[RndTbl] Home Automation

B.Wolfe obwolfe at shaw.ca
Wed May 9 10:17:10 CDT 2007

Home Automation is a huge subject, with a large number of suppliers of
hardware and software.  Here are some answers to questions asked at last
nights MUUG meeting on Home Automation.

1. Home can I use X-10 to control a garage door opener?

Plug a X10 Universal Module http://www.smarthome.com/2010.html  into an
outlet close to your garage door opener.  Connect a wire (telephone or door
bell wire) from the terminals on the Universal module to the switch
terminals on the garage door opener. Set the House and Unit codes to your
choice, and its ready to go.  Activate once to open the door, activate a
second time to close the garage door.

2.  How can I replace a 3-way switch with an X-10 swtich.

Your can buy a 3-wy switch module
http://www.x10.com/automation/ws4777_s.html to replace the existing 3-way

3.  How can I control flourescent lights with X-10?

You can buy a X10 switch
  that functions like an appliance module and is rated for flourescent

4.  How can I control ceiling fans with X-10?

You can buy a wall switch
http://www.activehomepro.com/accessories/pro/xpdi3_iw_wa1_s.html rated for
inductive (motor) electrical loads.  You can use the X-10 DIM command to
control the fan motor speed.  This also works well for controlling
ventilation fans (garage, bathroom, etc.)

5. How can I connect my computer to the A/C power line to use X-10?

There are several options.  The simplest is to use a Two-way powerline
interface http://www.x10.com/products/x10_tw523.htm  that will give you the
hardware interface.  You still need software to send and receive X-10

The next step up is to use an interface with an embedded controller
http://www.smarthome.com/1140.html  You plug into the wall, plug you
computer into the interface and download your home automation program, then
disconnect your computer (if you want for safety/security). Also


There are many other options available that go up in features, capability
and price.

6. How can I get started using X-10 (Home Automation)?

The easiest way is to get a few X-10 lamp modules
http://www.smarthome.com/2000.html  and a mini
http://www.smarthome.com/4030.html or Maxi
http://www.smarthomepro.com/4020.html contoller.  Plug in a few lamps, set
the house/unit codes and play around with ON, OFF, DIMing, ALL ON, ALL OFF
commands.  Make a spousal acceptance check <g> and then expand.

Or, if you want to sample whats out there for X-10 stuff you can get kit
http://www.x10-store.com/praulipak.html that includes many different

7. Embedded Controllers using X-10?

This is one example.  The PLIX chip
http://www.micromint.com/products/chips.htm is a  microcontroller tailored
to sending/receiving X-10 signals.

8.  How can I send an X-10 signal using a switch?
You can buy a X-10 Powerflash module http://www.smarthome.com/4060.html and
connect your switch (ie. magnetic door/window switch) across the Powerflash
module terminals and set the house/unit codes.  When the swith is closed to
the Powerflash module will send a X-10 house/unit code.

9. Where can I learn more about home automation?

You can't beat spending a few hours with google to find more information,
but if your looking for a few short-cuts:

Electronic House magazine http://www.electronichouse.com/

Circuit Cellar magazine http://www.circuitcellar.com/

Forum (HCS II system)

X-10 FAQ  http://www.nomad.ee/micros/x10faq.html


Misterhouse article

10.  Where can I buy X-10 hardware?

"The Source" is the only local retailer carrying X-10 stuff, but....
Selection is very limited and prices are comparatively high compared to
ordering over the internet ( or mail order).  Again using google you can't
miss finding a supplier.

11.  How can I interface my computer to many switches?

There are many hardware interfaces that allow a computer to connect to
analog, and digital switch inputs and analog and digital ouputs.  However
there are a much smaller number that are priced/marketed at the home
(non-industrial) user AND.... Have software drivers/interfaces written for
home automation software.  This is where dedicated Home Automation
controllers shine in providing integration of hardware controller,
programming environment and options of analog and digital input/output
(I/O). Some examples are:


Here is an example of I/O interface modules that are compatible with
Misterhouse http://www.weedtech.com/


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