water cooler :: serial/parallel/usb control of appliances

I've been googling for sites that might be able to help me understand what is needed to create interfaces to appliances that can be controlled from a personal computer, but so far have come up with little results.

Can someone point me in a direction where I might get started? This isn't something I have any knowledge about at all at this time...I know nothing about how com ports work, and nothing about creatng controllers. I'm just hoping to begin learning about these things but so far have found nothing but commercial products.

Depends very much on what you mean with "appliances", and which port you will use.

Anyway, have a look at the Coffee-howto at tldp.org, and the self-built Cir transmittor for serial port at lirc.org. The lirc driver also has source code for using it.

I haven't attempted any of this, but I believe you just output a stream to the data pins, using kernel functions..

I haven't tried this but maybe using a microcontroller might work for you.  Say you wrote a program that sent a hex number to the com port to turn on a light or coffee maker.  A piece of hardware would have to take the hex number and activate a relay:  

AVR microcontroller

Getting a number out to the com port can be done with an echo command and redirection:

Code Sample
echo "27" >> /dev/tty?

Not sure if anything in the FAQ or wiki (I see a little bit about serial ports there) or docs in the link below will be useful to you, but I came across this the other day. It's a perl/cpan script to automate, well, a house. Maybe search through the code and see how its author does it?


Depends very much on what you mean with "appliances", and which port you will use.
I'm sure details depend on these factors, but I'm not really talking about specific projects at this point. I just can't seem to find anywhere to even start. All I'm interested in at this time is *possibly* working toward a very simple project, something like lighting an external LED by clicking something...a starting point from where I can decide if I even want to go further with it. It's mainly the basic concept that I find interesting, but I'm not sure whether it's something I want to get into.

Thanks for the links, I'll check those out soon.

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