As I’ve played around in this whole world of home automation, I’ve quickly realized that the possibilities are endless, but that in order to do it all I needed more than just a great security/automation panel; I needed a whole house automation system. So what does this mean? I needed more than the basic expansion possibilities and limited programming that the HAI OmniPro II could offer. I wanted an automation glue that could tie together all the great things my OmniPro can do on its own, with all the great computer-based subsystems and information that is available. Think combining the operation of my OmniPro with an Internet driven weather forecasts, third-party infrared system, serial controlled projectors/home theater processors, and all of this in a unified touchscreen interface that I can design/style in a way that makes everything work the best/easiest for me. What I needed to tie this all together along with all my media distribution needs is a great home automation/media distribution server with the right software running on top.
In this post I’ll concentrate specifically on the hardware that’s doing everything behind the scenes for my home automation/media distribution server. There is lots of great software that falls in the mix here as well, but I’m still fine-tuning a few design decisions on the software side of things and think the hardware will be more than enough for one post.
My home automation server is something that’ll be running continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. It needs to be extremely stable, use as low-energy as possible, but still have the processing power to serve/stream high definition media to several areas throughout the house. With these design constraints in mind I chose the following pieces:
- ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 Motherboard – This is a great fully featured motherboard that provided all the PCIE, PCI, SATA, USB ports that I might need in a reasonably priced package that provided integrated 3-D HDMI graphics.
- Intel Core i3-2105 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 Dual-Core Desktop Processor – This processor provides all the horsepower I need to serve/transcode high definition video to multiple places, while still being efficient enough to use minimal power for extended use.
- Intel 320 Series 80GB SATA II Solid State Drive – The SSD hard drive is quiet and fast, allowing my server to boot up in under 30 seconds and hopefully increases reliability without the spinning OS hard drive.
- G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 – Only as much as I need. Could probably get away with 2 GB, but went with 4 GB in case I need it for voice recognition possibilities.
- Antec EarthWatts Green EA-380D Green 380W 80 BRONZE Certified Power Supply – Low-power, ultraefficient (80+% efficiency) power supply with quiet fans.
- Qty (2) Western Digital WD Green WD30EZRX 3TB 3.5″ Internal Hard – Got to have lots of hard drive space to store my blu-rays, recorded TV, music, pictures, etc.. These are currently the largest drives on the market, which combined with their green reduced power consumption should hopefully hold my power needs to a reasonable level while providing plenty of space.
- Ceton InfiniTV 4 Quad TV-tuner Card – This does all the magic for my digital cable needs. Allows me to tune in and record up to 4 channels at once on any computer/media extender throughout the house.
- Qty (3) Noctua NF-R8 PWM 80mm Case Fan – Replace all the case fans with these Noctua Fan. They are supposed to be the quietest on the market and allow my server to run very quietly.
- iStarUSA D-416 Black Aluminum / Steel 4U Rackmount Chassis – Great flat black, utilitarian rackmount case with good cooling and lots of room for hard drives. The look of it and blue LED very closely matches the rest of my AV gear.
So that you have it… My Home Automation/Media Distribution Server Hardware. In the next article I’ll go into more details about the software that ties everything together. Right now I’m trying to figure out if that software will be Elve or CQC. Any thoughts?
Low-power so that it’s cheaper to run, less heat so that it’s quieter.
Tony Fiset suggested that I contact you to see if you have any interest in an ongoing project of mine.
I have been supplying and training people on Dragon voice software for the past 20 years. During that time, as something I have been interested in, I have worked to allow Dragon to control the environment.
I have created my own programs that allow Dragon to send signals directly to a low cost controller, (Ocelot), that in turn sends out X-10 and IR signals. As I’m sure you know, there are all sorts of X-10 devices that I’ve used to turn off and on all sorts of electric appliances, sound alarms, plus there is one controller that provides a momentary circuit to allow you to control switch controlled devices like power beds.
The programs I have created allow you to at any time, while doing whatever with Dragon, (e-mail, surf the web, etc.), while still in that other application, you could say a command that will on or off an x-10 device, (or group of them), or send out an IR signal to TV’s or anything controlled by a remote clicker.
If you think any of this would be of help to your readers, please let me know, and I would be happy to provide more details.
Enjoying what I have seen of your site so far, and will some more exploring.