Home Automation has quickly become a buzz-word, but to me, it’s about the hobby of building and maintaining systems which actively improve my life through computer control. This goes beyond simple app remote control. For me, I’m particularly fond of motion-activated lighting, time of day based automation, and really anything else I can do to reduce mundane tasks and improve my quality of life.
I am currently living in my parents house, which is fed water by a private well, and we have no way of knowing exactly how much water we use. Since I’m planning on building my own house, I wanted to know how much water I (and everyone else in the house) realistically used. In addition, I wanted to know how much hot water we use and how frequently we use hot water, so I could model hot water heating systems.
I am currently living in my parents house, which is fed water by a private well. Due to the mineral content in most well water, we use a water softener. For those of you with city water, a water softener is a type of ion exchange filter which uses salt (sodium chloride) to replace calcium, magnesium, and other metals in the water with sodium. None of these minerals are hazardous, but they do stain everything, so reducing them is desirable.
After my experience with FreeBSD Jails and LXC containers, I wanted to get into ‘real’ virtualization - and all of the advantages that come with it, like VM snapshot and restore features, moving VMs around between my workstation and production environment, and separating my storage from my compute. To this end, I built the Minilab, a small scale virtualization lab that will be at home in any house or appartment.
After setting up my 1-Wire Temperature Network, my next sensory target was my AC breaker panel. I watched reviews for products such as the Sense energy monitor, The Energy Detective, and a few others, and felt like none of them did what I wanted. I know that big loads in my house use a lot of power (duh), I want to know how much power specific people and rooms in the house use, so I can improve my home energy modeling skills.
Inspired by Jonathan Oxer’s Air Quality project, I decided to build my own, but with my own twist and my own software. This project was an adventure bridging my long-held Arduino skills with modern Ethernet microcontrollers, object-oriented programming, and a lesson in how important mechanical design is.
Concept Design Jon’s sensor uses a Plantower PMS5003, and later adds a Bosch BME680 air quality sensor. I decided to use the similar Plantower PMS7003, Bosch BME680, and also a CCS811 environmental sensor which measures eCO2 for comparison to the BME680.
I’ve long followed the videos and episodes of Jonathan Oxer of SuperHouse, and decided to design my first true automation system around his design ideas. This project describes the basic setup of the automation system I setup and explored, and replaces the dabblings I’ve had with EmonCMS in the past (See the One-wire Project).
Software Stack Jon is big on the use of MQTT for transport, having developed a lot of his own hardware before it was easily available (especially so in Australia where he is located) and standardizing on the protocol for its general and flexible nature.
This project is my entry into data collection at home. I learned a lot about what not to do, but I got a decent sensor network out of it, which continues to be (mostly) reliable to this day.
Dallas One-Wire Sensors See the Wikipedia Article on the subject for a brief overview. I started this project with the goal of proving that my bedroom (located on the southeast corner of the house) was notably colder in the winter than other rooms.