Hello Newb Here

hello everyone,

You guys got a great forum here. I've read a whole lot of topics here. Except that a lot of stuff is for people that are already on their way in this hobby/life style. By the way, Electron you are really good at explaining things. But here are my questions & comments:

I know programming: VB, C, C++, Oracle, QBasic (so this doesn't worry me)
I DON'T know anything electrical. :(

I would like to know where I can find a super-newbie source for this hobby & for electrician type stuff I might need to know. (so I won't kill myself)

While I'm at it. Maybe you guys can post what you would start off with if you could do it again today. As for what I want Automated: Everything I can; I love technology.

As for when I will purchase my gear. Honestly, I really don't know right now. It could be 3 months or it could be a couple years. I live in CA & home prices are REDICULOUS right now. Just when I was able to afford a home, the prices went bonkers. :) But it will be one of these days. And as the Programmer that I am. I want a plan before I even start working. I'm sure you guys can understand that. Many of you probably wished you would have had a plan when you started. :D :p

Thanks ahead of time.
rule #1 when it comes to Cocooning, things never go as planned :) Welcome to CocoonTech! Feel free to post your questions on this forum, no matter how simple you think they might be, other people will learn from this, and we have many experts on this board, including people familiar with electronics/electrical. We want to make site as newbie/user friendly as possible, so post away :D
And don't think you need a house in order to play with this stuff. There's plenty you can do without any "demolition" or permanent installation. I live in an apartment and haven't made any permanent modifications. Of course, I also have lots of wires running around the walls (but there's plenty you can do without this happening).
Rule #2: There is no such thing as a "finished" system.

As Electron said, the best way is to dig right in and ask specific questions. There is not really an easy way to learn about "general" electricity other then looking at a house's wiring and figuring out why it is the way it is and if something cannot be figured out on your own, then ask questions. That way, you develop a feel for what to expect.
Hey Rod, welcome to the board.

I'm still quite new to this myself and actually got started because of a free give away from X-10.com that included some very basic hardware. Keep an eye on their site because those freebies come up now and again.

I'd suggest starting there, although after getting that free stuff I wouldn't get anything else from X-10.com directly. Automatedoutlet.com is very popular around here because the prices are reasonable and the service is great but also because the guy that runs AO.com is a very active poster here.

This is a great place for all kinds of info from very basic level stuff (where I'm at) to the really sick and twisted uses of HA. Like building a mouse trap. That triggers "Another One Bites the Dust" to play when it's set off. E, I'm looking at you. Like I said, sick and twisted.
Welcome Rod,

As everyone else has said, post away with your questions.

One other resource you might want to explore is the X10 forum at


Just READ the posts (every fifth post is almost the same question :D ) You will learn a lot of the basics. Come back here then to ask your questions :)

Look for posts that Larry Fine has answered. He is a licensed electrician in Virginia, and does a good job of explaining electrical wiring SAFELY.

Again Welcome to a great new hobby.
Whaddya mean "new hobby"? Welcome to your new addiction. :)

Seriously, this is quite a hobby where various fields come together in really fun ways. One thing about programming for a hobby is that all you normally create is just that, a program in a machine. When you incorporate it into something like home automation, your program comes alive and you actually see real world things happen. Some people are more competent with electronics, programming, fabrication, etc. and it all comes together right here, trading ideas and projects. I get more enjoyment from designing, building and programming this stuff then actually using it once its finished. I'm sure others could say the same thing.
Thank you for welcoming me in your community here. I'm going to take John's advice & also read up at the remotecentral.com website. But I can already tell that as far as HA goes; this is home. :D

I'd also like to thank electron. He has offered me a starter kit, which he will be sending out soon. As soon as I recieve that; the questions will fly :)

Also, thank you very much to Treetop. He answered a lot of my basic questions. What I'm going to do is start gathering some guidlines which a newbie can follow (a suggested one of course) & present it to electron. Maybe then he can edit it and it can later help other newbies.
Yes Rod, this is "home".

I only posted the Remote Central link mainly for the "electrician" information, so you "won't kill yourself", which isn't likely anyway lol

Glad to know you are a programmer. That's my weak suite, in this whole automation thing. I'm sure as I ask questions about programming, you will be able to chime in with advice and suggestions also.
JohnBullard said:
Glad to know you are a programmer. That's my weak suite, in this whole automation thing. I'm sure as I ask questions about programming, you will be able to chime in with advice and suggestions also.
Maybe I can help logic-wise cause I haven't even ventured to look at what one needs to program a scene or macro etc. :eek:
Stupid question:

How can one tell what type of Dimmer they need. There's 1000 W ones & 600 W ones. Do I HAVE to measure the voltage by going out & buying one of those volt-measurers. Or is there a standard that I can look up. God I just realized. I can just unscrew the lightbulb and read off of it can't I? I don't know these things because I live in an apartment. Told you guys it was stupid. :huh:
yep, just read the wattage of each bulb, and you are good to go. Make sure that if these are halogen bulbs that you get a switch made for those kind of lights.
I thought that halogen only mattered if the lamp used a built-in transformer or dimmer? I have some 120V halogen floodlights that I have never treated any different than regular incandescent.
The wattage rating on your switch is the maximum amount of watts that you should control with that switch. So if you are using a dimmer in a bathroom and you have 5 - 60watt bulbs pluged in over your mirror and all the bulbs are controlled by that one switch you would need atlead a 5 * 60watt = 300watt switch.

Keep in mind that you cant dim flourecent lights and you should not put dimmers on your wall outlets because you could ruin appliances. For instance your wife may come behind you and plug in a vacume cleaner where you had a lamp plugged in. If you dont give the full power requirements to the vacume or to a TV for instance you could mess up something. So a good rule of thumb is to use a wall module dimmer instead of a switch dimmer.

Now i am ashamed that no body has metioned the howto section right on this very site. That is where i have learned 90% of what i already know. I have only been in this hobby for about 1 year now maybe a little more. And let me tell you that you need to start finding a job that you will make more money at. Im not trying to scare you im just saying. They more money you have the more fun you will have. But you can do alot of fun stuff with a little bit of money also if your imagination is good.

MAKE SURE>>>>>MAKE SURE>>>> MAKE SURE you join us atleast every friday night in our live chat room. Go get yourself mIRC from www.mIRC.com and log into irc.Marstracker.com and /join #homeseer If you dont want to download mIRC then click the chat link at the top of this site and join the fun via the java client. This is where you will learn about what the hobby is really about.

Give it a month of hanging out here and in the chat room and you will realize that the hobby is more about the people than it is the hobby itself. All of the people you meet here are very friendly and share a family type bond. These are the same guys(and gals...Where has dolphin been) that you wouldnt mind sharing a beer with at the bar on a friday night after work. Only difference is you can open your beer and enjoy the same conversations without having to look at our ugly faces.

Our wiring closet section of this forum is for any off the wall questions. If you here a funny joke in the office that you want to share with us post it there. If you have a general question that your not sure where to post it then put it there. Dont be scared to ask any questions.