Woodhouse Controls Your House, Avoids Danger Zone

woodhouse

[Pat] may not be the world’s most dangerous secret agent, but he does have Woodhouse taking care of his home. [Pat] has been upgrading his sonic screwdriver home automation system these past few months. Waking up to a chilly room led him to start hacking a thermostat interface. [Pat] found that his furnace only needed one 24VAC wire to be shorted to a common during a call for heat. [Pat] was lucky in that his thermostat was low voltage. While researching a thermostat hack, we made the painful discovery that our thermostat is 120VAC, so watch for that if you try this one at home.

[Pat] connected his thermostat leads to a relay controlled by a Raspberry Pi. The Pi would read a temperature sensor and set the relay accordingly. That was fine for a quick hack, but opening an SSH window to change the temperature isn’t the most convenient thing in the world. Enter an old Asus Transformer Prime tablet. [Pat] coded up an Android Holo style interface using AJAX along with HTML/CSS/jQuery and PHP. OpenMic+ constantly listens for voice commands, and fires them off to Tasker tasks as needed. He calls the results Woodhouse, and the interface is very slick. The tablet controls and graphs temperature, [Pat's] media center, and his lights. Woodhouse is even [Pat's] right hand man when getting ready for those intimate moments. We can’t wait to see what [Pat] comes up with next.

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Upgrading Home Automation to Home Anticipation

geofencingHomeAnticipation

[Bithead's] already built some home automation to control the lighting and temperature in his house while he’s away, but he wanted to take things a step further and have the house automatically anticipate his arrival and adjust the environment accordingly. The project takes advantage of geofencing to create a perimeter around the home that listens for a transceiver in [Bithead's] car. We featured a similar project with a Raspi a few months ago, which locked the doors upon driving away.

[Bithead's] implementation uses a pair of Digi Xbee Pro XSC radios with U.FL antennas to provide an impressive 2+ mile range of communication. The home-based Xbee hooks up to a Parallax Xbee USB adapter and subsequently into his computer—its antenna sits in a nearby window on the top floor of his house to maximize range. For his car, [Bithead] originally opted for an Xbee shield and an Arduino Uno, but he’s recently overhauled the build in favor of an Arduino Fio, which reduced the footprint and increased the range. Check out his page for the build log specifics and more pictures.

Wireless Thermostat

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The thermostat in [Tom’s] 100-year-old house is two floors up from where the furnace is located, so a broken wire in the wall was just the catalyst needed to design a wireless thermostat.

The system is based on a customized PCB [Tom] designed called the Magic Mote. The board contains an MSP430 microcontroller, a low power NRF24l01+ wireless transceiver, and various sensor interfaces. The wireless thermostat project uses two of these boards; one monitors the temperature on the second floor and the other controls the furnace in the basement.

The temperature sensing is done using a DHT22/AM2303 temperature and humidity sensor, which is a convenient choice, since the part is calibrated and handles the analog digital conversion; you just need one digital pin to retrieve the temp/humidity data. To control the furnace, [Tom] used the local 24VAC and a latching relay to drive the heater signal. The 24VAC also powers the board, so a door-bell transformer steps the voltage down to something more usable; about 11VAC or so, which is then rectified, filtered, and regulated down to what the control electronics like to see (3.3V/5V).

This project is actually still in the early stages of what [Tom] has planned; a network of sensors and appliances with a beagle bone base station. We can’t wait to see what’s next for this project; maybe we’ll even see some voice control, like in this epic Siri controlled home automation project.

[via Dangerous Prototypes]

Hacking a Heating Pad

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[Bob] and his wife use a bed heating pad. In the winter, they typically turn it on about an hour before bedtime so the bed is nice and warm. The problem is, if they accidentally leave it on, they’ll wake up a few hours later: overheated. What they needed was an advanced timer system.

A normal outlet timer wouldn’t fit his needs: most of the year the pad should shut off after a slight delay, but in the winter they prefer to leave the heating pad on at a much lower temperature. [Bob] decided to create a custom timer with a microcontroller to provide adjustable duration and heating levels.

The circuit is simple. It consists of a microcontroller, a 2-digit LED display, two buttons, and two wires that connect to the heating pad’s original controller. The final build allows you to set the time the pad turns on, turns off, and/or down a few levels. It’s a fantastic hack, and you can see how the interface works in the video following the break.

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Real Life Sonic Screwdriver for Home Automation

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Any Doctor Who fans out there? [Pat] just sent us his project on home automation… using a Sonic Screwdriver!

Ever since he pre-ordered his Raspberry Pi at the beginning of February 2012, he knew he wanted to try his hand at home automation. The easy way was to use X10 outlets, but at $20+ an outlet, it’s not that affordable. Instead, he managed to find a rather cheap system on Amazon — RF controlled outlets. They only cost about $35 for a 5-pack!

It’s a very basic system: five outlets with five buttons on the remote. All he had to do was wire up the Raspberry Pi to simulate the button presses by setting the GPIO pins high, and presto, a simple but effective home automation setup.

This is where it starts to get fun. Unfortunately, unlike a real Time Lord, [Pat] didn’t build his sonic from scratch. Instead, he found a universal remote control — styled after [Smith]‘s sonic. Add another RF receiver to the Pi, a web-based interface to extend the range, and bam, you’ve got one geeky, but awesome, home automation setup.

Stick around after the break to see it in action!

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Internet-Enabling a Lamp with the Raspberry Pi

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[Jack] sent in his writeup for internet enabling a home lamp. While we will certainly have some comments saying this is too simple, it does a great job of breaking things down to the basics. For those that aren’t confident in their electronic skills, this is an easy hack to a commercial device that greatly expands it’s capabilities. [Jack] started with a cheap wireless outlet controller. By opening the remote and wiring each switch to a 2N222A transistor, you can very easily control the remote from the GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi. In [Jack's] case, he set up a web page using Flask that allows quick on/off control.

Of course, this method can be used in any number of instances where you have a wireless controller, from small lamps to garage doors. Given it’s simplicity, anyone can do it with even basic skills. If you’re a beginner who’s been itching to do some home automation, follow [Jack's] writeup and check an item off your todo list!

Raspi AC and Blinds Controller

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[Chris's] bedroom has a unique setup with an air conditioning unit perched on the wall next to the top of the blinds that cover his window. Normally, to open the blinds he had to tug on a cord and operating the AC meant fiddling with a remote control. Not anymore. Now [Chris] has an all-in-one Raspberry Pi-based solution to drive both.

The build uses a stepper motor salvaged from a printer to directly drive the blinds, with a familiar-looking Easy Driver connecting it to the Pi. The motor spins the blinds’ mechanism either open or closed, though at a modest pace that’s slow enough to provide the needed torque. [Chris] added an IR diode plugged into the Pi that imitates the air conditioning unit’s remote control, and simply pointed it directly at the unit’s receiver. An inexpensive WiFi dongle gets the Pi onto the network, allowing [Chris] to interact via a custom web interface. The interface itself not only provides a couple of clickable buttons, but a cleverly-designed status image indicating the position of the blinds.

Make sure you see the video below for a demonstration and for more details on the build. This is one of the better examples of home automation devices we’ve seen recently, especially considering it actually fits the “autonomous” implications discussed in our Ask Hackaday post from a few months back—although a relatively simple automation, [Chris's] interface does allow for operating both the blinds and the AC on a preselected schedule.

[Read more...]

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