Development of a Smart Home Central Unit with Power Line Communication

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Dr. Sütő Zoltán
Department of Automation and Applied Informatics

During this semester I have been studying the smart-home concept and different solutions within. In particular power line communications. This technology is not as widespread as wireless technologies, however due to this it might hide yet unrevealed potential. Smart-homes are going to spread in the not so distant future and this assumption makes it a topic worth dealing with. The best way to learn something is through practice. This is why I decided to try almost everything that I have written about. At the beginning of the semester I decided to plan a device that would connect the yet separated fields of power line communication and Internet of Things. My job was to design a smart-home hub that can be accessed by a web interface and is capable of controlling different devices that use power line communication. Such devices would consist of 3 main elements. A power supply, a modem and a host controller. First I started off with the hardware parts. I studied different kinds of power supplies to a level that I was able to put my knowledge to use and come up with a schematic that included different solutions from different schematics to achieve the best results possible. When I decided to not only plan a power supply to myself but build one as well I came upon a lot of difficulties. After long hours of research and measurements I was able to identify the problem, come up with a solution and make the device work. Later on I found that the problems and errors had all contributed to my knowledge on the field through experience. I continued my project with designing a housing for the components. To do so I put the experience that I gained during my traineeship to a good use. I decided to design a housing that is simple, yet provides versatility. The final housing could be mounted on the wall, or could be mounted on industrial mounting rails. Inside the housing the components could be exchanged without having to replace other components. Regarding the modem I have put in a lot of effort to get familiar with the available power line modems and their interfaces. However the circuitry and troubleshooting of the modem was not in the scope of my final project. Then I continued with the software side of the device. To be able to access the communication ports of the chosen controller I had to solve unforeseen difficulties. After dealing with these I was able to begin to work with a flow based Internet of Things programming tool. This tool was heavily abstracted from the code itself. This was to my advantage when I had to create the web based interface and was to my disadvantage when I tried to interface the modem. I was able to find a solution that was half way in between. Then I summarized the weaknesses of the system and decided to address them in the future.


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