Home Automation

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somebody already took it
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Home Automation

Postby somebody already took it » Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:08 am UTC

Lately I've been thinking about ways I can connect my computer to home appliances in order to perform some type of automation. For example, I would like to be able to write a shell script that turns on a light and a heater in my room when I plan to wake up. Ideally I want to do this with minimal "electrical engineering", meaning I want avoid taking a heater apart or soldering anything, although I'm having trouble finding products with any sort of computer interface. So, I would like to open this thread to collect tips about what electronic devices/components are out there that are useful for this kind of thing, and furthermore as a space to share ideas/resources/links about home automation systems and how to assemble and operate them.

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nyeguy
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Re: Home Automation

Postby nyeguy » Sun Dec 26, 2010 7:43 pm UTC

My dad uses Insteon to control stuff like that in our house. You run the software on some server, and install either their special outlets to replace your current electrical outlets, or buy ones that plug into existing outlets. You can then turn the outlets on and off through scripting and scheduling. It works great; this year we had existing setup from last Christmas, and all we did was plug in our lights and turn on the Christmas schedules, and our lights automatically came on overnight.
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somebody already took it
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Re: Home Automation

Postby somebody already took it » Mon Dec 27, 2010 1:21 am UTC

The Insteon stuff is cool because it's wireless and appears to have pretty good software support, however, it's pretty expensive. Their controller alone costs $123.31, and then the additional components run in the range of $30-50.
Right now I'm looking at the ecostrip which is only $33, which still might be overpriced considering it has a really simplistic design. AFAIK the USB connection doesn't give you any kind of fine grained control over the power strip. Basically it turns 5 of the outlets on and off depending on whether it's plugged into a USB port has power supplied to it. This is problematic because I've read some people have problems turning off their USB ports where they can disable their ports but the ports still have power supplied to them because of some issue with the motherboard or OS. I'm trying to figure out a way to see if I will have this problem without potentially electrocuting myself with a paper-clip.

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konaya
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Re: Home Automation

Postby konaya » Mon Dec 27, 2010 3:00 am UTC

If you are willing to bend your "no soldering" rule a bit, you'll find that an old computer with a parallel port will bring you much joy in creating an automated home. And, quite possible, at a minus expense; a lot of people will actually pay you to get rid of their old computers. It's awesome :)

somebody already took it
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Re: Home Automation

Postby somebody already took it » Wed Dec 29, 2010 9:45 am UTC

I am willing to bend my no soldering rule a bit if I can't find a way around it, but what did you have in mind to build that would require an old computer with a parallel port?

Also, for those of you who are interested, I found a usb power controller which appears to be superior to the ecostrip (since I don't think it requires you to cut off power to your usb ports which my computer turns out to be incapable of). However, it won't be released until next month and it might be more expensive.

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hintss
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Re: Home Automation

Postby hintss » Wed Dec 29, 2010 7:42 pm UTC

somebody already took it wrote:I am willing to bend my no soldering rule a bit if I can't find a way around it, but what did you have in mind to build that would require an old computer with a parallel port?

connect the pins to relays. why else do you think many CNC machines connect to a parallel port?

anyway, for the light and heater, I would've suggested a few digital timers for the outlets. or an arduino and a bunch of relays.

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Bhelliom
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Re: Home Automation

Postby Bhelliom » Thu Dec 30, 2010 6:56 pm UTC

X-10, anybody?



The stuff has been around for years and is well proven. It has a nice easy to use GUI that runs on your computer. Even allows your programming to offload to a control module that works even with your computer powered off. No serial control or programming required.
"Eloquently Blunt"

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roflwaffle
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Re: Home Automation

Postby roflwaffle » Thu Dec 30, 2010 11:37 pm UTC

I also recommend X10 + bottlerocket for bash stuff. They always have "sales", so poke around and get a good idea of what's a good price if you want to minimize costs. IIRC I picked up a starter kit, which was a serial port radio transmitter, the radio to wall module, a radio remote control, and a couple lamps modules for like $6 shipped, so I figure ~$10 for something similar would be a price point to look for. The one thing I haven't found is a gui to schedule stuff, kinda like remind with neat rules and stuff, which would be nice, so you'll need to do everything via bash and/or some other program like remind/etc. For the heater or any other high current device you should probably go w/ one of the higher amperage X10 receptacles just to be on the same side. I've also heard that the receptacles tend to be more reliable than the modules you plug stuff into for some reason.

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Bhelliom
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Re: Home Automation

Postby Bhelliom » Fri Dec 31, 2010 4:52 am UTC

The starter kit *should* come with some software called ActiveHome that lets you do drag and drop programming. That is what came with my setup and it works great.
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Moose Hole
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Re: Home Automation

Postby Moose Hole » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:34 pm UTC

Step 1. Get The Clapper.
Step 2. Make a computer recording of clapping.
Step 3. Play back the clapping recording at the desired time.

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hintss
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Re: Home Automation

Postby hintss » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:04 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:Step 1. Get The Clapper.
Step 2. Make a computer recording of clapping.
Step 3. Play back the clapping recording at the desired time.

aplay ~/automation/clap.mp3

now just put it into the crontab.

I believe this only works in alsa?


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