Chapter 1

1 Read Me

1.1 Who is this Book for?

This book shows how to take smart home automation to the next level. It is based on using state of the art Internet of Things (IoT) technologies such as tablets, smartphones, sensor equipped devices and the Internet in conjunction with the latest wireline and wireless building automation standards. Expecting no specific know-how upfront, it is suited for both the technology loving hobbyist as well as the professional consultant. Technologies and platforms which are used in the projects described in the book are:

  • Wi-Fi / WLAN
  • Telnet, HTTP, TCP/IP
  • Z-Wave, a smart home communication standard
  • ZigBee, a smart home communication standard
  • KNX, a smart home communication standard
  • Drools, an open source object oriented rule engine
  • OpenRemote, an open source Internet of Things software platform
  • Mac OS X / Linux / Windows

Parts of the projects integrate consumer electronics devices, such as audio equipment from Denon and Marantz. However, projects and instructions are designed so that that they can easily be adapted to other manufacturers. Be aware, however, that equipment which is more than four or five  years old probably will lack the required interfaces for smart home integration at the level which is being covered in this book, such as built in WLAN, Bluetooth, web server components, or “Wake-on-LAN” functionality.

After explaining the big picture and the key concepts of state of the art smart home automation, the book will walk you in a step-by-step manner through the implementation of several essential home automation and control projects. At the end of each project phase you should have a real, working solution on your desk, which can be further customized and expanded as desired. No programming skills are required as prerequisite. Scripts are explained line by line, configuration settings step by step. Of course, if you have never written a short automation script or configured a DSL router, at some point your learning curve will be steeper than that of others. However, everything you learn will be based on open standard technologies, which you will be able to utilize in many other IT related projects.

1.2 What You Will NOT Find 

This book is not about legacy technology based home automation such as routing infrared signals around the house and controlling light switches and power outlets using outdated technologies like X10. It is also not a cookbook for plug and play type of home automation solution, which various vendors and utilities are offering based on closed and proprietary solutions with limited functionality. While popular solutions like Apple HomeKit, Google Nest or Samsung SmartThing are being discussed, they are not the focus of this book. At this point their capabilities to integrate existing building infrastructure and to build a customized smart home solution are still very limited.

1.3 Take no Risks

Be careful when following the step-by-step instructions. No two PC systems, consumer electronic devices, or other electronic gear are alike. If something goes wrong, you might need to reinstall the operating systems on your PC and you could lose all your data. So set up a dedicated user for testing or experimentation or even better use a spare computer system, unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing. I cannot take any liability for any undesired outcome of the given instructions.

1.4 Formatting Rules 

For better readability, the following formatting rules are used throughout the book:

  •  

    Monospave
    Computer output, code, commands

  • LARGE CAPS
    Communication Protocols (DHCP, IP, etc.)
  • Italic – medium blue­­
    sequence of GUI commands separated by­­­ en dash (–)
  • Medium blue underlined
    Web address (URL)

For the projects in this book I have created the user account smarthome under OS X and Windows. The prompts in terminal window screenshots as well as in terminal print-outs read accordingly.