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?)
Step 1: 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)