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Programming Your Home: Automate with Arduino, Android, and Your Computer


Cover image for Programming Your Home

Programming Your Home

Automate with Arduino, Android, and Your Computer


Take control of your home! Programmatically interact with indoor and outdoor lighting, remotely monitor and take charge of your home’s security, react to changes in room lighting and temperature by autonomously opening and closing curtains, and much more. Learn how to program Android smartphones and Arduino microcontrollers to remotely manage your home’s environment. Step-by-step instructions tell you all you need to know about how to obtain, build, program, use, and extend these innovative services.

Customer Reviews

f you’re interested in Arduino projects but maybe are a bit nervous about taking the plunge, this is the book for you. It’s a nice and clear introduction to creating cool projects with this software and you are hand held (but not in a bad way) through a variety of different builds.


Mike has a broad technology experience base that puts all the pieces of some
remarkable projects together. It’s amazing that he makes it all so easy and affordable.
Don’t miss all that can be learned from this gem.

- Michael Bengtson


This is an outstanding reference that should be on the desk of every DIYer. In
much the same way that software engineers mention “The Gang of Four Patterns
Book,” I predict this text will eventually be referred to as “The Riley Book of Home

- Jon Kurz

President, Dycet, LLC

With this book, Mike Riley celebrates the Arduino microcontroller in a way that
both beginning and advanced home automation hobbyists will enjoy.

- Sven Davies

Vice President of Applications

The Web-Enabled Light Switch project gave my family convenience and security
options and enhanced my knowledge of RS-232 communications. It is nice to be
able to switch on lights from my favorite chair. And the Tweeting Bird Feeder
project has opened my eyes to the uses of radio communications around the home
for things besides Wi-Fi, and it will help in my work to contribute to the preservation
of bird species that are struggling for food and habitat.

- Bob Cochran

Information Technology Specialist

I personally love the bird feeder that posts Twitter tweets to tell you when the birds are feeding or when bird seed runs low. They are just so many cool and great projects in here. I also love that the book is in plain English, so us lay people can understand most of it too!

- Lisa Reviews

See All Reviews

About this Title

Pages: 242
Published: 2012-02-20
Release: P1.0 (2012-02-22)
ISBN: 978-1-93435-690-6

In Programming Your Home, technology enthusiast Mike Riley walks you through a variety of custom home automation projects, ranging from a phone application that alerts you to package deliveries at your front door to an electronic guard dog that will prevent unwanted visitors.

Open locked doors using your smartphone. Assemble a bird feeder that posts Twitter tweets to tell you when the birds are feeding or when bird seed runs low. Have your home speak to you when you receive email, notify you when visitors arrive, and more.

You’ll learn how to use Android smartphones, Arduinos, X10 controllers and a wide array of sensors, servos, programming languages, web frameworks, and mobile SDKs. Programming Your Home is written for smartphone programmers, web developers, technology tinkerers, and anyone who enjoys building cutting-edge, do-it-yourself electronic projects.

This book will give you the inspiration and understanding to construct amazing automation capabilities that will transform your residence into the smartest home in your neighborhood!

What You Need:

To get the most out of Programming Your Home, you should have some familiarity with the Arduino hardware platform along with a passion for tinkering. You should enjoy innovative thinking and learning exercises as well as have some practical application development experience. The projects use a variety of hardware components including sensors and actuators, mobile devices, and wireless radios, and we’ll even tell you where you can get them.

Q&A with author Mike Riley

Q: Why did you write Programming Your Home?

A: I wanted to show people with little or no experience with programming micro controllers how to empower themselves with the ability to automate their own homes. Seeing the completed, working project brings a wonderful sense of accomplishment.

Q: How many home automation projects are featured in the book?

A: Programming Your Home features 8 unique projects, ranging from a water level alerting system to a voice synthesized interactive application to control and report on the variety of projects constructed throughout the book.

Q: Which is your favorite project from the book?

A: The Android Door Lock is a my personal favorite, but it’s also one of the most complex in the book. I also enjoyed building and using the Tweeting Bird Feeder. It’s a thrill to watch tweets appear in a Twitter feed when birds are perching on the feeder, or when the feeder bird seed needs to be refilled.

Q: Do the projects cost a lot of money to build?

A: Not at all. That’s a big reason why home automation is so compelling today. Most of the projects cost less than sixty dollars to assemble, and much of the hardware is reusable in other projects, driving the material costs down even further.

Q: How long does it take to build a typical project from the book?

A: Most of the projects can be assembled and operational within an hour or two.

Q: What can I do with the projects after I finish building them?

A: Each chapter has a ‘Next Steps’ section that encourages you to extend each project in novel and highly customized ways. After reading the book, you will have the knowledge and experience necessary to build upon the projects or create your own that automate aspects of your home in your own unique way.

What You Need

The programs in Programming Your Home will run on Arduino 0.21 or higher.

Contents & Extracts

Full Table of Contents


  • Preparations
    • Getting Started
    • Requirements
  • Projects
    • Water Level Notifier excerpt
    • Electric Guard Dog excerpt
    • Tweeting Bird Feeder
    • Package Delivery Detector
    • Web-Enabled Light Switch excerpt
    • Curtain Automation
    • Android Door Lock
    • Giving Your Home A Voice
  • Predictions
    • Future Designs
    • More Project Ideas
  • Appendices
    • Installing Arduino Libraries
    • Bibliography

Top Five Home Automation Tips

  1. Start Small. While it would be cool for your home to behave like a scene out of a science fiction movie, building such an elaborate configuration will take a lot of time, effort and money. Try a couple small, easy projects first to get an idea of what to expect, how it behaves and what needs to be modified to work optimally for your needs.
  2. Search YouTube. Creating a nifty home automation project is a badge of honor, worthy of showing off to the world. And what better place to show off these accomplishments in action. Searching combined keywords like Arduino, Home and Automation will return a number of short videos demonstrating a variety of inspiring ideas.
  3. Ask an Engineer. DIY Electronics vendor Adafruit, along with a number of other DIY sites like Sparkfun and Element14 have experienced electronics engineers on staff and/or in the product forums ready to help. In the case of Adafruit, they even have a weekly live broadcast that gives customers a chance to freely ask Adafruit founder Limor ‘LadyAda’ Fried for her expert technical advice.
  4. Be Safe. While most home automation projects don’t call upon radical amounts of electrical current to operate, electricity can still be very dangerous if not handled with respect and understanding the risks. When in doubt, call upon the expertise of an experienced electrician before manipulating anything having to do with home electrical wiring.
  5. Have Fun! In addition to capturing the obvious benefits of home automation aspects that will make your life easier, the other, larger reward is the actual building of the project itself. This is especially meaningful if you build it with your family, so that each time your project activates, you have the satisfaction of recalling the joy and wonder on the faces of your loved ones witnessing the working assembly for the first time.


Mike Riley has been a technology enthusiast, developer and writer for over 25 years and has written for Connected World, DevPro Connections, Dr Dobbs, iPhone Life, Make and Software Development magazines. For more information, visit his website at