Home Toys Article
- October 2002 -
[Home Page]

[Click Message To Learn More]

A Low Cost Home Automation Controller
By David Steele Magicmation, Inc.

Many features are controlled from one MM-443 Magicmodule Programmable Controller. There is room in the programmable memory to do other tasks that may be unique to your application. At Halloween I use a Magicmodule and MV-480 Voice Annunciator to really give the neighborhood kids a scare as they walk up to my front porch.


Have you ever wanted to automate a function in your home, but just could not justify the cost of the do-everything home automation controllers. Well, the Elk Products, Inc. Magicmodule family of programmable controllers offer a good home automation control package at a reasonable price that may just suit your needs.

The very term programmable controller sends many people packing because of the thought of having to write a program to control things. ELK provides programs in several levels of programming ability from point and click, to drag and drop, to a Basic like programming language called SIMPLE. Everyone should be able to become comfortable with one or more of the programming methods. If all else fails, ELK offers Free programming assistance to help get any Magicmodule home automation project working correctly.

To get started in planning your home automation project break down the home automation tasks that you would like to perform. This makes the overall project easier to handle instead of trying to think about everything at once. You can program one task at a time and test it before moving on to the next task.

I used the FREE point and click programming tool from ELK called Application Writer which is included in the ELK Magicmodule Development Software to put together the home automation program tasks for my home as described below.

Home Automation Tasks

#1: Basic X-10 Lighting Control Timer - I wanted to turn selected X-10 controlled lights ON at dusk and set them to a dimmed level, so that my wife does not have to come home to a dark house. Then sweep through the house at 11:30 PM to turn off all the X-10 controlled lights.

#2: Electric Hot Water Control - In order to save energy, I wanted to control my 80 gallon electric hot water heater. To do this I used the ELK-9100 X-10 Controlled 30 Amp Switch. I wanted the OFF time of the water heater scheduled so that I did not end up with a cold shower in the mornings. The following schedule worked good. Hot water ON at 5:30 AM everyday, OFF at 9:00 AM Monday through Friday while we are at work. ON at 5:00 PM. OFF at 11:30 PM. Note: This schedule has been in operation over two years and I found my electric bill has decreased between $20 to $25 a month.

#3: Closet Light Control - Our large walk-in clothes closet and pantry closet constantly had their lights left on. I wanted a control system that would turn on the light when the door was opened and turn off the light when the door was closed. If the door was left open, I decided to turn off the light in five minutes. The lights can be controlled with an X-10 wall switch. I hardwired a magnetic door switch back to a Magicmodule input for a door open/closed signal from both closet doors. The Magicmodule sends the light control signal over the X-10 wiring when the door opens and closes or when the 5 minute light timer runs out.

#4: Voice Wakeup Alarm - I wanted an automatic wakeup alarm Monday through Friday, but not on Saturday and Sunday. I used the ELK MV-480 Voice Annunciator and used existing ceiling stereo speakers that I switch from the stero system to the audio amplifier on the MV-480 when it wants to talk. The Magicmodule is programmed to tell the voice module at 6:45 AM to say in a friendly voice "It is 6:45 and its time to wake up." This is my pre-wakeup call where I can start thinking about getting up. Then at 7:00 AM, a much harsher voice says, "It is 7 o'clock, you are late, get out of the bed." You can choose what you want to say, and record the message directly into the MV-480 Voice Annunciator or download WAV files from a PC that can be any sound imaginable.

#5: Driveway Annunciator - I wanted to announce a visitor coming up my driveway. I used an OPTEX Wireless 1000 Driveway Annunciator System and connected its relay output to an input on the ELK Magicmodule. The Magicmodule sends a signal to the MV-480 Voice Annunciator to play a message saying "You have a visitor coming up the driveway." Any message you want to say can be played from the MV-480 Voice Annunciator.

#6: Caddx NX8 Security Control Status Voice Annunciator - The Caddx NX8 (not NX8e) interfaces to the ELK Magicmodule through its data bus. This allows the Magicmodule to read the status of the NX8, control the NX8 such as arming/disarming, triggering the dialer channels, and setting off alarms. A easy to program feature using the ELK Application Writer is to announce security zones that are not ready when you try to arm the NX8. There is also voice annunciation of the zone that caused an alarm when the alarm triggers and when the security system is disarmed.

#7: Lighting Scene Control - I use the X-10 Keypad Transmitter, HR12A, to control lighting scenes, relay outputs, arm/disarm the Caddx Security System, and more. I have programmed the Magicmodule to perform macro commands of turning ON and OFF lights when the proper button is pressed on the X-10 HR12A.

#8: Christmas Tree Light Control - I found that as a bonus since the Magicmodule controls certain lights from Dusk to 11:30 PM, my Christmas Tree lights could use the same schedule. All I had to do was add X-10 appliance modules where my Christmas Tree lights plug in.

All of these features are controlled from one MM-443 Magicmodule Programmable Controller. There is room in the programmable memory to do other tasks that may be unique to your application. At Halloween I use a Magicmodule and MV-480 Voice Annunciator to really give the neighborhood kids a scare as they walk up to my front porch.

Hardware Requirements:

  • ELK MM-443 Magicmodule
  • ELK MV-480 Voice Annunciator Module
  • Speakers of choice or ELK-924 Relay module to switch ceiling speakers
  • ELK MB-485 RS-232 to RS-485 Converter Module
  • ELK P1212 12 Volt Switching Power Supply
  • X10 Pro PSC05, or X-10 TW523 Powerline Interface
  • ELK-9100 X-10 Controlled 30 Amp Switch for hot water control, optional
  • Serial PC Cable
  • PC Computer with a RS-232 Serial Port

All the hardware is available in packaged kits such as the ELK MK-400 Development Kit, ELK MKHome1 Home Automation Kit, or ELK MK-485 Development Kit.

Software Development And Programming - All the Magicmodule programming is done from a PC Computer with a RS-232 Serial Port. The PC Computer's serial port connects to the ELK MB-485 Converter. This converter changes the RS-232 signal from the PC Computer to RS-485 signal that may connect up to 31 Magicmodules on its RS-485 data bus . ELK provides FREE Development Software in the form of:

  • ELK Magicmodule Code Development Software
  • ELK Application Writer Software
  • ELK MV-480 Voice Annunciator Development Software
  • ELK Magic Control Screen, provides push buttons on a PC screen that can control devices connected to the Magicmodule data bus.
  • Magic Timer - a seven day, four output programmable timer, with X-10 control that is programmed from a PC Computer and downloaded into the Magicmodule

Advanced Quonset Technologies, Home Control Assistant Software offers inexpensive advanced whole house drag and drop programming software that runs on a PC or can be downloaded into the Magicmodule. It can also interface many companies equipment together into a common whole house control system.

Links to all these sites, more Free software, and how-to manuals are available at the Magicmation, Inc. Website at http://www.magicmation.com .

Comments (0)

This article does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.

Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

More AV and Automation Industry Resources

 

 

More Technical eMagazine from LJB