IVB\’s Home Theater and Home Automation

You don\’t have to spend a lot for that smarthome.

My rockstar HA story

Posted by IVB on April 19, 2007

Well, I won the zWaveWorld rockstar contest. I had to write up a story for publication, figured i’d share with you guys too.

Not sure how much this will be hacked during publication or edited to make it flow smoother, i guess we’ll find out next week.

My name is IVB, and I’ve got a pretty robust home automation setup using Intermatic zWave products to control my lighting. I’ve fully integrated it with the rest of my setup, so I can control my lights both manually through the use of various devices, as well as in an automated sense through my home automation software package (CQC) and my Elk security system that controls the rest of my house.

For my story, I’ll start with the outside of the house and walk you through it. In California, the concept of “mudrooms” is common. A mudroom is a location just inside an outer front door where you come in and remove your shoes, then unlock your actual front door and enter the house. The downside is that if it’s night time, you either have to waste electricity and leave the lights on until you come home, or install one of those huge motion sensor lights.  In addition, it’s the perfect place for someone to come in and break into your house. Not in my house!  If the Elk detects motion in that room, it tells CQC, and CQC will tell the Intermatic zWave USB controller to turn on the light. (see http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/images/mudroom.jpg ).  This extra light also helps the covert security camera inside the motion sensor that I’ve got in there record what’s going on. Don’t worry – the light won’t stay on if no one is in there.  After a minute of no motion, CQC will automatically tell the Intermatic stick to turn off the entry light.

Now that you’re inside the house, you may want to turn off the light instantly. Or, perhaps, you know someone is about to come in the house and you want to turn it on.  Well, my house is old, and I don’t have any convenient locations where there’s wiring for a zWave inwall keypad.  That’s fine, given my home automation setup I can turn the light on & off using my security system’s keypad!  Using the same concept as above, pressing a button on my Elk security system tells CQC to have the Intermatic stick toggle the light. (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/images/elk_keypad.jpg)

The first thing you do is sit down at the desk and check your email.  You’ve got a floor lamp, but you keep forgetting to turn it off at night.  Rather than use the lamp’s on/off switch directly, you plug it into a zWave appliance switch.  Now, all you have to do is press the pushbutton mounted under the desk, and it’ll have the Elk tell CQC to turn on that zWave light. (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/images/desk_button.jpg)

As you walk inside the house, you’ll quickly get to the kitchen.  There, you may want to turn on/off other lights, perhaps the whole house audio system, and maybe arm the magnetic lock that I have on the outer front door.  Walking up to the Fujtisu tablet pc in the kitchen (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/images/kitchen_panel.JPG – only $160 on eBay) shows you the default CQC screen where you can get an overview of the house status and turn lights on/off at will. (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/screenshots/cleanv1/wrapper_touch.jpg ).

Well, it might be a little chilly out, or perhaps you just want to change.  If you go into the bedroom and open up the closet door, the door sensor in the floor tells the Elk panel to have CQC turn on the zWave light in the closet. Once you close the door, the door sensor has the Elk tell CQC to turn off that light.  Have a tendency to walk away from the closet and forget the light on?  No worries, CQC will turn off the zWave light automatically after 15 minutes.

By now you’re probably tired, and want to plop down on the bed and relax. After watching some TV you’re probably ready to go to bed. But, your significant other (or you) may have forgotten to turn off all the various stereos, lights, turn down the heat, or arm the security system. You’re probably too tired to walk downstairs or around the house and do that.  Not to worry, home automation to the rescue!  Simply take the wifi Fujitsu tablet on the nightstand out of it’s dock (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/images/mbr_panel.jpg) , and select whatever you want to adjust from the CQC UI.  (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/screenshots/cleanv1/wrapper_mbrpanel.jpg) Sure, it might look a little intimidating at first glance, but if you stop to look it over it’s quite easy. Plus there’s that nice big button at the bottom that says “Put house to sleep”.  If you’re really feeling lazy, all you have to do is press that button and CQC and zWave will take care of the rest. The only way it could be easier is if you had a big red easy button 🙂

Now for most homes, that would be the end of the story. Not in my house.  Perhaps in the middle of the night, you suddenly remember you’re out of milk and the kids will be upset in the morning.  You run out of the house to get some (leaving the spouse at home with the kids of course), but you forget to turn off (or on) one of the lights. Not to worry, zWave to the rescue again!  Simply take out your PDA cellphone (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/images/cellphone.JPG) , pull up the CQC UI (http://www.myhometheaterpc.com/screenshots/PPC/ppc_overview.jpg ) and turn on/off any lights you want.  While you’re there, you can check on the motion and if anyone has called while you were out.


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