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!
Homemade Home Security
By David Bodnar
Build a 4-camera surveillance system and watch from any browser. (Page 44)
Schematic for Picaxe-14M switcher
Schematic for PIC16F684 version
The Electronic Nag
Build a Notification Alert System that pesters you to do your chores. (Page 50)
Check out the full project build.
Parts and Sourcing Information
- Arduino Uno microcontroller—Maker Shed item #MKSP11, http://makershed.com, $30
- ChronoDot real-time clock module—Adafruit part #255, http://adafruit.com, $17.50
- Wave Shield for Arduino kit—Adafruit #94, $22
- Audio speaker, 8Ω—Just about any will do. I broke open an old computer speaker case and took the speaker and grille to use on the RadioShack case.
- LCD display, 20×4—Adafruit #198, $18
- Proximity sensor, infrared—Seeed Studio’s model SEN39046P ($14) detects motion 10cm (4″) to 80cm (30″) away.
- Shield stacking headers for Arduino (2 packs)—Adafruit #85. A pack includes two 8-pin and two 6-pin headers.
- Project enclosure, about 8″×6″×3″—such as RadioShack #270-1809, $8
- Jumper wires
- Stripboard, 2-3/8″×3-11/16″—such as Tayda Electronics #A-5031 (94mm×53mm), http://taydaelectronics.com.
- IDE cable, 40-wire ribbon—You could use other cables and headers, but these are cheap and handy.
- Pin headers, 2×20, 1 male and 1 female—such as Tayda #A-198 and #A-195
- Screws, small—for mounting circuit boards
- Computer running Arduino IDE software—Download free at http://arduino.cc.
- USB cable, Standard-A to Standard-B
- Soldering iron and solder
- Wire cutters
- Wire strippers
- Solderless prototyping breadboard
- Drill, utility knife, high-speed rotary tool or other tools—for cutting the project box
Project Code and Templates
- Project code zip file.
- Case templates front and back and bottom.
- Drawing file: NAG_Laser_Cut_Case_v1.dwg
Networked Smart Thermostat
By Eric Merrill]
Control your home’s heating and cooling from anywhere. (Page 54)
Parts and Sourcing Information
- Arduino Ethernet or Arduino Uno and Ethernet Shield
- Diodes, 1N4002
- Transistors, 2n3904
- Resistors, 1.2kΩ
- Resistor, 10kΩ
- Temperature sensor, SHT11, http://adafru.it/246—While this part uses a 2-wire protocol, it is not I2C compatible. There is a basic example of how to use it at http://code.google.com/p/sht11/
- Real-Time-Clock Module, http://www.sparkfun.com/products/99
- Relays, http://www.sparkfun.com/products/100
- LCD screen, 16×2,
- Trim pot, usually comes with screen
- Pushbuttons (2)
- Wire, miscellaneous
- Screw Terminals, http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10571
- I/O Expander chip, 16-bit with Serial Interface, MCP23017-E/SP, http://search.digikey.com/us/en/products/MCP23017-E%2FSP/MCP23017-E%2FSP-ND/894272
- DIP Socket, 28-Pin 0.3″, http://www.sparkfun.com/products/7942
- Project Box, 6″×4″×2″, RadioShack #: 270-1806
- Screw Shield, http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9729
- Power over Ethernet cable set, http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10759
- Power brick, 9V
- Luan/MDF 6″×4″
Lady Ada already has a great writeup on how to connect a LCD screen to your Arduino at http://www.ladyada.net/learn/lcd/charlcd.html
X10 Arduino Macro Module
By Jim Newell
Maximize your X10 control by tapping into a vast open source code library. (Page 60)
12,000-Mile Universal Remote
Flip any switch from your smartphone. (Page 66)
The 12,000-Mile Universal Remote in action, running the web-page version of the application written by Margaret McKenna running on the author’s iPhone.
Breadboard version assembly instructions and schematics: XBee Pulse I/O Breadboard or Perfboard Assembly Instructions
Author’s website for this project, with the latest parts lists and troubleshooting tips: http://jordan.husney.com/xbee_garage_door
PCB version information from author’s website: http://jordan.husney.com/xbpio
Merry and Bright
There’s no place like home for the holidays, particularly if your home has a quarter million LEDs on 648 animation channels synchronized to a locally broadcast soundtrack. (Page 80)
More Holiday Lights and Automation
Christmas lights set to Slayer
Cal Haunts NorCal
Haunted House Controller at makezine]
For all the latest in haunted house innovations: HauntCon haunted attraction national trade show and convention
More animatronic projects from MAKE
“The Towel” R/C Stunt Plane
Build a robust R/C flying-wing airplane that’s fun to fly and great to learn on. (Page 82)
Check out the full project build.
The MAKE staff takes turns crashing the Towel.
Build sturdy furnishings with PVC pipe and a few tricks. (Page 96)
Check out the full project builds:
Clock Face Designs
By Bob Knetzger
Get cookin’ with this Japanese-style skewer grill. (Page 108)
Check out the full project build.
ERRATA: In Volume 30’s “Yakitori Grill” project, we purchased the deep cake pans at http://webstaurantstore.com, but we printed an incorrect URL.
Stain PVC Any Color
PVC pipe is great, but it’s kinda ugly. (Page 117)
Here are the volumes of red, yellow, and blue dyes I added to 4 oz cans of Clear Cleaner to get the colors shown in the photo:
- Red = 1 mL red
- Orange = ½ mL red + ½ mL yellow
- Yellow = 1 mL yellow
- Green = ½ mL yellow + ½ mL blue
- Blue = 1 mL blue
- Indigo = ⅔ mL blue + ⅓ mL red
- Violet = ½ mL blue + ½ mL red
- Brown = ⅓ mL red + ⅓ mL yellow + ⅓ mL blue
The “black” is actually very strong blue, with ½ oz (15 mL) of blue dye added to 4 oz Clear Cleaner.
More about solvent dye
“Solvent dye” or “fuel dye” is an oil-soluble chemical intended for colorizing oily products like gasoline.
More about Clear Cleaner
“Clear Cleaner” is a mixture of four solvents, but the “magic” ingredient that makes the staining process work is tetrahydrofuran (THF). THF actually dissolves the outer layer of the PVC plastic, just a bit, so that the dye molecules can be absorbed into it. It’s not unreasonable to say that the color is actually “dissolved” in the outer layer of the plastic. Once dry, the only way to remove it is by mechanically abrading away the stained material from the outer layer of the pipe or fitting.
Note that some companies sell a product called “cleaner” for use on PVC pipe that actually contains no THF. It can be confusing, because in point of fact the product that contains THF is actually “cleaner/primer,” but is often simply labeled “cleaner.” When in doubt, make sure it says tetrahydrofuran on the label.
More on cleanup
Spilled dye can usually be cleaned up with lighter fluid and a paper towel. Dye that has dripped off PVC pipe will be harder to remove because it will have dissolved polymer in it; loosen it with a copper dish scrub and lighter fluid, then wipe up with a paper towel.
IR Remote Hacking
By Tom Lauwers
How to capture, view, clone, and generate infrared signals. (Page 118)
Download project code IRReceiverCircuit.pde and TransmitIRSignal.pde zip file
RoombaPhotovore code can be copied at http://pastebin.com/7tqcwxru.
The Eternal Flame
By Steve Hoefer
Build simple, nearly indestructible LED lanterns.
ERRATA: In Volume 30’s “Indestructible LED Lantern” project, author Steve Hoefer is pictured wearing gloves while using a drill press, which is a safety hazard. “Gloves are a no-no around rotating tools,” Steve admits. Thanks to reader Tim Kemp for pointing out the error.
Cellphone Car Ignition
By Eric Merrill
Remote-start your ride from any distance. (Page 136)
Clever invention pumps water uphill with more water. (Page 143)
Video of ram in action:
Toys, Tips, and Tricks: Things You Can’t Make
Simple tricks of illusion make the impossible a reality. (Page 152)
Shooting Lego-Bending Photos
We like not just to test the things that appear in our pages, but often to try alternate ways of achieving a desired result. When I first saw Donald Simanek’s photo, I wanted to see if my humble equipment could come close to replicating his illusion.
Borrowing a handful of Legos from one of our interns, I rebuilt the structure and clamped it in a C-stand (a heavy-duty stand typically used in film production; its solid construction makes it able to secure an object tightly and precisely).
I use a Nikon DSLR with a handful of lenses. To help reduce perspective’s diminishing effect on the farther stack of Legos, I chose my 70-200 zoom lens at its maximum zoom. This long focal length has a compressing effect on subjects, making distant objects seem less distant compared to nearer objects than they would to the naked eye.
Positioning the Legos and camera, I found that a fraction of a millimeter could make a large difference in the effect, and spent the next 30 minutes adjusting the positions of both.
The illusion requires all of the Legos to be in focus, so I set my aperture to f/22. A larger f-stop number means a smaller aperture and a greater depth of field. Had I flashed it from the front, the harsh and uneven lighting could have made the bricks seem disconnected or even shown the shadow of the foreground pieces, so I set up two radio-controlled strobes with large softboxes to diffuse the light.
The mere floor vibrations from setting these lights had already caused the illusion to slip out of true. For a quick fix, I simply shimmed one of my tripod legs, then fired the camera with a remote trigger. Voila!