April 2, 2017

Hard as it is to believe, today marks floating.io’s first birthday. One year ago today I finally got around to putting my new blog together. My goal was to post often, and talk about fun things.

I only managed about a post and a half per month. This is post #20.

What went wrong?

Good Intentions and All That Rot

When I set out to write, I expected that I would have plenty of time to do so. I had a bunch of projects in mind that I would have loved to build – and that hasn’t changed – and I figured people would enjoy reading about them. Unfortunately, something came up.

I decided to buy a house.

A good half of 2016 was consumed by the house hunt. As I mentioned a number of posts ago, buying a house is easy; finding a house to buy… not so much. In the end I managed it, and I can only hope it will bode well for the future; homeownership introduces lots of new projects.

Like home automation for example. That’s going to be fun…

The Status of TuneControl

While TuneControl is currently on the back burner due to a shift in priorities, it is still far from dead. I simply have other things to worry about, and some of the requirements will likely change. My spare parts recently congealed into another TuneConsole for the iMac in the kitchen, but it’s still got the same problem.

I can’t take it with me when I’m sitting on the couch.

While most of the requirements remain the same, I’ll probably adjust things slightly in light of my desire to build a nice home automation system. When you add things like the Logitech Harmony to the mix, things get interesting. The TuneControl needs to integrate with all that.

How will I do it? What will it look like? I don’t know yet. I figure it’ll probably be at least six months before that percolates back up the priority list. I need a good home automation system to integrate it with first.

So what does the immediate future hold?

The Home Automation Obsession Project

If you’ve been reading the few posts I’ve made on the subject, then you know that my foray into home automation has already begun. I just received a huge order of HomeSeer Z-Wave switches, and once I get them installed I can finally start getting things set up.

The next couple of months should see a number of posts about the realities of openHAB, which is the platform I’m currently using.

So far, I’ve not been real happy with any platform I’ve come across though, openHAB included. I also ordered a second Z-Stick for development purposes; I’m strongly considering writing my own system. The possible gotcha is that it’s likely to be a fairly massive project, so I don’t know if or when that will see the light of day.

I have a few ideas though that I think would be pretty nifty…

Meanwhile, my goals are fairly simple. First and foremost, switch placement in this house is far from perfect. The scene controller functionality on the HomeSeer switches will allow me to overcome that without having to completely rewire the place. I’ve already done this with my pool light; I can now control it from a switch at the back door, even though the actual pool light switch is in the shed.

Second, I want voice control – but this problem is already solved. Amazon’s Alexa has proven to be quite good at this job, and so far I’m fairly satisfied with it. We’ll see how it holds up as the number of devices increases, and as I find more advanced things that I want to be able to trigger by voice.

And finally, I want some basic automations. Automatic illumination when I enter the house, for example. Or have it automatically dim the lights when I sit down to watch TV. This is where things could get real interesting; it depends on how active my imagination decides to be.

I also have a few ideas involving hackery, but I’ll leave those as a surprise for later (if I ever have time to pursue them)…

Other Stuff

There are a number of other big projects on my list, some more urgent than others. A few of the highlights:

  • Get my servers and network sorted out. I need a cabinet or rack to put my equipment in, and I need to finish wiring the house for ethernet at some point. This is pretty high on my list; the closet my equipment is in is a bit of a mess, and it needs to be fixed.
  • Lots of general home improvement projects. Shelving, painting, flooring, landscaping… That’s going to be a never-ending list, methinks.
  • Put together some space for my electronics lab. I’m currently thinking it’ll be in the garage, but that may require me to add air conditioning in there, so we’ll see. All I know right now is that I need a nice place to build stuff, and I don’t have it yet!

As you can see, 2017 is looking to be a busy year. Things never go according to plan, though; this is why I stopped making those plans. I’ll just have to take it as it comes, and with a bit of luck you’ll get to read about it.