Well, I sort of expected something like this, but didn't expect it this harsh.
However, no offense taken. Now, give me the benefit of a doubt and allow me to explain my position.
I am a programmer. I am a professional. It is a fun job, but it comes with a curse: I have to know the subject matter as good as my own job, if not better.
During my career, I had to become an expert in computer graphics, computer viruses, communications, networking, banking and finances, stock trading, used equipment remarketing, then finances again, then motion and process control. Were I not able to do that, I'd be out of job permanently. Like I said, it's a curse.
I believe I have never said something that amounts to "this is not a rocket science" about HVAC. To me, it is a rocket science, and it is something I have to become an expert in so I can move on. I am working on it. As a matter of fact, I'm planning to get a HVAC certification and be able to talk to you as equal to equal.
Do people make mistakes? Of course. Everybody does. I try to learn on mine. Thank you for bringing to attention the fact that using zoning systems shortens the system life, I haven't seen references to this before but now that you've brought it up it seems obvious, along with the things that cause it - increased static pressure in the duct, possible increase of temperature drop together with increased internal pressures in the system - this is what I can see so far, hope I'm right here. If I am not, I'd really appreciate if you could tell me what the causes are.
Do people make stupid mistakes? Once in a while. The most stupid one I've done was when I didn't check the power supply voltage before turning the prototyping board power on, and it turned out to be 25V instead of 5V, which gave me a rare opportunity to watch the results of 3 months of my work boil and burn. That was sad. Am I guaranteed from repeating something like this again? No. Nobody is. Did that guy you told us about make a stupid mistake? Probably yes. Probably it was aggravated by arrogance, or a fear of "loss of face". For all I know, he just had enough money to buy the gadgets, and wanted to appear "technical" - it has to be pretty stupid not to realize your airhandler is not running, given you have all your system "automated" - the airflow sensor is a basic element of any fault tolerant system.
Now we come to WHY am I doing what I am doing.
The ready built systems suck, from my point of view - and believe me, I can stand by this and prove every single bit about why do they suck. To name a few, they are ridiculously expensive, outrageously simplistic, your example shows that they are not fault tolerant and can't really handle anything that comes out of ordinary. And they do not satisfy my requirements, which are pretty basic - I want my family to be comfortable.
The approach I have taken allowed me to abstract from the cost and concentrate on usability - what difference does it make if you are using $10 register or $200 damper? This, by the way, is the only difference between what I've done and ready built systems. My intent is to beat the existing systems on price and feature set, no less. I was able to achieve the result that I wanted spending 10 times less than the conventional zoning systems START AT, having surpassed the value that it brings already. I don't believe in 1000% markup, so there must be something wrong with those existing systems.
Do I realize the risks related to what I am doing? Of course. This is why I experiment on 30 years old unit, not on a brand new one. But believe me, every single issue, no matter how remote or seemingly insignificant, is scheduled for investigation, and every single issue will be taken care of, and then I will say I am ready.
Am I having delusions of grandeur? Quite possible - you tell me. Am I paranoid? Of course - like the joke goes, being insane is usually a pre-requisite for becoming a sysadmin. In the few cases where it's not pre-requisite, it's certainly going to be a bonus.
I used the word "pilot" on purpose - this is all experimental stuff. I don't sell it. infwsdm is a pro, and I take his interest in this as a compliment - but again, he must realize the risks he is taking. And I do realize the risks I am taking in even exposing this stuff here - you, the professionals, must be able to see through hints I'm dropping, and the whole picture must be very clear to whoever cares to take a look at it.
I didn't take the offense because I understand your frustration. Please try to look at what I've said as a mature adult, and don't take any offense too - I don't mean any.
Will I leave this project? No, I have completed it already.
Will I continue to work on it and tell you the results so you can at least laugh at a clueless engineer who can't even realize how stupid he is? Depends on you.
In your message, you've made a perfectly clear warning to the HOs that read this forum about the risks and dangers of not understanding oneself's doing, and I join you here - kids, don't do this at home. I hope I know what I am doing, and appreciate every bit of your collective courtesy to point out my mistakes - I'm sure I'm making some. But I'm learning.
Let's play together. Together we stand, divided we fall.