Well, this is the first the online community has really heard from me, and after falling prey to the Arduino v0017 'not saving when it should' bug, i finally have something that works, and is always improving.
What it is: The complete package (Called CNM Lighting Studio, because that sounds flashy :) ) is to..
- Remotely control appliances,lights and other things through a computer.
- Then add some VB.NET software to make is user friendly, and its done.
How it works: When you click on each 'lighting button' I.E the one for the TV, the program sends a number relating to which button was pressed to the Arduino. So pressing button 1 means the software will send a '1' to the Arduino. The Arduino knows that whenever it receives a '1' to set Pin2 to high for a second. This imitates pressing the first button on the remote control socket. What this means is that I dont have to deal with the complicated and expensive RC bit, i just buy it for £20. :) In addition, because i could, i made it beep whenever a light was switched on.
Software: If enough people want me to, I will upload the VB.NET code. All the software does is make the Arduino user-friendly. So bu clicking the 'Outputs' tab, you can edit the names of each output. However this does not affect the operation of the Arduino. There are 5 flags, which keep track of whether the output is on or off, when an output is on, the red fade on the button that is linked to that output goes green. Thats all it does :)
Channels Channels, are groups of lights. Channel 1, named 'At the computer' will turn on the Air Conditioning and the reading lamp when activated. This means the user can just click the situation they want, and the lights and appliances will adjust themselves.
Alarms Alarms are an idea i had, which meant that the internal buzzer will beep at a time set by the software. Nothing other to say really, but that its a nice feature. Intotal, there are 7 alarms,one for each day of the week.
Overall processes: 'User clicks on a button on the program' 'Software sends down a value (1-5)depending on what button they pressed' 'Arduino gets the number, and turns the allocated pin (2-6) on for a second' 'This high pin is conected to the remote, which immitates the user physically pressing the button' 'Light pops on or off' :)
Over All: For £20 and an Arduino, its really great! I love this, and because i havent messed around with the mains parts, i feel confident to leave the system working. The only drawbacks are that theres no feedback from the socket to say whether it has received the signal or not, so if for some reason the light doesnt come on, the software will think it is on (hence the 'Calibrate' button, which lets the user manually correct things).
I hope you like it! i look forward to your feedback, suggestions and improvements for it!