Feeds

back to article How to get a Raspberry Pi to take over your Robot House

Behold: The RaZberry is a daughter board which snaps onto a Raspberry Pi, turning it into a Z-Wave controller capable of integrating, and controlling, a home automation network though a web, or JSON, interface. We all love the Raspberry Pi, don't we? It could have been built for home automation, offering low power consumption …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Silver badge

*Off Topic Feature Request*

To anyone clever enough to code one of these things (which obviously excluded myself) please write a program that allows wireless rs232 serial communication which is ASCOMM compliant so i can control my telescope wirelessly from my laptop.

Ala SkyFi....

Request concludes....

1
0
Silver badge

Re: *Off Topic Feature Request*

You'll need to specify the hardware for the wireless RS232. If its transparently a serial port to Linux then this is easy.

Plus a link to the spec for ASCOMM, I couldn't find one in a quick search from my phone in a train station.

Either way, the Raspberry PI forums are probably a better place for you to put the request. Somebody might have already done it!

1
0

Re: *Off Topic Feature Request*

cornz 1 could you get away with using a pair of rs232 to bluetooth adapters? Such as a pair of these which i give as an example only i have no idea if they are any good http://r.ebay.com/HBG33B

0
0
Silver badge

Re: *Off Topic Feature Request*

Thanks, I and a techie friend have been trying that for months and have given up, the reason is those Bluetooth adapters just don't seem to be suitable, we can pair them but not get them to send or receive the data. Spent almost as much farting round with them as a skyfi...

However, I am grateful for your suggestion...

0
0

Re: *Off Topic Feature Request*

Would sharing a USB-to-serial-converter over WLAN work? Then you might use USB/IP:

http://usbip.sourceforge.net/

There is also a howto for debian here but it is a bit older:

http://www.howtoforge.com/how-to-set-up-a-usb-over-ip-server-and-client-with-debian-lenny

Hope it helps.

0
0
Silver badge
Coat

I wanted to turn the lights on

so I could find the keyfob to turn them off again...

10
0
Silver badge

ROBOT HOUSE!

Cheese it!

It's Dean Vernon!

8
0
FAIL

and you can buy these things from...?

Seriously, you can't write an article about such an awesome bit of kit and not link to at least the home page.

(and yes, I know that google exists, but I'm lazy... :P )

8
0

Reg ongoing feature?

I'm constantly trying to work out whether it's time to dip my toes into the world of home automation, but there's always the impression lurking of it not being 'quite' ready.

It would be fantastic if there were an ongoing El Reg feature about trying to do usable home automation on a budget. Using as much open-source and cheap hardware as possible, while aiming for something that has minimal delays, is highly usable and low maintenance.

Sounds like something that a journo could use to kit out their home on the company's expenses... Just saying...

13
0

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

"usable home automation"

... give it 10 or 20 years, and we might have robots walking around who can take your washing out of the basket, put into the washing machine, hang out on the line, bring back in, iron it... useful stuff like that. Oh, and it'll cost £40,000 a shot. So, unless you are a footballer then forget it for another 10 years.

Right now, you can turn on a light or if you are really adventurous... open the curtains. Or you could just get up and turn on the light, or open the curtains.

Currently it's a solution looking for a problem that doesn't exist, and until these things are general purpose enough to be useful they will remain in the domain of the enthusiast / hacker.

4
3

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

"Currently it's a solution looking for a problem that doesn't exist"

As someone who is desperate for people in Sezchuan province, China to be able to use their computer to turn my lights on and off, there's a pressing need for this right now.

9
0

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

Im in the middle of writing a full guide on how to hack together a pretty impressive system.

It will eventually turn up in this XBMC thread, or keep an eye on ptslondon.co.uk/ha

Previously posted: http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid=101300

Im also about a year into an x10 experiment in my flat. originally i had 50's wiring so powerline networking were simply out of the question.

The upstairs neighbour had a flood that gutted my flat, cue a full re-decoration on insurance, why not pay to do the electrics done properly at the same time and then decorate over all the in-wall work for free.

So i have cat5 alround the flat and brand new electircs, time for some x10 fun.

Ive had to put my x10 controller and one end of the flat, which means the bedside lamp at the opposite end of the flat cant be reliably controlled, happens to be my girlfriends...

When controlling lights in the ceiling ive gone for bayonet fittings, which cant dim, just on or off, but the other draw back being if we use the original wall switch and the x10 device is off, you get no light, and you can end up leaving the wall switch in the off position also, so when the x10 on command is sent, it doesnt make it to the bayonet light fixture. pain in the ass!

Its the little annoyances which mean my girlfriend has pretty much veto'd home automation. It had all initially gone very well, i used x10-commander as a web interface for activehome pro, so i was able to write a simple android app for the whole house control, using Tasker it became almost "aware". Stuff like, when my alarm goes off in the morning it fades my bedside light on, turns the hall light on amd turns it all off again when my phone disconnects from the wifi on the walk to the station. Equally when i get home the lights all come on, xbmc is woken up, the projector and sound system turned on. Its all overkill and ridiculous but the upside, almost unexpectedly has been my electric costs have gone down because everything is only on when its being used. I could use activehome pro's lifestyle function to fine tune it, but the live input from the android app side of things works well, so why change it.

next steps for me are looking into x10 micro devices to sit behind the wall switches. reasoning being you will always have local and remote control no matter what. which is essentially in my mind anyway what the whole thing should be about anyway?

also just bought an arduino uno, am looking to build a adalight / boblight type thing for the projector screen in the front room, also read i can set notifications into the led array, such as a white 360 ripple etc. im thinking door bell notification during a video. homeawesome have a great ip tv door bell plugin going on, linking that with these other toys just adds to the fun.

overall my implementation was always just a technical demo i suppose, i went for x10 as i knew it was cheap and it had the open-ness allowing apps such as x10-commander to exist, its simplicity is incredible and allowed so many other system to be "bodged together" to work pretty realiably, but there is always a weak link if you dont do it properly. If i were to build my own house, i think you could do it 100% spot on, working around its limitations, but otherwise, there are too many unknowns for it to be perfect.

5
1
Silver badge

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

Currently it's a solution looking for a problem that doesn't exist,

Sure, I could go about the house when I leave, or go to bed, to check if all the doors are closed and locked, all the lights are off except the ones I want on, etcetera, etcetera, or I could press a button that selects the desired state.

Now include a sunscreen that I want down because otherwise the house will be uncomfortably hot when I return, but which had better be retracted when the wind picks up. I also want ventilation and heating control to coordinate between them, and shut down a room's radiators when there's a window open.

Next step: running stuff that can run either on low nightly tariff, or on solar when sufficiently available.

If you think those are non-existent problems, you're wrong.

5
2
Happy

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

"Its the little annoyances which mean my girlfriend has pretty much veto'd home automation." Thanks for sharing. Adding a spark in a relationship should not be taken too litteraly, so it seems.

1
0

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

Try LightwaveRF kit. Apart from funky looking light/dimmer switch faceplates she'll never know :)

0
0

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

There's plenty of focus on the 'problems that don't exist', like controlling your curtains and turning lights on in a room you're already in (seriously, how big do footballers' rooms get?), but there's a handful of stuff I'd love to have working reliably and cleanly:

- movement sensitive cameras for security (mostly front porch, back garden, but indoors for when I'm on holiday would also be good), recording footage for when it's useful, and alerting me when I want it to. (chime? picture-in-picture on the TV? email when I'm on holiday?)

- music distribution

- 'Holiday mode' to realistically do the lights (and the aforementioned recording of movement indoors)

All the while:

- i want the delay from any of the interfaces to be negligible.

- I don't want to be plugging 4 inch monstrosities into light-sockets.

- I want the controllers to be easily replaceable (Pi!)

- I want to be able to secrete bits wherever I want, easily. I reckon I can hide a Pi in a few ceilings/walls without heat being a problem?

- Web interface that works well. Hosted at home (firewall locked down) and a decent, simple, login mechanism that means I don't have to fret about The Reds.

Bonus points:

- Will respond to voice commands, and has a scarily movie-esque flat female voice. Also a name that's a backronym.

- Ooh, what if it could recognise my face and say 'welcome home' to me. *geekgasm*

So, apart from the bit at the end, it's all stuff that Makes Sense (tm).

2
0
Silver badge

it's 3D TV, again

> the impression lurking of it not being 'quite' ready.

The basic problem is that it's *not* home automation. It's (merely) remote controlled switches for electrical goods. And not very good r/c, at that.

Messing about with key fobs and the like was great in the 1970s, but these days you'd need something like EasyVR (speaker independent voice recognition) to get even the slightest twitch from the "that's cool" meter. Even so, who gives a hoot about switching your lights on or off, that's what LIGHT SWITCHES are for.

No. If you want true home automation, it's got to be more. Just like 3D TV failed because it wasn't actually 3D (a necessary prerequisite for all, except the marketing department). So it is with H/A. Until a home automation thing can fill the coffee pot, take out the rubbish and clean the bath - then clean the coffee pot, bring in the cat and fill the bath (and do these things when necessary, not when someone tells it to: the "automation" bit) it's going to be more trouble than its worth.

1
2
Silver badge

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

In the luxury market there are a lot of successful, and interesting / innovating things that have been done. While some of these things will stick to the luxury market, many of them are becoming easier to implement in a more normal environment and kit like this helps.

Lighting control is one of the main solutions that's in use as it's both relatively simple to implement and immediately useful. I know of a house where there are sensors on the floor under the carpet on each side of the bed in the master bedroom. These are linked to clocks (for sunrise / sunset information) and various sensors in the house. When the occupant triggers these sensors at night (weight sensitive of course), small lights near the doorway are automatically turned on, but with a steadily increasing light profile to a low level rather than a sudden on action. Subsequently opening the door by these will also trigger low level hallway lights to turn on at a low level and steadily increase. The hallway light levels are also dependent on the time of day. Sensors on the bathroom door will turn the light on when entering and sensors in the room keep the light on. The more troublesome and more interesting side of this was that it also had to work in reverse so when the occupant left the bathroom the lights would be turned off, as well as the lights in the hallway and finally the room lights when the occupant gets back into bed. There were a lot of ways that this process could go wrong therefore timers and secondary sensors were in use as well.

Until you work on one of these jobs it's hard to comprehend just how sophisticated and complicated these home automation arrangements can be.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: it's 3D TV, again

Dang it, where's the +1000 button when you need it?!?

0
0

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

Certainly - the ability to monitor the output from my solar panels and switch off non-time sensitive high-drain systems like recharging the car or running the immersion heater would be great.

1
0
Rol
Bronze badge

Re: Reg ongoing feature?

I find all this fascinating as it pushes all my buttons.

Ever thought of using RF tags instead of a multitude of sensors Nick?

Maybe a discreet toe ring, or an unobtrusive bracelet?

One thing is certain though, the technology to have a robot busying itself with your mundane chores is already here, it's just that no one is going to market a device that will see them in every court in the world being sued for selling something that isn't idiot proof.

0
0

Re: it's 3D TV, again

Isn't that what a butler is for? :)

1
0

This looks nice, but I think I'd rather have one of these - http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-new-current-cost-quel/x/4524331

0
0

Antenna to weak

I tried one of these, and while the example software is actually very good for the price, the hardware is just not up to it. In particular the antenna is nothing more than a short line on the circuit board, and it can't work with battery devices more than a few meters away (unlike mains devices, battery devices do not use the mesh for z-wave). If they release a version with a u.lf connector on it then perhaps that would be a viable solution, but at the moment this is little more than an interesting toy, not a true home automation candidate.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Antenna too weak

I thought battery devices still USED the mesh, they just didn't become part of it?

From what I've read, all devices/nodes can connect to any other device/node within range, battery or mains, but only mains powered ones can act as a repeater unit to extend the mesh itself.

That way you don't drain a battery device as quickly, as it only needs to deal with it's own traffic, not traffic for other devices. So as long as there is a mains powered device/node between the battery device and this kit, it should still work shouldn't it!?

So just mount the Pi close to one of the mains powered nodes.

Obviously if your devices only consist of battery powered ones, then you're in trouble, but then that's not how Z-Wave is suppose to work. it should be mostly mains powered devices, with only the occasional battery unit being used where power isn't possible, and those should always be in range of either the controller itself or a mains powered node.

2
0
Silver badge
WTF?

…all written in C, … no easy way to hitch it to a Python app

OHRLY?

3
0
Bronze badge

Re: …all written in C, … no easy way to hitch it to a Python app

…all written in C, … no easy way to hitch it to a Python app

OHRLY?

Yeah, the Perl, Python, and Ruby communities would like to have a word with you...

(Presumably other languages too.)

0
0

Life is too short

In terms of productivity, this is definitely one for the underachievers who will waste more time and earn less and less money from increasingly more effort - in a vicious circle.

0
7

Hmmm

On one hand, I like the idea of a button I can hit when I wake up that fires up the shower, starts the coffee machine and switches on my PC. The idea of light triggered curtain closing/ lighting activation is pretty cool too.

OTOH, I remember watching "Demon Seed" as a child and fear having to give birth to a robochild thanks to an overeager computerised rapehouse.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Hmmm

> The idea of light triggered curtain closing/ lighting activation is pretty cool too.

The Swish AutoGlider has been available for 20 years. We got ours in 1996, still going strong.

0
0

I'm looking at my Pi right now running the freedomotic framework, with backend duties being taken care of by a pair of Denkovi ethernet relay and aquisition switches sat on the end of a pair of ethernet cables with power by POE.

Once the local electrical inspectors pass my house so it can have a electricity meter (hopefully tomorrow), I'll be swapping these into the lighting circuits and replacing my switches with momentary ones plugged into the digital inputs on them. Interestingly when we rewired, we ran ethernet to empty boxes adjacent to the 3 lighting junction boxes covering the whole house...

Sheild? we dont need no steenkin shield, pi just does framework stuff, leaving the switching down to the relay controllers, that way its local to the boards and lightning fast (painful memories of x10 in this regard...) but the home automation computer (the pi) will still be aware of whats going on and able to switch it too . Remote control of the framework at the moment is a webserver based frontend, some java applet local to the pi or an android client.

1
0
Bronze badge

Arduino

I'm building an arduino one just now - just needs arduino (3 quid), 433 tx/rx (2 quid).

that's about it - it can then talk to cheap as chips remote power sockets you can pick up on ebay for a fiver.

stick ethernet or wifi board onto arduino (5 quid) and run some a basic webserver on it, and you get all you need to control stuff.

Plus you get the benefit of easily being able to make more complex recievers to do whatever you want - another arduino,433 tx/rx is all you need - plus whatever else you want it to do - mp3 module, relays, stepper motors... the world is yer lobster. It would be relatively trivial to extend the code on your arduino rxs to enable a mesh too if you had a particularily large coverage requirement.

I do also have a raspPi I play with, and I know they are very different fish, but I don't think the arduino gets as much attention as it deserves - even as an educational tool I think it's far more interesting for kids to use and make stuff do things than a raspPi. and much cheaper too.

16Mhz is still a hell of a lot of oomph, and there's very little I've found it can't cope with - for example the most advanced open source automatic flight controller (Arducopter) runs on a 2 quid arduino (plus a few auxiliary sensors).

If anyone is interested in this sort of stuff, I'd urge them to try an ardiuno.

0
0

Re: Arduino

I concur, cheaper, faster and quicker to implement.

That said, the Pi camera isn't bad for those jobs where only machine vision will do, for example looking to see if it's your cat before unlocking the catflap (this is not a euphemism).

1
0

funnily enough just got my arduino in the post today

/me is excited much

0
0

Good first effort ..

But the heart of control systems has two parts , touch panels and control hardware.

This is where it's lacking for now. In order to make such a system practical we need to be able to design touch interfaces that we can upload to ex a tablet , or a real touch panel . Nice to control a tv on off .. but it's way better to have feedbacks ( not in ir of course .. needs rs ) interrogate process and display information , make lists that we can change from the panel etc etc .. Control systems ( successfull implementations ) rely greatly on the ability of the programmer to design interfaces that blend in the decor and that do the job. Automation requires a lot of output, relays , rs232 , net and ir to interface with the devices you already have or buy. So for now , this is a nice toy to experiment with , but it's certainly not ready to compete with pro products of which ill hold back the names. Time .. time time .. We'll eventually get there .. full open source control system that's complete , but nothing yet is there .. so .. i wait .. and wait

0
0

I am surprised nobody has mentioned this:

http://web3.theregister.co.uk/2013/08/13/wave_goodbye_to_security_with_zwave/

1
0

started down this track just a few days ago

Rapberry Pi with Razberry board, but the Z-Way software is a bit naff, I've ended up going with openhab, its z-wave interface is quite recent but developing quickly, and openhab can integrate with many, many different technologies. Much better place to be than the silo razberry softwwre.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.