New Software Gives Purpose to Old Hardware
Wednesday, November 26, 2008, by Sebastian Dwornik

With the focus on the environment and a suffering economy these days, the best way to adapt is by becoming more resourceful.  Old PDA hardware, for example that would normally be viewed as obsolete, can gain a resurgence with the right new software.  This is how PocketCRON was born.


PDA Controlled Christmas Tree Lights

I enjoy the glitter and sparkle of holiday lighting that decorates houses, banisters, and trees.  What I do not particularly enjoy is the added maintenance of turning ON and OFF those lights when the house goes to sleep.

So in comes home automation.

A few years ago I purchased an Insteon PowerLinc serial controller with a single LampLinc plug-in module to control my Christmas tree lights.  I also happen to have a spare Dell Axim X50 PDA that wasn't doing anything; until now.

PDA_controlled_Christmas_lights


By using PocketDAQ Pro to communicate over a serial connection with the PowerLinc controller, I was able to transmit the commands to turn the lights ON and OFF.  The development of PocketCRON then enabled me to set the schedule of controlling those lights.


Taskconfig_walkthrough


This is done by configuring tasks with the time and days that will automatically execute PocketDAQ Pro with a script parameter that transmits the appropriate commands to the PowerLinc controller.  It also provides an intuitive GUI for manual control of the lighting as well.

I have always believed that such mobile devices are an excellent form factor for the purpose of being stand-alone controllers.  They are essentially a full computer with a touch screen and built-in UPS.  Their size and power efficiency compared to a full PC - or even a laptop doing the same thing - is unmatched and the price is far less than any industrial version.

The end result adds convenience to controlling my holiday lights and puts to good use an old PDA that was otherwise ignored.  Saving me money for new hardware and opening more possibilities for other home automation projects.

With the lights done I think I'll move on to the sprinkler system .  But that won't be until the summer season comes around.


 

Welcome to my App World

My name is Sebastian Dwornik and I am an entrepreneur located near Toronto, Canada.

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