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hookin it up

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in the end, which i don't think i'll ever get to, i want my whole house to be hooked up to my computer, and ran by a program i designed. i've been out of the programming loop for about a year, so i've forgotten a couple things. i would really appreciate it if someone could help me out with this. an example of what i would like to do right now is make a very simple program to roll up my blinds or roll them down. i just wanna hook up a little motor to my computer, but i don't know how to hook it up, and i don't know exactly what i should be researching for programming

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Mmm, you're essentially talking about writing custom drivers for specific pieces of hardware, such as your motor device. By no means a simple or easy task. As a total guess, i suppose you would have to make the motor device yourself and connect it to your PC via a USB or some other port. You'd then have to write the device driver yourself, so that your OS knows how to interface with it correctly. You could then write an application that would send messages to the device, causing it to respond to the PC.

Again, this is ridiculously complicated, and I don't recommend that you try it without an excellent grasp of computer hardware and programming knowledge.

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electronics is my specialty. thanks a lot for trying to help. i know this is gonna be quite complicated but i've got a lot of time on my hands, i'd like to get started. i don't need to make a motor, those are the easiest thing to find. all i wanna do is for the computer to send a 1 or 0 to the motor, obviously on or off. is there any usb device that i might be able to fix up to my liking? but i'm not worried about the motor or the hardware yet. i can pretty much do that on my own. i just need help with the programming part. what type of programming will send out power or a signal or something to an output device. so i should start researching drivers?

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I may just be ignorant here, but couldn't you use a microcontroller?

They are used in robotics and there are USB ones avaliable: USB microcontroller

Specifically the USB Micro seems to be fairly nice and it looks like it has online programming support, plus it is only around $40.

You seem to have a lot more electronics knowledge then I do, but I just thought I would mention that you definately want to use this as a switch and not try and power the motor from the USB port ;) .

EDIT: The other option that "might" be easier (Remember that I have very limited electronics knowledge) would be : 5 Volt USB kit This is a kit that when combined with their "micro" usb port can provide 5 volts at 500 ma to your projects. I think 5 volts "should" be enough to drive a motor (assuming it is a 5 volt motor of course.. ).

I hope this helps :).

Good luck!

PS: I accept no responsibility for any information in this post and you use the information provided here AT YOUR OWN RISK. Playing with electronics (and thus electricty) is dangerous, and if you don't know what you are doing you could be seriously hurt or killed.

[Edited by - shadowisadog on June 24, 2007 2:19:03 AM]

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USB is good, but if you want your entire home to be hooked up to your computer you'll probably need to go wireless. And there's a fancy new technology called ZigBee that is basically designed for this kind of thing. I've never worked with it myself, but it's something to look into as it is meant to be pretty easy to work with. You could also consider Bluetooth, but I'm not sure how similar it is to ZigBee.

But yeah, look into microcontrollers with USB as well, you'll at least be able to work with a technology you use on a day to day basis. Just, in the long run, do you really want to deal with wires spread all over your house?

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Personally, I'd go with low level devices for the actual controlling, and a computer to controller the micro-controllers. ie, a bunch of PICs which handle the rolling up/down of the blinds, and send simple commands to these PICs.

This can be done through stuff like that ZigBee, wires, or whatever.

Toolmaker

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You know there are lots of bits of hardware that are already designed to turn your home into a smart home? Most major manufacturers of this stuff also give you access to an SDK (usually in C++) and all the tools you need to hook every bit of hardware up to a computer. Using this stuff you can do exaclty what it is you want to do, create a system that controls your whole home.

I wrote my thesis on this kind of thing (it was a smart home designed to aid the elderly and had an expert system running in the background to predict potentially dangerous situations). I found that using pre-made hardware (which is available on the net) with an SDK from one of the componaies that make the hardware, I could create a system controlled by a touch screen (to be mounted in the hall of a persons home) that would be smart enough to tell if the user had left a tap running, a cooker on, had fallen over etc. It would also be able to roll up blinds, turn on lights, switch on the telly and even turn appliances on.

I guess if you wanted to make the hardware yourself it might work out cheaper (I'm not too sure about this) but it would be easier and quicker if you had a look at existing smart homes and see which manufacturer the designer chose to go with then see if they have an SDK available to make the program. I looked into zigbee too and found that it wouldn't be too hard to intergrate my system with it to make everything wireless so if you decide to go wireless I'd recommend it.

Good luck! Sounds fun!

James

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i just want to say thanks soooooooooooooooo much. you guys actually helped me out a lot cause now i have some things to look into like i wanted, i just kinda wanted a project to work on sometime, so thanks soooo much again!!!

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They used to sell "X-10 Home Automation" kits in Radio Shack that communicated using power outlet networking. A friend of mine had a few of his lamps connected to his old Power Mac and controlled via voice control using the X-10 modules.

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