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Topic # 116884 13-May-2013 11:09
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Hi Guys,

I'm looking into home automation and wondering what system to go with.

1. Ninja Blocks
2. a z-wave starter kit from smarthome.com.au
3. something else?

Preferably I would want a windows based solution that I could run on my server, but I havent found anything cheap enough for windows.   

I'm wanting to have tablets around the house to control the system.  so far I've purchased a samsung tab 2 7" but might get some cheap windows 8 tablets (around $500 each).

I'm wanting to automate

1. lights in hallway automatically turn on when movement detected
2. view IP camera of front door from each tablet/over internet
3. turn on a irobot roomba from the tablets or when I leave the house (this would be a rule based thing, when car isnt in garage, and no one inside house, turn on roomba via IR sender).
4. be able to set "scenes" via tablet, eg "watch movie" so all the lights go off.
5. control xbmc via tablets (this isnt really home automation, but reason for wanting android/windows tablets).

I'm leaning towards ninjablocks, but don't want to invest into stuff then find out i bought the wrong things.

The lights I'll probably use are the limitlessled ones (which have a ninjablock addon)

the only thing ive purchased so far is the galaxy tab 2.  I havent purchased an IP camera, roomba or anything else, want to make sure the equipment I get works with the home automation solution.

anyone have any advice/suggestions?

any does anyone have any suggestions about controlling it from software on a tablet?

TIA

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  Reply # 816676 13-May-2013 12:50
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Have you thought of building an Arduino system?
It can talk with android and the internet.



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  Reply # 816716 13-May-2013 13:18
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had a quick look at Arduino, but thought it was too much of a DIY/play thing and not easy to work with. the ninjablocks looks similar but a lot more polished and comes as a ready to use device and they sell their own sensors etc.

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  Reply # 816718 13-May-2013 13:19
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Link doesn't work




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  Reply # 816719 13-May-2013 13:19
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I have been looking at just this sort of thing myself over the last few weeks. I never came across Ninja Blocks so can't comment on that, but I have found openHAB to be the best of the open source solutions out there. It is written in Java so will run on any platform and has a pretty active following. The code is very robust and is being extended all the time. The rules system is simple enough, but also extremely flexible and it is relatively easy to write your own bindings to new interfaces - e.g. I wrote a binding for Google Latitude so that now my 'home' knows when me or my partner is away from the house.

It does require a bit of tinkering, but show me a HA solution that doesn't!

PS - I am currently looking at writing a binding for a Raspberry Pi with a PiFace extension board. The idea being that I can display state based on the PiFace input pins, and send signals to the output pins - all from my openHAB items etc.



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  Reply # 816735 13-May-2013 13:40
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sonyxperiageek: Link doesn't work


fixed, they must of broke when I edited the post....



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  Reply # 816741 13-May-2013 13:50
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SumnerBoy: I have been looking at just this sort of thing myself over the last few weeks. I never came across Ninja Blocks so can't comment on that, but I have found openHAB to be the best of the open source solutions out there. It is written in Java so will run on any platform and has a pretty active following. The code is very robust and is being extended all the time. The rules system is simple enough, but also extremely flexible and it is relatively easy to write your own bindings to new interfaces - e.g. I wrote a binding for Google Latitude so that now my 'home' knows when me or my partner is away from the house.

It does require a bit of tinkering, but show me a HA solution that doesn't!

PS - I am currently looking at writing a binding for a Raspberry Pi with a PiFace extension board. The idea being that I can display state based on the PiFace input pins, and send signals to the output pins - all from my openHAB items etc.


what sensors and actuators does it work with?  does it work with limitlessled?  thats the biggest issue im having trouble with is finding the right sensors and actuators to work with the system.  

the web demo of openHAB was nice, showed you how having temp monitors in every room is useful etc, never thought about putting those in before... where to buy them though?

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  Reply # 816745 13-May-2013 14:00
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Hi Reven

Do you have the option of running wires? If you have access to the wall framing, its going to be easier and cheaper to run cable for sensors, lighting, cameras etc than retrofitting a wireless system.

GB



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  Reply # 816747 13-May-2013 14:02
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Well there are bindings for KNX and a whole host of other sensors/actuators currently. There isn't one for Z-Wave in the current release but someone is working on it - we are just waiting for him to upload his changes to test. Similar story with XBMC and Squeezebox bindings.

I bought a Z-Wave USB stick + in-wall micro switch from smarthomes.com.au but have yet to test it as I need to get in behind on of my switches to wire it in.

I also bought a Foscam IP camera from them - and that is now happily integrated into the system. I have a rule setup so that when me and my partner are both away from the house, the camera alarm arms automatically and then if either motion or sound is detected a Google Talk message is sent to me (via openHAB) to indicate the alarm was tripped. The camera itself will then also email be 5-6 shots.

The support for persisting state is very useful - i.e. the weather chart in the demo - I am planning to hook up my underfloor heating system to my PiFace to record how often the heat pump is kicking in etc.

I also have a LimitlessLED - and this is being controlled by openHAB via the HTTP binding - which lets you make GET/POST requests depending on an items state. Therefore I have my LED turning on at sunset, and off again at midnight. All relatively easy to setup using the existing bindings.



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  Reply # 816754 13-May-2013 14:12
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yes I do have access to the roof space, so can install stuff from the ceiling down.


regarding the Foscam IP camera, can you view this live streaming from a phone/tablet? I'm after a master control tablet app that will let me control everything and view live camera feeds. Or is the a webserver which produces a tablet friendly webapp?

I don't have the skills necassary to make any sensors my self, so would have to buy off the shelf sensors or ones others make and sell online.

I do have a RF controlled fireplace that I would ideally like to integrate, but would need to first figure out the RF codes then get a RF sender into the system. I have no clue how to do this....

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  Reply # 816758 13-May-2013 14:17
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Yep the Foscam is a very popular IP camera - they are heaps of apps for both iOS and Android. They come with a free dynamic DNS offering provided by Foscam themselves - which basically means you can 'see' you camera when outside your LAN - although I have disabled this and just use port forwarding.

So in short, yep you can view your camera feeds on a tablet. For the price (from smarthomes.com.au) I am very impressed. It is wireless (can be wired), has infrared LEDs for night vision, and the motion/sound detection seems to work pretty well. Plus everything can be queried/updated via HTTP requests - meaning it is very easy to integrate into something like openHAB.

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  Reply # 816759 13-May-2013 14:18
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Smarthomes.com.au have an IR blasting device I think. I have something similar, the RedEye (which is no longer being produced). But either of these will allow you to control anything via IR from a phone/tablet.

Integrating my RedEye into openHab is on my TODO list - would just be another binding. This is the beauty of openHab I think - it is so easy to add additional bindings - if you are able to write Java of course!



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  Reply # 816767 13-May-2013 14:31
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is this the camera you are talking about? want to make sure I buy the right one :)

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  Reply # 816768 13-May-2013 14:33
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Nope - I got this one. It is an indoor version - the FI8910W.



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  Reply # 816790 13-May-2013 15:02
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same brand, just indoor vs outdoor, i want one outside my front door. so that one should be fine.

ill start with the camera and some limitlessled lights and see how it goes, hopefully those are supported well enough by most HA system.

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  Reply # 817236 14-May-2013 10:21
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reven:...
1. Ninja Blocks 
...<snip>...
view IP camera of front door from each tablet/over internet
...<snip>...
The lights I'll probably use are the limitlessled ones (which have a ninjablock addon)

I have all of these setup in my home with no retrofitting of wires (this could have been done in a rental without issue).  In fact I now have a preassure sensor in my doormat that (via the ninjablock)  will activate a doorbell, send me an SMS, and email me a picture of who's at the door whenever triggered.   The 433MHz radio on the ninjablock gives it access to a lot of very cheap (and only secure via obscurity) sensors/actuators. 

Be aware that the official ninjablock driver for the limitless LEDs is still under active development.  At the moment the RGB zone is it for the official driver.  It shouldn't be hard to port in the white zones though, and the drivers are under active development from both the ninja community, and the ninja masters. (It's what the ninjablock devs call themselves on the ninjablock forums.. and it's never good to disrespect a ninja master).

For reference, I find the white bulbs *much* more important/useful than the RGB ones.  Unless you have a defined need for the RGB I would go with the white.

I can't help with comparisons to openHAB as I've not played with it. 

Feel free to PM me with any questions about NZ setup etc.




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