I use HCA as my central controller and recorder. My individual Arduino project pages may be useful without HCA being installed, but the real value of this web site is how to integrate HCA and Arduino. You can read up on HCA at their web site, hcatech.com, but I’ll supplant that information with my own observations below.
I’ve toyed around with other home automation packages but for my purposes (and I assume yours) HCA has been my go-to program for a number of years. I started with version 6 and now I’m on version 12, which is current as of the end of 2015. Version 13 is in beta but I am not part of the beta testers so I can say nothing about it.
HCA is a commercial program and costs money. I use the “plus” version but offhand I don’t see any reason why their “standard” version wouldn’t suffice (barely) for my purposes – be prepared to upgrade just in case. Their retail prices are $80 for standard and $160 for plus, and you can obtain the programs from Smarthome for $75 and $132 respectively. It runs only on Windows, either XP or 7. I haven’t tested it on 10 yet.
When you read HCA’s web site you’ll see that they emphasize all the different types of home automation stuff they can control: X10, Insteon, UPB, Zwave and so on. They also highlight the visual capabilities, touch-screen, Android apps and client-server. None of the above matters to me or these projects, but you might well find these features of value.
If what they seem to value isn’t what I value, why do I use it? Their ability to easily program actions and the flexibility they offer is what I value, along with being able to run 24×7 for extended periods. Specifically, they can (1) import data from files and readily use that data and (2) call external programs with parameters. These two capabilities are key to communicating with Arduinos. Additionally, their logging and troubleshooting tools are very nice. Their ability to send emails and sms messages is also important. The fact that they can control lots of other stuff is just icing on the cake.
Their documentation is substantial, so I won’t even try to duplicate it here. I will provide, in detail, the procedures and scripting needed for my projects.