Arduino-based Home Automation Controller needs your support

Posted in Hardware,Industry News by Ruslan Ulanov on the March 16th, 2011

CustomCTRL

CustomCTRL is a new and very promising Open-source Hardware (OSHW) controller, based on Arduino platform. It supports all major home automation interfaces which will allow it to integrate your home’s lighting, HVAC, and AV control into accessible, expandable and hopefully simple to operate system. But here’s the catch – for this project to take off and to go into production it needs support from the fellow DIY crowd. Literally, it needs to raise at least $33,000 by May 3rd to get funded.

The whole idea of OSHW is very interesting and gained quite a lot of momentum in the past few years. The designers of OSHW share all their schematics, PCB layouts, programming, etc with the public, so anyone can take the project and build it himself (or herself), or contribute to improving the original design.

The device can learn and send IR signals like a regular remote. Different attachment options let it speak to four of the most common types of home automation devices (Insteon, X10, Z-wave and XBee)

You will be able to access and control CustomCTRL from iPhone, Android and other popular mobile devices. All in all it is a very cool project that deserves to get your support!

To show your interest in the project there are several pledge packages available starting from $1.

If you are new to Kickstarter’s backing concept here’s how it works…

The project needs to raise the targeted dollar amount by specified date. If that happens, then CustomCTRL will go into production and your pledge will be charged to your credit card and the hardware sent to you. Again, your card is only charged if funding succeeds. If that is not the case, then no one pays anything and gets nothing. If you pledge and then change your mind later on, you can withdraw your pledge before May 3rd.

For more info (including video) and to pledge go to CustomCTRL’s project page on Kickstarter.

People Power brings Skynet one step closer

Posted in Hardware,Industry News by Ruslan Ulanov on the May 14th, 2010
SuRF boards

SuRF boards

People Power, a green-tech start-up based in the heart of the Silicon Valley, recently introduced a kit it calls SuRF, for Sensor Ultra-Radio Frequency. SuRF helps connect household appliances and gadgets to a wireless network in your house.

“What that means is that you could monitor your microwave, Playstation and coffee machine in real time, check their levels of energy consumption, and make apps to control how they behave. Ultimately, that could lead to substantial savings of energy and money” writes Wired.

Or it could lead to a self-aware network of gadgets that will try to take you (the owner) out of equation, a la Skynet. Just kidding!

Seriously, this is a promising new technology that would need some serious backing from the device and appliance manufacturers to really take off. And when it does it might make our lives better, saving us some energy and money in the process. Sounds good to me!

On a technical note… (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

NetLinc becomes smarter?

Posted in Hardware,Home Automation by Ruslan Ulanov on the August 14th, 2008

The Smarthome team has sent its customers the following email.

Dear Loyal INSTEON® Customer,

You are receiving this message because you have:

Placed a NetLinc Pre-Order
Added NetLinc to your Wish List or,
Added NetLinc to email notification using “Notify Me”

To avoid any confusion when you receive your shipment or notification, we would like to inform you that NetLinc has been renamed from:

NetLinc – INSTEON Central Controller
To
SmartLinc – INSTEON Central Controller

Please be aware that this is only a name change and that part number (2412N) and product functionality remain the same.

Sincerely,
The Smarthome Team

What should we make of it? Is NetLinc getting smarter before even being born? I don’t know, but I would personally prefer the original name. I think NetLinc reflects the purpose of the device better – it links your Home to the Network. Hey, Smarthome, how about HomeLinc? Wait, I think they already have desktop software called HouseLinc. Oh, never mind.

The NetLinc SmartLinc is a small home controller that plugs into the Ethernet port of your router. It allows mobile web-enabled devices such as iPhone or iPod Touch to remotely control INSTEON compatible devices. SmartLinc is scheduled to ship on August 28th.

SmartLabs NetLinc Enables iPhone Control of Insteon Devices

Posted in Home Automation by Ruslan Ulanov on the July 16th, 2008

NetLincAs the iPhone grows in popularity, so too does the amount of home control manufacturers offering iPhone interfaces for home control systems.

The latest application is a plug-in Web server from SmartLabs called the NetLinc Insteon Central Controller.

NetLinc turns the iPhone, iPod touch, PC or any Web-enabled device into a wireless remote for Insteon-compatible lighting, HVAC, appliances and security systems. (continue reading this article and leave comments here…)

Affordable, Web-Enabled Automation from HomeSeer

Posted in Home Automation by Ruslan Ulanov on the July 15th, 2008

HomeTroller 2Second generation of HomeSeer’s home controller HomeTroller 2 supports Z-Wave, Insteon and X10 out of the box, and offers about 20 optional drivers, plug-ins and applications. Retails now for $895.

Key Features of HomeTroller 2

  • Built-in web server for remote access anywhere.
  • Easy-to-use web interface allows easy access and control with any web browser.
  • Supports the widest variety of user interfaces, including in-wall button controllers, touchscreens, wireless remotes, PDAs, PocketPCs, cellphones and voice (microphones).
  • Compatible with a wide variety of technologies and companies including Lutron, Leviton, Z-Wave, UPB, Insteon and many others.
  • Designed for voice control by microphone and telephone.
  • Creates alerts, announcements and reminders by email, telephone and text message.
  • Supports complete telephone messaging with caller ID announcements (w/optional telephone interface).
  • Includes calendar-based functions for easy scheduling.
  • Automation events may be created ‘on-the-fly’ using voice commands.
  • HSProtect guards the embedded operating system from virus, spyware and malware attacks.
  • HSSentry continuously monitors the unit to ensure extremely reliable operation.
  • Fanless, diskless design for ultimate mechanical reliability.
  • Ultra low power consumption conserves energy and lowers utility bills.
  • Includes true ‘trigger-based’ automation with advanced conditional options.
  • Built-in power failure recovery feature runs events missed during outages when power is restored.
  • Includes multiple serial and USB ports for integration with the most commonly used technology interfaces.

(continue reading this article and leave comments here…)