Open Source HA
I've decided not to do my Home Automation Presentation this year at the 2012 - Trenton Computer Festival as I'm still trying to deal with my new work load. I'm not very happy about it but I think I've learned enough over the last year to know that until I get a handle on my work load my spare time is reserved for eating and sleeping. It's gotten so bad that I've barely had time to code anything! I've managed a few quick Perl & shell scripts for work but that's pretty much it. That doesn't mean I haven't given a lot of thought to home automation, because I have. But I've come full circle and returned to resurrecting the HCS II. I've decided to go the Linux route as opposed to the FPGA route.
One of the issues I ran into with the Open Source HCS II was that even though some folks wanted to get involved they wanted more of the ready-made route. Building and programming these boards is a daunting task. Many were scared off by the thought of soldering, others the thought of the heavy embedded programming. Still others had little precious time to spare to their hobbies (now where have I heard that before? ;-) ). I need to somehow work around those limitations. Making easy entry into the HA market would allow people to become gradually involved. On that front, some really interesting developments have occured in the last few years to make that a reality. The most evident is the Arduino. The Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. A home is definitely an interative environment. For the central processing (Supervisory Controller) I'll use Linux on a small embedded board.
The good news is that the industry has stepped up to the challenge and there are plenty of Arduino like boards with enough bang-for-the-buck. I've picked up a few PIC32 Chipkit boards and intend to build a small Arduino like board based on the hacker friendly, 28 pin, PIC32 chips. Of course if I can't beat the price of the Pinguino PIC32 boards I'll just use them. I also know about the Leaflabs Maple. Like I said, interesting developments.