Home Automation … the story so far

First blog. First post. Here goes…

Ok. So I’m not the first to dabble and tinker in a bit of home automation, but I’m interested, and see it as a chance to learn some new stuff and have some fun.

Inspired by colleagues at work and other notables on the web, I’ve taken the plunge and got stuck in.

Here’s the story so far…

Early 2008 : Enable video streaming from my Topfield PVR to the PC

Video recorded on the PVR in the lounge is great, but I quite like watching stuff on the PC monitor in the study while the family watch other stuff in the lounge.

Got myself a Linksys NSLU2 (a.k.a. a slug), added a 500GB USB hard drive, and installed unslung (a linux variant for small machines). A few evenings later and I had topfield-ftp running, enabling ethernet access to the PVR content from ethernet-attached devices.

Now I can use Filezilla to move files around, copy/archive/organize recordings. The PC can play either the .rec recordings wherever they are.

Sometimes I copy them from the PVR to the disk on the slug for backup, sometimes I watch them directly from the PVR, all over the ethernet.

Works a treat. Power consumption is low on the slug, so I can generally leave it on, especially as I’m using it for other things now…

Jan 2009 : Monitor home electricity usage

Got myself a Current Cost electricity meter (Alvi model) so I can monitor the electric usage. Connected it to the slug. A java program takes the XML from the USB tty, and sends the data to a micro-broker on the slug.

A Java program on PC can monitor the readings from the micro-broker. Another Java program on the slug can monitor readings… and will log to mysql when I get the chance to finish it.

The plan is to get graph-type reporting working over lighthttpd. More evenings required for this when I have them

April 2009 : Thinking about a more hands-on project…

More details in the next post.

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