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Author Topic: Home Automation (A major Project)  (Read 15688 times)

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Offline Gordo4444Topic starter

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Home Automation (A major Project)
« on: July 10, 2008, 11:49:50 AM »
So I didn't know what forum to post this in because it deals with all of the aspects of robotics. So I posted it here.

I've decided that my summer project is going to be a big one. I want to automate my bedroom (and when I move out in a few years, my whole house) . I know it's a bit ambitious but I aim high. My original idea was this...

I would have my computer on my desk in my room with a microphone attached to it. It would have a program always running that would pick up voice commands and execute them in which ever fashion I would program them to. Somethings I want it to do is turn on the lights, get the temperature/weather outside and say it using Text-To-Speech, and other things that I can't think of right now.

I plan on doing the core Program with Visual Basic.

My Questions:
1. How would you do physical things, such as turn on the lights? Would you set a servo up that physically flips the switch?  Or would you use something else? My dad is an electrician so It's not a matter of getting the hardware.
2. I know that I need to get a card that fits into my computer so that I can control servos and thermometers and such. http://www.futurlec.com/PCI16IO.shtml I have no idea what to do when it comes to this... has anyone used one before that can point me to a tutorial or an info page?
3. I am in dire need of servos. Where do you guys buy your servos? I looked on eBay but I don't know what I'm  looking for. Are these ok? http://cgi.ebay.com/RC-6x-DYNAM-8-4g-Mini-Servo-High-Torque-and-Speed_W0QQitemZ150268990519QQihZ005QQcategoryZ34056QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem



Plans for the future:

1. I would like to implement a facial recognition software with a camera attached to my door so the computer will tell me who is knocking at my door or who enters my room when im gone.
 



Thats all I have so far, any help would be appreciated! Thanks!
~Gordo~
« Last Edit: July 10, 2008, 12:44:50 PM by Gordo4444 »
Amy: Spirit! Kif, that's the pony I always wanted but my parents said I had too many ponies already.

Kif: Yes, I programmed it in for you. Four million lines of BASIC!

Offline pomprocker

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2008, 12:14:11 PM »
Gordo,

I've done some extensive research on HA and was planning on doing it soon also. If you need help let me know.

Also don't re-invent the wheel. There already is a program written in VB thats free. It can be found at http://www.vcrib.com

I would also check out misterhouse http://misterhouse.sourceforge.net/

These are both free.

Also, I would make some hardware recommendations if you like too.


Edit:

Sorry, I didn't see your questions at the bottom of your post.

Get what is called a PLC to connect your computer to your electrical system. Then you would use a newer technology called Insteon which is the successor of X10 technology.

There is a lot more to it but that should help.

« Last Edit: July 10, 2008, 12:16:04 PM by pomprocker »

Offline AndrewM

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2008, 12:25:56 PM »
1. How would you do physical things, such as turn on the lights? Would you set a servo up that physically flips the switch?  Or would you use something else? My dad is an electrician so It's not a matter of getting the hardware.
2. I know that I need to get a card that fits into my computer so that I can control servos and thermometers and such. http://www.futurlec.com/PCI16IO.shtml I have no idea what to do when it comes to this... has anyone used one before that can point me to a tutorial or an info page?


You can replace light switches, outlets, thermostats, etc with X10, UPB, Insteon or ZWave products.  Each of these receives a signal across your power wiring from the computer to turn on, off, dim, etc.  Nothing mechanical needed on that end.  I believe there are existing SDKs available to control each type of device.
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Offline Gordo4444Topic starter

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2008, 12:34:37 PM »
Also, I would make some hardware recommendations if you like too.
Edit:
Sorry, I didn't see your questions at the bottom of your post.

Get what is called a PLC to connect your computer to your electrical system. Then you would use a newer technology called Insteon which is the successor of X10 technology.

There is a lot more to it but that should help.

Please do make recommendations, I am very new to Home Automation (as you can tell). About the PLC. My Grandfather used a PLC to control Christmas lights to do a fancy light show on his house. That is really what got me into Automation and such. The problem is is that the PLC he used was very loud and every time it opened or closed a switch, it mad a loud *Crack* sound. So with this in mind i wanted to stay away from PLC's. Maybe he was using an older model or maybe a defected model?  :-\

Thanks again for your help!
~Gordo~
Amy: Spirit! Kif, that's the pony I always wanted but my parents said I had too many ponies already.

Kif: Yes, I programmed it in for you. Four million lines of BASIC!

Offline pomprocker

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2008, 01:31:17 PM »
Since Insteon is backward compatible with X10

I'd recomment this PLC for power line connections:

http://www.smarthome.com/2414u.html

Then you would get this so your PC can directly intercept the wireless X10 signals

W800RF32
http://www.wgldesigns.com/w800.html




Here is some other hardware you might find useful:

To give your HA system a vocal presence around the house:
http://www.hacs.com/ab8ss.php


For hooking up sensors around your house:
http://www.trossenrobotics.com/store/p/5341-InterfaceKit-8-8-8.aspx

Implment RFID so your house knows who is home and can make the proper preference settings for you:
http://www.trossenrobotics.com/usb-rfid-reader-tag-kit-em4012.aspx

If you get a TAPI compatible modem in your computer, you HA presence can announce who is calling.

You can set up an alarm system with door/window sensors
http://www.x10.com/security/ds10a_s.html

good motion sensors:
http://www.x10.com/products/x10_ms13a.htm



Offline pomprocker

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #5 on: July 10, 2008, 01:34:52 PM »
You can wire up speakers around the house using your unused phone lines (just need two conductors)

and then near your PC controlling the house you install a mini amplifier from radio shack.
http://www.radioshack.com/sm-buy-the-mini-audio-amplifier-on-http-wwwradioshackcom--pi-2062620.html

and then you've got a vocal presence.

You can get several cheap web appliances from e-bay
and hack them to be control stations around the house for your system
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3Com_Audrey

Offline Scheda

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #6 on: July 10, 2008, 03:38:58 PM »
Get what is called a PLC to connect your computer to your electrical system. Then you would use a newer technology called Insteon which is the successor of X10 technology.

If you become proficient in PLC programming, you might want to consider it as a career, if you like it that is. My dad is a maintenance guy for big bakeries, and he's always telling me about the PLC programmers and how much moolah they make.

Offline Cotowar

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #7 on: July 10, 2008, 09:37:09 PM »
To be honest, Here is what I would, and eventually will do. I plan on having several computers in my house, all for various functions, but one in particular will carry all the necessary equipment for home automation. I would recommend you buy yourself a super tower case, and buy a MoBo with LOTS of PCI ports. they make PCI interface PLC's, some of which can control 40+ devices. By having that, you can eliminate all the bulky junk off your outlets and such. Simply connect your power wires into the board and you're good to go.

The following sites are good for getting quality PLC's, and my dad's company uses them a lot for prototyping and testing equipment.
http://www.automationdirect.com/
http://www.pmdcorp.com/

I don't know if they will have exactly what you're looking for or not, but I know you can get a single PLC unit that can control dozens of things. I was thinking about building an android (and still might some day), and I was going to use two PCI_interface PLC cards to control all the motors I had in it.

Here is the only thing I cannot say for certain. I don't think you will have real-time control over your house. You will not be able to just dim all the lights or whatever whenever you want. You could code in different commands, which would execute settings you previously stored, but you cannot get real-time control as far as I know. If you can figure out how to get real-time control, please do let me know.
--Cotowar--

Offline pomprocker

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2008, 09:50:41 AM »
Here is the only thing I cannot say for certain. I don't think you will have real-time control over your house. You will not be able to just dim all the lights or whatever whenever you want. You could code in different commands, which would execute settings you previously stored, but you cannot get real-time control as far as I know. If you can figure out how to get real-time control, please do let me know.


Using one of those key fobs are command center is not actual automation, but remote control.

To have actual automation you need motion sensors place in key areas around the house, and the house would be able to light up a hallway as you walk through it and darken it when after you walk by it.

Offline mangoraisin

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2008, 01:41:04 AM »
Here is a porch light controller. (Mrs Porch Light)

http://www.emx.net.au/homeautomation.htm

It's written in MS c# dot net express (free).
It took 1 day to write, it will run as an independent application, but the hardware is accessible from other applications that may be controlling other aspects of the house.
The hardware consists of 2 USB IO boards (total $120 dollars).

It talks.

The application can be installed and run (without the hardware), to see how it works.

It's intended for a PC based house control application.
i.e the system is a set of applications running on a PC (not any one application running on a PC).

Offline myself

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Re: Home Automation (A major Project)
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2008, 01:31:19 PM »
I just thought I'd clarify a statement here. AndrewM said that the ZWave is like the others. When in reality it isn't quite the same. It doesn't send the signals through your house wiring, it sends them via RF. Each module has a build in transceiver and it forwards the signal to all the other devices.
Here's an article referencing that:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/123856/first_look_catch_the_home_automation_zwave.html

I know this, because I purchased one from the Lowe's (DIY home repair place,) around me.
It works very, very well. We have had it for 18 months, and I still haven't replaced the batteries in the base unit.
The base can turn on/off up to 16 devices, which you can have programmed at a preset time (including Sunup/Sundown) and also you can manually turn the devices on with ease.
And unlike the way I remember the X10 devices operating, like the logic like some basic timers used to have. You know if it is on, and it receives a signal it simply does the opposite (even if the intent was to turn on the device, when the device was already on).
We purchased an additional plug connector and also a replacement wall switch, which gave us 4 devices altogether.

I like the sense of security it gives us, because it makes our house look like we are there, whether we are there or not.
The only feature that the base unit could have used was a "random" feature to it, so that the devices could be turned on/off at a random time with respect to the time we set (like +/- 15 minutes).

Chris

1. How would you do physical things, such as turn on the lights? Would you set a servo up that physically flips the switch?  Or would you use something else? My dad is an electrician so It's not a matter of getting the hardware.
2. I know that I need to get a card that fits into my computer so that I can control servos and thermometers and such. http://www.futurlec.com/PCI16IO.shtml I have no idea what to do when it comes to this... has anyone used one before that can point me to a tutorial or an info page?


You can replace light switches, outlets, thermostats, etc with X10, UPB, Insteon or ZWave products.  Each of these receives a signal across your power wiring from the computer to turn on, off, dim, etc.  Nothing mechanical needed on that end.  I believe there are existing SDKs available to control each type of device.

 


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