Simplifying A/V controls with the 'Smart Housekeeper'

Jeff Vogel | Smart Electronics Corporation

Simplifying A/V controls
with the 'Smart Housekeeper'

by Jeff Vogel, Smart Electronics Corporation

Jeff started Smart Electronics in 1994. He graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy in 1991 with a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. Then, in 1994, Jeff completed his Master's degree at U of D. He's done home automation research and development for his Master's Thesis, his company, and other projects for about 6 years.   

Entertainment systems are an important part of a complete automation solution in any home. From the simplest tasks of synchronizing your VCR and Cable tuners to the complex tasks of managing power up/power down sequences for multi-component hi-fi systems, The Smart Housekeeper can add some simplicity without costing a fortune.

Task at Hand:
This month, we'll show how to create convenient infrared macros that respond to single infrared commands, X-10 commands, time of day, and your voice. Our Smart Housekeeper will accomplish the following:
  • Power up/down sequences for a/v equipment
  • Change Surround Sound settings based on audio source
  • Synchronize VCR and Cable TV tuners for recording

These tasks are simple when the customer doesn't have a lot of equipment. However, when the true audio enthusiast has had his way, the spouse of the audio enthusiast can barely watch TV without either screwing up all of the settings or blasting the news at 100 dB! Our solution will have one touch macros to satisfy both the audio enthusiast and the spouse!

System Layout:
Lets assume that our equipment consists of the following:

  • Tuner
  • Preamplifier/source selector
  • Television
  • Cable Box
  • VCR
  • Surround Sound Processor
  • CD player

The first thing we'll need to do is create macros to simply manage all of these components. We'll create six scenes in our layout to manage power up/down, source selection and recording on the VCR. These scenes can be triggered from any other system event such as an X-10 command, a single IR command, or your voice.

Setting Up Scripts:
Once you've set up the scenes, creating the actual IR macro is simple. Simply double click on the IR commands as they should be sent to your A/V equipment. For the power up sequence, we power up peripherals first, then the amplifier last. On Power down, we power down the amplifier first, then the peripherals in any order.

Sensing Status:
Sensing status is required if your audio/video equipment doesn't provide separate On/Off IR commands. Most higher-end equipment does, but it's not advertised. You have to look for the special function commands in the documentation for setting up the Universal I/R controller of your Smart Housekeeper. This can be somewhat of a trial-and-error process. For the equipment that doesn't have separate on/off commands, the Smart Housekeeper will need to sense the status of the equipment and determine whether to act or not.

Using your voice:
If you follow the Smart Housekeeper in HomeToys, or you visited us at the Home Automation Show this year, you'll know that The Smart Housekeeper can be completely navigated from open air microphones with your voice. Visit last month's article called, Heidi's HA System for a completely speech controlled environmental solution. We don't need to create a scene for each thing we want to control with our voice, however, we can to make single voice commands control a multitude of things. If you have any questions or wish to learn more regarding automation for persons with disabilities, give us a call at 248-828-8159 or e-mail us at

To learn more about applications with The Smart Housekeeper, click below:

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