Using IOT To Build My Own Home Automation

As the outside of the house is nearing an end (woohoo) I need to focus on the inside of the house again.

The house will be automated and contain many interesting features. For starters and what I am working on now is the heating system. Our house has 30 cm of insulation and it is very air tight. Both good and bad. The house needs a ventilation system and that is a problem.

Most ventilation systems blow air into the rooms. However that often fights the convection flow, and does not remove smells. The system I am creating works on underpressure. That means air will be sucked out of the room, and the air flow is generated by air being replaced.

Each room will have its own fan, and that will feed into a heat exchanger. Programming the fan means tracking temperature and humidity. The system will also be tied into a Netatmo to take a temperature differential.

Technologies that I am using; Arduino, NodeJS, MQTT, and Linux.


Built My Own Heavy Duty Front Door

I have built my first outside facing door. Yes it is very heavy, about 50 KG (or 115 pounds)

Start by building a frame. While you can use a level to ensure things are straight I use lasers. Much more accurate and straight forward.



Here is a trick I learned from the window installers. They have graded pieces of plastice that range from 1 mm to 10 mm. And you use it to space a window or door to the appropriate distance. Then using foam and screws you fasten the frame. Yes you use PU (it has to be PU as the other foam will not act in a structural manner).


I also used the spacers to lift the frame from the concrete blocks.


There are two ways to build doors. The old fashioned beams and joints. Or the new way that involves layering wood ontop of each other. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages.

If you do the layered approach ALWAYS build a jig before hand. And do not use a right angle tool to align. It is not accurate enough. Use a laser like the little green triangle. BTW I have about 5 different laser devices.



This is the front layer and I have placed the windows so that I am sure the windows will fit.



Take the windows out, and now comes the absolutely critical part. You have finished the first layer and need to add the second layer of wood. These pieces are at 90 degrees to the current layer. But before you can do that you need to align with the laser.



I have added the second structural layer and now need to check the dimensions and ensure everything aligns. As you can see I have a 0.5 mm error. The length is off by 1 mm. So all in all in tolerance and accurate.

BTW when fastening the second layer to the first I use PUR glue. It is rated for structural tasks and to apply pressure to the wood I use screws to fasten the two layers. Since the third finishing layer is ontop you will not see the dozens of screws used to hold the two layers in place.


Here you see the PUR glue foaming out of the wood layers. Once hard I remove the excess.


Seeing if the door fits in the frame (it should)


Now finish the door and add the fittings for the windows. I used routed, milled and cut wood pieces.



And there you have it a finished door. Usually doors like this cost about 800 CHF (altitude rated 1200 CHF), or about 500 Euros. It cost me in parts as follows:

Insulating and altitude rated glass – 200 CHF
Wood siding 25 CHF
Door fittings 100 CHF
Other wood 25 CHF
Glue, odds and ends 25 CHF
Time needed – 2 working days

So yeah I saved quite a bit of money.



Looks easy eh? Well in the two days you did not see the mess I made of the wood. Some things I had redo 4 freaken times before I got it right! It was not fun. The door has some very minor oopsie moments from me, but overall I like the end result.





Cleaned up the Front Door

Sooo I replaced the window on our front door and cleaned up the front. Here you have a before and after. The after is the natural wood colour, and the before is the dark stained ugly glass. Notice the tiling at the bottom of the door. I think it blends nicely.






A Milestone Is Reached: Siding and Scaffolding Done!

Today another milestone occurred! I have used my scaffold for the last time on our house. All of the scaffold work is finally done. Originally I thought of using only a ladder, as that is what my parents used to do.

However upon trying it out I realized it is too slow and too cumbersome. Also I have realized that if you are doing work that is 4 meters (13 feet for metric impaired wink emoticon ) or higher you should be using a scaffold.

I am not scared of heights per say. I just need to get used to it. I remember when I was a teenager my father used to send me up the ladder or onto the roof. I always thought it was because he was “lazy”, but now I realize he was scared of heights. For when I was not around, it was my mother that did the height work.

My brother can handle heights if there is firm ground. Otherwise not a chance. Me I am now used to the 8.5 meters (28 feet) that our house is. And let me tell you I did some funky stuff as you will see by the pictures.

The EARLY days… That was my first scaffold. It was only 10 feet high, and 15 inches wide. I ran across it often and did not think twice, but many folks hated it…


Here I am using a single scaffold while preparing a wall before insulation.

A fully insulated wall with the wood struts used for the facade



This was the highest. Here we have 28 feet of single scaffolding.

The hard part is put it up and taking it down. For then you have to remove the guards and safety pieces. The scaffold wobbles like crazy and you have be very careful with your next steps and actions.


My first scaffold. A redneck edition. My brother was not impressed.


Working during the winter in the snow… It was ok, but my feet and hands kept getting really cold. And due the effort needed I could only work 7 hour days doing this work.

For every piece of wood I would have to go up and down the scaffold. I usually needed two pieces of wood per row. So typically I went up and down 200 times a day. I did this for 3 months!!!

I worked during the winter, which was a bit dangerous as snow and ice built up and I had to be careful. But I had an awesome view.


That is siding, insulation, and preparation.



Here you see the snow I had to deal with.


This was under the construction floor where I used construction boards to create a floor for the scaffold.



This was my first scaffold idea, and my brother freaked out. I built a floor with wood. Then used the scaffold as a center orientation piece. And as a second floor I used more boards, on top of which I put a ladder.

My brother looked at that, asked “i
s it stable?” I responded, “not really, it bounces like bamboo.” He rolled his eyes. The hardest aspect was putting the second level ladder to the edge, getting to the top of the second level ladder and then looking straight down. Since the surface was “stable” it took some getting used to.


Here is the two scaffold construct I used. I bought a second scaffold, and then put wooden beams across to create levels. The rub here is that the center beams were bouncy and the highest levels did require getting some used to. Especially when there was snow and ice. You could easily slip and fall down 6 meters.

Actually I did fall, but only 3 meters. Though I cracked my telephone screen. At that point I stopped putting my phone in my back pocket.




Low Carb Zucchini Noodles

My wife is on a low carb diet. It works for her body and as such since I am cook I need to accommodate on the weekends.

This weekend I tried something new. Low carb noodles. You might say, “ah ok that is using low carb flour.” What if I said, no it is using zucchini as noodles?

I bought a special cutter, and what you see are zucchini “noodles”. I made a slightly fruity bolognese sauce and quite honestly they were very good.

Most of the time folks get rid of the skin of zucchini, but I left it. It gave a bit of a nutti taste to the sauce. And yes you could use a fork and spoon to spin the noodles!!! The texture was penne noodles.

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House Siding is COMPLETE…

Woohoo finally finished ALL of the wood siding. This house is a cube and it has horizontal siding, wood siding. It is Siberian Larche, which is like Cedar in that it can be used naturally. Unlike Cedar, Larche turns black (Cedar turns grey).

While the cube would make you think that it is simple, it is in fact quite complicated. The horizontal lines require that EVERYTHING lines up. The lines have to go around the house, and be proportional around doors, windows, and so on.

Overall the play is about 1cm. For this project I used about 2,000 5m siding pieces.

One way to cheat and something many homes do is put elbows on the side. That way the eye cannot detect if there are differences either up or down. However in my example there are only thin aluminum elbows. BTW one of the pictures shows that two sides do not have elbows.


This was also tricky getting this alignment straight.


The complete house.11224627_1663070573927480_6569007701501496374_n

This side was FRIGGEN tricky. Not only did I have to align the sides to the other sides of the house, but I had to ensure that the windows aligned and that the wood was straight.

This side is 8.2m high and I am doing some small finish jobs.


The house and cover shed mismatch lines by a 1 cm. So if you take your eye along the side you will be off by a 1 cm.



The aluminum strip is missing, but notice how the pieces all nicely align including the balcony. Actually due to the fact that the balcony runs perpendicular to the house the siding by the balcony looks really sharp and blended perfectly. The eye just wanders along without being disrupted.


You can take the pixels and look close and you will see the alignment going straight across to the shed.


Here is the shed with the alignment and the aluminum corner.


I was born near the Mosel wine region (Nassau-Lahn). In the Nassau-Lahn region there are some vineyards and generally speaking it is Rieseling, which is a wine that I still enjoy. Here is a link that explains the area a bit.


Finished the Front Porch

Finished the porch today. When I built the support framework notice I used a laser to level everything. I have about 5 different types of lasers and have to admit I would never do any type of construction without a laser. It ensures things are level and straight.

For the porch I used the one as referenced by this link on amazon.

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Finished the Open Shed

Another day another step closer on getting the house finished. This week I built this covered area beside the house. It matches the look and feel of the house. Not much say because I am quite tired right now.

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I have always found the Austrian wines to be nice, but unknown to the external world. Here is a crash course in them.