I’m a programmer by profession but have always had an interest in electronics but I would not have been able to progress in any field without the contribution of others to the open source communities. Now that I feel that I am getting somewhere with this project, I though it could be helpful for others for me to give back.
Starting off this project quite a while ago, my original goal was to play with Arduino but I needed a practical project to apply it to. Starting out with automated party lights (flashing to beats etc) and things have grown from there. I then had the opportunity to build a house from scratch so my scope changed from party to home automation and how cheap and readily available parts could be bolted together to create something that could be used on a bigger scale.
Designing the house took time, and while that was going on, my wife and I moved from the house in town out to a shed where the new house was to be built. As I had free reign at this stage, this shed has become the prototype and testing ground for the system. Some time and a baby later, we are still in the shed (now extended, insulated, plaster-boarded and quite homely) and the system is some what permanent.
Before i turned thought into product, I had to find solutions to a few guidelines set out by me…and the wife:
- System had to be obvious and familiar to guests. I have seen quite a few home automation projects that require instructions to use, I didn’t want to have to tell guests how to use a light switch; at the basic level, a switch is a switch that turns on a light.
- Components had to be fairly standard. I don’t want to do any hardcore development or building here, I want to use things I buy and plug together.
- System has to be stand alone. If all else fails, I want the ability to push a switch and a light comes on. Any smarter manipulation of the system can be done as a layer on top but the base system works regardless.
- All low voltage. This has been the easiest to implement now that LED lighting is common and cheap but deciding to go all 12VDC was a big step.
- System redundancy. I want the ability to remove large components and still have a usable system. e.g. still have lights when the mains power goes out with battery backup.
- Open source. All code, component design and documentation is freely available.
- Develop a web interface for interfacing with the system for configuration and higher level functions. Mobile friendly GUI with JQuery hooking into PHP web server that talks to Arduino Ethernet shield.
Please contact me if you have any questions or recommendations.