RESTful house

Possibly a little premature (not sold the current house yet!) but I’ve been pondering the opportunity for playing with home automation when we find a new house.

Not even having the house yet means I have a completely blank canvas so I’m on the look out for ideas. On the hardware side, Nigel has mentioned Arduino a few times which sounds pretty interesting, plus there’s the Slug option. Laptops seem to get used too but I’d rather avoid that. On the where to start side, Andy’s house uses MQTT, is in Second Life, Twitters, and has a pretty worrying power meter graph, which should provide a few ideas! He’s not the only one- it would seem that IBMers like their home automation projects. Like Glenn, low cost is high on my list of requirements (I will have just undergone open wallet surgery buying a house!) although I suspect my idea of low is lower than Glenn’s! I also want it to be low power- very low power, so I’m pondering some sort of mesh approach to avoid any kind of server… as such… just because really! I quite like the idea of giving the house a REST interface. I don’t want any fans. So a clear set of requirements there then.

Any thoughts, suggestions, success/horror stories?

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8 thoughts on “RESTful house

  1. http://mirror.linux.org.au/pub/linux.conf.au/2008/slides/197-linux_home_automation.pdf

    Not sure if this is the “Glenn” mentioned above – but Glenn Wightwick has done a brilliant job on his place in Sydney, Australia, using free and open source technologies and purchased hardware from places in the UK and US (Fry’s does ship worldwide for most items!!). Glenn spent some time discussing with Andy and purchased some components at Andy’s suggestion. He is also semi-assisting us with our home automation plans for when we build our new place – giving lots of ideas and advice. Happy to share ideas sometime!!

  2. Richard Jones had a project a while back (part1, part2, part3) using an old Pocket PC device as a mini home server. This sort of approach would presumably be both low-power plus the cost of a second-hand old PDA is quite cheap.

    As for ideas, he had some neat ideas for things you can do if you capture events from your doorbell:

    # Ability to take photo of the person at the front door
    # Sending remotely via email/IM who’s at the door – useful for home security.
    # Not waking up the children – a popup alert on each home PC rather than an intrusive ring.
    # Get rid of that boring ding-dong, lets play a user defined wav file

  3. Hi Kelly, yes that was the same Glenn :) Would definitely like to hear how your project goes and share ideas.

    Old Pocket PC’s sound like a great idea Dale- will definitely look in to that. Having ringtones for the house sounds fun as well.

    The other thing I’d like to play with, which I forgot about before, is smarter heating controls. I bought a timed programmable room thermostat for the current house which is way better then the usual fixed temperature and central heating timer, but it’s annoying to keep programming it manually. I’d like the house to learn from the way we set the thermostat and when we’re likely to be in instead. Maybe it could check dopplr or a google calendar to see when we’re going to be away.

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  6. Pingback: Cheap low power home server options « Notes from a small field

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