Free Home Automation Software

ver0776

Active Member
A decent portion of Home Automation spending seems to be going to HomeSeer (HAL, etc), Plug-INs, and controllers. I feel like the HA field would advance much faster if there was an open source movement behind it. It would make automation cheaper and allow more people to influence the design of the software.

I am committed to creating a complete and innovative HA package, but don't think I have what it takes to compete with HS and get paid. So I am looking to release my software to SourceForge under a GPL. I want to know that there is some interest first.

My HA app is graphical, Windows based, drag and drop interface, House maps with multiple floors, database driven... Just click on any motion sensor to simulate movement, great for testing. Click on any light for control, click on any speaker to activate it (AB8SS). I just grabbed a snap-shot from an Alpha version just for a quick idea of my interface.

http://www.vcrib.com

I already have AB8SS, X10 and Phidget Support. I am working on Insteon via their ActiveX wrapper now. Plug-ins are as simple as Translating anything into (My) Events and dumping those events into the database. Web and PDA access is easy since it is simple database interactions, no hardware is needed for anything...

I have speech and a lot of other features, but I also have a lot of work to do to. If you think I should make a little more documentation and screens shots before anyone can say if it is worth pursueing, let me know and I will gladly clean it up and document it.

Thank you for any opinions,

Vaughn
 

Squintz

Senior Member
What language is it produced in?

I would be interested in an open source solution and there is already mister house which is open source but I think mister house is written in perl. Most people now days are looking for a distributable product which HomeSeer has tried to offer but their distribution is limited. CQC has done a great job with distribution but its not open source.

If you are willing to make your program and open source project then I say go for it. However, it would be ideal if you were using a .net language (thats personal opinion). It would be nice to have an open source server application and some client interfaces writen using .net remoting.

Also, many companies are making hardware solutions more affordable and more powerful. Some users are turning to hardware solutions instead of software. Others are looking for a hybrid such as a solid state PC running an embeded OS and software stored on solid state media.
 

TCassio

Active Member
Most HA software is event driven, (ie: motion sensor tripped and turns on a light or group of lights. or the time is 11PM, turn off all outside lights.) Does your software support event driven actions? This is where the power of automation is.
 

ver0776

Active Member
Initially for speed of development I have coded the application in VB6. I am keeping migration to .NET in mind the whole time.

Event models are the core of any HA app, as yes, my entire system is written around them. Without going into too much detail, my system works like this:

Devices have templates of all the signals they can receive and send. Certain templates are associated with Events, Events are associated with Triggers. Trigger conditions (AND, OR, NOT, BEFORE - Events, X10, Time, Activity levels, Device Status) validate an Action. Actions can have any number of triggers and fire any number/combonation of commands. Commands are distributed to multiple clients and devices.

My TTS command (for example) can either pass a text string to the TTS engine, or it can call a TTS group like ("Greet User - Home Status"). Now that group will have maybe 10 responses, which the system will pick at random so you do not get so tired of hearing the same messages all the time... Most systems that do voice only have a single response, it is features like this that make me write my own stuff. Keyword substituion is in place already too so "Welcome GUSER, system is set to GSECURITY" will replace the keywords. Some intercom functions are available too...

I use SQLServer 2005 for the database. Everything is normalized, with a good relational structure tying EVERYTHING together and enforcing it. I know I will need to move to a portable database to go public. Not many people want a dedicated server...

Granted, I am not trying to sell anyone on my design. This has been a massive learning experience and I greatly respect the time and effort that HomeSeer and other have invested in their apps. But I think there needs to be an open alternative. YES, Mr. House is like what I am talking about except lose the Perl and give us an easy to modify application for the Windows world...

I will try to provide better docs and screen shots because I know I type like a 8-year old and probably not doing a good job of summarizing features, etc.

Vaughn
 

Gemini

Active Member
"A decent portion of Home Automation spending seems to be going to HomeSeer (HAL, etc), Plug-INs, and controllers. I feel like the HA field would advance much faster if there was an open source movement behind it. It would make automation cheaper and allow more people to influence the design of the software."

I could not agree more. I am a hard core Homeseer user, and have been for many years, but I think they have "improved" upon it to the point where the novices and beginners would give up at the first screen, not to mention the $199.00 price tag for the base software.
What I see on your screen shot is something that even my wife could grasp and actually use if it was available to her, yet I would still have the option for tweaking.
I would love to see and hear more.
 

phcjpp

New Member
Don't shoot me down in flames but might I suggest Java as a language ? It would mean it could run on most devices/operating systems. Wintel is a flakey operating system - you can't rely upon it. Don't get me wrong - I have 5 wintel pcs in our house its just the HA stuff is all embedded at the moment as wintel too flakey.



Chris
 

Squintz

Senior Member
I just finished taking a Java 5.0 course and it is a nice language. I thought .net software was supposed to be available on multiple platforms eventually also.
 

phcjpp

New Member
A good example of java usage is the CBUS (lighting + home automation kit ) back end server code. Written in java people are running it on all kinds of machines. They actually wrote their toolkit in another language but thankfully the important bit is highly portable.

Java is very easy to learn and the tools (e.g Netbeans [free] ) make the microsoft IDEs look like a joke.

The java IDEs you pay for - Idea 5.0 for example - are out of this world. Just stunning.

Chris
 

ver0776

Active Member
Since the app is really a big database gui, you can make the pluging's in any language that can update the event tables... I don't hate on Java, just not interested in portability and don't think would add any value to the main GUI.

VB6 has weak timers and grids, so I am using 3rd party replacements. I will get it ported into .NET soon. The use of the TrueDB Grids are slowing that migration though.

My goal is to have a website up by next week that shows more of the screens, and data models.

Vaughn
 

jlehnert

Active Member
Ack! CocoonTech is starting to make the news. Batten down the hatches!

In a little while, we'll all be able to say "E the publishing baron? Yeah I knew him when he was just a little HA geek" ;)
 

ver0776

Active Member
That was a cool way to start a morning. It got me all pumped up. I am trying to put up the website right now. Having an IP link to a screenshot was pretty lame. /blush

Vaughn
 

ver0776

Active Member
WH, I appriciate the coverage.

www.ArchonHA.com is up now. If the new URL acts up, the original link http://65.27.13.27:8091/ should still work.

I know the site sucks, the check out the Screen Shots, I have more pics there. I made the site in about 20 minutes today and will put some serious time into it next week. It was better than what I had up. =)

I will work on a QA forum, feature progress % and some pictures and video clips of the system in action, including my Rubber Room ;-)

I guess I will stop my downloads for a bit until I get more bandwidth. /evil grin It might make the load times a little better.

Lastly, not sure if this is ethical, but I stretched myself way too thin with my projects and simply can not afford to buy some of the controllers and software out there that I would like to support. So if anyone has any unused devices they would like to donate, I would love to start on supporting them. I don't even have a CM11a, not that they are expensive but I am sure there are piles of them out there, and everything helps. Software liscense for HAL or something would be devine too.

I can understand if people would like to wait until I official get a GPL, just had to ask, I am eager to advance the project.

Thanks,
Vaughn
www.ArchonHA.com
 
Top