View Full Version : Home Automation Powered by Stamp or SX or Javelin

09-19-2006, 01:47 PM
I'm planning to do a little home automation (mainly controlling some lamps) and I want to use a Stamp or SX or Javelin (haven't decided which one yet project is still in to early of a stage) as the brains of the system.

This brings me to my question...

I considered X10 as it's common, relatively cheap and to top it off the BS2 series have built in commands to work with X10.· The problem is I started reading some of the horor stories about how slow and unreliable X10 is.

I've seen Insteon mentioned on the forums a few times and people seem to like it but the development kit is $199 which a hefty chunk of change for a home project and the parts are generaly more expnesive then X10.

So what I want to know is has anyone worked with either of these two or even another system all together? What are the goods and bads? How difficult is it to get a Stamp to work with one of these systems?



Peter Verkaik
09-19-2006, 02:11 PM
Regarding Insteon and javelin, see these threads:
TW523 interface (send and receive X10)

regards peter

09-19-2006, 08:52 PM
Why not "Brew your own"?

You're putting together the controlling end....why not the end that gets controlled too?!
The easy method is relays (SSR's or mechanical)....others would suggest FETs as they don't have that mechanical click when they are switching (but more thought needs to go in to protection from 120vac).

Talking with the future father-in-law....he has a HVAC system that he needs separate contacts for on a thermostat....they seem hard to come by (without $$ for the commercial versions) so we are looking in to the SX as an aux brain from the thermostat!



"Inside each and every one of us is our one, true authentic swing. Something we was born with. Something that's ours and ours alone. Something that can't be learned... something that's got to be remembered."

Loopy Byteloose
09-19-2006, 11:10 PM
X10 has been around for a long time and can do a few things like switch lights and dim lights, but the real question is how much home automation do you want to tackle? The X10 has several limitations.

Do you want to do things like monitor the washer and dryer from any room in the house, turn on and off lawn irrigation, and control a zone security system? You could actually use a LAN, but that would mean keeping a computer maintained 24/7 in order to have your network operational. Your life could be consumed by maintaining your home network. And that would require quite a bit of backup power too or troublesome downtimes.

My own solution is CANbus. I have two twisted pairs of wire [one pair for 8-9volt power and the other pair for bus communications]. It can take 60 nodes and 1000meters of wire. Mutiple masters and slaves can ignore each other. Data of 8 byte packets seem quite adequate. This is verified with CRC and there is retransmission of failed messages or proper error notification. And I already have nodes working with a BS2, a BS2p, and a BS2px. You can mix and match with whatever you have accumulated. Now I am working on using the SX-28 and the Propeller for more nodes.

Just consider it. I am using 4 wire telephone cord with RJ-11 plugs to currently cover ample distances. Anyone that can install a telephone, can pull the wire to cover an entire home.

Since the power requirements are minimal, the backup power supply is merely a 9 amp/hour gel cell kept on a trickle charge.

"If you want more fiber, eat the package.· Not enough?· Eat the manual."········

···················· Tropical regards,····· G. Herzog [·黃鶴 ]·in Taiwan

09-20-2006, 01:39 AM
I've considered making my own control units, but the cost, time consumed building them and how bulky they would be compared to buying some Insteon modules doesn't make it worth it. Not to mention I don't want to have to run wires to make this work, even though I do actualy have a rather large network, it's bigger then most small business's networks.

I've built a couple 4 channel triac boards that I use for sequencing xmas lights but they are much to inconvient to work with to consider for controlling lighting and so on.

That also leaves the issue of dimming to, I know it can be done by a hobbiest and perhaps even easily, but it feels like reinventing the wheel.

I'm fully capable of doing the electronics portion of this project and I even enjoy working with the electronics but at heart I'm a software guy which is why I'd rather use some Insteon or some other modules to do the dirty work while I focus on making a slick controller to run it all.

The main point of my eariler post was has anyone worked with Insteon or some other system as I'd like to avoid X10 do to all the negatives involved with it.

My goal right now is to automate most of the lighting control in the house, monitoring stuff in the house is the next step after this.·With the size of my network I want to have every computer in the house able to access the control system (I intend to use the PINK or develop an application that·interfaces with the stamp·to do this). Using a stamp or some other MCU to handle the details of the system, such as timed events,·means no one computer would be completely responsible for keeping the system working, even though I do maintain several internet and intranet servers that could handle this job.

I hope I've clarified the what information I'm after.


Loopy Byteloose
09-21-2006, 04:32 PM
I can understand not wanting to run wires, but X10 has drawbacks related to not doing so. I am building CANbus nodes at about $15USD each and they use BasicStamps or just about any microprocessor that you want. The footpring is less than 2" x 3" and 1"high. In other words, I designed them to fit is a standard electrical outlet box for the sake of people that down want their homes cluttered with surface run wire and surface mounted boxes.

Have you thought about the following?

First, your 110VAC must be functioning at all times. Having a outdoor sensor on the backyard gate that is 100m from the house is a bigger problem.
Second, the network boundaries are unclear. You may broadcast to or receive from anyone on the same side of a distribution transformer. {So it is possible to interfer with another neighbor's X-10 network}
Third, in general you cannot get a slave to transmit detailed data about sensors. No real feedback. How do you know lights need to be dimmed or turned on?

There is an 'X10 like' system that does much of what CANbus does, but as one gets further into transmission on AC lines you may find that the interferances are more and more daunting. It is easier to pull low voltage, fire safe and shock safe twisted pair network. This may be far more acceptible to your home owner's insurance if you really are into seriously automating.

"If you want more fiber, eat the package.· Not enough?· Eat the manual."········

···················· Tropical regards,····· G. Herzog [·黃鶴 ]·in Taiwan

09-22-2006, 12:58 PM
I have absolutely no intention of running sensors on this. If I later decided to add sensors I would use some low voltage means of interfacing to them.
I don’t want to use X10. I wanted to know if someone has used Insteon or some other system that claims to have come up with a solution that is better then X10. I was not kidding or making an understatement when I said alls I went to do is turn lights on and off. My goal is to centralize control.
I think it’s great you made your circuit so small but I have no desire to spend the time designing such a board, nor do I have the resources to make my own boards without spending the money to have them made by a company. Also I wouldn’t trust some circuit I jury-rigged to safely control high voltages, I don’t want to burn my house down.
I have 6 to 8 (I don’t remember how many exactly) SSRs that have screw terminals and could be easily stuffed in a plug box but I’d have to run a wire to each one of them for signaling which is why I scrapped the idea of using them, besides the fact they are expensive.

Loopy Byteloose
09-23-2006, 12:27 AM
Forgive me if I gave a wrong reply, but you mentioned home automation which is quite a lot of things to many people.

I can understand that you really don't want to deal with the complexity. I am not sure what Insteon is [I have been in Taiwan for over 12 years], but we have a lot of IR and RF remotes available here that are intended to allow people to turn on and off lights or other devices from anywhere within a room. Most of the buildings here are concrete and light switches are often placed in inconvienent locations.

If you merely want lighting control, you might be able to use IR via a T.V. remote device adapted to use with a BasicStamp receiving unit and a solid-state relay. This is limited to line of sight. But, Parallax also sells small rf digital transmitters and recievers that might provide you with more distance.

The real art in home automation is how to design a system that is adaptible to change and expandible to new uses while not junking up a house with a lot of extra wire and boxes.

I think we both feel the same about that. We just differ on how to provide that and on how much to provide.

"If you want more fiber, eat the package.· Not enough?· Eat the manual."········

···················· Tropical regards,····· G. Herzog [·黃鶴 ]·in Taiwan

Post Edited (Kramer) : 9/23/2006 2:55:11 PM GMT