Curuba is an open-source and open-hardware home automation system. The project aims at creating an affordable, complete home automation system featuring quality comparable to existing products on the market. The system is designed with a modular approach, so that it is easily customizable. It uses the well-known Wi-Fi wireless technology to communicate information. Also, in order to deliver support for the project, to transfer knowledge and to share documentation, we are trying to build a web community around the project.
Since we started the project Curuba has evoled. The first prototype was big and costly. It was a single circuit board with everything on it only made to start programming the hardware.
The second prototype was made to be modular, smaller and cheaper. It was composed of two boards, each one dedicated to a specific purpose.
These two prototypes are functional but we wanted to do better so we decided to design a third one.
The third prototype (the one we are offering you in the pledge) is the smallest and cheapest we could make up to now.
The control module can communicate via Wi-Fi and execute the commands received. Its main purpose is to control the application module that will be on top of it. It will be reused for any application.(The TI CC3000 Wi-Fi chip supports: 802.11b/g, WPA2, WPA, WEP and open).
Following are the two application modules designed as of now.
First comes the high power module, dedicated to control simple on/off high power appliances, such as AC power outlets.
Second comes the light, or low power, module, intended to control low power appliances and create a dimmer for light control purposes.
The control and application-specific modules are then simply stacked up together to form a complete module.
How to install it* :
As you will notice when reading the user guide available on our website, installing Curuba can be done by anyone, in four main steps:
2. Configure the Curuba modules with an USB connexion to the Curuba server;
3. Connect the Curuba modules in the electrical enclosure of the device you want to control, such as a switch or a power outlet;
4. Connect your computer, tablet or smartphone to the server using the Curuba web-based application.
* It is important to mention that since no certification process has been done as of now, you may install the modules and use them at your own risks. The modules have been tested, we but can not give any insurance concerning the prototype's security.
- Curuba can be used in parallel with an electrical switch to control in a three way configuration, featuring a dimmer function when controlling lights, or to control simple on/off high power appliances;
- Curuba can control any device having a current consumption up to 12.5 A, under voltages reaching 120 VAC.
- Curuba records the power consumption of each connected device. The application then shows useful statistics that can be consulted at anytime. This helps the user to efficiently monitor the operation of high energy consuming appliances in his house;
- The Curuba application can be used with any of the following: iPhone, iPod Touch, Android, BlackBerry, tablets and computers;
- Curuba electrical modules have to be configured via a USB cable with the central server, in order to be able to connect to the Wi-Fi network. Our code only support WPA2.This configuration has to be done once, before the installation of the modules. Thus, Curuba benefits from the security of the existing Wi-Fi network;
- The Curuba hardware designs and software can be downloaded from our website. As already stated, the project is open-source and open-hardware.
We are a team of students in electrical and computer engineering, and we are currently finishing our degree. The project started a year ago as a university project. The goal was to create a low cost home automation system, completely open to the public. We met the initial goals faster than we though, so we decided to go further and do a Kickstarter! We didn't want the project to end when we finish our degree, because we are all really motivated to make it bigger. We want the project to continue evolving until it reaches a marketable state.
We currently estimate the production cost of a whole module built to 61 $, but we want to make it lower.
We also need to go through a long and complicated certification process to ensure the safety of the modules when they are in use, so people can have an absolute faith in the product. This was kept in mind when doing the design, and many tests have already been made by the team in that way, but realizing the certification will still be very costly. It is important to mention that this will only apply to the modules we build and ship ourselves, since any modification that may be done to the design voids the whole certification process.
For the people who want to participate in testing and developing Curuba, the programming kit used is the MSP-EXP430G2 from Texas Instruments, which can be boughthere.
Following is a picture of an example setup that we use when developing:
An online forum has been created to serve several purposes:
- Share information and ideas between members of the project’s web community;
- Discuss of new features that could be added to the project;
- Bring support to developers wanting to upgrade Curuba;
- Receive precious feedback from users and developers;
- Share the code, electrical schematic, user guide, and any other information you need to know about the project.
What comes next, if we collect enough money
1. Fulfil our engagements towards the project backers (see Pledge Description below);
2. Bring Curuba up to north american electrical standards;
3. Continue the development of other useful features, based on the ideas, feedback and advices received from the web community;
4. Improve the communication protocols and secure the connections further.
* Note that every new hardware features or software updates, may those be made by us or by any other developer, will be available on the web site, and as completely documented as the currently available features.
The Curuba electrical module prototypes we will send you are tested and functional. We want you to become part of the project and help us find the problems and limitations of the modules. Explore the possibilities of Curuba, and give us your feedback!
We ensure you that we will keep the promises made to the backers, whatever country they are from. We have seen many projects on Kickstarter where the members didn’t always keep their promises, or wouldn’t answer correctly or shortly enough to the questions they were asked. We want you to know that your satisfaction is very important to us, and we want Curuba to be associated with trustworthiness right from the start.
If you choose the 4 Curuba modules pledge, please mention how many of each application modules you want. For example: 2 light modules and 2 high power modules.
If you choose any pledge containing one or many Curuba modules, please specify if you would like an epoxy coating to be added to cover the modules, for electrical insulation and thermal conduction. Since the modules are sent as prototypes, if this isn't mentioned, no coating will be added. It is also important to mention that the coating is impossible to remove, so the hardware will be unaccessible forever.
Addon rewards: for each Curuba module you take, you can add 20$ to receive an additional Curuba customized electrical wall plate.
Here is a approximate planning we made to fulfill the pledges:
Receive the money form Kickstarter in the beginning of January;
Order the modules from the manufacturer as soon as possible;
Receive the modules in the beginning of February;
Finish the modules assembly, configuration and testing by the end of February;
Pack and send the modules in March.
Considering the possible setbacks we might encounter, everyone should have received his rewards by the end of April, as promised.
Imagine with Us
previously stated, the Curuba
platform is made so you can develop your own functionalities, such as:
A watering system for your plants;
A system to feed your animals from distance;
Opening your door when the mailman comes for a delivery, or when a technician comes for an installation;
Controlling your house's thermostat and programming its working schedule to save electricity.
We would like to specially thank people who volunteered to help us in this adventure:
Elsa Chiasson: for her help in the website's design, drafting and correction.
Alexandre Gauvin: for his pictures of the team and the electrical modules.
Andrés Salas: for filming and editing the video.
And, of course, each and everyone of you guys from the Kickstarter community who give us an enormous hand in continuing our project!
The Curuba team.
Risks and challenges
Here are the main challenges of the project, if it reaches successful funding:
1) We will have to produce, test and ship all modules. We will need suppliers to manufacture the boards and solder electrical components on them, and we will then need to perform configurations and tests on each assembled modules to ensure usability. Then, we will have to ship them from Canada to all the backers. Since it will be our first experience regarding production and worldwide shipping, we don't exactly know what it will represent in terms of manufacturing defects or shipping management. What we do expect is a quite involved process.
2) Since most of us will be graduated and working full time by the time the Kickstarter ends, we won't have much manpower to do the shipping.
3) We know every corner of our code and our circuits, and we know how to use them. But you don't! The way we expect everything to work may not be how you expect it. We will have to collect feedback from everybody in order to improve the project and its documentation.
4) It will also be our first experience regarding open-source software management. This can make or break the project since a poor management will likely slow down or kill the development. We also don't know how many people will contribute to the project and if we will be able to handle the new contributions and bring complete support to everyone.
5) Since we are in the last days of our last term, we still have a lot of work to do related to the final evaluations. Because of that and the holdays, we will most likely be slow to respond to comments, until the end of december.
6) It is likely that a new team of students will pick up the project and work on it for the next year. If it is so, we will have to work with them to make sure they understand our design choices and are able to make good decisions about the future of the project.
On a last note, if we don't raise the funding required, we still hope that people will stick around to bring the project further with the web community. The important thing is not about how much we make, but how useful this project really is. We really want to change the face of the home automation market. No amount of money matches good ideas.
Curuba High Power: A functional prototype to control on/off high power applications. You have the choice of receiving the prototype with or without coating (see pledge description for more information). Additionally, you will be mentioned as donor on our website. (For shipping outside of Canada the customs duties are not included)
Curuba Lighting Module: A functional prototype to control lighting applications. You have the choice of receiving the prototype with or without coating (see pledge description for more information). Additionally, you will be mentioned as donor on our website. (For shipping outside of Canada the customs duties are not included)
4 Curuba Modules: 4 functional prototypes to control any of the two available appliances (you can chose how many of each you want) will be sent to you. You have the choice of receiving the prototypes with or without coating (see pledge description for more information). Additionally, you will be mentioned as donor on our website. (For shipping outside of Canada the customs duties are not included)