Saturday, March 19, 2011

Home automation touchscreen

I had 7" touchscreen running Android left over. I'd bought it to experiment with PDFs, but it wasn't that good for that; too small a screen, and not enough processing power for any but the simplest PDFs. I gave it a try as a multimedia player to watch movies when my Archos died, but the old OS didn't support most of the codecs, and very few things could play on it. Eventually, I bought a new 10" tablet with a later version of Android, which works wonderfully for both movies and PDFs. So what to do with the leftover tablet?

This is only a little jury-rigged.  The hardest part was running a power cable to it.  I already had a hole in the wall, and a wire running down from it to the basement, and I could see both ends of the wire, yet I still couldn't fish the wire through very easily.  The wire that was already present (left over from an old thermostat install) is apparently tacked down somewhere, so I can't pull the new cable along using it.  I tried a lot of things, and eventually, had to buy a proper wiring fish tape, and even then it was quite a struggle due to the size of the power plug at the end. I ended up mashing it up a bit and having to reshape it with pliers to make it fit.

The brackets are also not quite the right size and ended up looking a little bit jury-rigged, particularly the screws.  I might replace them with something more suited if I can find something.  But it's not too bad.

I also had to tweak the settings on the tablet a bit.  First, disable all power saving features.  Second, delete all the email and calendar accounts I had set up -- I don't want it beeping when it happens to see me get an email.  (Getting email on this would be cutesy, but not practical; I already get it on my phone.)

The plan is for it to pretty much always run the software I'll use to control my home automation system.  But the touch screen software that comes with HomeSeer is pretty lame:

So I guess I'll have to work on Rover to make it better for this application, more suited to fingers.

It would also be nice to be able to run a few other things, like this:

But there's no easy way to switch between that and the home automation system that can be done without having to learn how to do it, and my aim here is something that's so obvious anyone can walk up and just start using it.  Maybe I'll just make a "home" web page that looks like this, and flips back to my home automation system quickly.

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