At long last…

Some time ago, I created an Add-on for XBMC (now known as Kodi – for nostalgic reasons, I still call it XBMC) for the INSTEON Hub. The Addon allows you to control INSTEON Scenes based on XBMC events. As an example, when you start to play a movie, you could have your lights automatically dim, slowly… just like a real movie theatre. It does a lot more than just that though… for a more detailed description; you can take a peek at my original blog post here… XBMC (Kodi) INSTEON Addon.

I have had (a lot of) requests to adapt the INSTEON XBMC Addon for Z-Wave Australia… which I have ignored for a long time (sorry guys). I finally found some time (and motivation) to dust off my programming skills and get it done... so after 15 cups of coffee and one very long “all nighter”, here it is in all its glory…

I present to you the XBMC Z-Wave Vera Addon (what an unimaginative name – if I were a marketing person, it may sound more like this… introducing the Ultra Uber XBMC Magical Z-Wave Scene Controllenator). Call it what you will, for anyone who uses XBMC and Z-Wave - it's awesome!

What you’ll need…

  • To get this all working, you will naturally need a copy of XBMC installed on your HTPC, you can get it here, it’s free!
  • And of course, you will need my XBMC Z-Wave Vera Addon. It’s also free (you can download it below).
  • Lastly, you will need either the Vera Lite or Vera 3 Z-Wave controller. These are not free (hey, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad).

Let’s get started

Assuming you already have XBMC and a Vera up and running, the first thing we need to do is download and install our free XBMC Vera Z-Wave Add-on. Save it onto your computer somewhere handy.

Download file...

XBMC Vera Z-Wave Add-on

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 - I would turn this setting off (Google is your friend) - we need this file to stay zipped.

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

The Vera Z-Wave 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 XBMC Vera Z-Wave Addon zip file (the one we downloaded above) and select OK to install.

Done. Vera Z-Wave Addon is now installed.

Now we do some boring stuff

In your Vera web interface, let’s create two simple Scenes; the first Scene is what we want to happen when a movie starts playing (as an example, we could dim overhead lights to say 5 percent, slowly) – I will call this Scene “XBMC Play” (you can name it anything you like). The second Scene we create is what we want to happen when the movie is stopped (most likely you will want your lights to brighten). I will call this Scene “XBMC Stop”. I am not going to go into details on how to create Scenes with the Vera, the web is flooded with instructions on how to do this.

Once created, there is one important piece of information we need from our two scenes – the Scene ID – luckily, this number (ID) is readily available and displayed in the Vera Web interface next to the Scene name (see above).

That’s all we need from Vera. Now back over to XBMC so we can tell the Vera Z-Wave Addon how to communicate with your Vera controller and assign our two scenes to events in XBMC (play and stop).

1. Navigate XBMC to SYSTEM > Settings > Add-ons > My Add-ons > Services > Kodi Vera Z-Wave Addon

2. Select Configure.

3. Make sure you are in the SETTINGS tab. Fill in the required Vera information (IP address and Port).

4. Now go to the VIDEO tab. Change Video Start to Yes. Now enter the Vera Scene ID that we created earlier.

5. Change Video Stopped to Yes. Now enter the second Vera Scene ID that we created earlier.

6. Select OK. This will close the XBMC Vera Z-Wave Add-on settings.

7. 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 or stop a video in XBMC, your Z-Wave devices will do what they were told.

Amazing.

There are a number of other settings you can adjust, such as when a Video pauses, resumes playing or finishes. 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

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 Vera Z-Wave 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) Vera Scene shortcuts on-screen – just by pressing one button on your keyboard or remote control. These shortcuts can trigger Vera Z-Wave Scenes as well as open up your XBMC window of choice.

Here’s how you do it…

1. Back into the XBMC Vera Z-Wve 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(veramenu,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(veramenu,true,10000)</y>
        </keyboard>
    </global>
</keymap>

The example above will assign Ctrl + Y as your keyboard shortcut to activate the XBMC Vera Z-Wave Addon 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 Vera Scene 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

Please let me know if you find any bugs in the comments section below. 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

LEGAL 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.

From the Law Offices of Bob Loblaw.

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