My main interest is in Home Automation (HA) which pretty well covers electronics, firmware, user interface, protocols, security (both for the home and the computer), monitoring, control and information processing. My other interests include the Linux OS, micro-controllers, electronics, bicycling, privacy issues, and computer security. I personally think we are still a few years away from a fully functional automated home but I think we'll see the start of it once the economic picture begins to clear up. I think we'll see more broadband access as it seems to be a key part of future econimc growth. There are many issues that need to be addressed such as security, redundancy, failure modes and user interface. This doesn't mean that HA won't creep into the daily devices we use. Intelligent controllers can easily be added to things such as stoves, refrigerators, coffee machines, and other electrical appliances (see my Embedded Linux Journal article for a humorous look at HA). Let me add to this list a Toilet (sorry it wasn't my idea but it's kind of funny). A properly integrated home will not interfere with the user and should require little intervention to work properly. Initial setup is a large problem that I haven't even begun to figure out. My tester and wife (CFO and better half) gives me plenty of feedback on what she thinks of the system (you don't want to know...). As of late she has asked me to provide further additions to my system. She's begun to trust lights to automation. Simply have them go on at sunset and off at a predetermined time. Having said all that I do believe that it will be a necessity in the future. Why? Because it will allow conservation of the homes resources. Though many of the devices we use today are getting better at conserving resources, HA will allow us to go further with little intervention on the part of the user. Besides it'll have a very high "cool factor" for us computer geeks :-).
My Current setup is a handful of X10 devices, controllers (which have doubled), a Creative Infra Receiver and LIRC, a WM918 weather station, an ADI Ocelot (upgraded CPU-XA which I mainly use for IR control and some X10), a HCS II (formerly from Circuit Cellar) with PL-LINK and BUFIO board. Actually my HCS II collection has grown to include 2 BCC180's (IND180's) and a SpectraSense 2000 (Thanks Charlie :-). I'm also running the Open Source HCS project. I have a bunch of parts for building a few IO boards to add to the RS485 interface of the HCS II board and I'll probably spend some time working on at least one. I just got my hands on a couple of 89C51 dev boards (one will become a sprinkler controller), a couple of Atmel dev boards, a couple of 16F87x boards and the In Circuit Debugger. A very nice addition for creating nodes (and anything that needs a controller). My current system is moving off the 3 systems (486DX/100, PII/300 & K6/500) to a single system (K6/500). I've finally managed to get somewhat caught up to start moving everything over. I now have Misterhouse (MH 2.73 about to go to 2.81), DHCPD, NTP, TinyDNS (powered by djbdns, yes I have enough devices to warrant my own DSN :-), SSHD, Apache, Jabberd, and a few other things. I have a few terminal servers which I hope to take advantage of so I won't run out of serial ports. Previous systems have had a 486/33 (w/no cache memory) and a 386sx/16 (my pride and joy which I've been able to resurrect but not put into use right now :-). I mainly use MisteHouse but still have Dan Lanciani's X10d (with my mod's so it will compile correctly under Linux) and Karl Denninger's HomeDaemon software for event control and status. More and more of my HA is being moved over to MH. Anything I can do in Perl can usually be added to MH as a new feature (such as my linkcheck and Directory Index programs. I also have a few other programs, some which run as shell scripts to be used with cron and at. I'm halfway through the HCS II MH driver which will allow me access to digital and analog I/O as well as communicate with the comm-link boards. In addition I've added 2 3Com Audrey's to act as touch screen controllers. I've found that they can be very tempermental and I now hope that I've got a stable image to use.
My newest additions to my collection are a Series 2 Tivo which my wife puts to heavy use but I get to use also and a Series 1 Tivo which is running TivoWeb 1.9.4. Both Tivo's are using an ethernet connection. The Series 1 is for screwing around while the Series 2 is for normal TV watching. Though it may shortly get a hard drive upgrade as the stock 30M drive isn't up to the task of shuffling the shows to times when we can watch TV. The subscription is well worth the ~$13(US)/month. I may even get a lifetime subscription.
I've also started working with Asterisk (PC PBX & VoIP) and Floppy Firewall (FFW) which will replace my Netgear & Linksys routers. I'm working on a howto to build the whole thing from scratch. I've also picked up a Linksys WRT54G (should have gotten the WRT54GS!). I prefer it to the Linksys solution but the features I need are in Sveasoft's Satori & Alchemi releases. Both are Beta and do become unstable under certain instances. So for now I'm sticking with FFW
So far I've spent most of my time finding ready made software and modifying it when needed. I've also found tools which I use with the afore mentioned software to permit me to write shell scripts under Linux. I find that I can quickly write software with shell scripts and get a job done quick and dirty. Add a couple of computers/controllers, daemon software and .... I go into further details of how things work and my design ideas at this link (it's a bit messy and cluttered right now) x10d.html.
Linux Home Automation