This Arduino-compatible board makes it easy to automate your home


This versatile, AVR-based board allows users to easily program their own home automation systems.


Though the number of smart home devices continue to rise, a number of consumers still remain a bit hesitant in shelling out the big bucks to automate their homes. Instead, many Makers have already begun to devise connected in-house gadgets using easy-to-use platforms like Arduino and Raspberry Pi. With this in mind, one Miami-based startup has launched a Kickstarter campaign for an ATmega328P based board that looks to help streamline the process for Makers looking to install home automations of their own using the Arduino IDE.

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Created by the GarageLab team, the aptly-named Automation Board packs a wide range of features including relay triggering, Wi-Fi, Internet connectivity, various sensors, as well as RS-485 communication. The extremely versatile platform is entirely compatible with the Arduino Uno, and offers all of the necessary resources one would require to create a smart home system.

With its power source soldered onto the unit itself, the device is charged from the electrical grid with voltages between 100 to 240VAC and 50-60Hz, making it adaptable to any grid around the globe. It also has four relays to trigger alarms, electronic locks, fans, lamps or any other compatible load.

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Knowing all too well that connecting sensors can be a tedious task for Makers, the Automation Board was designed to expedite the process. Meaning, the pins that are ready to link to a sensor can be either digital or analog, and include 5V and ground. This lets users attach several kinds of sensors, ranging from an IR sensor to create communication with a TV remote or motion to trigger an alarm.

Similar to the incredibly popular Arduino platform, the Automation Board offers tremendous expandability through the use of shields. What’s more, the platform allows for RS-485 connection, ideal for applications in industrial automation systems or in settings with electromagnetic interference. It should be pointed out that users will be able to utilize spcific programs to integrate with existing professionals systems as well.

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Through its dedicated headers for XBee modules, Makers will be able to connect as many Automation Boards as they wish to a network. Beyond that, they can wirelessly communicate with a PC via a simple XBee Dongle USB, or even access their automation system over the web using a SparkFun WiFly module.

“In order to make your system even more versatile, we’ve created this ‘Sidekick’ board as a very interesting accessory. It’s compact and can be powered directly from the electrical grid as it has connectors for XBee and 2 relays,” the GarageLab crew writes. “This board can be controlled by signals sent from an Automation Board, allowing it to trigger distant loads through a wireless network. You will be able to use as many ‘Sidekicks’ as you wish, triggering several charges in a same wireless installation.”

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Are you thinking of using an Arduino to automate your home? Hurry over to the Automation Board’s Kickstarter campaign, where the GarageLab team is currently seeking $3,000. Delivery is expected to begin in August 2015.

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