Test hardware for Crestron software development and testing

How much hardware do we have here for testing our Crestron software?

In our software development, we aim to have as much tested and debugged before we get onto a project site.  There are so many reasons for this, but clearly, the primary one is to ensure that deployment is as painless and quick as possible.

Given strong engineering drawings and documentation, there is no reason why we can not have everything tested and ready off-site and then the process on-site is very quick and easy.  It's a question of verification and spotting any small engineering challenges (no matter how good the installation firm is, there's always a chance that an IR blaster or RS232 connection is miswired, a device has the wrong IP address etc. and that's all fine and finding the issue and getting is resolved is the key).

But, overall, I'd far rather be sat on a comfy chair (Herman Miller Aeron for a software development cliché!) with three large monitors (2*27" and a portrait 24"), listening to a decent music system (my office has a Linn Majik DSM and Majik 109s) and supply of decent coffee (currently Ozone Hodson blend is my jam) than a site that's either full of plaster dust and decorators (we've been called in too early!) or people arranging furniture (we've been called in about the right time at the very tail-end of the project).

Within our own internal cost calculations, we charge a lower rate for the off-site work and we've developed a very solid algorithm that adapts to the particular integrator in terms of a ratio of on-site and off-site work.

We have recently been told by a couple of clients about freelance programmers who will turn up on site and that is when they begin to write the software. This, to me, seems a very inefficient way to work, but it did get me wondering why they worked that way - was it because of a lack of development hardware to work on? 

The honest answer (and certainly one I would tell any new or aspiring Crestron programmer) is that you really do not need very much at all.  A Crestron RMC3 and that's about it - the RMC3 is a small PoE power 3-Series processor that is more than enough to start developing and testing software on.  These days, almost all user interfaces can be emulated on your PC, so the need to have physical touchscreens etc. is minimised.

So, what do we have in the {ie} offices?

  • Crestron CP3
  • Crestron CP3N

    These are the backbone of our testing - it's a bit of a luxury having 2 processors, but we do a lot of multi-processor work and, whilst it can be tested on a single processor, it's a lot easier having 2.

    It also means that two projects can easily be tested at once.
     
  • Crestron AV2

    We still manage a lot of projects that have 2-Series in.  Not as the main processor, but often as a legacy from an upgrade (or that we're writing the upgrade) and the 2-Series is there serving RS232 ports etc.
     
  • Crestron RMC3

    This is sort of there for testing/sort of there to run our house!
     
  • Crestron PYNG-HUG

    Again, it runs the house - but it does allow us to create actual layouts with Pyng rather than generic stuff for O&Ms and client approval etc.
     
  • Crestron TSR-310

    The newest touchscreen from Crestron is the handheld remote.  Really like this product, but for a number of reasons, it's not one we can emulate properly for testing, so the physical hardware is important.
     
  • Crestron TSW-760

    Whilst we don't actually use this very much (as most testing is done on emulators), it is very useful to have see something physically in certain circumstances.  It also allows us to test/verify any issues reported from projects based on the exact firmware/Smart Graphics version being used etc.
     
  • Crestron TPS-6L

    We don't have lots of pre-Smart Graphics panels; but we maintain projects with dozens of these still installed.  There are many reasons why dealers do not upgrade clients to TSW panels be it costs or the extensive use of analogue video and audio in the system.  

    Things were much harder to emulate pre Smart Graphics, so it's really good to be able to run software up on these and make sure that any changes do not detrimental impact on panel performance etc.

So that's it really - most development is done on 2 CP3 processors with emulated front-ends.

We sometimes get anything new and funky sent over to us for a project if it is a product we have not seen before and need to develop new software for.  We have a small amount of additional hardware here as well - Sonos and Autonomic players primarily.

But, as earlier, if you are starting out as a Crestron programmer and you need something to work on either at home or the office. then you (or your employer) need to have at the very least an RMC3 processor that you can start to really learn on.

As ever, if you have any queries, then please do drop us a line here.