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.NET developement - Home automation



Im new member and want to buy some hardware modules to do my project. Support at ChipworkX forum adviced me to use FEZ modules so i want you to confirm it.

First of all ine this project i want to use different Wireless sensors like:

Humidity and Temperature Sensor - Check the temp and humidity so i can programm the a/c, heating etc in the house.

Motion Sensor and Camera - I want to monitor motion outside the house on night so it can take a picture when something moves out there (and then send alert sms/picture to my phone)

GSM module - So it can take commands from my mobile via text, reply back as i mentioned before with the camera…etc ,(for example send sms from my phone TURN LIGHTS DOWNSTAIRS ON and the system turns lights downstais on remotely) or maybe do it with other way? maybe through internet (!?) im open to new ideas.

i also have Z-Wave for controlling the power, lights etc…will it work with FEZ?

and in general be able to use different other wireless sensors like optical dust sensor, accelometer etc

So can anyone recommend me what to buy for this project and what suits my needs?

P.S. i searched sparkfunk(as i read in some other posts) for different sensors…but i don’t know what is for me.

i also wanted a touch sreen on the main board to have an GUI for the user to control the house…but i saw that cobra is out of stock at this moment.

Any help appreciated


You need touch and color graphics. That is fez cobra.

I suggest you get one and start reading in the free ebook. Then you can add one sensor at once while coming here for help


But i see cobra is out of stock and will be available in 1.5 month. I need to start my project now. How can i do this? Is there emulator so i can start coding and checking? If not what do you suggest to buy (withouth screen) ? Fez Domino?

Thanks for help.


Domino is an excellent board and there is an emulator already but how good is an emulator if you can’t connect your sensors. Get started with domino and all code you write now will work on cobra as well.


You can do a lot with a Fez Panda, except touch screen. In fact that’s what I’ve been doing, working out the interfacing to the sensors I want to use etc, via my Domino/Panda. The beauty of netmf is that all that code is then transportable to Cobra, maybe change a few port definitions on the way and it just works.

You have some interesting sensor decisions to make. If you’re not experienced from a hardware perspective, you might well find some challenges getting interfaces to work. Here’s some of the things that stand out to me.

Wireless. You have to be careful since “wireless” is an open ended spectrum of products. You might need to temper your thoughts here, it’s not trivial to implement things with a comprehensive wireless support, since that could mean WiFi (networking) connections, radio frequency (RF) comms on different frequencies, xbee etc.

Humidity and Temperature Sensor - relatively easy. Not so if you think it’s wireless.
Program the a/c, heating etc in the house - may be harder. How does your A/C and/or heating interface to the “world”? Serial? are you going to plug into an existing control display and manipulate that?

Motion Sensor - easy, they’re typically a relay-type arrangement with Normally Open and/or Normally Closed contacts. Motion is sensed, the contacts reverse, generate an interrupt and do something.

Camera - that’s not so easy. There are serial cameras that you could use (bing for “Bansky camera” to find a project that does this) but they’re typically not security monitoring grade devices. If you can find a security camera that has support for digital external controls you might be able to do that.

and then send alert sms/picture to my phone - not so easy. The SMS part is easy since you can buy a mobile phone card/shield and use that, which will allow you to generate SMSes. Sparkfun have several of these (search “cellular shield”). The picture though is a different matter. Think about this - a picture might be kilobytes in size, and these microcontrollers work on very small memory footprints. Buffering this data, let alone doing anything with it post-capture, will likely take time. Again, if you can find a device that allows this but is just triggered by the Fez you may be OK. I’ve never seen a project (that doesn’t mean there aren’t any) that implement MMS messaging over cellular for an image like this - but again getting the data into the Fez will be the issue.

GSM module - yep you can do this. You could also have it on the internet so it’s contollable remotely (and perhaps even use email to send pictures, again if you can get them to Fez.

Z-Wave - if you can make it work with any microcontroller, then you can likely make it work on Fez, it would be an exception where you can’t (tight control loops or other places where there are timing critical real-time requirements). again, I’ve not seen a Z-Wave project wuth a uC, not to say that it can’t be done.

wireless sensors like optical dust sensor, accelometer sure - again though why wireless, and what will that “wireless” mean? You need to delve into the specifics of each one to understand what it is and how you might interface to it.

As Gus said, if you want a touch controller then Cobra will meet your needs. I’d also think about buying a Panda / Domino in the short term to help with the development - make sure you get a LCD connected for displaying information (you could just buy the Fez LCD shield)

There are at least two of us doing work in this space (me and EriSan500) so keep posting questions and info you gather and I’m sure we’ll all be able to help out as you go.

Good luck - look forward to hearing more as you delve into the depths of your project !

(edits for spacing and bold quotes)



have a look here:
Maybe we can join forces?



I would like to add that for SMS and Phone notifications you can use a web service. My company actually is in web service business and we offer two great services:

-SMS Notify!
-Phone Notify!

Both of the services support callbacks. The callback mechanism can be used to build interactive systems.

You can get more information here:

Main company site:

Phone Notify

SMS Notify!

Wiki (code examples),etc.

I can help with free trial key.



Architect, it seems like your first project is to build the NetMF routines required to implement links to your company’s web services :slight_smile:

The only downside to a service like that (and it’s not just this service) is the fact that you need a monthly service fee to keep the lights on - so the balance is, when does the cost of the celluar shield plus a telco-vendor plan become equivalent or cheaper than the monthly cost plus usage fee. But it’s a great idea to help avoid the complexities of this particularly at the outset.


Yeah, I’ve realized that ;D. I can do that using Netduino Plus. I don’t have any FEZ boards at the moment - waiting for Panda to arrive, but again there is no ethernet on that one. Anyways Netduino project should be a good example to start with.



if you use standard .Net sockets, then the upcoming wiz w5100 support from should mean this will “just work” :slight_smile:


First of all, thank you all for your comments and info.

To clear the things I want to make something like EricSan500 posted but on Prototype and not all of these listed there. Why i want to make this? Because its my last project/Thesis to get the diploma at my University. So i have to make Home automation with WSN (wireless sensor network).
So i don’t want to make it for a real time house at the moment! but something like this:

@ Brett About the sensors when i say wireless i mean somehow the temperature sensor for example sends data to the board w/o wires. Motion sensor outside the door makes the same etc. I guess you get the point. And i want wireless for the reason that my project is about WSN as i said.

About the camera and picture, maybe better is through ethernet. And use sms only for macros for example. Before i arrive home send OPEN A/C for example and board gets the point and do this task. All these in prototype and not for real home…for example i may connect a fan simulating a/c etc…

on my Lab we bought Z-wave to control the electricity and lights, we didn’t tested it on board because we didn’t buy it yet :smiley:

about the Domino (as i can’t buy cobra yet) i can buy it with LCD for output, and Wifi extention module to communicate with the sensors?

@ Architech thanks for ur info but im not interested on something like this. I want to make my own code for this.

So the problem here is to find what hardware i need, the main board, the sensors and the different modules.

so for now as u suggested…i get domino and sparkfun for the sensors.


You are ok with the Domino and LCD for output. I doubt you will find sensors (temp/humidity/motion) that are using Wifi to communicate. Most of them use RF433 or RF868 or ZigBee or XBee, and most of those sensors use a proprietary protocol. You will find info and code on some of the protocols but only for C/C++. What kind/brand of sensors you have in mind?

Another alternative is to have a look at

Important thing is that you first define what sensors you are going to use.



AeroScout makes some WiFi RFID tags that record temp/humidity:, they are not cheap though.


well because im not familiar with all this hardware and im still learning…those are modules that are connected to the FEZ and then they communicate wirelessly with the sensors? IF yes, this could work.

Well in the lab they have an older system called Crossbow Imote2.builder
with some sensors on the kit listed below

• Dual Temperature and Humidity Sensor (Sensirion SHT15)
• Digital Temperature Sensor (TI TMP175)
• Light Sensor for Visible and IR Light (TAOS TSL2651)
• Three-axes Accelerometer (ST Micro LISL02DQ)
• General Purpose ADC (Maxim MAX1363, 4 x 12-bit channel, 0-3V analog)
• Digital Interface I2C

but this company stopped i think doing such products and it works only on older NETFM 2.0 and vs2005. So im searching for new products to buy and do my job as i said…im still learning and searching so i hope you help me too :slight_smile:

so i don’t know yet if those sensors can work, else i have to buy some sensors too.


But your crossbow isn’t wireless, is it?

Simplistically, all those types of sensors are meant to be WIRED to a microcontroller to sense the environment. Even in a “wireless” mode, a “sensor unit” is really a sensor, a wireless module, and something providing “glue” between the two. in most cases, you will NOT find a dedicated / separate wireless sensor unit for all the types of data you want to collect/monitor.

The Jee Labs guy has some interesting ideas, he is basically finding cheap and low-power ways to build reliable sensor modules, with sensor or sensors connected to an AVR and then with a wireless module. If you are just prototyping this for Uni then you could consider building multiple Fez units as a slave - and then the Cobra could become the master. You can do everything then, including the wireless management across all devices. OR you could use xbee that handles a lot of the inter-network aspects, and have each Fez simply do sensor processing and data transfer back to the master as needed.


how the xbee works?

for example i put it on one room and connect the sensors on it and then xbee sends data wireless to the FEZ Board?

about Imote2.builder, yes it sends data back to board wireless


Thats a possibility. The sensors need to be analog though. The you can tell your FEZ to sample all the XBee’s in the network.


Did you think another way for your project or you just use wires?
Some sensors i searched are digital. Is it hard to find analog?


Why don’t you make your own sensors?

Ingredients: (multiply with the amount of sensors you need)

[li]Fez Mini[/li]
[li]XBee module (to make your sensor wireless)[/li]
[li]DS1822 OneWire Digital Temperature sensor[/li]
[li]SHTxx Digital Humidity Sensor[/li]
[li]LDR Analog Light Sensor[/li]
[li]e-Pir Digital Motion Sensor[/li]
[li]A few ounces of code[/li]
[li]A bit of patience[/li]
[li]6Volt wall power supply[/li]

Put this all in a blender, and let it mix for about 6 hours and you should have a state-of-the-art wireless sensor. :wink:



thank you very much for your info, i will look at them.

Can you explain me a bit the purpose of the FEZ Mini? I thought Domino/cobra could do all the stuff.

so you suggest Fez Mini do the Sensors part and be slave of domino that do the rest part, camera GSM , ethernet etc?

and about the xbee:do i need 1 XBee for the board and one for each sensor?