Our home is partially automated (and when we build the house of our dreams, it's going to be a lot more automated). What does that mean? Well, the house doesn't cook our meals and put us to bed, nor does it order milk for us when we run out. But it does let us turn lights and appliances on and off, control our heating, monitor security systems and computer networks, operate our home theatre, and integrate all this with Internet-available information like weather forecasts. We can control all this by remote controls, Web interface, voice recognition, or from our computers, and some of it happens automatically in response to motion detectors and timers.
Sounds obscure, expensive, and complicated, right? Wrong: most of the components are under $30 and simply plug right into the wall. While a lot of companies would have you believe this is the "house of the future", most of this has been available, affordable, and easy for decades. You can get started for about $50, and if you know how to program your VCR, you know more than enough to get your feet wet.
We built our home automation system using components and information from these sources:
- x10.com, the original developers of the X-10 home automation protocol, and main manufacturers of the cheap and ubiquitous hardware that makes up the bulk of most people's systems
- Ocelot, the most reliable and feature-rich X-10 and infrared controller available for under $500
- RCS TX15-B, a great X-10 bidirectional thermostat
- TEMP05 interface to One-Wire sensors
- Leviton switches, far better quality than x10.com ones, for where it matters
- Leviton HCA02-10E coupler/repeater, hooked to a spare dryer plug, to bridge the phases and improve signal propagation
- Roomba, an affordable automated floor-cleaning robot. No, really!
- HomeSeer, the best home automation software on the market
- Rover : my complete, compatible, compact web interface to HomeSeer which lets you control all your devices using palmtops, slow connections, older browsers, etc. Now available in HomeSeer's Updater. More information on the Download page.
- My custom home page ASP; the internals of the code are still pretty messy, but someday I'll clean it up, complete it, and post it as sample code for people to use... though it will probably never be a "plug-and-play" package (it's not designed that way)
- Network Monitor, my script to keep track of the status of my network
- StackQueue, my data structure add-in for HomeSeer
- Remote Tray Switches, a great program from Martin Neville that gives you the quickest access to your most important devices
Take a look at our home automation system now!