Re: Dorm automation

I just recently saw Ben's post  on Dorm Automation ideas and felt I should share something similar I've done. Last year, I lived in Barringer Hall, a horrible dorm lacking both air conditioning and a thermostat for the radiator. We had fans in the windows, but it became a huge pain for me to get out of bed to turn them on and off whenever I wanted to change the temperature. Using an Arduino, ethernet shield, WRT54G, and spare components, I set out to create an unnecessarily complex system for controlling my fan wirelessly and satisfying my laziness. As it turns out, this was extremely easy to do by hacking together a bunch of sample code, simple circuits, bash scripts.

I installed OpenWrt on my router, which is a custom firmware designed to add lots of enterprise features on consumer hardware; it runs the Linux kernel, but not the full GNU userspace due to a lack of flash memory. It was already running a HTTP server, so I was able to just write a simple HTML page that included frames of external pages on the Arduino. On the Ardunio, I modified an example web server and had it also interface with a LM34 temperature sensor to display its output value, which was fairly easy to do. Hardware was equally simple, as I only needed a NPN transistor to amplify the signal from a digital ouptut pin and operate a solid state relay which controlled a 120VAC extension cord. I ended up putting it in a large enclosure to discourage questions from curious fire marshalls. While the whole setup was one big kludge, it worked well and I was the envy of my fellow engineering hallmates.

Unfortunately, I don't think I saved my final code, so I can't share it. I had planned to replace this whole setup with a more robust python daemon, but soon moved to an apartment with a real thermostat and disassembled it. In the future, I plan on replacing this with either something python based on a laptop that controlls a parallel port or a Cerebot board I have left over from 2534. My eventual goal is to have something more complex than Zack Anderson's setup.