I have to make a confidence: I love to read books, and to learn new things every day. However, there are not so much books that talks about open-source hardware and home automation. But I recently read one, called Raspberry Pi Home Automation with Arduino by Andrew K. Dennis, and I wanted to share my thoughts about this book with you in this article. I will tell you what you you will learn by reading it, and how you can actually use it to build home automation systems.
As I said, it is not so easy to find these kind of books, and it’s even more difficult to find a good one. There are lots of books out there that deal with the Arduino platform, other that deal with the Raspberry Pi platform, and finally you have tons of books about home automation. But this is the first good book that I found which combine all the three subjects in an understandable manner.
The book takes an approach that I speak about often in this website: use the Raspberry Pi platform as the “brain” of a project, and use the Arduino or many Arduino boards to actually acquire data from sensors or control actuators. The book is really is organized around small projects that are growing in difficulty. So if you are a beginner, you won’t have any problems to follow the content of this book and build the projects that are proposed in the book. You will learn to configure your Raspberry Pi board, get the temperature from a sensor, record this temperature into a database, building a simple thermostat, and final control curtains.
Let me guide you through the different chapters of the book. Chapter 1 is all about introducing the field of home automation, and the different hardware components you will use in book: the Raspberry Pi of course, but also the Raspberry Pi to Arduino shield.
Chapter 2 is about configuring the Raspberry Pi. This part is not really different from what you can find on the web, but it is necessary and welcome in the book if you’re really starting with your Raspberry Pi. I found that it is also more detailed and comprehensive than most tutorials on the web.
Chapter 3 is still about configuration, but this time focused on the Raspberry Pi to Arduino shield, and how you can program it from the Raspberry Pi. The chapter finishes by testing the shield, just by making a LED blink.
Chapter 4 is where you begin to really do some serious home automation: the chapter focuses on building a simple thermometer based on everything you’ve learned so far.
Chapter 5 continues on the foundations of chapter 4, and you will learn how to do a more complex home automation system: a thermostat. Compare the previous chapter, you will learn how to simultaneously use inputs and outputs on your home automation system.
Chapter 6 goes further, and you will learn how to extend the hardware system you’ve built so far and log the results into a database, and connecting it to a simple web server.
In chapter 7, you will work on a different project: measure data from an ambient light sensor, and command some curtains accordingly.
Finally, chapter 8 wraps it all up, and introduces a quite useful component to expand the possibilities of your Raspbery Pi: the Gertboard. This board is an extension of the Raspberry Pi board that includes LEDs, a motor driver, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, and outputs to control lamps, relays, … It is a really nice board to have and I was introduced to it by this book, so that was a pleasant surprise. I will definitely review it in an article. The books ends up with a good part about the future of home automation. I especially liked the part on how you can use 3D printing to build home automation systems.
What I didn’t like so much in that book is that there is quite a lot of overhead for a beginner to actually start doing something. The time to set up the Raspberry Pi, then the Pi to Arduino shield, and finally only making one single LED blink at the end of chapter 3 can discourage some readers. But if you pass that point, then you will learn a lot from this book.
To sum up, that is definitely a book I recommend to everybody. If you are a beginner or if you are already more skilled in electronics and home automation, you will learn a lot from this book. The author combines different open-source systems and apply them to home automation in a very nice fashion that allow the reader to follow through and always learn and discover new things. You can find and order the book easily on Amazon by clicking on the picture below:
Because I am really passionate about the platforms used in this book, and about home automation, I will offer support for any project that you can find in the book. So if you buy the book and are struggling with a project, leave me a message or comment on this topic ! I am also thrilled to announce that I will soon interview Andrew K. Dennis, the author of this book ! It will be a new episode of the Open Home Automation podcast, and I am sure you will enjoy it.