Developing a modular home automation test environment

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Szabó Zoltán
Department of Automation and Applied Informatics

Home automation is still living its early days not only in Hungary but throughout the whole world, despite the fact that the technology needed is already available. Although the presently built high standard office and public buildings are often automated, control systems in homes are still stuck on the level of thermostats and air-conditioning devices. Regardless of the financial obstacles, the main reason for this is the lack of a unified automation system that controls electronic devices in order to achieve higher level of comfort or safety and security. Although there are devices on the market which can attain some features of the above, however they are only compatible with devices of the manufacturers’ own, thus making unified control impossible.

I focus on analyzing the possibilities and utilities of the theoretical solutions with the help of a completely self-designed and self-built home automation development environment. The system comprises a central unit and several peripheral units that serve measurement and control purposes.

My work consisted of the throughout design and development of the units, as well as the implementation of the system software. Beside of providing monitoring possibilities to the user, the spectacular LCD screen, as well as USB, Bluetooth and the TCP server running on the central unit are all responsible for making the system easily controllable. A universal port was designed on the panel in order to make attaching diverse interfaces possible. Besides the well-known and frequently-used interfaces like RS-485, I also found it important to test new options that are specifically designed for building automation purposes, such as the KNX system. The hardware is directly powered from 230V, thus I paid attention throughout the design to develop proper protection against electric shock.

The peripheral units can be equipped with two of the followings: gas/CO/CO2/alcohol sensors. For the comfort of the user, a single chip is responsible which consists of a temperature and a humidity sensor. Two relays can be used for controlling attached devices. The communication between the peripheral units and the central unit is established with the 2.4GHz radio and the custom-designed universal port.

My research lines up the advantages and disadvantages of the communication interfaces applicable in the field of home automation. I investigate the modularity and the scalability of the system, and I also assign the possibilities of implementing the theoretical solutions.


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