Self build home automation system


Hi guys,
I am looking to start building my own home automation system. This will include all the standard stuff such as temperature and light control but with a few extras such as oil level, windows door states (open/closed) etc. Full list at bottom.
What I’m looking to do is bring lots of stuff into the workspace and have people build and test systems that I could later install into my house. I was looking to do this over 2 days on a weekend sometime between the 13th Dec and the 5th Jan. I would like to get lots of ideas down on paper before the event so I have time to buy the stuff. I’m looking for designers, programmers and anyone wanting to get invlolved with coding, electronics and mechanical things.
I was going to keep this project for myself but thought it would be great for farset to get in on and I could do with a little technical know how. All equipment will obviously be provided by myself which I will buy prior but I will also be able to pop out at any time to get more things that are needed during the event period.
Please let me know your thoughts and any problems you guys might think of.

Ideas so far

  1. Lights turn on when you walk into a room and off when out.
  2. Turn the heating on when away from the house and also temp control from phone/tablet.
  3. Touch screen panels around the house to control features from.
  4. Oil level and warning system when low.
  5. Water butt level.
  6. Remote door access over internet with camera at front door to see who is there.
  7. Window and external door sensors so when you leave the house a panel at the front door will tell you if any are open.
  8. Notification via text if a door or window has been opened whilst away.


These all seem like good ideas. However, I didn’t catch from your post what your background is. Are you a coder? Do you work with electronics or something similar yourself?

Personally I think this would be a great project to run in Farset. You know, build these automated systems for the lab itself. I’d suggest gathering a group of interested hackers before the next hackathon.


My background is construction but I have dabbled a little in electronics and programming. I was thinking about building this around a Raspberry Pi but I would be more than willing to change this if anyone thinks of a better way of doing this.
I would like people to post links of things they think would be appropriate for this project.
Would the space be available to work on this for the 28th and 29th?
The main thing I have been unable to find is something to measure the oil level accurately. I’m looking for some kind of strip that would run down the inside of the tank that would relay to the system.
The budget for the whole project for the time being is around £500 with the possibility to expand in the future.


I was thinking something like this for the front door


Power relays for lights/sockets

For the lights I would like them to turn on at a certain time of my choosing with the option to get brighter and brighter. I will need lots of help with programming this system as my skills are limited but I have lots of ideas.


Found what I’m looking for for the oil level but I don’t think it is long enough is there anyone with the know if you could hook two of these up together to double its detectability?


It might actually be worth contacting milontech directly to see if they have longer single sections of the tape available. I was reading the about e-tape section of their website to see how it actually works, and they say there that they can also do custom lengths on request.


Also, are you aware of this: Although door unlocking from phone wasn’t something you specifically mentioned, this sounds like it’s in the same vein as what you’re looking for, and it would be very easy to install if you had a deadbolt, it’s basically just another app to add to the phone/tablets that you want to use to control everything.


Yes I read Milonetechs website and saw that about making it to any length but I can’t imagine that would be cheap. I also saw the Lockitron deadlocks on the Doorbot website which I was planning on getting too.

Like I stated previously (I think!) that I will be running this system on a raspberry pi, does any one know if I would be able to run the whole system on one pi or would I need multiple?

I have now decided that I will be in the lab on the 27th and 28th so if anyone wants to help, tinker, play or learn then come along.

P.S. I could really do with some help from a programmer. Please let me know if there is anyone interest by leaving a message on this page, otherwise I can just do this in my house.


I think I have found something that will solve my oil tank problem.

This is a ultrasonic range finder. It will detect from 30cm to 500cm. I was thinking about this going just inside the opening of the tank where it can then measure the distance from itself to the level of the oil. Seeing as I don’t think my oil has ever been within 30cm of the opening I don’t think the deadzone will be a problem for myself.


@ricciparker, you relatively belfast based? I thin kI have someone you should probably talk to, as I think you could help eachother out. Gimme an email on and I’ll sort it.


No unfortunately I’m in Omagh but I am now off work for 3 weeks so can come down any time.


Personally I would use a beaglebone black instead of a raspberry pi.

take a look at

turn lights on when you enter a room (uses an Arduino)

everything else
I’d setup a web interface (it will need to be secure) and control/monitor everything thru it.

For the door access have a look at software called “motion” for linux
( )

for the liquid level indicators something like this might be hackable

for the door/window sensors - Magnetic Reed Switch Alarm Sensor (couple of quid each on ebay for wired ones)

hope this helps,


Did your ultrasonic plan for the oil tank work? I’d love to have a better view on how much oil is left and had wondered about a cheap arduino and ultrasonic sensor feeding back into my 1-wire network (eventually wireless, but haven’t touched that in some time)


Hi ricciparker,
I’ve just joined the group as Google trew up your posts after a serarch for a smart oil tank level meter. Have you looked into the possibilities of using an ultrasonic level guage? This would mount on top of your tank and detect the surface distance from the sensor to give you a fairly accurate level. This would of course need calibrating to make it accurate. I work away in Germany quite alot and would like to keep an eye on the level of oil in my tank especially in winter.
I am also considering re-wiring the house lighting circuit to incorporate a Lutron lighting controler or something similar. This would give control of any light in the house through one portal controled via ethernet commands from the pi or maybe an arduino.
Also, I’m considering my own version of the Hive system to cotrol the heating but not looked into that much yet.
All the best


Sorry didn’t read all the posts so ignore the comment about the ultrasonic sensor!!!