4 Replies Latest reply on Dec 8, 2014 12:10 PM by hankcb

    Newb looking for information on home automation


      Hi folks,

      New here, not new to programming and embedded systems. And I like to communicate with others of similar interests when I'm getting started in an area of interest.


      At the moment I'm looking into home automation or more appropriately, automating things around the home using stuff like Arduino and perhaps other microcontrollers. (Right now I'm working with the STM32F4 and a demo board for that can be purchased for about $15. Not as simple to use but about 10x the power of the Arduino.)


      One of the needs I want to fulfill is wireless networking. I really want to be able to connect these devices to a central PC so I can monitor and control the various devices.


      Now I just need to figure out the best forum to ask about this

        • Re: Newb looking for information on home automation

          Hi Hank,

          One module you might check out is the Cypress Semiconductor PSoC4 Prototyping Kit. It costs $4 and includes a system-on-a-chip ARM Cortex M0 MCU. The PSoC Creator development environment is very powerful, easy to use and it is free - and it is not crippled in any way.

          I have used it in a couple of home automation projects so far. I use Bluetooth for wireless because I can use any smart phone to control the system and HC05 Bluetooth modules are inexpensive. Bluetooth reaches every part of my 2-storey house and its basement.

          You can check my projects here:

          Henrietta's Daughter - Smart Thermostat

          Henrietta - The Clock Version

          Cypress also has a Pioneer Kit based on the same processor which costs a bit more, but is arduino compatible:

          Smarter Life Challenge - The Henrietta Project - Final Summary

          • Re: Newb looking for information on home automation

            Hi Hank,

            I'm also interested in home automation.  I've been working on some projects based on Arduino and other microcontrollers.  Regarding the STM32F4 - it might be 10 times more powerful than an Arduino, but for home automation, you don't need power.  You're better off with a cheap foundation for sensors and actuators, that has a large code-base so you can integrate wireless transceiver libraries.  I'm using Arduino (clones, but also barebone battery powered circuits) along with a  915MHz wireless transceiver from HopeRF.  The wireless transceiver is $4.  I have examples of motion sensors, washer/dryer sensor, water leak sensor, sound sensors, etc...


            The other part I think you need to decide on is the automation platform.  All the sensor information goes somewhere to be processed (send emails, change indicators on a mobile application, turn on lights, play sound, etc...).  This automation platform would need to run on a real computer, like a Raspberry Pi or something more powerful.  I'm using an open source platform called OpenHAB.  Lots of good examples on Element 14 for OpenHab since there was a recent design challenge for it.


            Check out some of the things I've done:

            Inexpensive & Flexible Home Automation / Wireless Sensors

              • Re: Newb looking for information on home automation

                Hi Eric,

                Thanks for the info and the pointers to your projects, HopeRF, OpenHAB. One of the podcasts I subscribe to recently discussed XMPP (http://twit.tv/show/floss-weekly/49 or if the link gets removed, search for "XMPP FLOSS") I'm not sure if they are complementary of serve the same niche but both are open source, both seem to embrace various communication layers and both run on Linux. I have a file server which runs Linux and has sufficient spare cycles to run either of these.


                Your point about the cost of the additional power is well taken. For many of these applications the minimum power is sufficient and most efficient. The other cost is the development effort. The more powerful chips require a *lot* more studying than programming an Arduino.