It’s about time!
Hey friends! Got some absolutely awesome news about my home automation progress. Go figure, Facebook absolutely saved the day a few weeks ago, when I made the plea for help across my “social network”, and got a response from several friends of a person I’ve known for an awfully long time (I think we even went to kindergarten together) who through all the years of school was always a little techy and dorky just like me. A few e-mails back and forth, lots of excitement, and now I’ve got Tim a guy I’ve known forever and one of his buddies Cole helping me with my automation two nights a week, and another entirely different friend I went through engineering school helping me on Tuesday nights. Lots of great stuff is going down, we’re having a heck of a lot of fun, and some old friendships are quickly being caught up. Good stuff!
Tim and Cole have done a tremendous job chasing the wires down from my main media cabinet to all their remote locations spread across the house. I thought I’d been awfully anal/particular about labeling all the wires when they were pulled, but it seems many labels have fallen off since that time and some of them just weren’t right so we’ve gone through the arduous task of toning out all the wires and making sure they are what they say they are. That took the first day and a half, and from there it was quick work to make the connections to my main controller.
You can see from the photo below that about 80% of the input wires for the top controller board and the expansion board below are terminated. This might look a little bit messy with some extra gray wires at this point, but I’m confident sending someone up into the attic to pull up the slack will make all the difference.
The wires you see terminated on the bottom rows of both boards are all the inputs to this side of Quadomated. What this means is all of the window/door/motion sensors on the west side of the house terminate here and report their status to the main board. From there I can do all kinds of neat things like turn lights on/off based on doors or motion sensors being tripped or even sounding an alarm to the local police station if the system is tripped while armed in security mode. Sometime later we’ll start terminating the top row of terminals which correspond to all the outputs. This is where the fun really happens with my controller board sourcing relays that control DC motors that open windows/doors, make my bed sit up, or sound a foghorn into my parent’s bedroom. Oh the possibilities!
Then on Tuesdays my work with Andrew has taken a different tune. We decided it would make the most sense to split up the work between both groups so that we weren’t working over/confusing each other. Probably the most important subsystem that I need to get working ASAP is the automatic shades. With the sun quickly dropping in the sky to winter heights I’m now finding myself blinded from using my computer between the hours of 8-10 AM. This will only get worse once the snow blankets the ground and reflects all that bright sunlight right into my face. So shades… I need to get my automated shades working! All the wires are run, the hardware/fabric in the garage, and the carpenter on his way to install them in the windows. Now I need to get some control working!
Figuring out the Somfy electric blinds was a huge learning process. The technical documentation describing what needs to happen is completely lacking and I decided to use some far cheaper/generic electronics to interface everything to my computer. Fortunately, after a bunch of computer searching, e-mails to members at Cocoontech, phone calls to Somfy engineering, and lots of persistence we finally have things sort of limping along. What we did was use a USB to RS-485 serial adapter. The RS 485 A/B signal was pulled off this board, but the power bus had to be brought off the HAI control board because the USB adapter only sourced 5 VDC and we needed 12 VDC. Everything was then combined together on an ethernet cable using this breakout dongle below. Have no fear I’ll describe all of this in gross technical detail once we have everything spinning and working as it should. Final product will be a single button I can push that drops the shades, lowers my 133 inch home theater projections screen, dims the lights, turns on my projector, adjusts my amplifiers to the appropriate volume, and starts the movie. Oh yeah… Home Theater Bliss!
As a final thing with all of this, I’ve also completed the programming of all the light switches in the house. From the interface below I have fine control of all 33 light switches in the house.