Anth's Computer Cave

AAIMI Home Automation 0.5 BETA coming soon (UPDATED).

21st January, 2016

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

The first BETA version on the AAIMI Home platform landed on my main test system a few weeks ago. It seems to be functioning perfecftly, and if all goes well it will be ready for download in a few weeks.

This is a massive jump from version 0.4. There is now a web-interface providing full-control options from any smart phone, tablet or computer in your home.

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

There is also a new bridging system that can join multiple systems together, even if the other systems are on the other side of the world.

About AAIMI Home

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

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

In this article I'll cover the new features. If you are new to AAIMI Home Automation, click the button above to read all about the existing features.

What's new?

Browser-based interface

The new browser-based interface works really well. This is currently for local system control over your local area network(LAN), but it can also work remotely over the Internet with some extra configuration. At the moment I am using the web-interface at home, and the existing email-based remote-control methods when I am out.

There are just the basic controls on the interface now, but with the framework finished, building new controls is as easy as building new buttons.

It currently has an on-and-off button for each light which expands to show an auto button for returning to auto-mode. There is a light mode button that expands to allow you to adjust light-switching levels to bright, dim or normal.

The main AAIMI Home control-center with system details in the left column. Picture: Anthony Hartup
The main AAIMI Home control-center with alerts displayed in the left column.

The temperature, light-level, smoke and gas readings are displayed, along with the occupancy status for each room. Once again, the hard work is done, and adding new information to the display is easy.

The main AAIMI Home control-center. Picture: Anthony Hartup
The main AAIMI Home control-center with schedule details in the left column.

The two rows of buttons at the top control what is displayed in the left-hand column. You can choose system information, people details, alerts, or use the column to display more rooms. You can also set schedules for AAIMI, or switch between themes.

The main AAIMI Home control-center. Picture: Anthony Hartup
The main AAIMI Home control-center with available themes shown in the left column.

I am using this with a tablet on the kitchen bench, which provides easy control over the three main rooms. The display is self-refreshing, so you can always see the current room details at a glance.

It also works well on a smart phone. Connecting is easy, just open your web browser and type the address for AAIMI's web page.

I've created a few themes to choose from and there will be more by release time. This water theme I have created using background images from one of my other sites, fisharein.com. Each theme contains a set of images that form a background slide-show.

You can add your own images to create your own themes.

What I really like about this GUI is that it is built with HTML and CSS, meaning changing the layout is as simple as creating a new web-page, and you can have as many pages as you like. The current layout scales well for both PC and mobile, but we are making specialty layouts as well.

For example, a concept we are planning at the moment involves mounting old smart phones over the major light switches as a replacement. These digital light switches would not need the full GUI layout, just controls to switch lights and appliances in that area. For these devices we will build a simpler, big-button layout. We are also building a dedicated layout for large-screen TVs.

Swapping between these layouts is as simple as changing the URL in your web-browser.

System bridging

You can now bridge and control multiple AAIMI systems together. One reason to bridge multiple systems is to cover hard-to-cable areas in your home, but you can also bridge remote systems. You could, for example, bridge an AAIMI system at your office or factory with your AAIMI system at home, and they will work seemlessly together. You can monitor and control both systems from within one interface.

You can bridge full AAIMI systems together,but we have also created a cut-down version of the AAIMI Room Control program for secondary systems. Called AAIMI Sub Base, this program controls all the same sensors and equipment but it stores no data. Instead it sends readings to the primary AAIMI system, which in turn stores and organizes the data.

In the images above, the Dining room is a completely separate system running AAIMI Sub Base, but it behaves exactly like a physically-connect satellite. In this case it is on the same LAN, but it could be anywhere.

AAIMI Sub Base is a handy spin-off from the main program, because it can actually act as a stand-alone system for people that don't wish to collect and use long-term data.

It has it's own web-interface you can enable to control devices independantly, yet it is much smaller, and easier to configure than the full system.

Third-party IoT devices

I intend to eventually have AAIMI working with all the readily available third-party devices like wifi light globes, locks and actuators. The new web-functionallity is a step in that direction, because it uses methods that may also work with these other devices.

This same web-functionality should also aid integration with web services like Google, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Configuration

AAIMI Home Automation is now a more powerfull program, but this also means setup and configuration is more complex. The Python programs use similar configurations to the last version, but you now need to install, and configure an Apache web-server. I hope to have sufficient support documentation by release day.

Eventually I plan to create a custom Raspian image for the Raspberry Pi, with all programs installed and set up. Then users will merely need to customize their rooms and emails, etc.

Cheers

Anth


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