Anth's Computer Cave

AAIMI Home Automation 0.3 is available now

2nd November, 2015

This article covers an older version of AAIMI. Click here to see the current article series.

The latest version on the AAIMI Home system features email alerts and a redesigned GUI with custom graphical data widgets.

The main AAIMI Home control-center. Picture: Anthony Hartup
The main AAIMI Home control-center.

About AAIMI Home Automation

AAIMI Home Automation 0.3 is the latest version of a package of free and open-source tools that monitor and control your home or business

This system won't lock you in to a proprietary company or web-service. We plan to offer a variety of ways to use AAIMI, including some of the third-party tools you may already use now.

The system runs on a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino micro-controller, utilizing a variety of sensors and relays to control lights, heating and air-quality. Once again, you are not limited to expensive equipment from one manufacturer. AAIMI can work with all analog and digital sensors. You can even build your own components, that is what we have done.

It is designed to connect to your TV, giving you live status reports and control options from the comfort of your Lounge.

How it works

The core of the system is the final alpha version of AAIMI Room Control, build 0.45. This is an AAIMI Python module that runs on the Raspberry Pi 24/7 in a continuous loop, checking all rooms for movement, light and temperature, and reacting accordingly. Air-quality sensors like gas and smoke-detectors also work within the loop.

The program saves all movement, light and temperature data to a save-file that is available to the other programs in the suite. It also maintains a database holding current statistics that other programs can use for live monitoring and interaction.

The other major module in the suite is AAIMI Home, which provides a GUI-based control-center on your TV or computer.

What's new?

Widgets

The most noticable change is in the GUI module and allows you to customize the graphical data widgets.

The new data widgets for AAIMI Home Automation. Picture: Anthony Hartup

In previous versions these widgets were limited to default rooms and days, but you can now change them on the fly. Just click the circle in the top-left corner of the widgets and choose your desired combination.

For instance you can allocate a widget for temperature in a given room and compare today's temp so far, with the temperature yesterday, or last week, etc.

There are now four of these widgets in the default layout of the GUI.

Email alerts

AAIMI can now send you email alerts if it detects issues in your home.

If the air readings rise above a pre-determined level you will receive an email from AAIMI containing details of the event. It currently sends the effected room, the air reading, and a list of any occupied rooms in the house.

In this version it is limited to smoke or gas detection. In future versions it will cover other scenarios such as intruder alerts and spill-sensors. There will also be more options for the type of data you can receive with your email.

New relay capabilities

As well as switching relays from the Raspberry Pi, the AAIMI system can now switch Arduino-operated relays.

This is useful if you want to use 5V logic-level relay-drivers, which won't work from the Raspberry Pi 3.3V GPIO pins without an extra transistor circuit.

If you are using 5V relay modules from ebay the Arduino can even run a couple of them without a relay-driver.

Under the hood

As well as the new widgets, we have made major code changes in the GUI module, aaimi_home_automation.py.

The end user won't notice any of these changes, but anyone who wants to modify or customize the program will find the code a lot more readable.

What's missing

There are a few features running on our live system that aren't in this release.

The most notable omission are the wireless satellites. These have the same sensor and relay arrays as the cabled satellites, but they need no physical connection to the base station. We have some good prototype hardware running, but we are still tweaking the code to fit within the main AAIMI program.

The full occupancy awareness system, which tells the program who is home at any given time, is not included yet. This system uses a phone app and a server-monitoring program, both of which are still under construction.

Another missing feature is security video footage. I have this working to an extent but it is not ready. The next release will at least have the ability to automatically capture and store pictures of intruders, among other things.

Cheers

Anth



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