Thursday, September 25, 2008

Updates and Ideas

I now have alert channels being pulled up. So far I have only done the weather related channels, next comes motion, etc. I ended up going with whole channels for each alert. Originally I had planned on one alert channel with separate widgets for each alert. That plan wasn't a great idea and this one gives me more flexibility anyway.

Next up, I think I have the concept in flash down pretty easy to call URLs so my Chumby can act as a simple one-way terminal to the house. However, I'm finding myself much more interested in setting up a persistent XML connection from flash to Misterhouse for temps, etc.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Simple Success

Well, it took a bit more than I had planned on. Nevertheless, the framework is setup and going now. I have CGI scripts created on my Chumby to turn night mode on and off and the matching voice commands on Misterhouse. It all works quite well actually. I'm very pleased with the results. Next up will be the custom widgets for Misterhouse to push. That should be easy now that the kinks in my logic are worked out.


The one thing I always struggle with is finding good control terminals. Currently I have an odd mix of access to the system visually. In the living room, I have an N800 displaying the normal Misterhouse webpage. It's ok, although I really need to develop a more concise interface for it. In the bedroom, I have a PPC next to the bed that controls lighting and house modes primarily. It also keeps me up to date on indoor/outdoor temperatures, severe weather, motion status, etc. Not a bad solution, but I really just don't like the PPC. So, on to my new attempt.

I was one of those people who jumped on the Chumby early. For quite a while now, it has sat as an overglorified alarm clock. I think it is time for that to change. My goal is to setup the Chumby first as an informational terminal for night time.

Project Goals:
- Have Misterhouse wake Chumby from Nightmode
- Have Misterhouse display X widget on Chumby.
* Widgets I plan to start with:
Severe Thunderstorm Warning and display local radar
Tornado Warning and display local radar
Outdoor Motion Threshold Exceeded
Indoor Security Compromise

It's a start, then we'll move on to temperature, remote alarms, remote speech, and eventually 2 way control. At any rate, I digress. I think this may be possible thanks to this gem on the Chumby wiki....

"The Control Panel, starting from version 2.7, supports external events to perform some common useful actions. To send an event, a small fragment of XML is placed in the file "/tmp/flashplayer.event", and the Flash Player is signaled with the command "chumbyflashplayer.x -F1". Note that this particular XML parser is incomplete - you *must* use double quotes to surround the attribute values. A typical use of this mechanism is by external scripts that may want the Control Panel to do things based on some external stimulus. For instance, one could create a simple CGI for the built-in web server to control the device over the Internet."

The last line is the perfect kicker... I can easily have Misterhouse call a website to turn off night mode and then change the channel. First I have to build that "simple CGI", then we can work on the widgets. Should be fun....


If anyone stumbles on this blog out in cyberspace, welcome... I plan to use this space to document changes in my home automation process. I also hope that this will help keep me motivated :). So, let me give you a brief intro before I start on my new projects...

The house server is a Windows XP box running Misterhouse. I absolutely love the flexibility of programming anything I want into Perl through Misterhouse, besides the obvious cost benefits.

- I have motion sensors in major rooms for occupancy detection and security.
- The house has X10 security sensors on the doors, barn, and garage for security and opening announcements.
- Most major lights are on X10 control.
- There is a very basic full house audio system consisting of two sets of amplified speakers for announcements and security.
- I currently have 1 wireless IP camera in the mix.
- The system notifies me of night-time motion, severe weather, calendar events, etc by audio and in some cases e-mail to my Blackberry.

All and all it is a pretty solid little system with still much work to be done.