Building a DIY Home Alarm Part 1 (Learning electronics)

Background

After listening to Scott Hanselman’s podcast on the NetDuino I was really interested in the idea of building my own hobby projects and learning electronics. I’ve got two projects that I want to build, both of them rather ambitious 😛

The first idea was to build a Snowbot (snow blowing robot) and the other idea was to build a home alarm system. I’m starting with the home alarm system as it in theory should be easier to build.

This is what I would ideally have in a home alarm system:

  • Networked, so that I can arm/disarm and check the status over the web
  • Email alerts
  • Sensors on all the doors and windows
  • 2x Motion sensors (main floor and basement)
  • Bloody loud alarm system

Starting Point

So looking at the best places to start learning how to do all of this I decided it would be best to start learning electronics. The best resources I have found so far are:

I tried using software to model circuits but found them really confusing. I tried Tina-TI, while it is really good for certain learning, I have found that actual hands on with components is easier to learn from.

I decided to buy some basic electronics components. Looking through the Make electronics book and searching on the web i found this product, a starter electronics kit for the first few chapters of the MAKE: Electronics book. I noted down what i thought were the key components and went to the local electronics shop and bought them for around $150 including digital multimeter.

The main components I bought were the multimeter, a $15 dollar pack of assorted resistors (definitely worth the money), various capacitors, some NPN transistors, breadboard and 9v supply, assorted LEDs and wires.

After reading up on DC theory at allaboutcircuits.com I started building some really simple circuits, with the home alarm system in mind.

I tried to visualize what components the alarm would need to have to make this alarm system. At its simplest it would need the following:

  • Blinking LED
  • Siren
  • Circuit that would break when a window/door was opened
  • Some sort of keypad interface (ideally touchscreen)
  • Netduino as the microcontroller

The next post in this series will cover the alarm’s blinking LED.

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One thought on “Building a DIY Home Alarm Part 1 (Learning electronics)

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