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!



SNAPPY “TOWEL”: It’s the powerful, highly maneuverable R/C flying wing that’s easy to make, fly, and fix. Photography by Gregory Hayes. Art direction by Jason Babler. Plane built by Daniel Spangler.

Table of Contents



George Jetson’s wild ride.Page 11

Reader Input

Soapy peril, Nerf newbies, and real-life heroes.Page 12

Maker’s Calendar

Events from around the world.Page 15

Make It Legal

Makers, what’s in your legal toolbox?Page 17


Zen and the art of making.Page 28


Smarter Homes

Learn the elements of intelligence for automated homes, from communication protocols to physical interfaces.Page 40

Homemade Home Security

Build a complete 4-camera surveillance system and view it over the web.Page 44

The Electronic Nag

Build a Notification Alert Generator that pesters you verbally to do your chores.Page 50

Networked Smart Thermostat

Control your home’s heating and cooling system from anyplace, using Arduino and Ethernet.Page 54

Notify Me Now!

One young maker’s smart home security system.Page 59

X10 Arduino Macro Module

Give classic X10 controllers a new Arduino brain and tap into a powerful open source code library.Page 60

12,000-Mile Universal Remote

Open your garage from a smartphone! Use XBee networks and the cloud to flip any switch at home, from anywhere. Page 66


Enjoy code-free home automation using prop controllers.Page 72

Home Smart Home

Inspiration for your automation, from cool makers, projects, and products.Page 76


The Towel

Make a robust R/C flying-wing airplane that’s fun to fly and great to learn on.Page 82

Pipe Dreams

Build sturdy, great-looking furnishings with PVC pipe and a few tricks.Page 96

Yakitori Grill

Get cookin’ with thisJapanese-style skewer grill.Page 108


How to capture, view, clone, and generate infrared signals. Page 118


New: Supercap Racer kit.Page 126


iPad monopod stand.Page 130


Tough LED lanterns, coffee-maker salvage.Page 132


iPhone car ignition.Page 136


Microbial fuel cell, hydraulic ram pump.Page 140


Made on Earth

Snapshots from the world of backyard technology.Page 18

Hobbits of Trout Gulch

These cutting-edge animators are creating a live-in hackerspace in a California forest.Page 30

My TV Stinks!

Scratch-and-sniff TV: incorporating smell into digital projects.Page 36

1+2+3: Stain PVC Any Color

Permanently dye your PVC projects.Page 117

1+2+3: Sound Sucker

Try this weird acoustic trick.Page 125

Country Scientist

Using sensors with data loggers.Page 146

What I Made

Turn a dimmer switch into a cool day-and-night dial. Page 150


Harness the superheat of fire and melt glass.Page 155

Howtoons: The Measure of a Man

Page 156

Electronics: Fun and Fundamentals

Use rotary encoders and LEDs to make your own Magic 8 Box fortune-teller.Page 158


Kits, books, and tools to paint your couch, get hypnotized, control your robot army, and design in 3D for free.Page 162

Remaking History: The Oliver

Build the treadle hammer that helped build medieval Europe.Page 170

Make Money

Silver bells from pre-1965 coins.Page 172