Monday, 10 October 2016

A Winter Project

When we renovated our house over 15 years ago, we put in some automation systems. The brain was a Comfort system from Cytech. This is fundamentally an alarm system that does a few other things such as offering a voicemail system and has expansions for IR blasters and the like. It's accessible via a serial interface and programmable via 'comfigurtor' software. Connected to the comfort system are a set of window and door contacts, a doorphone, keypads and some PIRs.

Also installed were a number of hard wired X10 controllers (LD11 din-rail dimmers) which were set to control various lights via wireless switches and could be addressed via the comfort system (when coming home and entering the system disarm code, switch on the lights if it's after dark etc.)

In recent times, the X10 systems have been gradually degrading. Lights would switch on by themselves or fail to operate on command. It was time to start looking for options.
Researching current home automation, there are a few pricey commercial options such as HomeSeer and Vera but I think I've settled on the open source openHAB for a few reasons;

  • It's free (!)
  • It's protocol and hardware agnostic so works with a wide range of devices and systems
  • It's a software solution so will run on existing infrastructure - no new boxes required!
  • It's completely programmable (I have some coding background which will help)
  • It's got integrations for lots of systems I already have or plan to get; SqueezeServer, Kodi,
  • Denon/Marantz, Amazon Echo, Tinkerforge
  • It's under active development with version 2.0 on the horizon
  • It _might_ be able to integrate with my Comfort system via the MQTT protocol
  • It appeals to the hacker in me

Over the coming months, I intend building enhanced home control based on openHAB. Key project elements will be

  • Replacement of X10 devices and extension of controllable lighting with z-wave, Phillips hue or equivalent technologies.
  • Establishment of openHAB server infrastructure for overall control.
  • Integration of existing Comfort system with openHAB in order to leverage existing sensor network, alarm functionality, doorphones and telephone messaging.
  • Integration of existing Squeezebox whole house audio infrastructure with openHAB to facilitate audio control and management.
  • Implementation of TTS system to facilitate spoken responses and notifications throughout the house (telephone ringing notification, wash cycle completed notification etc.)
  • Integration of Kodi-based clients with openHAB to facilitate both home control via TV but also event notification to TV screens.
  • Establishment of IP security camera system and integration with openHAB.
  • Establishment of voice control via Amazon Echo, Google Home or similar.
  • Establishment of family member presence detection to facilitate automation rules.
  • Integration of heating control and management with openHAB
  • Integration of power usage monitoring with openHAB
  • Overall improved management of lighting and devices to optimise power consumption
  • Development of an integrated home control UI to run on (possibly wall-mounted) tablets.

It might take more than the winter but I'd hope to have the basc platform in place by spring next year and go from there. I'm sure plans will change as I go and I'll find even more features and functions to add over time but for now, that's plenty to be getting on with.

And of course, the unRAID based MediaServer8 will play a key role in the project, acting as the main software platform and hub for hardware connectivity.

No comments: