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Smarthome Extravaganza – Part 1

Smarthome Exstravaganza – Part 1 : “My rasbian house”

I’m starting reblogging several articles about my projects our with my new house. As I keep most of my life in private, let just sum few things: I spent/wasted last six years of my good and long life in a apartment block which was filled with alcoholics, drug addicts, lowest scum of the city and otherwise lousy/stupid/annoying and unfriendly neighbours AKA rental apartment of the Saarijärvi city. Only thing what kept me at least sane was my wife and kids and a hope, that someday I will own a house somewhere far away from there.

And, finally, with great gratitude towards my wife and the bank, we got our own house in the country- a 20 kilometers away from the city. During the years in the apartment block I had a lot of time to think what I would do if I ever had my own house and now, that we are starting our first spring in our own house, me, and my family, have a lot of things to do. One of these things is making our oldish (1950s built) country house into a modern smarthouse.

Alas! We have a lot of work to do ahead of us! Men! Man the cannons!

Doing it the hard way

I have never, ever, liked ready-made simple-install commercial solutions when it comes to a smarthome solutions- To our old apartment house I had made a custom semi-AI based home security, entertainment and survillance system which used camera-control and biometrics with fingerprint detection. All this was implemented to the concrete based walls as a surface installation with lot of wiring and cables all around the apartment and man, I can say, it was a butt-ugly solution. So ugly, it made my wife quite anxious and even me little bit, a guy, who has lived most of his life around “lot of hanging wires”.

Something about my frustration to the wiring says the fact that instead of taking several hundred meters of cabling with the nice and gently way, I teared them away cutting the wires where I was too pissed off to find out where the beginning or the ending was. Lot of good cables died that day.

When we moved to our dream house in the country, my wife and I promised to each other, or mainly, my wife made me to promise to her, that our house would never-ever turn into a horrible russian-underground-nuclear-horror-laboratory state like our apartment block was, so when I wanted to finally achieve the well-made good smarthome solution but when I started to look around all the commercial solutions there were, I, as some many times before, came to a one single conclusion:

All commercial solutions were both expensive, but most important, quite much too limited for my exquisite taste. So again, I was forced to look and design system of my own.

And along came Raspberry

I had have already for the past few years a Raspberry Pi running in my car doing simple GPS-based location and speed tracking to the web in case my car was stolen or I was too worried about my girl (wife) where she was going so I had a basic knowledge about both Raspberry Pi and Rasbian setup but had no prior knowledge about GPIO programming or adding an additional electronical parts to it. With the background of quite some electrical engineering and programming, I thought this would be a perfect time to learn new stuff as well as utilize old knowledge about electronics and soldering with my programming skills.

My first priority, as our house is mostly electric heated with the supporting heat from the heat-reserveing fire place, was a tracking of the heat and the moisture (humidity) around the build and it’s structures. As stated several times before, we life in the country next to the grainfield, and we have a underground cellar in our lovely country house, an accumulation of the moisture can be expected between seasons over the years.

For this I made some research and finally found a good temperature and humidity sensor AM2303 (wired DHT22) which I bought few pieces from Finnish electrical store AHaa elektroniikka along with resistor bundle pack as well as a dupont wires. As it turned out, AM2303 was in the end quite simple to setup: one wire to 3V3 (3.3v), one to GPIO signal and one to ground. Then just add 10 Kohm resistor between signal and voltage to act as a pull-up resistor and Voilá! Wiring has been done. You need, ofcourse, do a little bit of soldering and perhaps hot-gluing and a case, but basically, electrical solution was very simple.

In the software side, I used a github library provided by Adafruit to read the data from the sensor and made PHP based solution for storing temperature in to a MySQL database along sending same data to my remote server for combined statistics. I also setup Apache web server which draws chart from the MySQL data of the temperature and humidity using Google Chart libraries and made a heat map to the blueprints of my house from two measuring units (two raspis) I have already built but I’ll write about that later.

All and all, my smarthome project is now underway and, as stated, has already two Raspberry Pis doing temperature and moisture measuring storing the data both locally and remotely. Communicating with the LAN/WAN is done using PoE (Power over Ethernet) converters which connect to our main LAN network here.

I will return writing about these setups more later and describe both process of the building Raspberry Pi powered smarthome sensors as well as expanding process to much further. I might also write little bit about my personal Robot project which I also started few days back with the Raspberry Pi. As you might already guessed it: I love Raspberry Pi.

© Janne Honkonen - www.jannehonkonen.com