My home automation

#1

Hello everyone,

I’m from the french speaking side of Belgium and I work as an Automation Engineer.

My love and I are projecting the renovation of a building and of course i’m going to put as much intelligence in the construction as possible.

What you should know about me is that i’m a supporter of the FSF https://www.fsf.org/, basically this means:

  • The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose (freedom 0).
  • The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does your computing as you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
  • The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others (freedom 2).
  • The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
    Of course, this not only apply for the software, but also for the hardware.

But there is one problem with all that, is that I’m gonna have to go through proprietary and nonfree stuff before having a total free house.
By free understand freedom and not as no cost.

What i’m planning to do, is to have multiple phases for the automation side, what I mean by that is:

  • Phase 1:Use an industrial PLC as brain, all the input and output are going through him. The first phase is really “simple” and is going to give us a functional house and leave me time to prepare the next phase while living in it.

  • Phase 2:Remove the proprietary PLC and use (create?) an free PLC.

You may ask why I use a proprietary PLC and then remove it? The answer is simple, is because I have them easily and I manipulate them everyday, so I know how to making them do the work without have a long test period.

  • Phase 3: Create a prototype using single board computer, for the acquisition of temperature, humidity, etc… And place these in different points of the house, and store these information somehow in a database.

  • Phase 4: Create a connection between the PLC and the database (phase 2), for the regulation of the house (heat system, controlled ventilation).

  • Phase 5:Create a nice GUI so we can control everything from everywhere.

  • Phase 6: Use Mycroft so I could feel like James Franco in The Boyfriend.

Those are the main lines, if you are interested I going to get trough the all process in details, and explain everything.

As I told you in the beginning this is not my main language actually this is my third language :D, so I’ll try to be as clear as possible and to make as less faults as possible.

3 Likes
#2

Welcome to the group! You will fit in very well here as we all have the same direction in our automation projects and we are all looking for products that are open source… the “freedom” you are talking about as part of the FSF.ORG mission statement. I am also a big supporter of the “right to repair” movement that supports open access to software and hardware for a product owner. And to be able to have access to the diagnostics tools and hardware to make repairs to products they own… i.e. the fight that is going on with Apple, Tesla and John Deere to mention a few. And your English is excellent so don’t worry about that at all. I only speak one language and I speak it poorly :smiley:

The software to to do the tasks you are looking for in your home already exists in a number of forms. OpenHab is an open source Linux based program and I believe Home Assistant is as well. I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong about HA. Both of these systems are very compact and operate just fine on micro computers such as the Raspberry Pi so I believe that covers the “single board computer” aspect. OpenHab already does the database management with Node Red and allows for GUI control of all the items that are being automated

I know that industrial grade PLC gear runs it’s own software so I understand the need to get out of the proprietary hardware stuff at some point. That is where the open source versus certified equipment battle starts. In my opinion, the hardest part of automating things in our homes is the certifications required on the electrical components that actually do the switching and control of the devices. I live in the United States and for things to be approved for installation in your home they have to be UL Listed. If it doesn’t have the Underwriters Lab certification, the electrical inspectors won’t sign off on the install. That is of course if you are doing it all by the rules. I know that isn’t always the case as there are little in the way of laws here that are really enforced for a lot of the stuff that could be automated. Because of the UL requirement, tons of the stuff that could be built in the home lab is not acceptable to be implemented and can only be considered “hobby” and “experimental” and not permanently installed. Unlike Australia, where Jon lives, or much of Europe, we don’t have the (affordable?) DIN rail components approved for residential use. That gear is industrial grade and super expensive, not to mention that it requires different enclosures than what are typical in residential environments. It can be used but it is ten times the cost.

I know you will find success in your automation adventures and I for one really look forward to seeing the updates as you take that journey! It is always fun to see what others have done to make their homes “smart” and how they created it. So definitely keep us updated as it comes along.