_Price,
I for one really appreciate your thought on all of this. And while I agree it’s not-optimal to be using older machines, I am forced to because I am not made out of money, nor do I have large-amounts of additional funds to dedicate exclusively towards Simple-Control.

Already, due to Apple “cutting me off” I have two (perfectly good) iPad-2’s that are basically obsolete, and an iPhone-5.

  1. Yes, I have a iPad-Pro-9.7 on the coffee-table, but if I dedicated it to Guided-Mode Simple-Control my WAF would tank (and there would likely be a fight). I might soon be running Simple-Control from my new bachelor-pad. :open_mouth:

Not sure how I would get wired ethernet to coffee-table, but how does that work? Does it seamlessly switch between wired and WiFi when un-docked/docked ? And if iOS handles it, does Simple-Control (in Hub Mode) also?

  1. Well, if I bought a new Apple-TV-4K, it would be used for Entertainment (Movies and Games) , and it would be the old AppleTV-4th-Gen that gets dedicated to Simple-Control Hub.
    a. I’ll have to research why you say Simple-App Mode is optional (not sure how that works). I thought the software had to stay running on any machine deemed “the SC-Hub”.
    b. AFAIK, Apple-TV’s can’t be “headless” (so you have to install it near AVR or a HDTV).

  2. I’m still using the Mac-Mini. I wouldn’t mind moving the Hub software elsewhere (to free it up for occasional native BootCamp), but most of my available alternatives have draw-backs (see above). I like being able to run Simple-Control (on my iOS devices) only part-time or on-demand. And even with dedicated iOS client devices in Guided-Mode, it facilitates how I let them power-down after 30-minutes.


#14

iOS supports Ethernet natively. Just use the Apple USB Lightning adapter with the Apple USB Ethernet adapter. It’s optional, but it increases reliability.

Our Hub used to be north of $300. The Apple TV 4K is only $179. It’s a steal as a dedicated device.

Assuming your ATV is on a UPS, it’s not clear why Single App Mode would be important. What is going to exit the app? An extended power outage is the last remaining issue there. That’s why I put iPad first, it has a long battery. It can be headless as long as you don’t need to muck with it. But if it’s actually in a central rack, get a little 7" HDMI rack mount monitor anyway to check all of your central components locally.

Nothing I can do about Apple deprecating stuff every year, just the facts of life. But I do know the best defense is don’t shoot yourself in the foot by starting out with old hardware.