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I've seen a handful of posts where community members wish to get some real-time feedback about what's going on with our properties. Well, some of us have had some real fun the last couple days with something extraordinarily simple that gives us just that!
[How-To] Measure Salt Level in Your Water Softener (BSR Goes Old School)
Many years ago, I created THIS How-To on using an ultrasonic sensorfor measuring the salt level in a water softener. Since then I decided to go 'old school' and wanted a basic analog/voltage detection method that I would incorporate into my existing analog to digital converter for this measurement (basically I was not happy with the serial interface of the MaxBotix unit).
NOTE: This tutorial/project is extremely simple to do. Since I took the time to explain and detail all the steps, the tutorial looks much longer than it really is. If you are technical minded, you will be able to do all of this in just a few minutes, and if you need help, just post in the comments.
Whenever you ask about the must-have apps for Android, Tasker is a name which appears frequently on this list (and I do highly recommend it myself). Tasker allows you to automate every aspect of your Android device, such as your phone or tablet, making it easy to turn on/off features of your device based on conditions and variables.
This tutorial will describe one method of incorporating a Dexcom Diabetes Monitor to your home automation system with the main purpose of providing whole house alerts whenever the monitor detects a diabetic ‘alarm’ condition.
It seems nowadays, most modern vehicles have HomeLink or Car2U - those three little buttons designed to integrate with your garage door openers and gates. Also, the majority of houses in america have only one, maybe 2 garage doors - so there's almost always a spare button or two.
Have you ever wondered how you could very easily integrate those extra buttons into your Home Automation or Security system?
This will show you how I automated my gas fireplace using UPB. This involves automating the fireplace blower as well as the fireplace flame itself. My fireplace has a typical Millivolt triggering mechanism in which you turn on the fireplace by connecting two low-voltage wires together (flipping a switch).
During the course of automating your home, one will usually come across a dilemma on how to monitor a status of an appliance. Examples can include wanting to know when a washer/dryer is finished, dishwasher cycle completed, etc...
Previous methods of getting status included monitoring the current of the appliance via a current donut, hacking the appliance so a relay or other device was installed in order to get some type of contact closure, and installing magnetic proximity sensors on the appliances dials (all of these methods are actually described in previous CocoonTech How-To's).
But, what happens when you don't want to modify your spiffy new appliance due to voiding warranty (or the WAF prohibits such actions)?
You could easily monitor a status light that most modern appliances have now as shown in Dan's previous How-To. This method will let you monitor a light's on/off status with your home automation hardware that can detect an open collector contact closure (Modicon SECU-16, Elk Input, HAI Input, etc...). But what happens when you don't have any wires running to that appliance from your home automation detection hardware?
This How-To will let you monitor the status of an appliance's light remotely using a standard DS10a security sensor from X-10. Many members here already have the capability of monitoring these devices via a W800, RFXCOM, or MR26a receivers. DS10a's are so popular we even have a thread dedicated to their non-typical uses in home automation projects
Recently, SmartLabs (which owns SmartHome) released a SMART (their new brand, which targets installers/professionals) version of their VenStar thermostat+adapter kit, which moves the INSTEON daughter board into the thermostat housing, doing away with the ugly adapter sticking out at the bottom of the thermostat.
One of our members (drozwood90) has discovered a method to convert a UPB appliance module into a UPB remote relay. Since some Fry's stores still carry some of these modules for just a few bucks (plus once in a while you can find them cheap online), it's a pretty easy and affordable to create a UPB based relay. You can find the tutorial below, as taken from the original thread. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to post them in that thread.
The X10 DS10A wireless door and window sensor is a great little product which doesn't get enough credit. Eventho it is made by X10, it uses a wireless signal, instead of relying on your electrical wiring, to transmit the signal to a controller. The DS10A is not a typical wireless X10 product. It doesn't send a house/unit code, instead, it sends a 'security code' which gets changed everytime you replace the batteries. Not many wireless receivers know how to handle these, but the W800RF32 is one of the few (if not the most popular one) which can successfully understand these transmissions.
The goal of this tutorial is to show you how you can monitor these sensors, using an Elk M1, and a W800RF32 attached to an Elk M1 XSP (serial port expander). I strongly advise against using these devices for real security, but due to the low cost (when they are on sale, you can usually buy 4 or 5 of them for $20 from x10.com), they are extremely useful to monitor non-critical stuff, for home automation purposes.
- Monitor the status of your shed door
- Monitor the status of your walk-in closets, so you can turn the lights on whenever the door opens
- Monitor who is at home (more info)
- Monitor your mailbox, get notified when new mail arrives
As you can tell, there is a lot of potential. Many people are already relying on DS10A's, but using a PC based system. However, did you know it's possible to take the PC out of the loop here, by connecting your W800RF32 to your Elk M1 using a serial port expander module (M1XSP)? Keep reading for the instructions (with pictures and video) on how to configure your Elk M1.