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Part I: Home Automation > Automate Your Porch Light

Chapter 2. Automate Your Porch Light

What You Need
  • A load-bearing X10 wall switch

  • An X10 motion detector (preferably an outdoor model)

  • X10 Powerlinc Serial Controller

  • Four AAA batteries

  • An X10 controller (optional)

  • Replacement faceplate (optional)

  • Circuit tester

  • Screwdriver

  • Wire nuts

For a list of specific parts used in this project, refer to Exhibit A at the end of this chapter.

I hate unlocking my front door in the dark. I'm never sure if I have the right key in my hand, if it's turned the right way, or where the keyhole is. The worst part is that I have a porch light right above the door. I can't unlock the door without the light, but I can't get to the light without unlocking the door. So, the light switch waits for me on the other side of the door, quietly mocking me. I'll teach that light to laugh at me.

From now on, porch light, I'm the boss, and these are the rules. You will:

  • Turn on at dusk.

  • Turn off at midnight.

  • Turn on the entryway lights inside the house when someone approaches the door after dusk but before midnight.

  • Turn on both the porch light and the floodlights when someone approaches the door between midnight and 6 A.M.

For the project to accomplish all this, we'll need a logic mechanism that can determine when to turn the lights on and off, and keep track of their state. The logic mechanism will control the light switch and receive input from a timer, motion detectors, and conventional light switches. You can buy or build standalone logic mechanisms, but a computer is the simplest and least expensive way to control everything. We'll also need a light switch that can be remotely controlled by the computer, and a motion detector that can tell our computer when someone approaches the door. Figure 2-1 shows the components of this project.

Figure 2-1. The conceptual design for the intelligent porch light.



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