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$39.00 pledged of $10,000 goal
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By John Macklin
$39.00 pledged of $10,000 goal
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About this project

General Description

Genie Switch Cube (Home Automation Device) enables the end user (consumer) addressable end point control of common household loads such as Lamps, Holiday lighting, as well as low level environmental control. Current capabilities include activation and deactivation of two 110VAC switchable loads up to 4Amps max. Features include addressable switching, temperature sensing, and supervisory control of common household illumination devices. Additional features to include Genie Master Controller WiFi enabled client interface which is necessary to manage loads in real time utilizing RTC (Real Time Clock) and web enabled event scheduler. The Master controller also implements Cube management and control features which enable each control end point to transmit and receive status updates as well as serve real time notification services to an internet enabled monitoring and scheduling service. The service will be offered with all Genie Master Controllers (commander) and depending on project funding may eventually require a small monthly subscription to help cover the costs of hosting and managing a dedicated server.

Future features will include configurable addressable timers for each control point which when activated may automatically shutoff each individual load after activation. Currently the basic cube may address up to 8 IO devices total. 2 IO’s are internally dedicated to AC load management leaving 4 additional IO for peripherals. There are two variations of the cube available LPD 433/915MHz ISM. Typical transceiver range will be more than sufficient at around 600 meters.

The days of managing interior and exterior illumination devices manually will soon come to and end in 2014. A large majority of home owners would rather manage a real time system rather than a manual one. To ease the cost burden associated with such complex and expensive systems I am designing a very low cost system which will be reachable by the majority of consumers in a couple months time.                

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Prototype Video Demonstration  

Switch Cube Design Story

A Supervisory Control Problem 

In early December 2013 I was discussing with friends the issue of having to run many extension cords and power strips to supply power to holiday lighting devices. Even with the major advancements in the shift from incandescent lights to more efficient LED lighting supervising these individually becomes a nightmare. A common problem in managing power to these types of devices is having to access multiple power strips and/or separate power control points individually. As I thought about this a 21st Century light began to flicker in my minds eye. What I immediately envisioned was a wireless supervisory control enabled switch cube that fetches control commands from a master controller in real-time. At this point I then realized if I also combine the power of WiFi and the internet which utilizes TCP over IP I could then centrally manage household or office illumination devices using an addressable web enabled scheduling application.

The Control Solution

Around the end of December I realized this was a simple task for a micro-controller device if I combined addressable I/O and time control features into a lightweight (low bandwidth) wireless communications protocol. The next step was natural for me in that I immediately went to my CAD program (Schematic and PCB) and began to draw the basic schematic diagram. I then bread-boarded the circuit to check the functionality of the base design. Next came the firmware to control the I/O ports and then I created a state machine which is controlled via an addressable Packet structure (PDU). In just a few days time I was able to assign unique addresses to each individual IO port and manage these IO's via wireless ISM radio device.     

Finally once the basic state machine and command protocol was complete I introduced AC Control electronics.

Switch Cube Simplified State Machine
Switch Cube Simplified State Machine

 PCB and Case Design (Switch Cube Prototype)

Later in January 2014 the PCB (Printed Circuit Board) design was completed from tested and breadboard circuit (schematic). The PCB was then laid out, etched, drilled, proofed and assembled in house. 

Switch Cube PCB to Case
Switch Cube PCB to Case

Finally the 3" square case was fabricated (adding 2 AC receptacles) and the assembled PCB was introduced and receptacles wired to board. 

Switch Cube Assembly
Switch Cube Assembly

Assembly Testing

The completed assembled unit was tested utilizing a wireless com link via a remote computer. Activation command transmitted for SW1 to turn on incandescent light bulb and verify PCB activation LED is illuminated. 

Switch Cube Bench Test
Switch Cube Bench Test

 Switch Cube Command Protocol (Resistance is Futile)

Switch Cube Network
Switch Cube Network

Supervisory Control basic features utilizing custom command protocol to address and identify unique remote IO's. Keeping it simple and easy to remember control octets are implemented to maintain communications link and status in real-time. Source and Destination node identification implement master controller to slave device data highway. This uniquely formulated protocol affords each independent device the ability of joining the cube network (collective of cubes) and then sharing data independently.    

Switch Cube Protocol
Switch Cube Protocol

Stage Two of Project (Genie Master & Cube Network)

As of March 2014 we have a completed and tested Switch Cube prototype including a very light weight embedded system which implements a unique state machine and wireless com link. This embedded control device will soon meets it master controller the Genie Master Cube. The Master Cube is currently in early design and undergoing breadboard and firmware (RTOS) development. I expect by late April I will have the Master controller hardware and firmware completed which will then enable internet communications via TCP/IP. The way I will accomplish this task is by creating another unique state machine which also includes a TCP/IP Stack (7 Layer OSI Model), RTC (Real Time Clock) combined with a Preemptive multitasking kernel which creates a interrupt driven, time-shared environment.     

Switch Cube Timeline 

Here is the current timeline. We have made significant strides and milestones towards the realization of the production unit. 

  • Initial conception of Idea Dec 2013  
  • Selected PCB Manufacturer Dec/Jan 2014 
  • Selected Component Distributors Dec/Jan 2014
  • Switch Cube Electronics Design Jan 2014 
  • Switch Cube Case Design Jan 2014
  • PCB Design layout (fits generic case) Feb 2014  
  • Firmware Development Jan/Feb 2014 
  • Prototype PCB (in house fabrication) Feb 2014 
  • Switch Cube Prototype Testing Feb 2014  
  • Master Cube Electronics Design March 2014
  • Master Cube Case Design/Selection March/April 2014
  • Master Cube PCB Design layout March 2014
  • Master Cube Firmware Development March/April 2014 
  • Select PCB Assemblers  April 2014
  • Production Run of 100 units May/June 2014
  • Project delivery around end of June/July 2014
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 Bio and the Inventor (Mr. Chip)

My name is John Macklin and I have been designing electronics since the age of 16. Since the first time I was ever published by Gernsback Publications I have eagerly worked to master the art of electronics design and development. In those days discrete component level design skills were required and one of my first published design articles taught many how to control a switch using acoustic wave energy. From this humble beginning (Mid 80's) I moved forward and worked as a Electronics Technician and later became employed by a fortune 500 company as an Engineering Technician. I laugh out loud today when I consider one of the first control programs I ever wrote was on a TRS80 Model 5 where I controlled peripheral IO devices (Zilog ruled TRS-DOS) and AC/DC loads using a PPI (no wonder I love embedded controllers). My second invention was a proximity detection device which emitted an audible acoustic wave. Later I designed and developed an FM radio transmitter which encoded a PWM wave form in a carrier. After several years of tech school and college (boredom struck) I became an industrial electronics and electronics, networking instructor.  After investing many years teaching electronics and computer networking I then went back to industry where I repaired, installed and maintained Token-ring and Ethernet networks, VHF/UHF, ISM Band RF transceivers, proximity detection, hydraulic and pneumatic controls and PLCs. While working in industry and the private sector I worked on the development of electronics hardware, controllers, firmware, machine language subroutines, Kernel mode drivers, WinSock32, (ANSI C), Basic, Visual Basic, C++, .NET, XML, AJAX, JavaScript, PHP, SQL as well as ladder logistics (A.I Series) which were designed to automate manufacturing and control processes. As a direct result of my studies, life's work and diligence I have become fluent in many computer languages and have been nicknamed Mr. Chip (but that's another story from the classroom).

Risks and challenges

We've spent tonnes of time designing this product and also have
our manufacturing facilities and production tooling vendors already
established. We are are looking at a great production run in 2014! Since Murphy is usually correct surprises will happen and so we pledge to inform our backers of those hurdles as they arise. Simply all R&D projects are a work in progress and does require extensive time resources to create a functional product. I strive to meet the same durability and reliability requirements as products used in industry.

COMPLETION
I have built in some extra time for problems that might come up during the research and development phases. I am confident to ship promised units by the dates projected. Right now it is very possible that we will begin fulfilling orders upon the close of funding. Mainly we pledge to work to keep investors notified when timelines must be forecasted.

PRODUCT QUALITY
We are working to make sure that we deliver quality on time:
Extensively tested prototypes are the first step in that we may identify
and eliminate common firmware bugs and hardware problems before commencing production. We are engineering and manufacturing these devices in accordance with UL safety and performance standards.

MANUFACTURING
We already have a long history and established relationships with experienced PCB manufacturers, assemblers and component suppliers. To help mitigate delays caused by logistics I have at least two different suppliers for each area whom work hard to ensure quality product delivery at our precise specifications.

I have designed and developed supervisory controls, Remote Display, SBC (Single Board Computer/Controller), PLC and Wireless ISM Radio devices and communications protocols over the years. My past work includes PICLinkRSxxx, PICLinkRSxxx USB, Proximity Detection as well as designing and developing a dual MAC layer WiFi (IEEE 802.11) and Fast Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) enabled IO controller. In addition we design and develop industry standard Wireless ISM communications devices. I guess that's why I am constantly fighting off intellectual property pirates (thieves) these days. So to make a long story short I invented the Genie Switch Cube to create another challenging project that many people will certainly love and benefit from.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    COFFEE CUP BACKER: Thanks for supporting our project! Get a coffee cup with with a printed TuxMicro Genie Cube logo so you can have some coffee while you read our weekly newsletter. Add $3 USD to ship outside the US

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    Genie Cube T-SHIRT BACKER: Thanks for supporting Genie Cube! Get a T-SHIRT with a printed TuxMicro Genie Cube logo and we'll also send you our weekly newsletter. Add $6 USD to ship outside the US

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    Genie Cube T-SHIRT & COFFEE CUP BACKER: Thanks for supporting Genie Cube! Get a T-SHIRT and a Coffee Cup with with a printed TuxMicro RTOS logo. Newsletter subscription included. Add $10 USD to ship outside the US

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Genie Cube SPECIAL: Qualifies for Early Bird Switch Cube unit pricing and we'll also send you a TuxMicro RTOS T-SHIRT & COFFEE CUP so you may show off your support while reading our newsletter. Thanks for supporting Genie Cube!

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    Pledge $199 or more About $199

    LET's AUTOMATE YOUR HOME BACKER: Qualifies for Early Bird combo unit pricing and we'll send you one Genie Switch Cube and Cube Commander (Master) to show our appreciation for your support. Newsletter subscription included. Thanks for supporting Genie Cube!

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Funding period

- (60 days)