Home Automation: “The dryer has finished drying your clothes.”

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While most of the things that I can do with my home automation setup are only of interest to myself on occasion I manage to add something that my wife also thinks is useful. This is one of them.

A while back I decided to add the ability for the home automation system to know when the washer has finished washing clothes and to make an announcement. This worked well though the module itself appears to have been damaged and is no longer communicating. Before that module failed I managed to find a way to sense when the dryer has finished. This was accomplished using an Aeon Labs Energy Reader that I purchased from Amazon.com (of course).

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The unit is a Z-Wave device with two clamps, which is typically intended to be used at a breaker box. It wouldn’t have been able to properly sense current flow if I had just placed the clamps around the power cable for the dryer; the clamps need to be over individual wires that are normally within the cable sheath. However, on my dryer the three wires are individually accessible for a few inches before they enter the main sheath and are then covered.

It was just a matter of placing the clamps around two of these cables. Fortunately, as with the washer, our dryer is low-tech and doesn’t draw any power while not in use so setting up the sensing thresholds in Indigo was relatively easy (actually easier than setting up the washer). Though the washer module is not currently working the dryer notifications still continue to work.

Washing Machine Notification (Smart Energy Sensor & Indigo)

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As part of my recent dive back into home automation I decided it would be cool (and once again practical) to be able to receive an alert that the washing machine has finished washing a load of clothes.

This wasn’t something I blindly jumped into. There is plenty of information on the Web documenting how others have already done this with various home automation setups. As it turns out, at least with our washer, Indigo 6, and an Aeon Labs DSC06106-ZWUS – Z-Wave Smart Energy Switch it can be remarkably easy.

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UPS Battery Indicator In OS X Restarts Continuously After Launching VMWare Fusion

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The Short Version: The UPS’s USB connection had been inadvertently shared with the virtual machine. Setting it to only be accessible by the host OS (OS X) solved the problem.

Recently I noticed my virtual machine instance under VMWare Fusion (3.1.3) seemed to be running unusually slow on my Mac. Yesterday I noticed that the status indicator for my battery backup kept appearing and disappearing in the menu bar.

While inspecting the energy settings for both OS X (Lion) and Windows 7 (VM) I decided to check the connected USB devices for the virtual machine. Sure enough, my CyberPower UPS was showing as connected to to the Windows 7 guest OS. I have no idea how this happened. There’s no reason I would have intentionally connected the USB interface for the my UPS to to the VM. Perhaps I clicked on it when intending to connect a different device at some point.

Regardless, as soon as I disconnected the UPS from the VM both systems started functioning at a more normal speed and the status indicator stayed in the menu bar instead of restarting.