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MAKE 30: Smarter Homes


Until recently, home automation was gimmicky, finicky, and user-hostile. But today, thanks to a new crop of devices and technology standards, home automation is useful, fun, and maker-friendly. In the special section of MAKE Vol 30, we’ll show you: how to flip any switch in your home with a smartphone, home automation without programming, controlling your HVAC with an Arduino, a webcam security system, and a wall-mounted Notification Alert Generator (NAG) that plays timely reminders as you walk by. Plus, you’ll build a build a finger gesture door lock, Arduino thermostat control, and more!


  • Bob Knetzger

    Good question, Kitt.

    My first prototypes used very thin aluminum (repurposed clothes dryer vent) and that did not hold up. I revised to use heavier material that could still be rolled into shape by hand. I haven’t had a melt thru …yet. YMMV.

    Bob K

  • Bob Knetzger

    tvswitcher, please be VERY careful! I had the same idea when I first started this project, but there is a serious and potentially dangerous situation. As noted in the article DO NOT USE GALVANIZED steel. The zinc coating, if heated too much, will create zinc oxide fumes . If you inhale it you can become very sick. It has been fatal as well. Google “Zinc oxide poisoning welding” –this can happen when welding galvanized material and using galvanized containers for cookers or bbq’s. Galvanized containers are not safe for food or cooking. Don’t do it.

  • Alan

    Wouldn’t it be easier to make this out of pipe? Seems you could find some aluminum or even steel pipe and cut out the opening, then drill the holes. If you took a steel pipe to a muffler shop they should be able to cut the opening for you.