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Kram 9th November 2004 08:33 PM

Home automation Uni project

Im just doing a bit of reasearch for my final year uni project.

The project is to design and build a dimable lighting circuit that is controled via a PIC which is in turn connected by ethernet to a controling a pc.

Does anyone know of any companies that allready do anything remotly similar to this?
Mostly what i find on google is X10 stuff and I need to look at competitors products and compare with what I am doing.

Da5id4Vz 10th November 2004 01:18 AM

These Guys make a product they call an "Ethernet Dimmer"

The details are a little sketchy form the web site.

It also isnít too apparent if they have any 220 stuff. (I did find a review at hidden so maybe yes)

Elliot Sound Products has a nice tutorial on building dimmers controlled by a 0-10VDC control voltage.

IRC (International Rectifier) also makes some expensive potted modules (formerly known as Silicon Power Cube) that can get that part of the job done.

The PIC could be used to address a sample and hold to run the 0-10VDC stuff.

The Rabbit TCP/IP core modules with the IRC module would get the job done too, but thereís not too much engineering left over to show your mentors.

I've been intrigued with this widget for some time too:

Its an embedded device server built into a PCB mountable RJ-45 socket. Serial i/o on one side and IP protocol on the other.

No great answers for you just a few of the blind paths Iíve run down.


Magura 10th November 2004 01:37 AM

This company makes what you are looking for.


Da5id4Vz 10th November 2004 01:43 AM

I have searched in vein for an IP based control system. The way I would like my home automation to work is to have low cost IP based control push buttons in place of the wall switches. I figure the cans always convert IP to DMX or even X-10 to control loads form a centrally located load center. (Every thing home runs back to the circuit breaker panel for control)

IP over Ethernet sending commands from cheap little button panels would be aggregated by cheap Ethernet hub and converted by some form of device server to control signals for the high voltage section.

The only custom install stuff Iíve seen so far is cost prohibitive for my humble home

Also worth looking at are the Leviton stuff:

And the Lutron Graphic Eye system:

1audio 10th November 2004 06:43 AM

Look into this technology. The components are cheap. A development system isn't expensive and it is the most likely techhnology to replace X-10 for cost and the high end systems like Crestron for utility.

An ethernet button is an interesting idea but the cost in the real world makes in impractical. As is the cost of the light switch.

Zwave is the technology from Zensys, a Dutch company I think. There are opportunities for connectin to an ethernet network and making status and control available over the internet.

If you come up with something let me know.


Da5id4Vz 10th November 2004 12:37 PM


I agree about the IP push button price point.
Of course I was thinking that it should be IPv6 too.

But then there is the phenomena of the <$50 home gateway router. With 6-12 manufactures all competing to control and unrealized market potential things just keep getting better.

But for me to build a 2-3 dozen prototypical widgets for my home I was coming up with prices at $250-400 a throw.

I think it would take some serious market pressure to beet the $200 price point. There likely just arenít enough poindexters like me out there willing to rewire there homes to get this functionality. Even if its IPv6.

The Zen-Sys stuff is intriguing. I hadnít seen that in my wandering.

I did come across DALI and LON. The LON stuff has a certain following but seems targeted at commercial building applications.

1audio 10th November 2004 03:43 PM

The Zensys guys are making some progress. They have over 16 mfrs. rolling out products very soon. Many will be demoed at the Electronic Home show.

The challenge of this market is convincing the non-propellerheads of the world that they need automation in their home. There just aren't enough gadget freaks to make the market. It really requires a major shift in mindset to use the technology. Most people think that a light switch is on the wall. Moving to the technology will require either carrying the lightswitch in the form of a remote or integrating the switch on the wall into a network.

The chorus of "Whats the point?" if all we've done is make light switches harder to use will be overwhelming.

I happen to be researching this market pretty seriously professionally and the Zensys guys have the best solution for now. There are others but none as far along except X-10.

Da5id4Vz 10th November 2004 04:12 PM


The chorus of "Whats the point?" if all we've done is make light switches harder to use
The dreaded WAF (wife acceptance factor)

Mine loathes devices with logical states that ďtry to think for her,Ē and her undergraduate was in EE.

I look at it from the perspective of having each lamp involved in nested operating conditions. Not truly adaptive agents, but still responding to multiple logical inputs. I think the industry might call it overlapping scenes. The porch lamp would always responds to on off conditions form the wall control, but also from motion PIR motion detection, photocell and time of day conditions.

Also responding to WAF is attractive, tactile and simple control surfaces.

This has obviously been more than a casual interest for me, even though my findings have been limited.

I hope to hear more about both what both Kram and Demian develop.

Kram 10th November 2004 07:39 PM

Thanks for all the replies, im sure all the links will be most helpfull.

On the design side i am pretty much sorted to what im going to do, its just writing the 1st bit of my report that is taking its time (as usual).
Things like 'establishing a need for the project', 'reasons for the project', 'what is different about my project' they are the kind of things that seem to take up most of my time instead of designing something:smash: i know exactly why im doing a project, its so i can pass my degree :D

ah well, it'll never be finished if i dont get on and do it,

Thanks for the help and ill keep you posted on what i come up with is anyone is interested.


Schaef 11th November 2004 03:38 PM

In the theatre world, its DMX over TCP/IP, with names like COLORNET. Companies like NSI and Innovator (both subsidiaries of Leviton) make dimmer packs that live on TCP/IP networks and are addressable. Of course the messages themselves sent over the network are proprietary, but they do close to what you want.

Just another option to look at. Granted these tend towards the very expensive, but then I can use a full theatrical light board to control them.

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