How to Develop Your Own Home Automation Devices

In this week long webinar course, participants will explore the inner workings of smart home technologies through hands-on prototyping and experimentation of home automation concepts.

The home automation market continues to grow tremendously. According to a 2015 report published by IControl, a family house could have 500 smart devices in the year 2022. In a 2016 report,  MarketsandMarkets projected the home automation systems market could reach $78.27 billion by 2022. Ordinary household equipment and appliances are being transformed into smart wirelessly devices using sensors and microcontrollers. Smart Devices include but not limited to thermostats, lights, wall outlets, cameras, and locks. My December 2016 Design News CEC webinar course “ Prototyping Home Automation Concepts ” will explore market trends and smart devices along with building experimental prototypes. Here’s a peek into the week-long webinar course:

(Image courtesy of Home Automation: Mark Moz)

Course Overview

Course participants will explore the inner workings of smart home technologies through hands-on prototyping and experimentation of home automation concepts. The Raspberry Pi and the Grove Pi+ kit will be the main development platforms used in prototyping home automation concepts for security alarms, digital door locks, temperature-humidity monitoring, and small electric appliance controls. Also, Velocio ACE PLC and littleBits electronics will provide additional resource materials to be used in prototyping home automation concepts as well. The hands-on labs discussed in the webinar will require the following materials:

  • Raspberry Pi 2 or 3

  • Grove Pi+ Starter Kit

  • Velocio ACE PLC

  • littleBits SmartHome kit

  • littleBits Hardware Development kit

  • Velocio 5A Relay Terminal Block

  • Velocio Simulator Stick

  • Solderless breadboard

  • Jumper wires

The course will cover the following topics:

  • Day 1: Home Automation Basics, Example Systems/Devices, Project: Button and Buzzer-Grove Pi+ Introduction
  • Day 2:   Home Security Basics, Example Systems/Devices, Project: Ultrasonic Detection and Alarm Device
  • Day 3: Home Temperature and Humidity Monitoring, Project: Temperature-Humidity Monitoring Unit
  • Day 4: Introduction to littleBits eModules, Smart Home Kit, Project: Coffee Control Unit
  • Day 5: PLCs and Home Automation, Project: Programmable Timer for Small Appliances

Included with each session are setup procedures to build the prototypes discussed in the hands-on lab section of the presentation. 

Prototyping a Temperature – Humidity Monitoring Device

One of the key enabler technologies used in smart wireless devices are radio chipsets for mobile connectivity. There are variety of proprietary radio chipsets as well as traditional electronic communications standards being used in smart wireless devices for home automation systems. The defacto IEEE 802.11 network standard allows instant connectivity between household devices. In the Day 2 session, participants will be building a temperature-humidity monitoring device. The Raspberry Pi, Grove Pi+ shield, a temperature-humidity sensor, and an I2C LCD are the main components for the monitoring device project.

The Temperature-Humidity Monitoring Device System Block Diagram. To build the wireless monitoring device requires only five basic components. (Image source: Don Wilcher).

The temperature-humidity sensor and LCD components connect to the Grove Pi+ shield using jumper wires. A WiFi dongle is required for Raspberry Pi B, B+, and Pi2 computers. The dongle easily plugs into an available Raspberry Pi USB connector. A software application packaged with the Pi’s Linux distro needs configuration to connect to the home WiFi network.

The Grove Pi+ shield and Python program allows for a wireless

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