Community hardware machinon

#1

Hello there,

I have been working on this project for a while: https://www.machinon.com/ which is an expansion board on exteriors for the Raspberry Pi. Originally was designed for Smart Home Automation and the idea was that anyone could through there any software package they wanted, since the interface with the board is using an open protocol known as MySensors.

The good bit is that all the I/O handling, interrupts, counters... are done at hardware level so the RPI does not need to know about it, just ask (push &/or poll) metrics.

Recently someone brought to my attention Node-red so I did a quick test. However my expertise is mostly on embedded devices (the board) and not so much high level coding.

My questions (and I hope this is ok) are:

1.- Is people interested on this type of hardware? My intention is to manage a small (Indiegogo / Kickstarter) group buy and pass on at cost, you can see where I am right now negotiating this: https://www.machinon.com/blog/looking-for-small-batch-manufacturing

2.- of the (hopefully) people interested on this type of hardware, is there anyone interested on working with me to develop a connector for it on Node-red?

I attach a picture to save you visiting the links in case you are just curious about :slight_smile:

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#2

And the video to the quick test I did with Node-red:

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#3

EddieN,

I don't know exactly if this is just a commercial approach or you are rally interested on developing something your own.

If is the first, I'm not sure if this is the proper place for it, moderators will let know.

If is the second, then I advice you to purchase a decent power supply 10€, RPI 40€, 32Gb micro SD card 10€, Arduino Mega 2560 R3 8€ , electric plastic box around 15€ and then some small electronic materials like connections and so one and you will spend less than 100€ and with NR you can have something with many more I/O and powerful enought to do all that you can do with this board or even probably much more.

Regards

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#4

Hi Davidcgu,

Many thank for the feedback.

Unfortunately not commercial, you cannot buy it today. I did build this for myself because I did try exactly what you described (the €100 solution with a piface). It kind of worked for me, but after a lot of time and messing around, my application was for Home Automation, including connecting the house alarm.

You can probably see from the real pictures on the blog that it is a very handy job right now. The picture is a render a friend helped me do from the enclosure.

I take your feedback though! Maybe I'm overcomplicating things

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#5

Hello Eddie,
I have been working in the security & building automation industry for many, many years. In those projects, we are talking about really larger customer projects, wired solutions are still dominant. For security installations, pure digital and analouge inputs are not good (secure) enough, here encrypted communication on the wire is required many times. For building automation, Konnex (KNX) and BACnet are the de-facto standard protocols used.

For Home Automation however, we have more or less migrated to wireless (simple RF, more capable Z-Wave and Zig-Bee). Wired is unfortunately belonging to the past for several reasons:

  • to costly to install, labour costs
  • needs careful planning to create nice looking flush mounted pipes (for wiring) and outlets (for devices)
  • difficult to expand (in a nice way)
  • limited functionality per sensor, on/off is simply not enough anymore
  • less secure
  • many other reasons

In my country we stopped making wired solutions for home security & automation around 10-15 years ago

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#6

This is also another point, ESP8266 or even now ESP32 is making non sense wired solutions if this means remake all electrical wiring, so depending on the complexity could be most probably a combination of booth.

Regards

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#7

For security installations, pure digital and analouge inputs are not good (secure) enough, here encrypted communication on the wire is required many times.

I'm hoping with the latest 32 bit processes I'm hoping we'll start to see more security. At least signed messages. I'd like to see encrypted communication also though I think we'll need to see it above the network layer.

In my country we stopped making wired solutions for home security & automation around 10-15 years ago.

For a lot of the consumer level stuff wireless is okay. I do see issues with a flood of devices in crowded areas (apartments, condominiums, etc.

I did network design for a number of years and I'm not so quick to dismiss wired. But I won't deny that wireless makes it much easier to install. Now if we can just figure out how to make it as easy to secure.

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#8

Hello all,

This is really good feedback, above all the wireless vs wired.

I personally went wired because I had a lot of trouble with wireless: batteries lasting 6 months (busy house), signals being missed (thick walls, old house) and also wanted to sub meter most of the electrical circuits of the house. The truth is that I started wireless with all the devices, and only moved to wired when I started to have problems.

What I understand for the feedback, is that my case is a minority and indeed it really there's not need for it besides a few odd cases like mine. Really appreciate the feedback, it has saved me a lot of time and effort going nowhere :smiley: with it.

Ed

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#9

wireless does not necessary mean batteries.... I have ESP units plugged to power, MQTT could be retained to ensure package delivered in case of wiffi coverage issues consider to install a repeater.

Regards

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#10

(Lithium) batteries are better (and getting cheaper) today, devices are consuming less. In home security solutions a device can normally operate at least 3 years before new batteries are needed.
Communication can be very secure if you configure mqtt with TLS and certificates. Wired and wireless
Besides, today we require more data to be captured from devices, like performance, various statuses, remaining battery capacity. And new firmware uploads OTA for various reasons like new or improved features, bug fixes etc

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#11

I think such a device is great. I also work in home automation/building control & monitoring. Although wireless systems are getting better, A LOT of systems are still wired. For me, wired systems are still the best way to go (I wouldn't have just installed one in my house otherwise). This product would be a direct competition for products like Loxone, Lutron, Control4 and others, so if the price-point is good then these companies should be worried!

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#12

@joearkay
From a technological point of view, wired will still work but from (professional) business point of view, hopeless in-competitive due to massive labour costs in comparison with wireless. You can't find a serious installer company for private home security & automation that hasn't switched to wireless connected sensors and detectors except for special exceptions

Earlier, I have also used those kind of I/O boards (still remember Velleman and later, Chinese cheap I/O boards, for very low cost)

If you do it for your own pleasure in your own house, fine, you can spend the hours & effort but I think definitely it is wrong to give @EdddieN the impression that this can become a commercial success, it is simply too late in time and competition is massive.

My opinon, my arguments, still unchanged

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#13

My guess is that both technologies (wired x wireless) will co exist for a while. It is the case of my home alarm system. The IR barriers in the external perimeter are wired to the central hub. These sensors works great and there are no wireless version available in the market.

Recently a company launched a successful campaign on kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nateclark/konnected-alarm-panel-revive-your-wired-alarm-syst) raising +200k USD. They offer a solution to retrofit wired systems. Their proposal is to keep the existing sensors and wires and replace the central hub for something that it is connected to the internet. The home owner can receive notifications on his mobile, which was not possible on the previous obsolete alarm system. In many cases this can lead to money savings as you can cancel the subscription to that 3rd party company that monitors the alarm events.

I had a look on machinon web page. It has a feature that it is not found in regular home monitoring / home automation systems: the hardware to monitor energy consumption. I found it a very promising solution for the businesses. Perhaps not so much for home automation because of the estimate price and other reasons well pointed by @krambriw. If machinon case is rugged and water proofed (IP 67 or IP 68) it could be used for instance in small farms (or urban farms) around the world to control irrigation, greenhouse temperature, water and energy consumption, etc... It could be used in systems that monitor and control distributed energy systems (solar / eolic).

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#14

Well, you will see, time will tell

At first sight it sounds as a smart move to make use of installed sensors/detectors and wiring. But you loose an important thing, the new functionality new sensor technology brings along. Our house had an old wired system with PIR's, magnetic door contacts etc etc. It was upgraded to the latest so now the new system with all sensors wireless; new PIR's has built in cameras, sending pictures to the alarm monitoring center in case of events, magnetic door contacts has built in shock sensors detecting early break in attempts BEFORE the door/windows gets opened, smoke detectors are linked and gives spoken guiding messages etc

Oh yes, there is one sensor still wired, the water detector under the dish washing machine. The wire is connected to a.....wireless link

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#15

Hello,

Many thanks for the great feedback! really appreciated, eve if it is a bit more on the "no need to bother doing it", at least it saves me time and headaches.

I fully get that any installer does installs any system for a living... is not going to like having to pass wires. That is a very strong argument.

Yes the board has been designed with a lot of "energy" thinking which is the field I'm interested. Thinking about simplifying the design, removing the need for the LCD part and just focusing on the I/Os, this would allow me to launch a Indiegogo on around €100 or so. However I'm not sure yet if it is worth it, the arguments above are pretty good :slight_smile:

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#16

I understand your viewpoint and respect your opinion, however in the UK there are 100s of installers who install wired home automation systems.

You only have to look at the Loxone partners map: https://www.loxone.com/enen/shop/find-a-partner/

and similar for other systems (Control4, Crestron etc.) to realise there is still a massive demand for these. Yes, it may change over time, but as it stands currently a lot of these systems still rely on a central home automation system (wired).

Just a few of the guys I follow on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/jsl_electrical/ (uses Loxone)
/modasystems/ (uses Loxone)
/easy.house/ (uses Loxone)
/ssavprojects/ (uses Crestron)

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#17

I assume the actual labour cost is the main reason why some technology spreads faster in some countries. If you check with Verisure and some of their competitiors, are they not using wireless technology for home security installations today? And if you look at Verisures offering, they are clearly moving in a direction covering more and more home automation as well.


We rarely see this type of job from a typical home alarm system installer in my country. If we would, we would worry about the invoice coming afterwards. The installation looks pretty but it is costly. With a low hourly rate, you can afford to pay for many more hours. It would not work here where I live, not for private homes except for "a few very special exceptions" === "money is no issue" cases. If you are a rather small installer, it might work out for you but for high volume business, well

PS The Loxone Miniserver Go is following the trend. But the cost...therefore it is more common that you will subscribe to a service and pay a monthly fee

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#18

I guess it does not have to be one or the other. I for one use at home with a prototype of the machinon:
Z-Wave
433MHz on AM for the cheap sensors
433MHz on FSK for the not so cheap sensors
EnOcean for environmental monitoring
Wired alarms
Wired energy meters
Wired valves (don't trust wireless for this)
A few releays
Alarm trigger (NC)
CTs for submetering
of course WiFi

I hope soon enough I do a bit of KNX too.

So quite a mix. My main problem right night is too much wireless. I have easily over 50 WiFi devices and I can see my network suffering so I will have to invest into a professional WiFi system or use more wired connections. Like you @krambriw , I do not want to wire Ethernet for obvious reasons... but if I had built the house from scratch... you bet I would have 1-2 sockets on every room! :smiley:

I guess what @joearkay is trying to say, is that if you have the option to use wired... do it. It is future proof, even if it does not have all the reach features, it is very likely it will still work 20 years later.

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#19

We have, when the house was built, the network cables and outlets was installed to most of the rooms. Today, no one is using them anymore...

When I was thinking wireless sensors, I was more thinking towards Z-Wave and Zigbee instead of wifi. I also have a long rather tiring experience in using wireless one-way stuff on 433 and all xtra rules you have to add to make that work reliable; send to several devices in sequence, never in parallel, do re-send the same command a couple of times just to be sure etc etc

Both Z-Wave and Zigbee takes care of such problems, mesh networks and two-way comms with status feedback. Unfortunately the products are still a bit expensive but I have a feeling that prices will have to drop now that IKEA is entering the scene with Zigbee stuff

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#20

What do you use? I have several cameras too (WiFi) and as soon any streaming device like Netflix or one of the kids uses youtube... everything really slows down... It does not help walls pretty concrete/brick solid over largish area. I tried mesh systems like Tenda and Google.... no luck! Gone back to repeaters.
A bit of topic, but really interested on what you are using.

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