Picture of JARVIS Home Automation Control Center
Maybe it's due to spending an inordinate amount of time watching shows like Star Trek or Minority Report, but I've always wanted to be able to control my surroundings via computer.  Recently I've had a lot more spare time than spare cash, so I've decided to implement my dream home on the cheap.  This is my entry in the Hack It!, Make It Glow, and Mad Scientist competitions (after all, what's a mad scientist without a lair?)
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Step 1: Components

Picture of Components
The list of components used in this project is fairly short, and almost all of them are optional -- my system is modular, so things can be added and removed without causing mass hysteria and confusion.  The only component that is absolutely required for the control center to work is a computer to run it on.

The components I used (in no particular order) are:
- Mini ITX computer running Ubuntu Server 11.10 (Any low-power computer with serial and audio ports will work -- the processing power requirements are very very low.  In fact, it SHOULD be entirely possible to run the entire setup off of a router with OpenWRT installed  -- I just happened to have a spare system kicking around
- Eken M001 Android Tablet (This is my control panel.  If you want a tablet to use as ANYTHING other than a dedicated control panel, Don't Get This Model! The touchscreen and battery life are horrible, it's slower than molasses, and it runs a hacked version of Android 1.6 with most of the phone code still intact.)
-X10 Firecracker Module (This is what lets the computer talk to all the widgets you have spread around your house.  X10 modules are extremely cheap on Ebay, and are the least-invasive home automation technology I could find -- important for those of us who rent.)
-X10 Mini Transciever Module (Converts the RF signals from the Firecracker module to something usable)
-X10 Lamp Module ( Lamp modules have built in dimmers, so you can set your lamp to whatever brightness you desire -- however, they only work for lamps with incandescent bulbs.  If your lamps use something else, like florescent or halogen bulbs, use appliance modules instead)
-X10 Appliance Module (Appliance modules are for devices like coffee pots that are strictly on or off).
-Home Stereo System (Any stereo system with aux inputs will work)
cherzog210 months ago
I found an offline app that is called Utter. it runs in the background, I think you can use this for your control panel...

or you can use it conjunction with the Web app
cherzog2 cherzog210 months ago
I think you could also use FTP/SFTP program tool on phone or tablet.
there you could place all your commands and such and use Utter to access the server
cherzog210 months ago
is there a way to make this voice controlled too?
erosser1 year ago

Awesome job! You're kind of a wizard. :)

dsander11 year ago
OK. Well, what does it do exactly?
Mydnight (author)  dsander11 year ago
It's basically just a remote control for your house -- it ties together a bunch of separate command-line programs (bottle rocket, mpc/mpd) and adds some functionality (persistent station list for mpd, device aliases for bottlerocket) along with news reader and "todo list" functionality. I did develop a speech-recognition client in C#, since SAPI is far easier to use than any equivalent linux-based recognition technology I've seen, but not until long after I'd posted this instructable (and I've modified that solution to the point that it's no longer compatible with this first version of the software).
dsander11 year ago
So, this isn't like an AI, right? Just a voice-controlled program?
Mydnight (author)  dsander11 year ago
Right, it isn't an AI, and this part of the system isn't even voice controlled -- it's just a web app.
dsander12 years ago
Also, I'd like to see a video of the system in action.
Mydnight (author)  dsander12 years ago
I'm not sure how I would take a video of it -- essentially, you just push a button on the touch screen and music starts or stops, or a light turns on or off.

As far as price -- I purchased an X10 Firecracker kit from Ebay, which came with an appliance module, a lamp module, a transceiver module, a remote, and the Firecracker computer interface for about $50; I also picked up a few more appliance/lamp modules plus some Socket Rockets (things that screw in between a light bulb and the socket to let you control overhead lights) for about another $40 total. The tablet can be any cheap android tablet from or; if you shop around you can likely get one for under $30 (assuming all you want to use it for is a basic control panel, anything that runs a web browser would work).

The computer that controls everything was also under $100, but I bought most of the parts at a "going out of business" sale. It's just a 1.6ghz atom processor on a Mini ITX motherboard with 2gb ram and 80gb hard drive space.
dsander12 years ago
How much did all of this cost you overall? I don't mean when you decided to make the JARVIS System, but all of these components, what would be the average price?
I have to admit you beat me to it. I've been hoping to build this for a couple months now with the exact name (JARVIS from Iron Man) I always loved that movie. I'm planning to set one up on an old junk machine running Arch Linux and maybe add in some Kinect-like capability. Hopefully it'll be working soon but its in very early planning stages. I hope you enjoy your new system and I'm sure I'll enjoy mine.

P.S. if you ever decide to add kinect to yours I'd love to see some tutorials on here!
Where I live they quit carrying the x10 stuff years ago.
Mydnight (author)  Computothought3 years ago
I don't think they ever carried it here -- I just bought mine off of eBay.