Thursday, May 24, 2007

Home Automation Project Series

Okay, this is sort of an introductory post of the home automation project series that I will be documenting on video. I'm primarily doing this for a couple of reasons... one... for anyone who is interested in home automation projects along the same lines as mine and also for myself so that I may have something to reference back to years from now. :)

The following is the current outline:

1) Automate morning television set to weather channel and muted volume
Note: This will be done in the tiny two bedroom apartment (I'll explain the project on the video)
* Technologies (Infrared Transmitter, USB Interface, .NET SDK/API, Custom C# Windows Service)

2) Automate lights and shades to that of the previous post
Note: This will be done in my new home so I will have a much bigger canvas(Hopefully (yn))
* Technologies (X10,Z-Wave or CM11A, Parallel,Serial or USB, .NET SDK/API, Custom C# Windows Service)

3) Install touch screen monitors in a couple of hallways and home office wall, then test with either windows ce or window tablet pc... most likely windows tablet pc.
4) Build 3.0 WPF application to override scheduled services on demand
Note: This will have Speech-To-Text capabilities, so the app can be driven by the sweet sound of my voice. :)

* Technologies (Tablet PC platform, .NET 3.0, Expression Blend C#, WPF, Speech 5.3 SDK)

***Future Projects***

-Install solar panels on roof top and collect solar energy
Note: (Figure out a way to collect wind energy as well)

Once I have collected the energy and safely stored in a known location I want to be able to track
how much I've consumed, and how much I have to sell to the energy company.
Then I can use X10 to communicate with the energy levels and tell me how much energy consumed and available to sell respectively. Once that is complete it will be a matter of hours before I can hook that up to my WPF application and speech enable it. :)

Whew... that is certainly enough for now... I really could go on and on.
This however is a good stopping point... so with the long memorial holiday I have starting today I think I will get started on the first project... stay tuned... and to all my fellow dev's out there...
have an exception free day!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Home Automation Part 2

Since I have the software side of things nailed down I thought I would take a few moments to talk about the hardware side of things, now since I want screens in a few places through out the house I know I'm going to need to cut some holes in some walls. This is not an issue until we start to think about climate control... how on earth am I supposed to keep all my components cool if I'm living in a Dallas,TX. Hopefully something will surface in my research, until then I 've been able to find quite a few possibilities for the hardware side of things. Since I will need to have screens in the wall I don't want them to be very big because they need to be mounted and available to touch hence... (Touch-Screen) so I found a couple of options... 1) Phylon 7" Wide-Screen VGA TFT Display with Touchscreen this monitor is just the right size and the right price. Or
2) The new Touch Screen LCD PC from Quataris Technology this obviously is the right and size and I can run WinXP/Vista/or CE 6.0 on it. Definitely a front runner at the moment.

Once I find the right display I will need to figure out wiring through the walls etc. don't worry I will have documented steps on most of this information right here on

The plan for phase 1 :

1) Control lights in living/dinning/master suite/control room(office) /media room
2) Control the blinds in living/Master suite

For the software I'll be building a custom UI in WPF running on .NET 3.0 leveraging the WinXP SP2 or Vista Platform and it will all be controlled through the new Speech to Text Managed Api's using C# of course. :)

The goal is to walk in to or out of a room and speak to the lights or blinds via voice command.
I'm currently thinking something along the lines of "Lights On", "Lights 1" = dim lights (25%) , "Lights 2" = dim lights(50%) , "Lights 3" ,"Lights 4" and "Lights Off" respectively. Same kind of thing for the electrical blinds.

These sorts of applications are spinning up all around us in homes of folks who can afford a team of specialist to come in and install everything, of course leaving a pretty universal remote for all the components. Not me... I'm a dev all the way and with the help of Phidgets and the display possibilities above I'm well on my way. Oh... I forgot to mention Phidgets... well the link is above for the full info, but essentially I came across the company by watching a UWTV Computer science and engineering lecture on the subject and then went over to the website for more info... these guys are electrical engineer grads who build hardware devices for plug-n-play use.
Awesome stuff, more over... Lee Brimelow has already gotten starter with it over at he controls a 3D model in WPF with several phidgets.

Home Automation Part 1

This is one of my favorite topics that resides near and dear to my heart.
So I thought I'd blog about my some of my ideas and plans... I first got into home automation about 3 years ago back in 2003, shortly after my first couple of years in .NET development.

I started to look in to X10 Technology which was compliant with .NET and super simple to get setup, soon after that I got busy with work stuff and then eventually found myself back in to r&d. Even though I don't have a home yet, I plan on moving from the small 2 bedroom apartment in Bellevue,WA to a 4/5 Bedroom, 2 living/2 dinning, 3 bathroom, game room, 2 car garage home in Dallas, TX. This will make things seem so much more comfortable allowing us to appropriately welcome our soon to be third addition to the family... with this kind of setup I have a more than adequate canvas to begin my mission for a smart home. Of course the home will be running on .NET 2.0/3.0 code and X10 hardware for lighting... mostly simple things that have been done by some of the folks out there in the community, folks like Tony Northup, and Chris Walkers Z-Wave Technology which extends X10. Definitely some cool things out there in the .NET space of Home Automation.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The buzz around Silverlight & MIX 07

Mix 07 is coming to an end... even though I didn't actually attend in Vegas I subscribed to the feed of live footage keynotes and break out sessions... which honestly felt like I was there.

Silverlight is essentially WPF/E ... a cross platform web based solution for rich UI experiences.
A tiny clr enabling all sorts of technology to run on top of it... everything from Ruby to Python, Javascript, DHTML, AJAX and more. Speaking more on the cross platform it will run in safari on the mac as well as fire fox which I love!

Now for those of you that know me also know that I don't represent the Web Dev side of development, but I must say that this technology is pulling me back to the web side of things.
Very Cool!