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Life & Home Automation

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It’s a bit of a cliche but it’s true, I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been too busy to think about it. First I was laid off, next I got a new job, and now I’ve moved house. 2015 saw a lot of changes in my life. Anyway, things are settling down again so now I can get back to doing more fun things.

Something I’ve always been interested in is home automation. The thought that one day we’ll be able to talk to our homes, control lights and appliances with a word, and see what’s happening while on the road. Fascinating, and a lot of it is already available. The bad news is that it expensive; $150 - $200 for a controller, then $45 for a single switch. It would be nice but it’s a luxury I can’t justify. And then there’s all the different systems, which don’t talk to each other, so if you buy into the wrong one you could be out of luck if the company goes bust.

I’m a DIY kind of guy, why can’t I roll my own system? Well it turns out that anyone can. I came across a fantastic website called It covers how and where to buy the parts, how to build your own controller and how to make your own sensors. This site has me hooked, I was soon receiving little packets of parts from China (takes 10 - 30 days generally, but the parts are so cheap). I built my serial controller with a Raspberry Pi, under $15 of extra parts, and some free software. Door sensors for under $5, a smart switch for under $15. It takes some time, soldering practice and tools but this is something I can handle.

I’m still new to all this, my gateway is up and running and I have some working sensors, just not installed yet. When I do get further down this path I’ll certainly be writing more about it here. In the meantime, if you want to get more details, I can highly recommend the good folks over at


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