Home automation with RC wall plugs and Raspberry Pi

[Jake] took some cheap hardware and figured out a way to use it as a huge home automation network. He’s chose a Raspberry Pi board to connect the radio controlled power outlets to his network. He wrote about his project in two parts, the first is hacking the RC outlet controller and the second is using the Raspberry Pi to manipulate it.

These RC outlets are a pass-through for appliances that connect to mains (lamps, consumer electronics, christmas trees, etc). Often the protocol used by the cheap-as-dirt remote is difficult to work with, but [Jake] really hit it out of the part on this one. In addition to simulating button presses for up to fifteen devices on the remote, he replaced the DIP switch package. This lets him change the encoding, essentially allowing the one device to control up to 32 sets of outlets. Theoretically this lets him command 480 devices from the Raspberry Pi. Since that board is a web server it’s just a matter of coding an interface.

Some of the inspiration for this hack came from the whistle-controlled appliance hack.

Comments

  1. Fractal says:

    Excellent, someone’s done it, and neatly. Doing exactly this has been my recommendation for people wanting to control mains voltages with microelectronics, as it keeps them safe from the HV stuff, and having to learn lots of radio stuff (not necessarily a bad thing).

    Looks like this is going in the summer projects box now!

  2. If I could get a hold of one of these I’d love to try some stuff like this, sadly I can’t.

  3. ScottInNH says:

    Still waiting for the Raspberry Pi myself. I don’t get why other manufacturers in the US haven’t just gone ahead with their own batch of boards… it IS an open source design, is it not?

    • kendall14 says:

      Yes it is an open source design, but with the processor being something that broadcom usually does not sell in smaller quantity which may have something to do with it.

    • Chris says:

      Well yes, the schematics are released but the PCB hardware designs aren’t. It’s nothing special anyway, just a SoC dev-board without all the fancy features.

      Also, the “creator” Eben works for Broadcom, the manufacturer of the SoC, so they were able to get that for chips (no pun) where normally only the big players (Router manufacturers) would be able to get it.

    • wretch says:

      No, it isn’t. Something about the Broadcom chip not being available to the masses. There’s a video interview with Eben where he explained this.

  4. mr midnight says:

    I have a few of these laying around… hacked one to use it in the country I am in right now. (drilled some holes to fit in the outlet :) )

    This is certainly a very cool hack. I was thinking to use a USB keyboard and use the lights as relays and control the outlets that way.

    My ultimate goal is to centralize the control in some kind of automated computer controlled switch board with dimming.

  5. Mark Smith says:

    On a side note, I really like the lego case for the Raspberry Pi! I did a double take on that one :)

  6. kernelcode says:

    Raspberry pi tag?

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