Chris Bergeron's Blog

My projects, rants and general info

Archive for the ‘electronics’ Category

Security system integration

Saturday, September 11th, 2010

Today I worked on the security system / home automation integration project. The security system now communicates with the home automation computer and it can now send events/triggers to remote servers. In the following picture you can see my homemade PIC reporting circuit (left), the security system (center left), the staging area for my homemade circuit breaker interruptor (center right), and the breaker panel (right).

Integrating these systems has proved to be more difficult than I initially thought. I’m on track for total home automation and internet connectivity via my event log and my remote iPhone control panel.

Here’s a picture of the installation:


Security system

Security System

Created Energy summary page

Saturday, February 20th, 2010

I created an energy usage summary webpage to give me an ‘executive dashboard’ of my home energy usage.

Security System: Added mysql integration

Saturday, January 9th, 2010

I wrote a program to read events from the security system and put them into an RSS Event Log . I have some logic in it so that not everything gets recorded. I wouldn’t want a would-be robber knowing when the system is armed or disarmed, of course!

An event is anything that is monitored by the security system, including door openings, windows being opened / closed, etc.

Security System: Update 1

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

I’m adding a circuit breaker interrupter to my home security system. The purpose of it is to completely turn off some breakers in the home when the alarm is in ‘AWAY DAY’ mode. The goal is to conserve energy by completely disabling certain circuits in the house. I have a lot of electrical vampires, things that consume electricity even when turned off, in my home. One example is our DVR. It draws about 50 watts even when it’s powered off. I don’t have any scheduled recordings, so it makes sense to disable it when it’s not being used. This is only one example, but one of many devices that consume power when I don’t need them to. As a result, I’m building a circuit that breaks the electrical circuit when we’re not home. If the resultant savings are a few hundred watts (that would otherwise run 24/7) it will be a worthwhile endeavor; particularly considering the introduction of solar power. Here’s a picture of the interruptor circuit:

Reading data from Itron Centron, and openAMR

Monday, July 27th, 2009

In anticipation of installing a Solar Array at home (someday), I’m going to need to monitor my power usage more accurately. I’ve created a worksheet to approximate my power usage, but I need more solid data. So, I’m going to need to read data directly from the Itron Centron CL200 meter. It uses ANSI C12.19 and C12.22 standards for transmitting data, so I should be able to tap into it after I familiarize myself with the specs. The CL200 also transmits watt-hour usage via infrared pulses on the top of the meter. It seems that the meter transmits 1 pulse for every watt hour of usage, so in the near-term I’m going to have to build a circuit to read this data. Once I’m able to read the data, I can begin analyzing it and I’ll post it (along with graphs) on this site.


Fortunately, there’s already an existing open-source project dedicated to Automated Meter Reading(AMR): OpenAMR

Another blogger is also working on a similar project. His page can be found here: http://davestech.blogspot.com/2008/02/itron-remote-read-electric-meter.html

Laptop LCD + Overhead projector = projection LCD

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I took an LCD display out of an old laptop computer and coupled it to an overhead projector. The result is a 5′ projection screen. It’s not the highest quality, but in a dark room it’s suitable for watching movies, surfing the web, or playing computer games. Here are the pictures:

Making a surge protector computer controlled

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

I have a computer in the kitchen that has an LCD and speakers that are AC powered. Instead of having switches mounted everywhere, I hacked a surge protector to make it computer controlled. This way, when I power on the PC it powers on the LCD and the speakers. When the computer is off, the surge protector is off as well. It was an easy project, just requiring a relay in place of the standard surge protector switch.

Using a DS1820 temperature sensor

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

Just for fun, I added a Dallas Semiconductor DS1820 temperature sensor to my home office. It doesn’t really serve any purpose; I just like data. Here’s a graph of it’s data:

Chris Bergeron's Home Office Temperature

Homemade home security system

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

I’m building a custom security system for my home. It’s going to be internet connected and it will integrate with my iPhone. I’ve built the interface board and I’m in the process of programming the software. Our home was pre-wired for security sensors, so it will be trivial to attach and integrate them.

My product featured in Car PC Hacks

Monday, November 7th, 2005

Car PC Hacks


The Dashwerks DSSC Startup and Shutdown Controller appears in a great new carputer book by O’Reilly Publishing: “Car PC Hacks: Tips and Tools for Geeking Your Ride” by Damien Stolarz; (paperback – 382 pages; ISBN: 0-5960-0871-0; July 2005).

Continue Reading…