HAL is Duct Tape for Home Automation

HAL Home Automation

When it comes to home automation, there are a lot of different products out there that all do different things. Many of them are made by different companies, and they don’t often play very well together. This frustration ultimately led [Daniel] to develop his own Python based middleware solution to get these various components to work as a single cohesive system. What exactly did [Daniel] want to control?

First up was the door lock. [Daniel] lives in an apartment building, so there are actually two locks. First, a visitor must be allowed into the building by pressing a button on the intercom system in the apartment. Second, the apartment door has its own dead bolt lock that needs to be opened and closed. [Daniel] was able to control the building’s front door using just a transistor hooked up to an Arduino to simulate the press of the physical button. The original button remains in tact so [Daniel] can still easily “buzz” in a visitor.

The apartment’s dead bolt was a bit trickier. There are off-the-shelf solutions to control a dead bolt, but they are often expensive. [Daniel] built his own solution using a simple servo motor bolted to the door. The servo is controlled by the Arduino which is in turn controlled via two broken intercom buttons that already existed within the apartment. The buttons were originally used to either speak to or listen to a visitor before buzzing them into the building. They had never worked for [Daniel] so he re-purposed them for his own project. The whole DIY door locker is enclosed in a custom-made laser cut wooden box.

Click past the break for the rest of [Daniel's] story.

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Tornado lamp made with lasers

[Styropyro] did a great job of taking common parts and making an interesting item. He calls this his Tornado lamp, and it’s made with stuff you probably have around the house — well you might have to substitute more common glassware for that Erlenmeyer flask.

The bulk of the hack is in the base. You’ll find a laser diode pointed at a small scrap of mirror. That mirror is mounted on the center of a small case fan, giving the tornadic effect when spinning. To make everything fit just right, the laser is pointed horizontally, with the fan/mirror at a 45 degree angle. The beam points up through a hole in the project box and illuminates the liquid in the flask. That liquid is water doped with a substance that fluoresces. In this shot it’s some fluorescein, but we did mention you can do this with stuff from around the house. [Styropyro] demonstrates the use of liqud from some highlighting markers as a substitute.

If you’re decoration a mad scientist’s lab this is a perfect companion for a Jacob’s ladder.

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