Let’s see… how about a little background about me and what I’m trying to accomplish here. Three years ago, before a skiing injury left me a quadriplegic, I was living in Utah working as a controls engineer for a large ski lift manufacturer enjoying the outdoorsy life, but still staying true to my dorky roots with my profession. I loved the challenge of a complex controls problem and thrived on the systematic approach to make them happen. This stuff I still enjoy just as much, but maybe in a little different way now that I am paralyzed and can’t use my hands completely. So my project… what I am trying to accomplish over the next 6 months is to build a passively solar, completely accessible, intelligent home, designed from the ground up that will help make everything easier for me. I want automation of all the important appliances/lights, a house-wide media distribution center, and a way that I can control it with not only my hands, but also my voice. And… I need this all out of necessity, not just because it’s convenient. I want to be able to safely be as independent as possible, and this home will definitely be a huge, huge step in that direction.
So there it is! I’ve got some experience in various different things… controls, audio/video technology, HTPCs, networks, etc. and I’m looking to all of you to provide a little of your awesome, expert advice on what has worked for you in the past, and what I absolutely should take into consideration for my project. To get as much brainpower and knowledge together I’ve posted this at a variety of forums… those for people with disabilities like me, those for the audio/video enthusiasts, home automation techies, voice recognition peeps and whoever else I can think of. The exact forums that I’ve posted to are:
AVS Forum – Audio/Video/HTPC Forum
CareCure – Spinal Cord Injury Forum
CocoonTech – Home Automation Forum
Emotiva – Audio Forum
KnowBrainer – Voice Recognition Form
Promixis Girder 5.0 – Automation Forum
Anyways, this is what I know I want to begin with. Low voltage lights leading to the front door, a video/intercom system to check out the people banging on my door, remote/electronic door locks with a powered system to open the door, controllable lights and appliances, electric shades and window operators, automatic temperature on the shower, house wide multizone video/audio, all that I can control right from my computer, wall-mounted keypads, and a wi-fi enabled cell phone/PDA.
I have experience with many of the various different automation protocols INSTEON, X10, UPB, Z-wave, structured wiring. I have dabbled with Girder 5 and NetRemote 2. I own Emotiva amplifiers, JBL speakers, and Samsung LCDs. I use an overclocked Core i7 920 for my voice recognition duties with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and also use the system as a HTPC with 8 TB of storage. Basically, I’ve got a lot of the pieces, just need to start putting them all together to make a beautiful puzzle.
So there is a start… where do you think I should go with this new home project. I know I need several runs of CAT6 to every room for media distribution, UPB for outlets/lights, at home automation controller to make everything work… but what about specifics? I know I’m being vague, right now, but I don’t want to give too much away of what I’m thinking so that I can hopefully get some varying opinions and thoughts.
Nice job Mike. I have a few thoughts so make sure the next time we get together bring this topic up. I'm proud of you and your efforts. I'm sure with other folks input this project will be a model for others to look over. Uncle Dean
Great ideas! I did my senior project on a solar tracking system so I may be able to throw some ideas your way when you get to that point. You'll definitely want to think of some high capacity batteries to store the power garnered by the panels. Are they going to be fixed axis or tracking? Roof-mounted?
Hey Brandon,Been a while! Have definitely tossed around the idea of going with a full-blown solar set up, the only problem is it's so darned expensive! Probably just to keep things more affordable I'll be focusing more on sighting the house properly and putting the majority of the glazing on the south walls.Solar hot water heating would definitely be cool.
Hey Mike! I think this is a fantastic idea, and thanks for keeping me in the loop. I look forward to keeping track of the progress and giving any help and suggestions where I can. For power, I doubt you'll be able to go completely solar; so with all of these electronic gadgets, you'll need a back-up power source. Consider a generator and automatic transfer switch set. I work at Cummins Power Generation now, and this is my current area of expertise. If you have questions, I can find the answers. Take care of yourself! Tim Beaucage
Mikey, will be sharing with many and following you every step of the way. Psyched for you and the planet b/c this your project is going to change so many lives and open many minds.Forwarded your blog to the President of The Planet Green Group, who I am consulting with and we may be able to fly up and pay you a visit.CC:d Jim to make sure you have him on your email distribution list. Can you double check? He is currently at: firstname.lastname@example.orgLove ya buddy….keep it up ~ Molly
EXCELLENT!Great to hear from you Tim and Molly and am so happy to have you two aboard and following the project.There are really so many things we'd love to be doing, but right now it's all about being able to balance the financial side of the house with all the amazing green/automation technologies. Maybe if a group that has experience with building affordable green housing like Planet Green Group jumped in with some ideas we might be able to do the best of both worlds.Can't wait to see what unfolds,Mike
Mike, I'm so pumped for you…I was a sysad for the last five years when I was down in MA, let me know if you need any help with networking, computers, even running wire or patching it into panels etc…I'm up for any of it. We still gotta catch up some time. Hope alls well.
Am I right thinking that this is Blackstone? If so, you definitely just get yourself in trouble because I could so use your help with specing/wiring the network. Have a bunch of ideas, but could certainly use somebody with your experience to help with the architecture and possibly punching everything down in the patch panels. Let me know what you think!
You are correct this is Blackstone, and willin to help, let me know if you need a sound board for any ideas! Pullin' wire and punchin' it all down is in my future I think as well…let me know!
Definitely need some insight about the network. I'll shoot you a Facebook message with my cell and let's plan on getting together just for the heck of it.