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The purpose of this instructable is not to tell you how you can do whatever you'd like your home to do. Instead it has been written to make an idea a reality but also turn madness into sanity by understanding the limits (technology, cost, time required, safety...).

There a lot of very good guides and articles on the web to understand many things in very extensive details. This is not what we want. We want the big picture. What are the basic skills we can learn or improve. What we should touch.

This covers basic things like :

  • What is home automation? First check if that actually matches your expectations.
  • Where to start? Pretty easy, start where you are, probably at home. Do you know it inside out?
  • What can I do? About anything but you need to plan and know your limits. This includes staying alive (works any day, including evenings).
  • What are the pieces of this puzzle? More complex, there are many shapes and it's very easy to lose some pieces. We'll try to just keep our sanity.
  • How to put that together? That's getting more concrete, we are actually DOING it. H*ll yeah!

Step 1: What Is Home Automation?

Googling "home automation" returned 33 millions results. This is either more than enough or just too much.

The first result, Wikipedia article (of course), states :

"Home automation or smart home[1] (also known as domotics or domotica) is the residential extension of building automation and involves the control and automation of lighting, heating (such as smart thermostats), ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), and security, as well as home appliances
such as washer/dryers, ovens or refrigerators/freezers that use WiFi for remote monitoring. Modern systems generally consist of switches and sensors connected to a central hub sometimes called a "gateway" from which the system is controlled with a user interface that is interacted either with a wall-mounted terminal, mobile phone software, tablet computer or a web interface, often but not always via internet cloud services."

What does it say?

  • Smart home : Making the house "aware" of itself or giving it ability to do things.
  • Residential : By focusing on DIY, don't try this at work :) Seems to be what we want to cover.
  • Building automation : Indeed, as a lazy geek, I want a computer to make what I don't want to do myself. Typically checking the garage door, turning heating on/off and so on. Great!
  • Switches and sensors : Look at this like eyes and fingers of the home, without both that won't do much.
  • Central hub : So that clever home needs a brain? Interesting. One brain to rule all things. That'll be the controller.
  • Interacted : The home can have its own life but we want to be part of it. That's our place. Wait, how to chat with a house? These are the devices/nodes.
  • Internet cloud services : I don't like that, some machine somewhere shouldn't know about me having the washer on. But that's personal. Don't forget "there's no such thing as the cloud, its someone else's computer". Wait, a service is much more that a computer. Traveling by plane is more than having his own plane. However the DIY aspect will refrain external help/cheating.

So if we summarize we end up with : I want to put a screen to order my home appliances to do what I want. Pretty much what we would expect.

As a friendly reminder, we are not going to cover technical aspects like protocols, vendors, suppliers and the likes. This is a DIY project. As myself a hobbyist, I don't know all details of the items composing that galaxy. Knowing my house is where I want to start. As such I'll share mostly about my personal experience.

However I will simply ignore all bundled solutions from the market as this is not what we want. This guide might still come handy if you just want to go through basic concepts.

Note : We don't care about size of your home. Sky is the limit. Most of this article was written by having a few devices on my desk.

<p>Ciao,</p><p>thank you for sharing. Could you explain why you chose pidome? What's the difference with Openhab? Is it more simple, or more secure?</p>
Hi mosix,<br><br>I had a look at OpenHAB but preferred PiDome GUI.<br>Note that I'm making efforts mainly on devices using MQTT (thus Homie for ESP8266 involvement).<br><br>For the time being, it is more a personal preference. I'll probably work on a deeper instructable for this matter. However I feel like OpenHAB is slightly more complex when dealing with automation rules.<br><br>Final note, I'm also trying to use a RPi as much as possible since it is already available (and underused) for the Garage Opener.

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Bio: Self taught DIYer, interested by anything electronic but without trying to launch a rocket to the moon :-)
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