Sunday, April 25, 2010


Well finally I've gotten some rest (but I still need a lot more!). The last few weeks have been a bit much. It seemed that every week I've had a few things due and I've not had time to sit down and relax (or lay down and sleep properly).

Yesterday (Saturday 04/24/2010) I did my HA Presentation at the Trenton Computer Festival. Unfortunately I was unable to bring the Doll House due to some problems with my software interface to my Ethernet IO24 board. Since this was the center of my presentation I had to scramble and put together a different presentation without the demonstration. I found this to be rather embarrassing and I'll do a much better job for next year. I have all the parts ready (LEDs, Kill-a-watt, XBee's boards and micro-controllers, networking, etc.). I just need to sit down and finalize the hardware. I think I'll also sneak in the ELK-M1 just to really have something complete to show. The good news is that I have a little time to get everything pulled together and working before then.

Despite the disappointment of not having the doll house working the actual presentation went well. A few people were having trouble staying awake and I wasn't sure if it was the presentation or the room getting warm. There were around 30+ people in the room and one of the organizers ran in to bring in more chairs. Only one or two people left during the presentation but none in a huff. I'm thrilled that the presentation went as smoothly as it did. I really only put together the slides the night before, I didn't do a practice run with the slides and I was working on a week's worth of lack of sleep, boy was I tired. Next year a few more slides will be gone and some swapped for the Misterhouse/DollHouse demonstration. Towards the end the the folks began asking lots of questions (good) unfortunately I ran out of time to finish the presentation (bad, no one can get me to shut up :-). My friend 'D' gave me a few sugestions (like remove some of the technology and maybe the history). I trust D's opinion as he's always honest with me. I'm certain next year will be better as I'll remove a bunch of stuff and I'll start up my PC well before hand. I wasted a few minutes just trying to get the PC to the point where I could do the presentation. I'll also have some sort of carrying case for the demo so it won't need so much work to put together. Uncle Ray (Ray Duran) suggested having something as simple as a small DC fan that could be made to work in conjunction with a temperature probe. A really good idea, I'll add that to the things we can support.

I'll have the presentation posted some time this week (probably tonight) on my web site. I'll put it on the Presentation page under 2010 TCF Presentation. I'm also posting information on the Doll House on my new Doll House page.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Well I in addition to having the SheevaPlug up and running I now have MisterHouse up and running on the Plug. After a few annoying modules that were needed (they tend to lead to other modules that are missing and needed etc. etc., annoying). Anyway I added HTTP::Date, HTML::FormatText and their dependencies and MH seems to be running okay. I'll work on getting X10, Insteon and a few other things working later. For now I'll see how well MH runs on it's own. Here's the output of the free command:
mh@sheeva:~/code$ free
             total  used   free   shared buffers cached
 Mem:        513752 217536 296216 0      1512    170476
 -/+ buffers/cache: 45548  468204
 Swap:       0      0      0 
I'm going to attempt to use this system without any swap. I'm pretty sure I can accomplish this.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sheevaplug, neat device!

My friend D picked up a few Sheeva Dev Kits and decided to see what it can do. Now I've got one of them and by coincidence 'MisterBazyle' created a MisterPlug page for MisterHouse. So my goal is to put together MisterPlug. :-) So far the upgrade of the OS on the Sheeva didn't go well. I think most of the problems were with the OS drivers (both Windows and Linux) for the Sheeva's serial console/JTAG port. I went to the Plug Computer Forums and asked around. They were very helpful and I was finally able to get the Sheeva upgraded properly. So now I can begin to play. :-)

The Sheeva is a very interesting device. It uses only 7 watts of power but runs a 1GHz Arm processor with 512M of RAM and 512M of Flash. It has a Gigabit Ethernet interface and 1 USB Host port (there is a USB slave port for the serial console/JTAG). While this doesn't sound like much it is enough to control your home. The USB port should be fast enough for many devices to be interfaced and newer devices are now supporting Ethernet. I intend to put the MisterHouse software on a SD flash card. I'll probably need some kind of way to send the logs to a remote machine and only keep a small queue of the most recent messages in memory. That means software needs to be written. The DB is another story and I haven't figured that out yet. I'd like to avoid excessive writing to the flash card if possible. It will be a few weeks before I can say for sure how well this is going but I expect it to work quite well. As usual, more to follow ...