electron's nHome


Staff member
Real name: Dan
Location: Central NY
Project name: nHome

PC's & HTPC's
  • HTPC (MCE 2005): P4 3.2Ghz, ATI Radeon 9600, 1gig DDR, SilverStone LC03 HTPC case, 200G SATA HD, Hauppauge PVR-250MCE, Hauppauge PVR-250
  • HTPC (MCE 2004): AMD Thunderbird 1.2Ghz, 256M PC133, ATI Radeon 7000, Antec Overture case
  • HA server: AMD XP2700+, 512 DDR, 80G IDE HD, Hawking Tech modem, RocketPort USB Serial Hub
  • Video Security Server: AMD Thunderbird 1.2Ghz, 256M PC133, Pinnacle PCTV tuner
Hardware User Interfaces:
  • Axim X50v
  • Zanware LCD Controller
  • 3COM Audrey
  • any PC with a browser
Automation Hardware:
  • SAI US2-40 light switch
  • SAI light & appliance modules
  • USB PowerLinc
  • Ocelot
  • SECU16
  • Elk M1 EZ8
  • M1XEP & multiple M1XSP's
  • W800RF32
  • SureAction 3 zones 313 Processor (pressure sensors)
  • USB GamePort interface
  • X10 Pro active phase coupler
  • Leviton HCA02 phase coupler
  • X10/RCA light & appliance modules
  • DS10A door/window sensors
  • Lightolier CC600VAPLC light switches
  • X10 PR511 floodlights
  • Various X10 compatible remotes
  • Powerflash & Universal modules
  • Various types of motion sensors
Other Hardware::Video Hardware:
  • X10 wireless Xcam2 color camera
  • X10 Anaconda Night camera (wired)
  • VisionTech VisionTech VC20LW43
  • Ninja Pan'N'Tilt module
Home Theater Hardware:
  • Onkyo 6.1 HT-S770 Home Theater system
  • 56" JVC HDTV (720i/p&1080i)
  • Girder
  • Girder Whole House Pro (beta)
  • NetRemote
  • Homeseer
  • Homeseer Phone
  • HAL 2000
  • JRMC
  • MS Windows Media Center 2004 & 2005
  • Neospeech TTS voices
  • Active Webcam
Home Automation Features:
These are just a few of the many things my home automation setup does, but it's impossible to list them all:
  • Medication reminder: the system will remind me when the next medication has to be taken. It is set to remind me every 5 hours, and only remind me if there is motion once past the minimum 5 hours (in case I fell asleep or I am not home). It will keep reminding me every 15 minutes until I reset the timer. I use a big red button remote (KR15A), hit it once to announce how much time remaining until next dose, hit it again within 5 seconds to reset the timer. Works great!
  • Monitor garage door status: issue reminders every 15 minutes when the door is open, send out an email when the door has been open for more than 15 minutes AND the car is not in the garage.
  • Monitor Freezer doors: announce when a door has been open for longer than 60 seconds, using DS10A wireless door/window sensors (still being tuned).
  • IR control: mute all audio equipment and TV's when the phone rings, so the Caller-ID announcement can be heard. Turn on PiP/Twin View when there is motion outside, or the garage door opens, showing a live camera feed. Also mute all audio systems if there is a high priority announcement (such as as the medication reminder), unmute once the announcement has been made.
  • Monitor Water Softener: I tend to forget to refill the tank with salt, so this system will remind me that I am almost out, and need to purchase more. It eventually will become part of the 'shopping list generator' project.
  • Monitor washer & dryer: Since the appliances are in the basement, it is hard to hear the buzzer. So the system will announce when the washer/dryer starts (sometimes, I forget to turn the dryer on after switching a load), and when they are done. Very WAF friendly! Check this how-to if you are interested in learning more about this setup.
  • Kitchen cabinet lights: Turn on the kitchen cabinet lights whenever someone is in the kitchen. I use a combination of pressure sensors and motion sensors, works pretty well.
  • Car starter: I built a cradle for my remote keyfob, so my system can control the remote starter by activating a solenoid. My system will start the car every morning after I wake up (using time restrictions and motion detectors), so it is all nice and warm when I am ready to leave for work. I am planning on adding the outside temperature as a condition so it can decide if it should start the car a few minutes before I leave (summer) or if it should start it 15-20 minutes in advance (winter).
  • System announcements: Medication reminder, CNN breaking news, weather alerts, amber alert, caller ID, appliance status, garage door status, event reminders, good morning function, good night function, mouse activity and trap activation, driveway motion detected, etc.
  • Closet lighting: Automatically turn on the lights on/off whenever entering a walk-in closet, using DS10A door/window sensors.
  • Car status: Using a motion sensor in my car, the house will know when the car is parked in the garage or when I am on the road. This allows the system to trigger certain events when I arrive home, including announcing "honey, I'm home" to make sure I don't scare the wife when I arrive home from work a little earlier than expected. I am going to switch to the palm pad based system soon (details posted in BSR's latest how-to).
  • Garage door control: Using my Ocelot and a SECU-16 module, I can control my garage door, allowing me to open it remotely (i.e. web, cell phone, etc.), or close it automatically if it is after midnight and I forgot to close it (and somehow missed the security announcements).
  • Battery recharger: My system monitors how much time I spend in my shop, and based on that starts a recharging cycle for my all my battery powered equipment once I leave the area.
HTPC features:
  • DVD library: All my movies have been ripped to a hard drive, bonus material has been stripped, and only the highest quality soundtrack is preserved (usually Dolby/DTS).
  • PVR: The MCE 2005 system has 2 tuners, which provide me with TIVO-like functionality, and can even record a HD source if I add a HDTV OTA tuner. The MCE 2004 machine is used as an 'extender', allowing me to view any of the tv recordings or DVD movies in the bedroom.
  • Audio Library: MCE also provides one with an interface to their music library, so I have ripped some of my audio CD's to disk.


In case the above links don't work for you:
HA diagram
LAN diagram


Comments & Questions:
I just posted a network diagram, and a HA diagram, but both are far from done, I still have some stuff to add.
I am in the middle of installing a structured wiring panel, and organize all my wiring as well, in preparation for turning that corner into a dedcated server room. I posted a few pictures, I will post more once I have more to show :)
Hey Electron - you mention you are using Elk speakers - which ones? I need to mount some small unobtrusive "automation announcements only" speakers and was considering the Elk-70 and 73's. Do you use these? Do you like them? They look rather "bulbous" - like they stick out from the wall a fair amount. Do they?
Sticking my nose into electron's thread - we can remove this post if it shouldn't be here.

I use Elk-73s. They do stick out, but I don't find them too obtrusive.

My installations are not permanent, however. They are just hanging on a small nail in the wall with twisted-pair alarm wire running down the wall.

The main way I handle keeping them unobtrusive is by mounting them low or under a counter. In my living room, the speaker is about a foot off the floor and behind furniture. You don't see it normally and the sound level is fine for that room.
I have the ELK-70's and 73's. They look nice to begin with, but the surfaces are paintable, so it's easier to 'hide' them, this is a big plus since my wife loves crafts/painting. I haven't had a chance yet to hook them up, but I should be able to test them in the next few days.
Monitor Water Softener: I tend to forget to refill the tank with salt, so this system will remind me that I am almost out, and need to purchase more. It eventually will become part of the 'shopping list generator' project.

Could you post more details on what model/brand of softener you have and how you accomplish this?
well since I was forced to rebuild everything from the ground up, I figured I would document some of this stuff.

I originally had 1 50" can, the new setup will have 2 50" Channel Vision enclosures, 2 14" ELK enclosures and one Legrant 20" enclosure (ignore the content, I had to rip everything out):

1 50" enclosure will be used for all the HA gear, 1 50" enclosure will be used just for termination purposes, including speaker wiring, and alarm wiring. Both Elk enclosures will be used for power (1 for the power distribution modules, 1 for the batteries), and the Legrant enclosure will be used to house the broadband hardware.

Next is trying to figure out where in the HA cabinet things will be going. First problem is the number of ELK-XSP's I have (4). They all come in black enclosures, and because of the serial connection, would require a lot of space. Originally I was going use the Elk ELK-SWP3 adapter plates, but then I realized I could use brass motherboard support screws to 'stack' them, up to 3 high, and I still will be able to close the door on the enclosure. I will have 2 stacks, allowing me to add more XSP's without having to 'reserve' space in the enclosure.

This method can be applied to any other similar modules, i.e, if you have multiple M1XIN's or M1OVR's. Looks like this might work out well, so I will take some more pics once I implemented this.

Last (for now), but not least, I also purchased wire ducting, hopefully this will allow me to hide almost all of my wiring.