Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation [NOOK Book]


Get the home of tomorrow, today! Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation will help you turn your ordinary home into a high-tech haven. Want to schedule your lights to turn on while you're on vacation? Stuck late at work and want to start the roast you put in the crock pot this morning? You can make it all happen with the help of existing 110V electrical wiring in your home and this step-by-step tutorial. Through simple, do-it-yourself instructions, you will walk through the process of outfitting every room ...

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Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation

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Get the home of tomorrow, today! Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation will help you turn your ordinary home into a high-tech haven. Want to schedule your lights to turn on while you're on vacation? Stuck late at work and want to start the roast you put in the crock pot this morning? You can make it all happen with the help of existing 110V electrical wiring in your home and this step-by-step tutorial. Through simple, do-it-yourself instructions, you will walk through the process of outfitting every room in your home with a network connection that you can control with a few clicks on your computer keyboard. Complete with illustrations and photographs, Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation will have you riding the wave of the future in no time.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780132796958
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 6/22/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • File size: 11 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Automation About the Author

Mark Edward Soper is president of Select Systems and Associates, Inc., a technical writing and training organization.

Mark is a 22-year veteran of the technology industry. His previous experience in photography, creative writing, and journalism has helped him make high technology useful to everyone.

Mark has taught computer troubleshooting and other technical subjects to thousands of students from Maine to Hawaii since 1992. He is an A+ Certified hardware technician and a Microsoft Certified Professional. Mark's previous books on home technology subjects for Que include The Complete Idiot's Guide to High-Speed Internet Connections, Absolute Beginner's Guide to Cable Internet Connections, Easy Digital Cameras, and Absolute Beginner's Guide to Home Networking. Mark is also the author of TechTV's Upgrading Your PC, Second Edition, published by another Pearson Technology imprint, Peachpit Press.

Mark coauthored both the first and second editions of Upgrading and Repairing PCs, Technician's Portable Reference, Upgrading and Repairing PCs Field Guide (which has been translated into several languages) and Upgrading and Repairing PCs: A+ Study Certification Guide, Second Edition with Scott Mueller, one of the world's leading PC hardware experts. Mark also co-authored the original edition of TechTV's Upgrading Your PC with Patrick Norton. Mark has been writing technical documents since the mid-1980s and has contributed to many other Que books, including Upgrading and Repairing PCs (starting with the 11th edition through the current 16th edition); Upgrading and Repairing Laptops; Upgrading and Repairing Networks, Second Edition; Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition; Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition (all editions); Special Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition (all editions); Platinum Edition Using Microsoft Windows XP. Mark has also contributed to MaximumPC Ultimate PC Performance Guide and MaximumPC Guide to Building a Dream PC.

Mark has been writing for major computer magazines since 1990, with more than 140 articles in publications such as SmartComputing, PCNovice, PCNovice Guides, the PCNovice Learning Series, and MaximumPC. His early work was published in WordPerfect Magazine, The WordPerfectionist, and PCToday. Many of Mark's articles are available in back issues or electronically via the World Wide Web at smartcomputing.com. Mark welcomes comments at mesoper@selectsystems.com.

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Read an Excerpt

IntroductionIntroductionSmart Homes for Everyone

Ever since I was a kid growing up in the 1960s watching TV shows like Hanna-Barbera's The Jetsons and reading stories such as Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," the idea of a "smart house" has fascinated me. In some ways, the smart house of the future is already here for many of us:

  • TV screens are getting larger and larger.

  • Home theater systems combine digital surround sound and better-than-broadcast video.

  • Internet access enables us to work from home remotely.

However, in other ways, today's homes are often stuck in the past. In my youth I saw older homes with rotary light switches, relics of a retrofit from gaslight to electricity. Today's homes use toggle or decorator paddle switches, but you still have to walk across the room to turn off a lamp or an overhead light fixture.

Now, just as then, if you're not around to turn off the lights when your kids leave the room, the lights stay on, ripping a hole in the family utility budget. If you forget to turn down the thermostat when you head out for the day or go on vacation, you'll make your utility company very happy. If you're away from home and you don't have somebody keeping an eye on things for you, your vacation or business trip might be frittered away with worry about what might be happening while you're away.

If you're building a brand-new luxury home, many home builders can build-in "smart house" features that provide remote control of lights and appliances, remote control of heating and cooling, and security. But you don'tneed to be a millionaire to make your home a smart home.

Whether you want to reduce the drudgery of turning off the lights at bedtime, make your home look lived in when you're away, provide extra security for your home and family, or use your home PC as the PC that runs your home, this book is for you. This book shows you how to turn the dream of home automation into a practical reality at minimal cost. From controlling your lights with a wireless remote to equipping your home to call you when there's a problem, this book provides practical advice on buying, installing, and using the most popular home automation standard on the market today, X10. We chose to focus on X10 because of its popularity, low cost, and versatility. However, if you are using another home automation standard such as Z-Wave, UPB, or others, the home automation software programs discussed in Chapters 11 and 12 can be used to create a home automation solution that combines X10, X10-compatible, and non-X10 home automation products.

I have spent many hours in my own home experimenting with many of the products described in this book and countless time researching other products. My goal in writing this book is to make sure that you have a fast track to transforming your home into the smart home you want...today.

Although X10-compatible products have been on the market since 1978, the continued development of new features, new types of home automation products, and the ability to interconnect X10 with other types of whole-house or do-it-yourself home automation standards through computer control make X10 an evergreen technology.

As you'll learn in the following pages, the X10 standard offers a huge universe of home automation possibilities. But the X10 standard often hides behind various brand names. This book shows you how to choose the right home automation products from leading vendors to accomplish practical tasks. If you're looking for Rube Goldberg contraptions, this is not the book for you. But if you're looking for practical advice about how to make your home smarter, friendlier, more economical to run, and even more secure, keep reading!How This Book Is Organized

This book contains 12 chapters and two appendices. You don't need to read it cover to cover, but to make the most of it, take a moment and review its basic plan:

  • In Part I, "Home Technology Basics," you will learn about major uses for home automation and home automation standards (Chapter 1); the basics of X10, the world's most popular home automation standard (Chapter 2); and how to plan your future home automation projects (Chapter 3).

  • In Part II, "Using X10 for Basic Home Automation," you will learn how to use X10 to control home lighting (Chapter 4), appliances (Chapter 5), and how to upgrade your X10 home automation projects with more powerful controllers and timers (Chapter 6).

  • In Part III, "Using X10 for Advanced Home Control," you will learn how to use X10 to control central heating and cooling systems and portable fans, heaters, and window air conditioners in your home (Chapter 7); how to control exterior lights, garage lights and outlets, and other landscaping and exterior features (Chapter 8); and how to use X10 to provide home security through motion detectors, video cameras, and alarm systems (Chapter 9).

  • In Part IV, "Remote Access to Your X10 Home Control System," you'll learn how to control your home by telephone (Chapter 10), with your home computer (Chapter 11), and remotely via your home network or the Internet (Chapter 12).

To make sure that you're fully equipped to enter the wide (and sometimes wild) world of the X10 home automation standard, I've added two appendices:

  • In Appendix A, "Integrating X10 with Other Home Control Systems," you'll discover which whole-house and non-X10 systems can be added to an X10 installation. You'll also learn the many brand names used for X10-compatible hardware over the years.

  • In Appendix B, "Troubleshooting X10," you'll learn how to bridge X10 signals between different phases of your home wiring, how to boost X10 signal strength, and how to test your X10 installation.

How to Use This Book

You can read this book in two ways:

  • If you're truly an absolute beginner to home automation, start with the first chapter and keep reading. The early chapters provide essential grounding in home automation concepts, terms, and technology you'll need as you progress.

  • If you've already dipped your feet into the ocean of home automation, feel free to go straight to the chapters that interest you most. I've added a lot of cross-references when they're needed to make sure that you have the help you need when you need it.

Either way, I know you'll have as much fun using this book to help you create a smarter home as I had writing it.Conventions Used in This Book

Commands, directions, and explanations in this book are presented in the clearest format possible. The following items are some of the features that make this book easier for you to use:

  • Shortcut to Success—I use this feature to provide tips that make a task easier to complete.

  • Cautions and Warnings—I use this feature to keep you out of trouble when you're performing potentially dangerous or tricky tasks.

  • On the Web—I use this feature to guide you to useful websites that provide more information on the topic or product being discussed.

  • The Big Picture—I use this feature to bring you up to speed on major home automation concepts.

© Copyright Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents


Smart Homes for Everyone

How This Book Is Organized

How to Use This Book

Conventions Used in This Book


1. Understanding Home Technologies.

Ways to Automate Your Home

Lighting Systems

Appliance Control

Alarm and Security Systems

HVAC Systems

Window Control Systems

Remote Access

Major Home Automation Standards


Universal Powerline Bus


Ethernet/Wi-Fi Home Automation Systems

Proprietary Home Automation Products

Methods for Controlling Your Home

Interactive Home Control

All Lights On/All Units Off Controllers

Timer-Based Control

Photocell-Based Lighting Control

Sensor-Based Controls

Programmable Devices and Remote Controls

Remote Control by Telephone

Computer Control

Home Network Control

Remote Control via the Internet

Home Technology Glossary

2. Getting Started with X10 Home Automation.

What X10 Can Control

Why Use X10 for Home Control?

How X10 Systems Work

A Technical Look at What Makes X10 Work

Setting Up a Simple X10 System

Equipment You'll Need

Selecting House and Unit Codes

Configuring the Components

Testing the System

Troubleshooting Your First X10 Installation

3. Strategies for Adding Home Technology Features.

Determining Your Home Automation Budget

Selecting Where to Start

Automating on a Room-by-Room Basis

Automating on a Task-by-Task Basis

Evaluating Products and Price Ranges

Deciding on a Control Method

Choosing the Most Important Features

How to Select Versatile Components

Vital and Useful Accessories

Selecting Your Next Goal

Budgeting Your Time

Skills Checklist

Plug-in and Wireless Modules

Electrical Outlets and Switches

HVAC Controls

Specialized Tasks

Computer and Internet

Deciding When to Call in the Pros

Selecting a Contractor

Just Do It!

Controlling Seasonal Lighting

Turning On Porch Lights at Night

Creating a Lived-In Look When You're Away

Keeping an Eye on Your Home


4. Using X10 to Control Home Lighting.

Understanding X10 Lamp and Appliance Control Modules

Selecting the Correct Module for Your Lighting Type

Higher Wattage Rating

Adjustable Dimming Rate

Adjustable Brightness Level

Support for Resuming Dim Level (Memory Dim)

Pass-Through AC Connector

Three-Prong Plug Support

Status Light

Burnt Bulb Detection

Support for Preset Dimming

Support for Scenes

Two-Way X10 Support

Programming an X10 Remote to Control Lighting

Controlling Multiple Lamps with X10

Black & Decker freewire Lighting Control

Elements of the freewire System

Controlling Groups of Lights with the Mood Button

Dimming Lamps Controlled by freewire Modules

Using X10 with Built-in Light Fixtures

Installing and Using Screw-in X10 Lamp Modules

Installing and Using X10 Light Switches

Using X10 with Fluorescent Lighting

Using X10 with Halogen Lighting

Using X10 with Aquarium Lighting

Choosing the Best X10 Controller for Home Lighting

Troubleshooting X10 Home Lighting

Can't Turn Lights On and Off

Can't Dim Lights

Can't Bring Light to Full Brightness

Lights Operate Erratically

5. Using X10 to Control Appliances.

X10 Appliance Module Types

How X10 Appliance Modules Differ from Lamp Modules

Lighting Support

Support for Motor and Electrical Loads


Installing X10 Appliance Control Modules

Installing Plug-in X10 Appliance Modules

Installing X10-Compatible Wall Switches for Use with Appliances

Installing X10 Electrical Outlets

Installing X10-Compatible Appliance Relay Modules

Using Appliances with X10 Appliance Modules

Programming Your Appliance to Work with Other Devices

Troubleshooting X10 Appliance Control

Incorrect House and Unit Codes

Device Is Turned Off

Remote Control and Transceiver Problems

Tabletop Controller Problems

No Power to Outlet

Incorrectly Wired Outlet

X10 Devices Work Erratically

6. Using Timers and Advanced Remotes for X10.

X10 Timers

What X10 Timers Can Do

Preparing to Use an X10 Timer

Setting Up an X10 Mini Timer

Using the Timer Interactively

Using Timed Control

Using the Security Feature

Sleep, Alarm, and Snooze Features

X10 Tabletop Maxi Controller

Setting Up the Maxi Controller

Controlling Devices

Using All On/All Off Commands

Configuring Programmable Modules

X10 Universal Remote

Setting Up a Universal Remote

Using the Remote to Control Home Entertainment

Using a Universal Remote with X10 Devices

X10 IR Controllers and Universal Remote Controls


7. Using X10 to Control HVAC Systems.

Integrating X10 with HVAC Systems

Using X10 for Temperature Monitoring


Programming TempLinc

Configuring TempLinc

How TempLinc Reports Temperatures

Using TempLinc's Thermostat Mode

Thermostat Setback Devices

Installing and Using the TH2807 Thermostat Setback Module

X10-Compatible HVAC Controllers and Thermostats

Installing the TXB16 Control Unit

Installing the TS16 Wall Display Unit

Operating the TXB16

Using X10 Control for Heating and Cooling Appliances

Installing X10 PLC Control for Attic and Whole-House Fans

Installing X10 PLC Control for Space Heaters

Installing X10 PLC Controls for Fans and Air Conditioners

Troubleshooting X10 PLC HVAC Control

8. Using X10 to Control Exterior Landscaping.

Connecting Standard Exterior Lighting to X10

Controlling Porch Lights with X10

Controlling Patio, Pool, and Deck Lights with X10

Installing Photocell Sensors for Outdoor Lighting

Using X10 in Your Garage

Connecting Low-Voltage Accent or Holiday Lights to X10

Controlling Spas, Hot Tubs, and Pool Filters with X10

Troubleshooting X10 Exterior Controls

9. Using X10 to Provide Security.

Methods of Securing Your Home

Installing X10-Compatible Video Cameras

Installation Preparations

Configuring the Camera

Configuring the Receiver

Using the Camera

Using Multiple Cameras

When Wired Cameras Are Better

Moving the Camera

One Camera or More-Determining the Best Camera Strategy

Recording for Additional Security

Using X10 Motion Detectors to Improve Security

Preparations for Setup

Using a Battery-Powered Motion Detector

Using Other Types of Motion Sensors

Installing Comprehensive X10-Compatible Security Systems

Security System Consoles

X10 DC8700 Monitored Security System

Configuring the Security Console to Use Security Components

How the Security Sensor Reports Problems

Testing the Security System

Arming and Disarming Your Security System

Controlling X10 Devices Through Your Security Console

Troubleshooting X10 Security Systems


10. Accessing X10 Home Control via Telephone.

X10 and Home Telephone Systems

Installing and Using a Touch-Tone Controller

Configuring the TR16A Touch Tone Controller

Using the TR16A to Control Your X10 System Remotely

Using the Touch Tone Controller as a Tabletop X10 Controller

Limitations of the Touch Tone Controller

Using Home Automated Living

HAL's PCI Voice Portal Modem

Using HAL Setup to Configure Your System

Adjusting HAL's Telephone Settings

Adjusting HAL's Voice Recognition Settings

Configuring HAL's X10 Module Support

Creating Macros, Scenes, and Modes

Using HAL to Control X10 Modules Remotely

Using HomeSeer Phone

Using HomeSeer Phone to Control X10 Modules

Keeping Your Home Safe with Sensaphone

How Sensaphone Works

Configuring Sensaphone for Use

Adding and Configuring Sensors

Responding to a Sensaphone Alarm

Receiving a Status Report Remotely

Controlling Sensaphone Remotely

Typical Sensaphone Sessions

Sensaphone Cottage Sitter

Troubleshooting Telephone Access to X10-Based Systems

11. Accessing X10 Home Control via Your Home Computer.

Connecting Your Computer to Your X10 System

Serial Port


Important Features

Installing a Computer Interface for X10

Using Smarthome Manager

Creating a New Location

Adding Devices to Smarthome Manager

Controlling a Device Interactively with Smarthome Manager

Creating a Timed Action

Creating an Event-Triggered Action

Saving Your Smarthome Configuration

Downloading Your Smarthome Configuration to the Controller

Using the Smarthome Manager Tools Menu

Creating and Controlling Scenes

Using HomeSeer

Starting HomeSeer with the HomeSeer Assistant Wizard

Adding and Configuring Devices with HomeSeer

Adjusting Specific Device Options

Creating an Event with HomeSeer

Viewing the Event Log

Using Device Control

Using the Tools Menu

Using X10 ActiveHome Pro

Registering ActiveHome Pro

Working with My Room

Modifying My Room's Module Addresses

Modifying My Room's Name

Renaming and Editing a Module

Removing Modules from a Room

Adding a Module to a Room

Controlling Modules Interactively

Creating a Timed Event

Adding a Room

Storing Changes to Your Configuration

Updating ActiveHome Professional

Creating a Macro

Using the Tools Menu

Using Lifestyle Mode

Retrieving a Deleted Module

Ordering SmartMacros and Other Plug-ins

Creating Reports and Printing Labels

Finding Other Computers

Troubleshooting Computer Control of X10-Based Systems

12. Accessing X10 Home Control via Your Home Network and the Internet.

Methods for Accessing Your Home Automation System Remotely

Integrated Web Server

Remote Access Software and Services

Selecting the Right Home Networking/Web Access Solution

Configuring Your Home Automation System for Remote Access

Upgrading Software

Using an Integrated Web Server

Using Remote Access Software and Services

Adding Webcams to Your Home Automation System

Troubleshooting Home Network and Broadband Access to Your X10 System

Home Automation Software with Integrated Web Server

Remote Access Software and Services


A. Integrating X10 with Other Home Control Systems.

Methods for Integrating X10 with Third-Party Home Control Systems

Integrating HAI with X10

Integrating Xanboo with X10

Integrating Leviton DHC with X10

Integrating Z-Wave with X10

Integrating Home Automated Living with X10

Integrating JDS Stargate with X10

Integrating Lightolier Controls Compose with X10

Integrating Applied Digital, Inc. Controllers with X10

Integrating HomeLink with X10

Brand Names for X10-Compatible Equipment

B. Troubleshooting X10.

Typical Causes for Problems with X10

Diagnosing and Solving Problems with X10 PLC Signals

Solving Wiring Phase Problems with X10

Using Signal Boosters

Using Noise Filters

Blocking X10 Power Line Signals from Entering Your Home

Testing X10 Signal Quality

Solving Problems with X10 Wireless Transceivers and Remotes

Adding Wireless Signal Repeaters for Greater Range

Upgrading to All-House-Code Transceivers

Leviton HCPRF

X10 CM15A


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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2005

    make an overall plan first

    The book is mostly about developing nifty controls using X10. In this field, X10 is by far the dominant controller. Soper explains why, by describing numerous varied ways to have it control items in the typical household. It is probably simpler to read this book than thumb through the official X10 documentation. Soper does not require that you have a deep technical background to implement the book's methods. Aside from the specific automation methods, he also offers a chapter on planning what you might want to and be able to automate in your home. Here is where you can start, to devise an overall plan, in a top-down fashion, rather than plunge into hooking up one or two gadgets. That can come later. The chapter is good for helping decide, especially within the constraints of a budget, which surely applies to many readers. The book also points out a strong point about the latest X10 devices. These can be wireless, hugely easing installation. No awkward and unsightly wires trailing along your floors and walls.

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