Saturday, September 13, 2014
About 4 years ago, I bought a Vera. Then a couple years ago a, Vera3. Over the life of Vera, I've purchased 3 z-wave light switches, a couple appliance modules, and a of couple security modules. Vera was powerful, and you could program it. It would let you control lights and appliances (any z-wave device) using your smartphone - sort of. If I was at home on my local network, it worked well enough, but if I was away from home, I had to go to a web page to control devices. It worked, but it was not ready for prime time. Vera showed way too much of the complexities, and I found it difficult to use (but it could do almost anything, and if it didn't, you could write your own code).
Earlier this month, I bought an Arduino WiFi development board from Spark.io, and that lead me to the SmartThings Maker Kit that includes an Arduino shield. I have watched/listened to a couple of YouTube videos on the "Internet of Things" (IoT) which SmartThings is an implementer of. SmarterThings supports z-wave, ZigBee, and WiFi (such as Hue LED Lights by Phillips). Vera does not support ZigBee, and since I have my eye on a GE GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater which has an optional Zigbee controller, I decided to get the SmartThings Maker Kit. The kit includes a hub that will allow me to control my existing z-wave devices and experiment with my Arduino kit.
I liked the SmartThings from the second I opened the box. It was a snap to unbind my z-wave devices from Vera and pair them with the SmartThings hub. Since Maryann mentioned that Joey needed a key for the house, I decided it was a perfect time to get a z-wave door lock. Johnny and I installed the Schlage Keypad Lock With Lever and paired it to the SmartThing hub in less that 30 minutes. It was so easy to program, that Johnny, who is 10, was able to do it on his own! Now, the boys can use the keypad and their own personal number to unlock the door if necessary.
We're also implementing the SmartThings Presence Sensor. I'm home when Joey gets home each day, but Maryann is in the van picking up Johnny. Now, instead of asking me, SmartThings will notify her on her cell phone when Joey and his bookbag enter the house.
After installing the lock and programming it, I can say that home automation has came a long way since 1982 and the days of the X10.
Friday, November 16, 2012
USB charging is here to stay. The 5V DC in the USB interface makes charging ~3V device batteries easy. However a standard USB interface only allow 0.5 amp to be sourced which is only enough to charge lower capacity phones battery. Today's tablets with larger capacity batteries require 2 amps or more in some cases. There is no standard protocol on how to detect that a USB host (charger) can source that higher current. However, since the Apple iPad is so popular suppliers are using it's charging protocol as the de facto standard for higher charging rates.
The USB charger outlet I installed is iPad (2.1 amp) compatible. I picked it up at my local home improvement box store for $20. Click the image to view the album with the details of the install and some upgrades to my home automation. I added some additional z-wave switches to allow automation to control the front and back yards flood lights. I also hid some wires using a cord cover.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
The spreadsheet shows the number of hours and the average (winter and summer) cost per Kilowatt for my utility. The Kill-a-Watt has a timer, and it accumulates the energy used. So calculating the KW per hour is simple.
- The new fridge is smaller than the old one
- The new one does not have an ice maker
- There is no light in the freezer
I know now that I should have replaced my fridge sooner since at $50+ per year saving, a $1500 refridgerator will pay for itself in 30 years, assuming it lasts that long.
Monday, May 21, 2012
While at Wally's and Carol's I helped them install 50ft of fence. We installed 6 fence panels and a gate using 8 poles. We set the poles in concrete and used 4 anchors per post. It took about 15 hours spread over 3 mornings and some early afternoon work. Highs were 102-105 in Phoenix, so about noon or so we stopped.
The fence panels themselves were only about 1/3 of the total project cost. The posts, anchors, attachment hardware and various other items (masonry bits, concrete) accounted for 2/3s the project cost so beware. But all said and done the results looked good.
We got it straight and nice and plum. Carol was very pleased. Click the picture above to view the pictures of the project.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
|Handy Brush Grubber|
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
I've read a couple articles about energy usage around the home. One article Atop TV Sets, Cable Boxes and DVRs Drain Power - NYTimes.com states that a DVR might use "... 446 kilowatt hours a year, about 10 percent more than a 21-cubic-foot energy-efficient refrigerator, a recent study found." Since I have Kill-a-Watt energy monitor I decided to see what my home entertainment setup used.
I have a UPS plugged into the wall outlet and I have the following devices plugged into the UPS:
- Google TV
- Wireless Router
- DVD player
- Digtial delay device
- 46 inch LCD TV
- Surround Sound