Straight-off-the-bat…

You will need an INSTEON Hub to enjoy the goodness below.

If you are not familiar with XBMC, it’s time to introduce yourself… seriously. If you are familiar with the world’s greatest 10-foot interface (sorry PLEX… respect your elders), then you are in for a real treat.

I’m going to show you how you can have your INSTEON enabled scenes, lights and popcorn maker automatically activate when you start to play a movie. That’s right, when you settle down on your couch (or for those of you lucky enough – your home theatre recliner) and press play;

  • your over-head lights will turn off (slowly, real slow – movie theatre slow)
  • your lamp will automatically dim or brighten to 20%
  • your popcorn maker in the kitchen will switch on
  • your surround-sound stereo will kick in and…
  • all will be well in the world as you sit back and take in the latest episode of Game of Thrones

It gets better

Smell that? That’s the popcorn… it’s ready. Pause XBMC. Then, auto-magically;

  • your overhead lights will ramp up to 50%
  • your hallway light will turn on so you don’t injure yourself in your rush to dribble hot butter down your chin
  • your popcorn maker will switch off - with the tub now over-flowing with crunchy, buttery goodness, mmmm… (I really like popcorn)

Resume watching XBMC;

  • your overhead lights turn off again, yes - slowly
  • the hallway lights turn off
  • you get the idea…

Some of you have probably guessed where I’m going with this… so I won’t torture you any longer… here is the link...

XBMC INSTEON Add-on

Off you go, no need to read instructions, you will get it done with pure, unadulterated intuition alone.

If you (like me) are part of the 68.7% of the population that likes to get things done without reading a manual or instructions – only to return 23 minutes later - welcome back.

If you are part of the 18.4% who like to read instructions, make sure it gets done correctly – the first time – I salute you… read on.

By the way, some of you may have noticed we have 12.9% of the population unaccounted for... Let’s face it, some people should not own computers, let alone operate a popcorn maker – under any circumstances.

Let’s get started

The first thing you should do is download the free XBMC INSTEON Add-on (seriously this time). Save it onto your computer somewhere handy (not your desktop – THIS IS NOT A PLACE FOR ALL THE JUNK YOU DOWNLOAD).

Patience, don’t unzip the file.

If you are using a MAC, OSX sometimes likes to automatically unzip a zip for you when you download it – would you let anyone else unzip something so precious… for you? I didn’t think so. I would turn this setting off (Google is your friend).

Now open everything that is XBMC (assuming you have it installed, if not – choppy-choppy - it's free).

The INSTEON Add-on instructions below assume you are using the default XBMC skin – Confluence. If you are clever enough to have changed the skin, then you are smart enough to adapt the directions below ;)

1. Move to and select SYSTEM > Settings

2. Scroll to and select Add-ons

3. Select Install from zip file

4. Now locate the INSTEON Add-on zip file (the one we didn’t save onto our desktop earlier) and select OK to install.

Done. INSTEON Add-on installed (got to love XBMC – and the Drake).

Now we do some boring stuff

The INSTEON Add-on is installed. Great. Now we need to configure it (you know, tell it stuff so it can do stuff and that). Don’t say I didn’t mention this from the beginning - You will need to have your INSTEON Hub setup and working, along with the free INSTEON for Hub app (available for Android, Apple, and Windows smartphones and tablets).

The Andriod, iOS and Windows INSTEON for Hub apps have some slight layout and functionality differences (why can’t we all just get along?).

Anyhow, if your platform does not match the instructions below (Android) then a quick search on Google will get you everything you need for the equivalent procedures for your platform flavour of choice.

There is some information we will need from the App – we will also need to set-up an INSTEON Scene. Let’s start there…

1. Open the INSTEON for Hub app on your favourite mobile device (mine is a Nexus 5… just saying is all).

2. Select the Gear icon and then press Edit Settings.

3. Now press on Scenes to open the Scenes Settings.

4. Select the + icon in the top right to add a new Scene.

5. Create a Scene – let’s call it XBMC Play, add some INSTEON devices and adjust the settings you would like to happen when you press play on XBMC.

6. Make a note of the INSTEON Group Number. This will be important, write it down, or don’t. Finish up and save your Scene.

OK, almost done in the App. A few last pieces of important information we need. The INSTEON Hub IP address, port number, username and password. Don’t stress, it’s actually easy. Definitely write this information down though…

1. Select the Gear icon and then press Edit Settings.

2. Now press on House to open the Hub Settings.

3. Scroll down until you see the Local IP address. Make a note of it along with the Port number.

4. Scroll down further and make a note of the Hub Username.

5. Password - If you don’t know the password, simply change it and make a note of the new one.

That’s all we need from the App. Now back over to XBMC so we can tell the INSTEON Add-on how to communicate with your INSTEON Hub.

1. Navigate XBMC to SYSTEM > Settings > Add-ons > Enabled Add-ons > Services > INSTEON Hub XBMC Event

2. Select Configure.

3. Make sure you are in the SETTINGS tab. Fill in the INSTEON Hub information that we got from the App earlier.

4. Now go to the VIDEO tab. Change Video Start to Yes. Now enter the INSTEON Group (Scene) ID that we created earlier in the App.

5. Select OK. This will close the XBMC INSTEON Add-on settings.

6. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT (sorry for shouting). You must Disable and then Enable the Add-on anytime you make a change to the settings or it will not work.

Now we get to play

That’s about all there is to it. Now when you start a video in XBMC, your INSTEON devices will do what they were told.

Amazing.

There are a number of other settings you can adjust, such as when a Video pauses, stops playing or resumes playing. Just adapt the instructions above. You can also do the same for music, however I have yet to find this useful – but it's there, I hope you can put it to good use.

There are really only two other settings you may find useful…

Night Mode

From the beginning of creating this Add-on, there was a lingering voice in the back of my head… “What if I don’t want INSTEON Scenes to activate during the day?”. I ignored it… for a long time - at least until I started using version 1.0 of this Add-on. After using it for a while, I had no choice… it had to be done. That’s when I created the masterpiece that I have affectionately called Night Mode.

This ingenious setting will allow you to only trigger the Add-on between certain hours of the day - what I assume will be night time. You don’t need to use it; it’s up to you.

1. Go back into the XBMC INSTEON Add-on Configure settings (see above).

2. Change Night Mode Activated to Yes.

3. Now set the On Time Hour and Off Time Hour. The Add-on will only be active between these hours. Told you it was ingenious.

4. Select OK to exit the Add-on settings. Be sure to Disable and then Enable the Add-on, otherwise your settings will not take effect.

One last thing you may be interested in…

Remote Control Shortcuts

This was actually a last minute feature I added, turns out I use it a lot and find it very handy. You can display a list of (up to 5) INSTEON shortcuts on-screen – just by pressing one button on your keyboard or remote control. These shortcuts can trigger INSTEON scenes as well as open up your XBMC window of choice.

Here’s how you do it…

1. Back into the XBMC INSTEON Add-on settings (see above). Move to the SHORTCUTS tab.

2. Change Shortcuts Active to Yes. Now make Shortcut 1 Active.

3. Fill in the information for each of the 3 settings.

4. Select OK to exit the Add-on settings. Be sure to Disable and then Enable the Add-on, otherwise your settings will not take effect.

Ok, that side of things is done, now the hard part. I remember trying to get this working for the first time and it was painful. I will try to help so it is less painful for you, however I assure you this is still going to hurt a little.

We need to assign a key-press or remote control button within XBMC to display the SHORTCUT menu on-screen.

To get this done we need to add a line of “code” to the keyboard.xml file of XBMC. Unfortunately the location of this file varies between operating systems. I use a MAC MINI as my media server, so the path for OSX is going to be similar to…

USERS/your user name/Library/Application Support/XBMC/userdata/keymaps/keyboard.xml

There is a chance that this file does not exist, in which case you will need to make it (using any text editor). There is also a chance you will not be able to open these folders, by default, OSX hides the Library folder. Search Google for how to unhide this folder.

Given that this Add-on will work on OSX, Windows, Linux, Android, etc - The location of the keyboard.xml files varies by operating system. Please see this wiki page for some clues on where to find or create your user XBMC keyboard.xml file.

Now that we have created or opened the keyboard.xml file, you will need to add the following line...

<y mod="ctrl">SetProperty(insteonmenu,true,10000)</y>

Insert this between the <keyboard> </keyboard> tags (like below, you may have more stuff in your keyboard.xml file). If you created this file from scratch, simply copy the example below.

<keymap>
    <global>
        <keyboard>
            <y mod="ctrl">SetProperty(insteonmenu,true,10000)</y>
        </keyboard>
    </global>
</keymap>

The example above will assign Ctrl + Y as your keyboard shortcut to activate the XBMC INSTEON Add-on on-screen display. You can change this to whatever you like, be careful not assign a keyboard key or combination that is already in use by XBMC.

If all has gone well, when you press Ctrl + Y, you should now see an on-screen display of your INSTEON Shortcuts within XBMC. If not, I told you this part was hard. Google will be able to help - stick at it, it's worth it. If you find a solution that worked for you, please be sure to share in the comments section below - it may save someone else a few follicles of hair.

I went a step further and added this keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + Y) to my Harmony remote. Works great.

A final word

I wrote this Add-on myself. Worked really hard on it too. I am sharing it with the world for free, all I ask in return is you raise a glass the first time you use it.

Enjoy.

Brad Arthur

DISCLAIMER

I am not responsible if this Add-on destroys your computer (literally blows it up), seriously injures your dog or starts WWIII. This software is supplied as-is, no warranties, either implicit, explicit or implied. Bob Loblaw.

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