Home Automation

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obviously a critical feature in any decent shed is the ability to turn on and off the lights from the comfort of your armchair (inside the house).

enter…

lightwaverf

launched by a British firm (JSTS) in 2011 they produce a range of remote controlled devices (including switches and sockets) that can be controlled with a supplied remote control or (with the addition of an wifi device attached to your network) a mobile phone.

When I can get hold of one I’ll get a plain white remote control disguised as a standard 2gang dimmer socket – this is battery powered and can be stuck in the house somewhere convenient – but for now I have a standard handheld remote.

The remotes have a theoretical range of 20m range outside which, if true, is plenty. Apparently the wifi device to allow the switches to work via a mobile app can be replaced by a raspberrypi – this would need some shenanigans with one of these:

http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/New-Products/New-RFXCOM-USB-RFXtrx433-Transceiver-Supports-LightwaveRF.html

.. which is actually 10 quid more than the jsts link device, but would obviously be more fun to get working.

I checked with the folk at ecoled and they confirmed that the dimmers are good quality and work with the zep2 lights – the only restriction appears to be that you need a minimum of 15 watts load on the circuit to avoid flickering.

get one while you can

The consensus is that the Lightwaverf is good quality and very good value for money compared to the competition, but they appear to have been beset by production issues. They initially licensed the technology to Siemens who rebranded it and sold it via B&Q (UK diy chain) but this seems to have fizzled out. Their latest venture involves a partnership with Megaman who will handle distribution for them. This means that the old stock is being wound down and the date for a refresh is to be determined – I managed to get one of the last two dimmers from Maplins in Hemel.

miscellanea

amongst the many interesting discoveries while looking into home automation was discovering the venerable x10 standard (est. 1975):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X10_%28industry_standard%29

… this was invented by Pico Engineering – a tiny firm run by 4 blokes in a shed in Scotland.

The even more interesting discovery was that the integrated microprocessor was not invented by intel as I thought, but by the aforementioned 4 blokes at Pico.

Here is the patent and a bit of historical info:

http://www.google.co.uk/patents/US4001566
http://www.spingal.plus.com/micro/

hooray for Great Britain – 2 gang dimmer switch plus cheapo remote control. And we invented the computer chip!

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