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DIY Projects | Home Automation DIY

DIY Project: How to cut your kid’s TV-time without saying a word, the geek-way.

Posted in DIY Projects,Home Automation by Ruslan Ulanov on the August 12th, 2010

A never-ending fight for TV-time.

How to cut your kid’s TV-time without saying a word, the geek-way.

My kid is three and a half years old now and I got to tell you, he is smart! He keeps my home automation system on its toes. Here’s my story…

As most parents, we have a never-ending fight with our kid, trying to limit his TV-time. I had brains to install TV and a DVD player in his bedroom, and now I have to find ways to tame his TV-appetite.

At first, my kid just couldn’t reach the power button on a TV, so turning TV OFF manually worked fine for a while. Then he figured out how to use a chair to climb up and turn it ON by himself. That’s when I had to engage my Home Automation system.
(continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

My new home automation project – KitchenTouch

Posted in DIY Projects,Home Automation,Software by Ruslan Ulanov on the August 6th, 2010

It has been a little quiet in my blog lately. But it’s not because I was lazy (well, maybe just a little).

I’ve been busy celebrating many many birthdays in July (including my own) and also I spent a lot of my time learning new technologies (namely HTML5, CSS3 and C# languages) and coding my own home automation project called KitchenTouch.

That last thing is what I want to tell you about. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

DIY Project: Custom made touch panel

Posted in DIY Projects,Hardware,Software by Ruslan Ulanov on the February 19th, 2010

It’s no secret that professionally installed home automation touch panels are very expensive. Could we make a panel that will be useful, easily customizable and relatively cheap? You bet we can!

iphone-inspired-kitchen-touch-screen-LGCheck for example this New Zealander’s home project that, with a little more polished GUI, could rival the better professional models. With the total cost of roughly $1200 US dollars (though it could be easily downgraded to $500-600) this project will allow you to control your home automation set-up, listen to locally stored music and Internet radio, play photo slide-shows, surf the web, watch online video and even automate creation of a grocery shopping list.

How would you lower the cost of the project? Instead of assembling a full-blown Core i5 multimedia machine check out one of the Intel Atom 330-based systems from Shuttle or Acer. They will put you down only $200-$300, they are small, they run cool and quiet and are capable enough to handle 1080p video.

One of the ready-to-roll systems is Acer AspireRevo AR3610 that ships with Windows 7, so you’ll save on OS as well. Check RevoHTPC blog on how to put together a multimedia system based on the Revo net-top.

Now, go have fun building a touch panel and share your stories and projects with us.

Update: Inspired by this project I started my own touch-friendly, open-source, interface for the kitchen, called KitchenTouch. Check this post for details.

How to Install a Panasonic Network Camera

Posted in DIY Projects,Hardware by Ruslan Ulanov on the January 15th, 2010
Panasonic BB-HCM511A

Panasonic BB-HCM511A

I’ve been using Panasonic network cameras for quite some time now, and they are great! Though some configuration settings are rather murky and sometimes it takes a lot of “trial and error” to get it right.

But thanks to a brilliant tutorial from HandymanHowTo.com now you can do it right the first time. The 4-part tutorial provides plenty of screenshots, so you might see what you are getting yourself into even before actually buying a camera – how cool it that! I wish I’d found that article earlier!

The tutorial focuses on the BB-HCM511A Network Camera with Two-Way Audio installation, but most of the Panasonic netcams share the same DNA, so after studying the tutorial you should be good to go with any other Panasonic model. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

An Introduction To Home Automation

Posted in DIY Projects,Home Automation by Ruslan Ulanov on the June 23rd, 2009

Tom’s Hardware reader John Knutson just recently published An Introduction To Home Automation. It walks you through the installation of INSTEON-based home automation system, including replacement of basic light switches with SwitchLinks, installation of motion sensors and SmartLinc controller, etc.

In conclusion John came to the following verdict:

  • My entire house has become a toy for me to play with and tweak.
  • Great to show off your house to friends, neighbors, and family.
  • Laziness (convenience) is taken to a whole new level. Did I leave the light on in the living room when I’ve already crawled into bed? Hit the off button and I don’t have to go check.

The Verdict: I want more! My computer may not be getting upgrades for a while, as I’ll be too busy playing with my house. 

Read the entire article at Tom’s Hardware website.