2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: The Winners Are In

Home automation is huge right now in consumer electronics, but despite the wide availability of products on the market, hackers and makers are still spinning up their own solutions. It could be because their situations are unique enough that commercial offerings wouldn’t cut it, or perhaps they know how cheaply many automation tasks can be implemented with today’s microcontrollers. Still others go the DIY route because they’re worried about the privacy implications of pushing such a system into the cloud.

Seeing how many of you were out there brewing bespoke automation setups gave us the idea for this year’s Home Sweet Home Automation contest, which just wrapped up last week. We received more than 80 entries for this one, and the competition was fierce. Judging these contests is always exceptionally difficult, as nearly every entry is a standout accomplishment in its own way.

But the judges forged ahead valiantly, and we now have the top three projects which will be receiving $150 in store credit from the folks at DigiKey.

Continue reading “2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: The Winners Are In”

2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: Spray Bottle Turret Silences Barking

Ah, dogs. They sure like to bark, don’t they? [rrustvold]’s dog likes to bark at the door when a package arrives. Or when someone walks by the house, or whenever the mood strikes, really. To solve the barking issue, at least near the front door, [rrustvold] built a spray bottle turret to teach the dog through classical conditioning.

As you can see from the image, it’s all about pulling the trigger on a standard spray bottle at the right time. This machine only sprays when two conditions are met: it hears noise (like barking) and detects motion (like overzealous tail wagging). It also has heat-seeking abilities thanks to a Raspberry Pi thermal camera.

To do the actual spraying, there’s a DC motor mounted behind the bottle which turns a pulley that’s mounted to its shaft. Around the pulley is a string that wraps around the spray bottle’s trigger. To complete the build, everything is mounted on a lazy Susan so there’s nowhere for Fido to hide-o.

If you’ve a dog whose bite is worse than its bark, consider building a custom dog door to keep it out of the cat box.

The 2024 Home Sweet Home Automation contest has officially wrapped — we’re counting the votes now, so stay tuned for an announcement about the winners shortly.

2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: [HEX]POD – Climate Tracker And Digital Nose

[eBender] was travelling India with friends, when one got sick. Unable to find a thermometer anywhere during COVID, they finally ended up in a hospital. After being evacuated back home, [eBender] hatched an idea to create a portable gadget featuring a few travel essentials: the ability to measure body temperature and heart rate, a power bank and an illumination source. The scope evolved quite a lot, with the concept being to create a learning platform for environmental multi-sensor fusion. The current cut-down development kit hosts just the air quality measurement components, but expansion from this base shouldn’t be too hard.

ML for Hackers: Fiddle with that Tensor Flow

This project’s execution is excellent, with a hexagon-shaped enclosure and PCBs stacked within. As everyone knows, hexagons are the bestagons. The platform currently hosts SCD41 and SGP41 sensors for air quality, a BME688 for gas detection, LTR-308 for ambient light and motion, and many temperature sensors.

On top sits a 1.69-inch IPS LCD, with an OLED display on the side for always-on visualization. The user interface is completed with a joystick and a couple of buttons. An internal blower fan is ducted around the sensor array to pull not-so-fresh air from outside for evaluation. Control is courtesy of an ESP32 module, with the gory details buried deep in the extensive project logs, which show sensors and other parts being swapped in and out.

On the software side, some preliminary work is being done on training TensorFlow to learn the sensor fusion inputs. This is no simple task. Finally, we would have a complete package if [eBender] could source a hexagonal LCD to showcase that hexagon-orientated GUI. However, we doubt such a thing exists, which is a shame.

There are many air quality sensors on the market now, so we see a few hacks based on them, like this simple AQ sensor hub. Let’s not forget the importance of environmental CO2 detection; here’s┬ásomething to get you started.

A Raspberry Pi in an enclosure, connected to a stepper motor controller and a UMTS stick

2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: SMS Controlled Heating

Hackaday.io user [mabe42] works during the week away from their home city and rents a small apartment locally to make this life practical. However, the heating system, a night-storage system, is not so practical. They needed a way to remotely control the unit so that the place was habitable after a long winter commute; lacking internet connectivity, they devised a sensible solution to create an SMS-controlled remote heating controller.

The controller runs atop an old Raspberry Pi B inside a 3D-printed case. Seeing such an old board given a real job to do is nice. Connectivity is via a USB UMTS stick which handles the SMS over the cellular network. The controller knob for the heater thermostat (not shown) is attached via a toothed belt to a pully and a 28BYJ-48 5V geared stepper motor. Temperature measurement is via the ubiquitous DS1820 module, which hooks straight up to the GPIO on the Pi and works out of the box with many one-wire drivers.

The software is built on top of Gammu, which handles the interface to the UMTS device. Daily and historical temperature ranges are sent via SMS so [mabe42] can decide how to configure the heating before their arrival. The rest of the software stack is in Python, as per this (German-language) GitHub project.

While we were thinking about storage heating systems (and how much of a pain they are), we came across this demonstration of how to build one yourself.

A DIY DIN rail mounted rack of PLC components for home automation

2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: A DIY SCADA Smart Home

A SCADA-style display of icons and control buttons
Touch-screen control and monitoring

Supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems sit in the background in industrial settings, performing all kinds of important jobs but in an ad-hoc setup, depending on the precise requirements of the installation. When we think about home automation systems, they’re pretty much the same deal: ad-hoc systems put together from off-the-shelf components and a few custom bits thrown in. [Stefan Schnitzer] clearly has significant knowledge of SCADA in an industrial setting and has carried this over into their home for their entry into the Hackaday 2024 Home Sweet Home Automation Contest. Continue reading “2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: A DIY SCADA Smart Home”

2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: A Piano-Controlled Smart Home

There’s a scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where a little flap in the wall flips down to reveal a small organ embedded there. Gene Wilder plays a bit of Rachmaninoff on the organ, and the giant door to the chocolate room slowly creaks open.

Once [Nathan Orick] got this into his head, he couldn’t get it out, and had to give it a go in his own home. Regrettably there’s no chocolate rooms in the house, so he’s using various chords and melodies to do things like control the lights and the TV, as you’ll see in the video after the break. Although this one may have started as a joke of a home automation scheme, [Nathan] thinks it turned out pretty solid, and so do we.

He already had the piano and a Raspberry Pi Zero lying around, so getting this up and running was mostly about connections and code. Speaking of connections, [Nathan] was hard-pressed to find a micro-USB to USB-B cord, so he ended up splicing one together. Simple enough. The harder part was getting Linux to recognize the keyboard, but all it took was touching all the pins with a multimeter, evidently. What’s a project without a little magic?

And not only did it show up, Linux went to the trouble of registering it as a MIDI device all on its own. Once [Nathan] obtained the port number, he had data printing to the console every time he played a note. Then it was mostly a matter of writing code to interact with MIDI data and track the notes as they’re played, and put it all together with Home Assistant. Be sure to check out the brief demo after the break.

Continue reading “2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: A Piano-Controlled Smart Home”

2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: Simple Window Closer Relies On Gravity

While most pet owners are happy to help out their furry friends, everyone has a limit. For [Gauthier], getting up to open or close the window every three minutes so their cat can go out on the balcony was a bridge too far, so they decided to take a crack at automating the window. The end result not only does the job, it’s extremely low-tech and pretty much invisible except when in use.

Of course, [Gauthier] didn’t arrive at this solution immediately. Their first thoughts went to RFID or perhaps a pressure sensor to detect the cats, coupled with something motorized to open and shut the window, like a belt or maybe a linear actuator. But ultimately, the system has to be robust, so that’s when [Gauthier] got the idea to employ gravity by using pulleys and weights.

Due to the configuration of the space and the shape of the window, [Gauthier] was able to to hide cable pretty well — you can’t really see anything when the window is closed. Be sure to check it out in action after the break. Continue reading “2024 Home Sweet Home Automation: Simple Window Closer Relies On Gravity”