Welcome to Do-it-Yourself Home Automation!

In late 2006, I decided to create a home automation system with the stated goal of making it smart enough that it would eventually come to life and attempt to kill me. While the system hasn't quite reached HAL strength, it does do some cool stuff, and home automation technology has come a long way since I got started.

This page exists so that I can share my experiences and offer some useful information to those that are interested in creating an HA system of their own. Check out the menu on the left for specific projects/tutorials, and the blog below/to the right for quicker updates and general home automation news.

Smartphone Required; Amazon Echo’s Unique Setup Process

In a previous post, I wrote about my new Echo from Amazon. The Amazon Echo is a Wifi connected speaker which you place in your home. You can then talk to it (it’s named Alexa), and it will follow commands like playing music, providing weather reports, and–paired with a SmartThings or similar hub–control your lights and appliances. Amazon is clearly pushing the Echo as a fancy consumer product. It comes with nice Apple-esque packaging, a...
Read More »

Introducing Amazon Echo

Earlier this month, I got my new Echo from Amazon. What exactly is an Amazon Echo? Basically, it’s a little Wi-Fi connected speaker that you place in your home. It has eight directional microphones in a ring around the top, and it’s constantly listening–just like the NSA! When it hears you say a wake word (“Alexa”), it starts listening for commands. With only your voice, you can tell it to do all kinds of things,...
Read More »

DIY Sonos With My Android Home Automation Tablet

This week, I’ve been posting a bunch about my new Android home automation tablet. So far, I showed the basic setup, and I showed how I use the tablet combined with the Phillips Hue Android app to control the lights in my living room. But as I mentioned in my first post about the DIY Android home automation tablet, one of the advantages of repurposing an old tablet for a home automation controller is the...
Read More »

Phillips Hue on my Android Home Automation Tablet

Yesterday I posted about my new (ish) Android home automation tablet. Basically, I took a five year old Samsung tablet, set its screen to “always on” mode, plugged it into the wall to bolster its completely dead battery, and installed it on a stand in my living room. It makes for an awesome, graphical home automation control screen which was basically free. So what have I installed on the home automation tablet? Well for starters,...
Read More »

My Android Home Automation Tablet

Remember when Android tablets were a shiny new technology? I do, and I still have a tablet from that era; an ancient Samsung tab from at least five years ago. Android has stopped supporting it, the (integrated) battery no longer holds a charge, etc. So E-Cycle time, right? Not so fast. Even an ancient tablet like this one can make a fantastic DIY home automation controller. It’s got a touchscreen, WIFI, Bluetooth, access to tons...
Read More »

New Raspberry Pi Webcam Project

In my last post, I talked about using the Raspberry Pi as a DIY remote webcam, in the style of Dropcam. After I published the post, I got an interesting email from someone who is embarking on a large project around using the Raspberry Pi as a webcam platform. It sounds like he wants to create his own Raspberry Pi distro which would automatically launch and stream webcam video. He also wants to do servo...
Read More »

Home Security Camera With Raspberry Pi and a Webcam

Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to beef up my home security using Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi is a pretty capable, dirt cheap little board, and it can connect to all kinds of sensors and systems. I’ve been working on adding a Raspberry Pi camera module, but for those who don’t want to shell out another $30, there’s an even simpler solution. The Raspberry Pi has full USB support, and runs a fully featured...
Read More »

Track Your Driving With Metromile

Ever wondered how far you drive in a given month? Want to track everywhere your car goes, NSA style? About six months ago, I was invited to beta test a new product from a company called Metromile. Californians may be familiar with Metromile’s ads, which seem to be everywhere, including on the very pricey billboards flanking the Bay Bridge. The company’s main goal is to sell you per-mile car insurance. The idea is that if...
Read More »

Dreaming of Apartment Scale Solar

California gets a lot of sun; where I live, we get about 9 months per year of continuously sunny days. In fact, it’s genuinely surprising when the weather isn’t sunny. And we’re not talking wimpy East Coast sun, either. The sun here is bright and strong, and there’s rarely any pesky clouds to interrupt it. It’s a shame, then, that so much of the sunlight which falls on my house gets wasted. Solar, as you’d...
Read More »

The Arduino Tre Beta, In 3D!

In a previous post, I shared some details on the new Arduino Tre, which is currently in Beta testing. I was lucky enough to be invited to be part of the Beta by the terrific Michael Shiloh at Arduino. As part of the Beta, I got a Developer edition of the board to play with. The Tre is extremely promising as a platform for home automation projects. It has both high-level, graphical Linux capabilities and...
Read More »
Scroll To Top