UK - Wireless X10 Transceiver Module (TM12)

This unit allows the retro-fit convenience that you know and love from X10 to be extended to places that don't have mains wiring. For example, place an eternal PIR at your gate and have a chime module sound inside when someone is entering your property. The TM12 opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

UnorthodoX-10

If you limit yourself to purchasing 220v X-10 modules, you can easily expect to spend three to four times as much on your system components alone. Worst, the most popular receivers are priced close to 5 times as much. With such a huge difference, you may be thinking that the 220v modules are superior in technology and features. Flatly, they are absolutely not. The only difference between the two types of modules is the value of a very few components inside the modules.

Wireless Networks

The cost of connecting PCs with radio waves instead of wires is now as low as $99 per system, and there are several technologies to choose from. But that's the problem - too many to choose from. Since a confused market doesn't buy, I'm dedicating this second HomeToys.com "mentor" article to positioning the three emerging wireless standards - Bluetooth, IEEE 802.11b, and HomeRF.

S3/Diamond HomeFree Phoneline - 10Mbps

10Mbps over phoneline is here! True, at about $65 per computer, it's about 3X the cost of a 10baseT NIC. But as long as you have a phone jack in the room where you want to put a computer, you don't have to worry about drilling holes, snaking cables through walls, or settling for lower speed than a 10baseT network. Laptop users, however, will have to wait to join the party until a PCMCIA or USB product is available. (NetGear has announced a USB product, but S3/Diamond has not.) So if you've been holding off networking your computers together because you didn't want to install CAT5 cabling, wait no longer! The HomeFree Phoneline 10Mbps kit will have you up and running in no time!

Comdex Survey

These are the results of a survey carried out at Comdex Fall 99. If you have Internet Explorer 5 you can view the results as a PowerPoint presentation by clicking here (Note: The presentation may cause problems with browsers other than IE5).

Digital I/O Primer

Digital I/O is useful in implementing many external sensors. Such things as magnetic door switches, water level switch, motion sensors, panic buttons, and macro select switches, all make good digital inputs. A digital output can control a roof vent fan, illuminate LED indicators, control the furnace (HVAC), disconnect the telephone ringer, or any other on/off type of application you can think of.

Futureproof Your Home

New types of devices have helped to change the thinking of home networking experts. Six years ago they said to put bedroom phone outlets by the bed and TV outlets across the room. But they didn't anticipate interactive program guides or NetTV devices that require both a phone and TV outlet. So today they put a phone outlet by every TV outlet. Still, no one can fully anticipate future wiring needs, and that's the message of this article.

Keyspan Digital Media Remote

Installation was a snap. Run the install software ... plug in the device when asked ... test and see that it worked ... which in my case it did. The remote itself is very small (fits into a shirt pocket) and it's buttons are pretty straight forward.

X-10 Controllers

X-10 is by its nature modular and incremental. However, changing a controller is usually more involved than simply adding more modules to the system. Often, the software must be replaced, and the controlling commands rewritten or revised for the new features. There's usually a different interface with new idiosyncrasies and learning curve. Therefore, for 'general-purpose' home automation, my suggestion is to avoid the under-achievers. Looking at what seems basic today for home-automation, a controller must be able to do two-way X-10.

A2D - Temp Sensors

Adding temperature sensors to your home automation system is fun and the first step toward automating and taking control of your HVAC system. The techniques presented here can also be used with good effect for virtually any analog input. It is very unusual for a sensor to produce an optimal output without any conditioning at all.

Forum99 Wrap-Up

From the announcements that came from Forum'99, it is evident that the excitement is only just beginning to build. Technical advances are only one part of the key to unlocking the vast potential this market holds, however. The overreaching message proclaimed by most speakers - and attendees - is a better understanding of the needs and desires of the 21st century consumer.

Home Cabling Part V

So, now we've got a house full of cables, a nice wiring closet, and neat and impressive outlets. At this point you may be thinking 'what do I do with all these wires'? We should probably go over some of the things you can do with your new high-tech wiring system, and how to go about having all these technologies co-exist nicely.

Let's Play Ball!

The next time you have an opportunity to observe a group of individuals demonstrating precision and harmony, be it on a sports field or on stage in an orchestra or play, remember that it takes both talent, teamwork and many hours of practice to achieve this level of performance. Remember to expect that same level of performance from the products you use to populate your home network.

Marantz RC5000 Remote

Marantz's RC5000 has a very different look than other remotes ... it's gold for one thing and looks more like a palm pad than a remote. It's not designed for 1 hand operation but fits nicely in the palm of one hand while the other navigates and pushes the buttons. The touchscreen is very responsive and clear (with easy contrast adjustment and backlighting).

Analog to Digital

An A2D board does exactly what its name implies. It converts an analog voltage to a digital value that a computer can read. Anything that produces a varying voltage can supply the input: a temperature or pressure sensor, a potentiometer, a stress gauge, or the output of a photo-resister.

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