The Calaos open source home automation project and associated blog is one of the closest representations of what I envision is the perfect platform for the DIY home automation enthusiast. Its a Linux based free software project (GPLv3) that was developed by a French company called Calaos and open sourced when the company closed its doors back in 2013. The current developers encourage others to fork the project on GitHub right at the top of their web page.
Other features that make Calaos highly desirable are:
- Runs on cheap hardware
- Pre-configured Linux images for SD card
- Slick looking touchscreen interface
- Android and iOS apps
- HTML5 web app
- Remote configuration tool
Getting started with Calaos is as simple as burning an image to an SD card and plugging it into supported hardware connecting it to a touchscreen monitor. Once you have done that you can run the Calaos installer on a separate computer (PC, Mac or Linux) to set up the Calaos server for your house and its associate home automation hardware. Then you will be able to control it from a touchscreen interface that looks something like this:
Calaos Supported Home Automation Hardware
This area is where Calaos may disappoint DIY hackers out there. Calaos suggests using something like a Wago PLC installed in a distribution panel with DIN rails full of more industrial looking home automation components like banks of 24V/220V relays.
I would be more excited to see Calaos support something like a home automation hub like a VeraLite from Vera Control or even a Nest. Maybe it already does, or will in the near future because after all, it is open source. And, the system architecture seems layered in a way that could support such a development as seen here:
But, hardwired home automation is more secure and has other benefits so not a bad place to start if you don’t mind the work.
Calaos also integrates with Squeezebox and several NAS boxes for media distribution so it does have that going for it.
Supported Calaos Server Hardware
There are a number of relatively inexpensive x86 and ARM computers that can run the Calaos application server and drive the touchscreen interface including:
- MSI WindBox DC111
- Mele 1000, Mele 2000, Mele 1000G,Mele 2000G
- Cubieboard and Cubieboard2
- Raspberry Pi B
Right now the Cubieboard2 looks the most attractive to me because it is open source hardware and is also a good tradeoff between computing power and cost.
Features such as a slick looking touchscreen interface that runs of inexpensive hardware, iOS, Android and HTML5 web apps makes Calaos very compelling and worth a second look so I think I will be buying some hardware and checking it out further.
Two major things Calaos lacks that I will be looking to add myself are voice control and integration with a more DIY friendly home automation hub from a company like Vera Control. Touch screens and phone apps are nice, but nothing trumps the convenience of voice control. And, who has the time to rewire their whole house and a distribution panel in the basement just to play with an open source project? So, that piece is extremely important as well.