Petter Reinholdtsen

Sleep until morning - home automation for the kids
10th February 2013

With kids in the house, one challenge is getting them to sleep during the night and wake up when it is morning. I mean, when I believe it is morning, and not two hours earlier. In our household we have decided that 07:00 is the turning point, but getting the kids to sleep until 07:00 is a small challenge every day. They have adapted quite well, and rarely wake up at 05:00 any more, but some times wake up at times like 05:50, 06:15, 06:30 or 06:45, and it is hard to put the awake one to bed again without disturbing and waking the rest. And I understand perfectly well that they fail to sleep until 07:00 some times, as there is no way for them to know if it is before or after the magic moment without coming and asking us parents.

But yesterday I came up with a method to solve this problem. It involve home automation. A few years ago I bought a Tellstick and RF switches at the local Clas Ohlson shop, allowing me to control lights and other electrical gadgets using my Linux server. When I moved from the old flat to a small house, I put away all this equipment as most of the lighting in the house was not using wall sockets and thus not easy to connect to the gadgets I had. But recently I bought a Tellstick Net to be able to read sensor input as well as control power sockets. I want to control ovens in the basement to avoid the pipes to freeze, and monitor the humidity to detect flooding. The default setup for Tellstick Net is to be controlled by the vendor web service, which to me is a security problem, but it is also possible to build ones own firmware with local access instead of being controlled by a Swedish company, thanks to the release of the GPL licensed firmware source code. I plan to get that running before I let it control anything important. But while working on this, one idea to make it easier for the kids came to me yesterday. We can set up a night light controlled by the computer, and turn it automatically on at 07:00. The kids can then check the light in the morning to know if they are supposed to get up or not. They joined me in setting everything up, and I repeated the concept several times before bed times to make sure they remembered to check the light before getting up in the morning.

We tested it this morning, and all the kids stayed in bed until after 07:00, and every one of them commented on the fact that the "morning light" was turned on and signalled that the morning had arrived. So this look like a success, and I am excited to see how this develops the next few days. :) I really hope this can allow us all to sleep a bit longer in the morning.

A nice advantage of this setup is that we can remote control when to tell the kids to get up. We do not have to wait until 07:00, and can also delay it if we want to.

Tags: english.

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