What Type of Centralized Home Control Hardware Is Available?
What you're looking for is home automation. X10 is probably the most popular technology system for this, but that Wikipedia page lists a number of alternatives.To address your specific areas of interest:LED lightingThere may be pre-built solutions out there, but as you're already writing custom software, you may want to look into using something like the Arduino platform to control your lights. Done correctly, you should be able to get the effects you're after. I found a tutorial about how to do a simple LED system that may be useful.Speaker ControlThere are actually a number of systems out there for home media distribution, such as Linux MCE (it took awhile to load that page when I wrote this, but it did load without timing out). You may be able to use one of these, or work some of the code in from one to duplicate the functionality (MCE is open source). The most simple solution is to use small appliance computers that run a very lightweight Linux solution (like MCE) that stream from the base computer. There are actual streaming devices out there, but I'm not sure how well they would integrate into your automation/control software. If you literally just want to run speakers, you'll need multiple sound cards in the base computer to differentiate between the feeds.Automagical ApplicancesThis is where the home automation tech comes in. Using something like X10, you have the ability to flip switches, monitor their status, etc. There are appliances out there that will talk some of these languages, allowing you to control them remotely. A quick search turns up an Engadget article pointing out LG Thinq devices that are accessible via WiFi and ZigBee. If you program your software to speak ZigBee, you should be able to integrate these appliances. Given the number of different protocols out there, you'll probably want to find your devices, try to settle on devices that use one protocol, and then write your code to speak that protocol, but you can also work with multiple protocols if you don't mind developing for each. I believe Linux MCE supports a few of those languages, and since it's open source, you can expand it to support whatever you'd likeâ¢ Related QuestionsWhy do warm white LED bulbs emit colored light?The semiconductor material inside any LED consists of two differently-doped regions which meet in a common junction. In the P region there are many more positive than negative charges, while in the N region the negative charges (electrons) are more numerous than the positive electric charges. When the P-N junction is forward-biased by an externally-applied voltage, and current starts to flow through the semiconductor material, electrons in the N region are imparted with sufficient potential energy to cause them to move across the P-N junction into the P region. Once the mobilized electrons enter the P region, they are immediately attracted to the excess positive charges in that region - the result of the mutual Coulomb forces of attraction that exist between opposite electric charges. When an electron moves sufficiently close to a positive charge in the P region, the two charges combine with one another in a process called recombination, where the electric potential energy associated with the Coulomb attractive force is converted into electromagnetic energy. For each recombination of a negative and a positive charge, a packet or quantum of electromagnetic energy is emitted as a photon of light, at a frequency/wavelength that is characteristic of/determined by the semi-conductor material - typically a combination of the elements gallium (Ga), arsenic (As), Indium (In) and phosphorus (P). Indium gallium nitride (InGaN) is used to make up the blue, white, true green, and UV types of LED's, and Aluminum gallium indium phosphide (AlGaInP or AlInGaP) is used to make the red, yellow, and orange types.LED's that emit white light are made by one of two different methods. The first method combines different (red, green, blue) semi-conductor materials on the same chip, with each material emitting photons of a particular wavelength/color and energy, which determine the color temperature of that emitted white light. The second method uses a blue LED with a phosphor coating, which fluoresces when the blue light from the LED shines on it, causing it to emit a yellow light. Combining the yellow light with the blue light forms a white light, whose color temperature is determined by the proportions in which the blue light and yellow light are combined,Follows is a chart showing the different color temperature of commercial LED's, and where those occur in the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. LED's classified as "warm white" emit light in the 2500-3000K color temperature range,Why do warm white LED bulbs emit colored light?.------How to tell what is causing my breaker to tripIn most cases of getting a "bzzz pop" on a circuit breaker there is a 98% chance you have a direct short to ground and if this happens once you shouldn't keep trying. The only thing it does is cause further damage to your electrical system. The first thing I would do is to turn very switch to the off position and unplug every piece of equipment from the system. I would remove the panel cover and using an ohm meter or continuity tester to see if I got a "ring" between the load side of the breaker and the neutral/ground buss which indicates a short. Or you could just reset the breaker if you don't have any meters but remember you are damaging your circuit and the breaker. So if you do not get a ring or the breaker stays on, then you know it is not the receptacles or the switches. Now you know the short is after one of the switches and probably in one of your light fixtures. You can then go around and turn on each switch on until you get a ring. This will locate which lighting branch is shorting out and you have at least isolated the problem to a smaller area of the circuit. If you do get a ring or the breaker trips off, you know the short is either before the switches or at one of the receptacles. Experience would tell me to check the receptacles first. Shorts are easy to find since they are and arc flash and create a lot of heat. so there will be the smell of something burnt, melted wire, blackened residue and melted insulation. Removing lamps form light fixture really doesn't help especially in fluorescent fixtures with ballasts and LED's with drivers. These ballasts and drivers use energy regardless if the lamps are plug in or not.Isolating and locating where the problem is allows you to make better informed decisions on if its a simple fix you can handle or you need professional help.FYI - since you have already turned the breaker on let it trip multiple times. It may be a good idea to change out the breaker. It is probably not operating within allowable tolerances (laymen terms the contacts are burnt and the bi-metal trip material is damaged).Good luck------Are LED bulbs safe for enclosed fixtures?Heat is the enemy ofLED light bulbs. Though the LED bulbs may have a similar shape to incandescent or fluorescent light bulbs, the LED chips inside the bulb arent that different to the chips in your laptop or other electronics. For this reason they cant be used in microwaves or ovens, and some of the larger LED bulbs may utilize a passive heat sink or internal fan to keep the electronics from overheating. Enclosed fixtures that dont allow for proper ventilation can drastically affect the temperature of the LED bulb, causing it to overheat and shortening the lifespan of the bulb. Thats why some bulbs will tell you not to use it in an enclosed ceiling fan or fully enclosed porch light fixture. Today wed like to address some frequently asked questions about enclosed fixtures or enclosed fixture rated bulbs to help you get the most light out of your light bulbs.What is an Enclosed Fixture?An enclosed fixture is any fixture or application where the light bulb is encased in a way that does not allow for proper airflow or ventilation. This includes but is not limited to porch lights where the bottom is glass or plastic instead of open air, enclosed Mason jar light fixtures, and lensed recessed light fixtures.Can an Enclosed Fixture Rated Bulb be Used in Open Fixtures?Yes, just because a light bulb is rated for enclosed fixtures doesnt mean it requires an enclosed fixture. To use a bulb in an enclosed fixture, it has to be designed to handle the heat of the enclosed space. In the open air, thats not a concern. The other reason to buy enclosed fixture rated bulbs is to use them outside. You may have garden lights or fully enclosed street lamps that require an enclosed fixture rated bulb. Because the bulbs are fully protected from rain and other elements, the bulb does not have to be rated for wet or damp locations to be used in an outdoor enclosed fixture. Understanding which light bulb is rated for a specific application, whether it be outdoors or an enclosed fixture, is important for getting the most light from your bulb. Dont hesitate to give us a call if youre still unsure whether you need a bulb rated for enclosed fixtures------How exactly does Curiosity's floating bus work, and how does it continue to operate when voltage drops from 11 to only 4 volts?The term "floating bus" means the power supply is not connected to the rover's chassis.In for example a car, the body is used as part of the electrical circuit: the negative terminal of the battery is connected directly to the body. This means every electrical component needs only one long wire to the positive terminal of the battery, and a short wire to the nearest part of the body.In some cases, electrical components are designed with a metal housing that acts as the ground connection, so there's no ground wire at all.This all works well, with one exception: when a positive wire contacts the body, you get a short that can damage the electrical system. Although most circuits are protected by fuses, there is at least one high-current circuit that isn't protected: the starter motor.If you wanted to convert your car to use floating circuits, you'd have to replace all these ground connections with wires to the negative terminal. And you'd have to insulate all components from the chassis.As a result, when either a positive or a negative wire contacts the chassis, nothing happens.I'm not convinced the answer here is correct. The circuit shown there is the correct way to connect a non-floating circuit to a floating circuit. But in Curiosity's case, the entire electrical system may be floating, so you don't need this conversion. I haven't found a source that specifies this though.Either way, the voltage they measured was between the power bus and the chassis. This indicates there's contact between the bus and chassis.The power bus voltage remained nominal, I presume, or they would have mentioned it.A short between the positive and negative sides of the power bus would have been a much bigger problem, as this would have reduced the amount of power available to run the rover.The short did not threaten the mission:"The vehicle is safe and stable, fully capable of operating in its present condition, but we are taking the precaution of investigating what may be a soft short," said Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager Jim Erickson at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.A "soft" short is a leak through something that's partially conductive of electricity, rather than a hard short such as one electrical wire contacting another.