X10 - smart home on a budget
'Home automation made easy'
by Adrian Biffen
AeroHOST Web Systems
Bulletin: RollerTrol™ Automation Systems is Launched!
X10 home automation was the original topic of this website, and we've had great success helping people create a 'smart home' for themselves by writing about our own house. You may not have a home quite like Bill Gates, but the somewhat smaller budget (starting at about $50) still provides plenty of automation control for the average home owner. Even if you don't have several billion dollars to spend, you too can have many of the features that Bill enjoys, at a price that won't be approaching half the annual NASA budget.
We soon found, however, that there was great interest in other aspects of modern life at home, and our additional articles about topics such as setting up VoIP internet phones. So, we're re-inventing ourselves a little bit, and broadening our scope to better serve you.
See our feature section on the new technological tour-de-force: Xbox 360 from Microsoft. This product not only provides superb gaming capabilities, it can also upscale DVD playback for your home theater system. Watch for other new articles on this unit and other competing products such as the Sony PlayStation 3, and our extended coverage of home theater products.
Our home has been fully 'smartened' and you'll see many examples on this website. For around a hundred bucks (per typical home), you can easily implement a basic system that will do things such as trigger lights by motion detection, turn your coffee pot on in the morning, and control your gas fireplace. You can easily add other functions as your budget permits, including the ability to run your outside (or inside) irrigation, regulate your heating system, detect intruders with wireless video camera surveillance, extend your TV with the x10 wireless video sender, and run your Jacuzzi tub.
The X10 protocol is essentially a digital control signal sent over the electrical wiring in your house. Thus, it is easy and inexpensive to implement a basic 'smart home' because you do not have to run any wires.
In its simplest form, a lamp is plugged into an addressable switch module, the module is plugged into a wall socket, and the lamp is turned on and off (and dimmed) by a controller plugged into a wall power receptacle somewhere else in the house.That was about ALL you could do decades ago when X10 first appeared on the market ... so, what's changed? The big news is that you can now have a 'standalone' mini-computer that, combined with wireless motion detectors, greatly enhances the level of automation you can accomplish, with user-friendly, 'point and click' control routines designed on a regular Windows™ PC.
With the Activehome Pro kit two-way computer interface from X10 you can control appliances and also create X10 macros. With macros, a single X10 command can be used to trigger a sequence of X10 commands. On-screen representations of switches allow you control X10 devices directly from your computer by clicking on them. Programmed events and macros can be downloaded to the memory on the Activehome Pro unit for stand-alone operation (with the PC turned off). (for complementary home automation products such as lighting control and motorized blinds and shades, see our home automation DIY kit article)
This website is dedicated to helping you get the most out of your home automation system, without spending a small fortune, utilizing your high speed internet services to get the most out of your home automation system. So get ready to pick up your new remote, kick back in front of the fireplace while your new smart home starts working for you!
If you're a home theater fan, don't miss our home theater articles about projectors, industry announcements and remote control issues. If you're thinking about changing your cellphone, don't miss our Nokia GSM smart phone series.
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