No more painful toes

This evening I wrote a sketch to protect my toes better. The sketch switches the LED strip on and off based on motion detection by 2 PIRs. It works 😉

The blue LED on the Protoshield indicates when there is motion detected by the PIR. The motion detection turns the LED strip on and it will stay on until a period of 15 seconds with no motion has passed – only then, the LED strip is turned off again.

The sketch takes care of the “soft on/off” feature, by gently raising or lowering the brightness during a configurable time-span.

All that’s left to do is cleaning up the code, solder some wires, wait for the enclosure to arrive and give the LED strip, PIRs and Arduino enclosure a place under the bed.

Simple, yet very convenient automation 🙂

Bedroom floor lighting

Last week I had some trouble getting out of bed during the night without hurting myself. So this evening I decided to do something about that; I need something that can light the floor while someone is walking through the bedroom at night. So I made a list of things with which I could make something useful for that:

  • An Arduino Duemilanove;
  • a Protoshield;
  • 2 PIR motion sensors;
  • a LDR;
  • a  IRLZ34N MOSFET to drive the LED strip;
  • a 12V power adapter;
  • about 2 m. of white LED strip;
  • 2 LEDs (one for power and the other for motion detection);
  • an Arduino enclosure.


Automatic Bed light for the night

There it is… our automatic bedroom floor lighting is being tested at this moment. The 2 PIR motion sensors will be mounted under the bed in a way that they will only be able to detect motion caused by moving legs, the LDR will be used to detect whether it’s dark in the bedroom or not and the white LED strips will be glued to the bottom side of the bed and will light the floor when motion is detected.

The fun thing is that this floor lighting is almost completely built from spare parts (except the enclosure). The 2 PIR motion sensors were the first motion sensors I ever bought, but the lenses were too big for my taste to actually use them. Under the bed the size of those lenses doesn’t matter. The Duemilanove is one of the many Duemilanoves I have laying around for testing/experimenting, so I can easily do with one less – I could also have picked an RBBB, Teensy or JeeNode. The number of unused protoshields made me decide for an Arduino. And all the other parts were all purchased in the past with the thought they’d be handy to have around for when you suddenly need them 😉

No RF, Zigbee or Ethernet this time – this will be a solution that doesn’t need any other external input, nor do I think I’ll use the fact that someone’s walking through the bedroom in the rest of my system. Nevertheless, I’ll reserve some space on the Protoshield for a XBee Breakout board cause this would actually be a very good place for a Zigbee router on the 2nd floor!

The sketch will be a collection of code  from other sketches I’m already using, so I hope that at the end of this week I can finish this and never hurt my toes again 😉

Nemef Radaris Evolution and Homeseer

Last summer I became the proud owner of a Nemef Radaris Evolution electronic door lock. It’s in use for 6 months now and has been unlocked almost 1800 times. In that period of 6 months, the Nemef Radaris Evolution has proven itself as a really solid and reliable piece of equipment. I’ve never seen nor heard of a better solution (no, I don’t work there). If I would have written a full scale review about the Radaris Evolution, the conclusion would have been  “Highly Recommended” – but since I don’t do reviews, you’ll have to do with just the conclusion 😉

Combine the Nemef Radaris Evolution furniture with a Nemef RF Module and you’ve got all the the ingredients to fully integrate the Nemef Radaris Evolution door lock(s) into your Domotica system. However, that’s where things get harder – as far as I know, there’s no (consumer) software available for the connection between the Nemef Radaris Evolution and Home Automation systems. No Plugin, module, app or anything like that to monitor and/or control the Nemef Radaris. Only 3 guys (I know of) have implemented this in their own homebrew system; Pieter Knuvers is one of them.

But this can change very rapidly; I’m working on a Homeseer Plugin for the Nemef Radaris Evolution.

Homeseer Plugin screenshot



With this Plugin (and a Nemef RF Module (dutch link)) it will be possible to monitor and control up to 4 Nemef Radaris Evolution (dutch link) door furnitures. Opening the door, badge management (yep, you can stow away your programming card), viewing historical data (what badge was used where and when), it’s all in the Plugin. Want to give a badge access only during a certain time period on a certain day? The Nemef Radaris Evolution Plugin and a small script can accomplish just that.

The basis of the Plugin is almost finished now; I already tested the basic functionality by feeding my own historical data to the Plugin and this looks just fine.

Now it’s time to provide the necessary event triggers to Homeseer, so that the Nemef Radaris Evolution door furnitures can really become a part of that bigger picture, called Home Automation. 😉


Back in business

One thing I really hate is when hardware is not working.

Blue screens

Last November and December will be remembered as the “Blue” months, because of the amount of Blue Screens (BSOD) I got. And the problem (with me) is that I just can’t work on anything else, knowing that some piece of hardware can suddenly break down (again). These things consume all my time and energy until it’s fixed.. but I think I’ve got it fixed now!

This time my rather new Hyper-V server was suffering from BSOD’s. It started in November and it got even worse in December; I even had to show the rest of the family what button had to be presssed to get this server on his feet again for when I was not at home.. big fail! Life did still go on of course, but when your complete Domotica system and Internet connection stops working, you realize how much you’re used to  all the “good stuff” it brings and how fast you think you can’t live without it anymore.

This time it was one of the SDRAM modules inside the server that was causing these BSODs. But since I didn’t want to just start replacing hardware components randomly, I had to be sure what exactly was causing these blue screens. So I waited until I had enough BSOD occurrences to justify buying a new set of 4 x 4GB RAM modules. So on December 24th of 2011 I replaced the RAM and the problem disappeared – I’m back in business!

I know I’ll never be able change the fact that my productivity drops below zero when I’m facing these kind of problems. On the other hand, a few years ago I would have thrown this malfunctioning server out the door and start building a new one immediately – but now I take my time, observe where the errors come from and solve the problems in a more relativistic way. OK, I will miss some power consumption “blips”; I have to turn on the lights manually, etcetera – but after all, it’s just a hobby 😉

There is one nice side effect of all this, and that’s that while I was going through all the scenarios to solve the issue, I found a list of components with which I can build a new sub-20W server with even more processing power than I have now. That’s a reduction of 33% in power consumption… sounds tempting!