Read This First!

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WELCOME TO THE PARTY

Interested in home/homestead automation? Then you’ve come to the right place! This site is all about finding practical applications of technology to make our lives easier. You may also pick up some valuable technical skills along the way. Oh, and if you’re not having fun

while you do it, then there’s definitely something wrong! This post will get you started on your automation journey by giving you a roadmap. I’ll start by giving you quick overview, then turn you loose on a set of follow-up posts that cover more detail.

The 30,000 Foot View

Most projects I cover on this site are considered IoT, or Internet of Things projects. Which really just means I have things like motors, sensors and “computing devices” that communicate over the Internet. In my case, these IoT systems are also used for automation, which is why I’ll often use these terms interchangeably. You’ll also hear me refer to a device called a Particle Photon, or Photon for short. This is simply a type of IoT processor, which has built-in WiFi and is easy to use as the core of many projects. If you’ve ever heard of the terms Arduino or Raspberry Pi, the Photon is an alternative to these platforms. The good news is Photons are mostly code-compatible with Arduinos. This
means if you find a project you want to build that’s based on the latter, you can easily substitute one for the other. The last thing I’ll mention in this section, is that I often use a software application called Blynk. This program allows you to easily build a mobile app that connects to your IoT project. It allows you to control things remotely, as well as see data from the sensors you include in your projects.

Particle Photon – An IoT device that’s code-compatible with the Arduino

Building Blocks

This post talks about the pieces and parts that are often included in automation projects. It’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start. These concepts will give you a better perspective on how expandable IoT projects can be.

Common building blocks for IoT projects

 

Getting Hands On

The posts below will give you a hands-on guide to setting up and using the hardware and software components of your systems. The first three focus on the Photon microcontroller. The next three cover the Blynk software application. And since many of your projects will use some super-simple circuitry, I give you a primer in the last article.

 

Projects to Inspire You

Once you understand the basics of IoT systems, the fun really begins when you start thinking about where you can use them. The “My Projects” tab on the site will provide you with inspiration on the kinds of applications you can build. Each post gives some background on the problem, a description of the solution, and then a how-to guide covering the hardware and software. I’m always looking for new challenges, so send me an email if you’d like to recommend a project.

  • Water level sensor
  • Remote water meter and valve controller
  • Garden moisture sensor and data logger (coming soon)
  • Intermittent misting bed controller (coming soon)
  • Automatic duck door (coming soon)
  • Real time beehive weight and temperature sensor (coming soon)
  • Automatic outdoor light controller (coming soon)
  • Clothes dryer alarm (coming soon)
  • And many, many more

 

“the greatest amount of wasted time is the time spent not getting started”

-Dawson trotman

Get Building!

The “Getting Started” posts give you the knowledge to begin building. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you to take that first step! I recommend starting simple, but start nonetheless. And as always, I’m just an email away if you get stuck.

HAVE FUN BUILDING!

-Charlie

Help support my work via Patreon!

2 COMMENTS

  1. Charlie… New to your site.. very new like 5 minutes…. saw your chicksaw door actuator.. excellent..

    So here is a challenge for you.. How about a DiY automated incubator and egg turner..
    Basic requirements: temp and humidity control and moving eggs from side to side twice a day.

    check out Rush Lane Poultry on youtube for a starting point.

    If you already have one… point me in the direction.

    What I’ve seen of your homestead innovations are very cool.

  2. Hi Royce! Welcome to the site.

    You’re the second person that’s asked me about incubators. While I haven’t built one myself yet, the link below has a lot of good ideas on how to go about it. I think the biggest question is if it’s less expensive to take the DIY approach or buy it. From what I’ve seen, if you’re only hatching a dozen or so eggs, it’s often cheaper to just plunk down the cash. That said, if you’re doing things in large quantities, you’re probably betting of building it yourself. Which end of the spectrum are you approaching this from?

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/articles/homemade-chicken-egg-incubator-designs-pictures.47737/

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