DDD9 – The Home Automation talk

03 Feb

John Price at DDD9

Last Saturday, I was at DDD9 at Microsoft Uk in Reading. As usual it was an excellent day, full of buzz.

I did a session on Home Automation, but you know me, its never an ordinary session, and this one came for the Captains Ready Room and on the Holodeck, on board the USS Enterprise.;-)

I’d like to thank all those people that came along – it was a packed room with people standing at the back and sitting on the floor at the front – Your support and attention meant a lot to me.

I’d also like to thank Charles Adams for driving down from the midlands, just so he could inject some anecdotes about setting up and operating his X10 equipped house.

During the session I said I had a X10 Starter Kit to give away. It contains an X10 PC Controller, a Light Module, an Appliance Module and a copy of Vista Home software to run it all.

My intention was to give this away on the day, but that proved to be a little difficult – so I thought I’d do it online and post the stuff out.

To have a chance of winning this, leave me a comment with a suggestion of what you consider might be a good use of home automation, and I’ll pick out my favourite. I know that the DDD guys are sending a link out to the slides so hopefully everyone should see this.

I’ll close the competition, put up the suggestions and notify the winner a couple of weeks after the link goes out.

You can download the slides from here


Leave a Reply


  1. Guy Smith-Ferrier

    5 February 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hi, John,

    It was my favourite session of the day. Excellent. Congratulations.


    • John

      6 February 2011 at 11:02 pm

      Wow, thanks for that – means a lot to me… glad you enjoyed it.;-)

  2. Mark Embling

    7 February 2011 at 8:43 am

    Well it looks like this talk was as good as I’d imagined it would be – I really wish I’d been able to attend DDD9, as it looks like I missed a lot of good stuff. I’ve been looking at home automation a bit lately (not that I’d gone anywhere with it yet), and I think hearing some real-world experience would have been valuable.

    I think a key goal of home and purpose of automation ought to be to make it invisible. That is, there is no need to really think about it, it just does what you want of it, when you want it. Something I’d really like to implement is to have all the lights in the main rooms just come on when they are needed (it is dark enough, and the room is occupied), and go off when they are not. Of course, you’d want some sort of override to turn them off when they would normally be on, but I think that would be a simple thing which would actually be really helpful. That said, I think there are almost limitless directions technology such as this could be taken in. It’s always exciting to see what people can make it do.

    • John

      7 February 2011 at 11:04 pm

      Sorry to have missed you. You are right – If you can see where the Automation is – its not right! Happy for you to get in touch if you think I can help with any issues you have..

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  6. Mark Johnson

    5 June 2011 at 5:07 pm

    could you please share something about Z-wave technology.

    • John

      5 June 2011 at 8:52 pm

      I’m presenting at DDDSW on Saturday 11th June… I’ll update on Z wave shortly after that. Thanks for your interest.

  7. Phil Collins

    29 August 2011 at 7:17 pm

    Hi John,

    I wondered if you could offer some advice. I plan to use some of your home automation ideas in a new talk I’m preparing for next year’s DDD sessions. I plan to wire up just two powered devices – could you advise me on the cheapest way of doing it so that I can control them via code?

    Thank you very much for any help you can offer,

    Phil Collins

    • John

      4 September 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Hi Phil,

      By far the cheapest way is x10. A couple of on/off switches and a controller should cost <£100. Then go to and download the serial port and x10 library, this is the one I used in my demos… Its really easy to use. Allocate a serial port, then call the appliance on or off command. If you are actually turning something on or off, say like a radio… Then make sure you dont use the dimable modules (unless the devices really is dimmable) otherwise you'll damange both the device and the module.

      If you get stuck with the coding, or have issues making it work, come back to me, and I can arrange to pick up the project you are working on and sort it for you.

      Good luck, let me know how it goes!