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"Dear Air Conditioner, you're only allowed to spend $200 cooling the house this month." MicroHome will let you manage your energy usage

"Dear Air Conditioner, you're only allowed to spend $200 cooling the house this month..."

The goal of MicroHome is to let you track, manage and control your home or office energy usage from your computer or cell phone. Energy is the most expensive and universal thing we all use today. By controlling what we use, we can work to conserve resources. With MicroHome, you'll even be able to give your air conditioner a budget.

MicroHome is a system that will be built on open source hardware and software to help you control your house - or anything else you want. Open source means that end users can extend the system to monitor or control new things.

The money raised for this project will be used to fund developer time, hardware development, build prototypes and stock parts launch the hardware platform and make kits available to the public for purchase.

MicroHome will be launched by developing several hardware modules. For clarity, this kickstarter project will focus on #1 and a couple of other modules to make it truly useful. The rest of the options in the list are the road it should take, but aren't guaranteed results from this project. However, I'll do my best to prototype as many as possible for the project.

1) The MicroHome controller. This will let you monitor and control your stuff from a computer, an iPhone, iPad or Android phone. The plan is to use a modified wireless router to keep this module affordable yet powerful.

2) The MicroHome Thermostat. This will be the most useful module in terms of energy control. With just the controller and the thermostat you'll be able to control your homes major energy consumer from almost anywhere.

3) MicroHome House energy monitor. This will use clamp on sensors and report on how much electricity your ENTIRE house is using. Extra modules could even be used to monitor individual circuits like the A/C system. (Imagine being able to set an A/C budget based on energy prices in your area!)

4) MicroHome Espresso Controller. Yes, control your coffee machine. My machine already has a custom controller. I will expand this platform into MicroHome so that I can control when that 1500watt boiler is on and even track how often it's used.

5) MicroHome Light Switch. The platform will be extended to interface with commercial grade smart house light controls. Flip on your porch light from another state!

6) The Tweet-A-Watt. We'll integrate the Tweet-A-Watt (made by Adafruit) into the MicroHome system. You'll be able to monitor the energy uses of devices that are connected to your Tweet-A-Watt power strip.

7) MicroHome Car Reporter. We'll build a module that monitors fuel and mileage on your car and modify it to check in whenever it visits home. How about getting emails with service reminders based on the mileage of your car?

As the hardware platform is developed, so will a control interface. The plan is to develop a generic web interface that any platform can use (computer, iphone, etc) in addition, a iPhone/iPad specific App will be written to directly interface with MicroHome and deliver alerts, control devices and monitor systems.

Where did the idea come from?

Digital thermostats are great, but they still do the same thing that a thermostat did 30 years ago. This project started as an idea to build an open source, open hardware thermostat to give you control of your house and your energy usage. As I worked on the concept, I realized that it would be even better to make it about controlling anything you need to control your energy usage.

How will the work be done?

To make sure that it gets the time it deserves, I'm going to use the project as a basis for my personal research for my Information Technology degree. In addition, the project will be open sourced and other contributors will be encouraged to help.

Where will the money go?

I'll use the funds to pay for parts, tools, web hosting fees and other expenses associated with the development of the project. It'll buy development hardware and it will be used to stock parts for an online store so that others can get the hardware they need to use MicroHome.

Where can this go?

Well, anywhere really. The platform will be open sourced so that anyone can use the designs and software to enrich their lives and reduce wasted resources.

FAQ

  • It's subject to pitfalls, but my personal timeline is to have the initial controller and a couple of modules prototyped and ready for production by the end of 2011.

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  • Yup. http://microhome.org is the home for all the information needed for the project.

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  • By releasing the designs to the public, the technology isn't lost. It can be rebuilt by someone on the other side of the world and adapted to their needs. Others can improve on it or rip it apart and use the parts to make something else entirely.

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  • Oh, a few things that are similar to this. I've built my own digital projector, a custom electronic speedometer adapter for my motorcycle, a computer controlled CNC mill for manufacturing metal and plastic parts, a custom Espresso machine controller and a few enterprise computer networks. My personal site is biobug.org, feel free to check out my projects there.

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  • Pledge $5 or more
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    As a micro-backer, you'll get your name in the credits on the website and you'll know that you've helped develop some technology to help save the earth's resources.

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    Your name in bold on the credits on the website, a link to your homepage/site

  • Pledge $500 or more
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    For $500, you'll be shipped a custom built MicroHome Controller. (Currently slated to be a modified wireless router with additional hardware added.) Your name will be on the backers page.

  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    This is the hardware geeks pledge. This option means that you'll get a shipment of each MicroHome hardware device as we produce them. You'll get a controller and at least one unit of every module that the project produces. No, Not alpha hardware, but a release version of everything that's produced. The plan is to build several modules, and you'll get one of every kit, custom pc board, etc that the project generates. If we build a new version of something you already have, you get that too.

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    This is corporate backer option #1. Your company will get featured on the credits page along with a link and your logo.

  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    This is corporate backer option #2. For $5000, your company will get their logo and link to their website in a sponsors box on the projects home page FOREVER. (It's OK if you sell something naughty, just keep the graphic kid clean, ok?) Everyone who visits the project page will know that your incredible company helped launch a system designed to conserve the earths resources.

Funding period

- (36 days)