Woodhouse Controls Your House, Avoids Danger Zone


[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.



21 thoughts on “Woodhouse Controls Your House, Avoids Danger Zone

  1. To save people time; at no point in the videos does Woodhouse make an appearance. The second vid is one click of a button -> “fireplace”+music for the rest of the vid for some reason.

      1. Nice, thanks for the link. I have a 1983 City E (mk4) and a 1996 Sprite (mk6), neither is on the road at the moment, more welding required! Really want a 1964 Cooper S, in Tartan Red or Old English White. Maybe one day…

  2. I don’t know about your current heating system, but, I thought I might suggest you watch your heating temp in comparison with regular filter replacement. You might be able to get more than the rated few months from a filter by watching the power draw of the heater (ie when it starts working harder to do the same amount of work, it is time to check the filter for replacement). Just a thought.

    1. Hmm that’s an interesting idea. Other than tapping into the furnace, would there be another way of checking the filter? For example, measuring how long it takes to warm up the room, or maybe measure the amount of air coming out of the vent? Right now everything is a drop in replacement without modification so it would be easy to set up in an apartment or anywhere with a rent.

      1. I really don’t have much knowledge of such systems. I made the comment because earlier this winter my mother’s house didn’t get above about 60F (15C), even though the thermostat was set to 70F (21C), due to a very dirty furnace filter.

  3. Very nice looking interface.. cool project. The only thing I would change is that the headlight turns on and off in the interface to be representative of the actual state, but overall very clean.

  4. Just be cautious with the homebrew thermostat. You really don’t want a hung RasPi to cook your house to a crazy unsafe temperature like 120 F (48 C). Consider series wiring in a simple backup mechanical thermostat that could break the circuit if the temperature exceeds its setpoint, and set it to a reasonably safe limiting value like 90 F (32 C). You could also wire in a second parallel thermostat to make sure the temp never drops below 40 F (4 C) to keep your pipes safe from freezing in the winter.

    1. I really like this idea. Do you think something like an Attiny would be more stable than the Pi? I could use it as sort of a gateway to the Pi. What I’m thinking is the Attiny would ask the Raspi what temperature it should be at every 30 seconds or so. The Pi would report back and the Attiny would actually balance the temperature. For some reason in my head this seems more stable.

      1. I believe the suggestion of using mechanical thermostats is based on standards that control them.
        All of your uC controlled hardware could have a “wonderful” goto fail. :)

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