Z-Wave Project Advice

I am looking mess around with a little bit of Home Automation starting with just a few lights. I think that I want to use Z-Wave based on what I have read (Insteon looked good too, but I read it is not "open" so protocols are hard to find... I don't know how accurate that is, and I also looked into X10 but read that it is not as reliable as z-wave, plus I can get Z-Wave from local stores which is nice). What I am wondering is what exactly would I need to get started and control some lights. Here is my plan...

Write an app for my tablet (Android) that communicates with my arduino via internet (using the wireless or ethernet shield on my arduino and just sending signals over wifi through a router to my arduino). The arduino would then get information from the android app and send that information to my Z-Wave (I am guessing I need some kind of controller?). Then the Z-Wave "controller" sends information out to the individual Z-Wave modules hooked up to my lights.

Is this philosophy correct? What flaws are there with what I am planning and are their better ways to do it? What "Controller" options are available and how would I use them and send info to it from the arduino? It is possible to send commands to the arduino via internet from my android right? Just either sending packets or other more efficient protocols?

Thanks for any advice!

Z-Wave is quite closed. The air protocols and serial wire protocols are secret and there are no hackable modules available. Having looked at the Z-Wave legal requirements to get access to the development kit, I do not believe there is a ton of room for hackable modules like we get with Zigbee.

There are serial and USB controllers, and there is a project to reverse engineer the command interface for those. http://code.google.com/p/open-zwave/

The Micasa Verde Vera is a fairly open hackable network appliance that contains a Z-Wave controller. This is the route I have taken. You can send simple web service type requests to the Vera, and it will drive the Z-Wave network.

Neither of these is really an Arduino-tractable project, though.

What I was thinking is that it would be possible to connect something like this http://www.leviton.com/OA_HTML/ibeCCtpItmDspRte.jsp?item=173512§ion=15188 directly to the Arduino and then send signals from the arduino to it via serial interface (or if there is a similar usb one do it like that) and then it would send the signals out and control the devices.

But if something like this wouldn't work would it be better for me to just use something like zigbee? What are the pros/cons of zigbee vs z-wave?


I think it could work. Looking at the docs for that Leviton Vizia, it seems to be simple and well documented. Most of the controllers have a very complicated wire protocol requiring licensed drivers on the computer that talks to them. I wish I'd known about this Leviton part when I got started.

I think that is why I have been some what questioning about it since I know a lot of things are complicated like you said, and by looking at the docs that seems to be pretty simple to just send it ASCII comands.

I am still a little bit confused about how exactly the Z-Wave networks work though. With that device it says I need to add it to the network with a controller. Is there any cheap solution to this? What exactly do I need to set up a Z-Wave network? Do I really need a fancy remote like they show in the docs as their suggestion or is there another way? Since I want to control all of it customly with my own android apps through arduino, I wouldn't need a controller so I would rather not waste money on one...

The Levitron I/F 501 looks like a good answer to what I want to do. It looks to me that it is write only, letting me control the devices from my Arduino, but there is no indication coming back to my Arduino when a human operates a Z-wave toggle switch or controller. Did I miss something?

Is there another interface to Z-wave devices that is bidirectional?

Appreciations in advance (;-