At secondary school, we had BBC Master computers connected by some
sort of serial port to a box to which devices or relays could be
The box had a series of nodes with live and neutral connectors, and
the circuit could be either opened or closed using the computer.
Does anyone know of a modern version of this. Perhaps something that
can be controlled through Windows or Linux ?
Most modern buildings now have automated control of heating and lighting via
Ethernet. Shedloads of companies now produce network switches and
controllers for use in such situations and are now cheap enough to be used
in domestic situations. As they are based on TCP/IP over Ethernet they can
easily be controlled via the internet if necessary.
Crestron Electronics, Inc.
Applied Digital, Inc
Blue Earth Research
Delta Controls, Inc.
Energy Control Technologies
Excel Energy Technologies, Ltd.
H I Solutions, Inc.
Protect Controls, Inc.
Reliable Computer Systems Ltd
Walker Systems Corporation
To name but a few.
Not really a problem with appropriate encryption and other security
Looks like an excellent company.
An alternative for controlling mains appliances is the X10 series of
devices. You can use the PC to program and monitor pretty much any mains
light or device over RF or mains cabling, either directly or stand alone. As
usual it all comes down to budget.
Ah yes but the camera gizmo has an 12v power supply that is turned on and
off using X-10 protocols with the video and audio being an rf transmission.
They are intended to be used with several cameras transmitting on the same
frequency to one receiver, but only the one camera being powered up at one
time. Incidently although they respond to standard X-10 signals their
implementation is slightly specialised in that tuning on any unit turns off
all the other units sharing the same 'house code' (X-10 uses up to 16
'house codes' and 16 'unit codes' thus giving up to 16 x 16 = 256 items
(Who's morning bedroom kettle turns on using X-10 to make the tea !)
Yes, but, "X10-spamming bastards" are also the major suppliers of X10
X10 protocol is very largely out of patent, (it was invented by a
scottish company in the late 70s) and you can "roll your own" in the
finest traditions of UK.D-I-Y if you have access to the right bits (and
quite a lot of bytes....)
The 8 zones of my central heating are controlled via opto-isolators from the
parallel port of a PC running an application I wrote using TurboPascal. You
must be aware when starting down this track that the later (Win 98 onwards)
versions of Windows do their level best to keep you away from directly
talking to ports so you have to do a bit of fiddling arround with .ocx 's
(It also keep track of Electricity and Water consumption, and regen cycles
on the water softener, and acts as my portal onto the internet via adsl)
You don't say what this is used for, but for some uses, X10
mains-born signalling devices might be convenient, and there's
a serial interface module designed for connecting to a PC (and
a number of software packages to drive it, for Windows and I
think Linux too).
If you were intending using a dedicated PC for this, why not use an Acorn
A5000 instead? You'll get one for free or very little easily, and it's
ideal for this application - indeed many are still used for machine
control. They're built like tanks and go on for ever.
*A person who smiles in the face of adversity probably has a scapegoat *
Dave Plowman email@example.com London SW 12
Hmmph... that's exactly what I've been doing recently.
Testing a small bank of industrial remotely controlled
power supplies, with an old A5000. As you say, just the
job for that sort of thing. Umm.... except that the HD
of some A5000's can be a little tired and replacements
are hard to come by (was it an ST506 HD).
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