Wiring (Download PDF)

I have a my home installation that has been evolving over the years and it has been a challenge to describe in details the whole installation, configurations of devices, gateways, scenarios, and mobile devices.

PROBLEM - I have try many methods to record the wiring, the configurations and the scenarios.  There is a lot of information and most people I have met,  use a big folder of papers containing installation guides, descriptions and configuration steps.  But the folder is understood only by its owner, the folder is hidden away because it contains private information.  In spite of all the laws saying that a copy of the circuit diagram must be file with the city or county by the installer, it is difficult to retreave such documents.

Here are some methods I have tried over the years:

  1. BT software - I found that it is limited to single device like F452 or MH200, and other design software like Project that does not include all devices I have purchased from BT and other vendors).
  2. BT service, My Home Web Portal - Everything was OK, but no modification where allowed after the initial installation.
  3. XML files - These descriptions are great only for certain system integrators or programmers, but does not includes maps to identify the location of devices,  what they do, and the related scenarios.

All the methods of documentations I have seeing so far are aimed at installers, and it becomes difficult for a regular user in the house to find a good manual describing what the switch on the wall does, how does it work, and what to do when it is not working.  Most of the documentation are marketing pamphlets aimed at the user saying "yes I like it" and after that, the installer does everything like magic, but the magic normally disappear when the installer finishes the job.  User are so scare of touching any thing because they are afraid of remaining in the dark, and paying for a service to repair the system because there is not a free customer support.  Once you are in the dark a paper manual or book does not help (there is no enough light to read it) and we need something smart like a PC, a notebook or a smart phone that can diagnose the problem and suggest simple solutions a user should try to fix the problem.

SOLUTION - May be in the future, a service will monitor my home installations, searching for faults and fix the problem remotely. This type of software is well known by telecommunication providers where problems are detected and fixed before the user notice the fault.  For example, i dream for BT software ship a light bulb to my home to replace the faulty one, and to have the options to call the installer to change the faulty bulb or follow the multimedia guide showing me how to change a light bulb, may be  the sofware will execute a scenario that turns off the power for me to change the lamp safely. Putting most of the information into PDF files looks as a viable solution to keep most of the documentation in the iPad and the cloud. I create PDF documents, using applications in my computer, to easily read and update, the description of the wiring in the home. 

The are about 25 spaces in my apartment that are related to my home, each space is represented by a rectangle (not to scale) with a title, and a note.

  1. TITLES.  The title has the name of a room, and subtitle with a BT gateway, or WEBCAM.  The gateways and the webcam have URL links to access the devices using their own software.  Each software has its own login ID and password.
  2. NOTES. A note describes important information for my home like SCS address, IP addresses of gateways, working scenarios in the room, and any additional information written in plain english. The notes are read by passing the mouse over the note, a click on the note will open a left column with all the notes, the notes can be scrolled, annotated or modified with additional information, notes can be closed, and a print will show only the opened notes.

My Home Village creates software for groups of users to collaborate in checking their homes.  For example, only for a short time, guest usesr are allowed to see the WEBCAMs and the notes describing the installation.

Ternary Command Modules (downloads: app pdf audio)

ABSTRACT: Ternary command modules are common 2-module commands configured with 4-keys, UP, DOWN, STOP, and END. Using this configuration, a user is capable to send ternary numbers with many digits, the numbers are separated by pressing the END key. Using this method a user can address and control all devices in a home. Each ternary address specifies a scenario that is executed in the home controller.  A single switch can control as many scenarios the user decides. When pressing a key once, in the wall switch, the command behaves in the normal way by the home controller toggling a device from OFF to ON, or ON to OFF. But, when pressing several keys in sequence the controller interprets the ternary number of a predefined scenario to execute. A controller can be programmed with more than 100 scenarios, therefore in principle one can program scenarios to control all devices in the home from a single switch. 

Smart Documents (downloads: pdf)

ABSTRACT:  This work describes, from a user perspective, the use of known computer applications to prepare documents in digital format to allow smart home users to monitor and control their homes while reading a customized user manual. The documents are created using the available applications in personal computers, and they contain links to short scripts that communicate with home controllers. Among the applications tested to enable the creation and execution of commands, there are Mail, Server, Preview, Pages, Keynotes, Numbers, iTunes, iCal and iBooks Author. Each of these software applications includes security preferences to secure the user information. The events triggered by these applications are easily log by web and mail services to facilitate diagnostic operations and archiving of events. Finally, we describe an implementation of a Smart Door to remotely manage door access, and monitor and archive events. Using URLs inside application documents and e-mail messages it is possible to manage and monitor the door. An e-mail opens the door when it has the words “Apriti Sesamo” in the subject field, and “Alibaba” in the text. The applications synchronize the user information among all devices in the internet with the same iCloud user account.

How Smart are Our Homes? (downloads; pdf)

ABSTRACT: This work measures home automation implementations in terms of Comfort, Smartness, and Performance. These measures are eas- ily computed from counting the loads, buttons, and scenarios present in home automation implementations. The works analyzes two novel au- tomation programs to clarify these measures and to compare home au- tomation implementations. We describe a novel use of available home controllers to implement scenarios triggered by event sequences. We pro- vide examples of real deployment of home controller programs that can be used in residential and commercial applications. 

© Andres Albanese 2012