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DIY Home Automation with Arduino

April 17, 2017

There are many ready-made home automation products from different manufacturers available in the market. Despite this, there are people more interested in building their own custom home automation systems that they can tweak to their satisfaction. If you are a DIY enthusiast, then try using the Arduino board to start your DIY home automation project. Arduino is an open source platform that is often used to build simple home automation electronic projects.

It consists of a programmable circuit board (microcontroller) and Arduino software (IDE). You can run the integrated development software (IDE) on your computer to write computer code to upload to your board. You will need to use the Arduino programming language (based on wiring) and the Arduino software (IDE), based on processing, to write code and upload it to the microcontroller.

Arduino boards are specifically made to read an input, which can be a Twitter message or even an SMS. The board then turns this input into an output like turning on your coffee maker or turning on lights in your house. Many newcomers to the DIY home automation projects like the relatively simple-to-use Arduino platform. For instance, you can load code to it using a USB cable and the Arduino IDE uses a very simple version of C++ programming language.

Once you have written your computer code and uploaded it to your Arduino board, you can control things like central heating, lighting, and more by sending commands from your computer or from your smartphone or tablet. Adding an Ethernet shield will turn your Arduino board into an internet connected device, making it easier to send commands to it using a smartphone or tablet. Let’s look at four ways you can use an Arduino board for home automation:

Ambient lighting

One very popular ambient lighting solution is the Phillips Hue Light, which has its own app for Android or iOS devices. However, with Arduino you do not need the apps to control the Phillips Hue Lights. Usually, the Philips Hue bulbs communicate with each other in a mesh network through ZigBee, a short range wireless network. Each Hue light bulb passes messages to the next light bulb in the other room. A Hue Bridge, which runs an open source Linux firmware, allows you to connect this mesh network to Wi-Fi. You can hack the Hue lights by using the open source Linux firmware and control the lights through Arduino.

Turn appliances and electronics off and on

When you connect your Arduino to the internet via an Ethernet shield, you can turn almost any appliance off and on. For this to work well, you will need a browser-based interface or a timer. Imagine switching on your TV, lights, or coffee machine without having to download several apps.

Automate your garage door

You can use the Arduino microcontroller to control your garage door as long as the door has the required mechanical components. Simply add an RFID chip to your Arduino garage door opening system or opt for a keypad. The RFID option is seamless and closer to the concept of automation than the keypad system. With the keypad, you have to manually type in the password or pin code for the garage door to open. However, RFID relies on proximity.

Home security

You can build a cheap home security alarm using Arduino. Fit a security alarm with an electronic sensor that can detect heat energy via infrared. The sensor generates an electric charge when exposed to body heat and then sends a signal to Arduino.  Arduino can also support an all-in-one home security system that includes cameras, motion sensors, alarms, and pads where you can type your pin for activation or deactivation.

There are several Arduino home automation DIY guides all over the internet that can show you how to use cheap materials to create your own custom home automation system.

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