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.

You Can Play Xbox 360 and PS3 on Your LCD Monitor (with DVI)

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Yep. It’s possible. It’s not as good as using an HDTV with HDMI input but it will work if your LCD monitor has a DVI connection. I came across this on accident when I needed to connect my work laptop to an external display (but I forgot my DVI adapter).

All you need is a DVI to HDMI cable. Monoprice has some great prices.

Just connect the HDMI end of the cable to your console and then connect the DVI end to the monitor.

I never tried this in the past because I had always assumed there were electronics involved that would only support the connection one-way. However, it appears that HDMI truly is nothing more than DVI with audio and a different connector.

I don’t have a true widescreen monitor so I don’t know if it will work better on one. My screen is between a standard widescreen and a standard fullscreen display, oddly. When I’m playing on the Xbox 360 I see the typical black bars above and below the screen that you would expect. However, there is some minor distortion – everything is slightly narrower than normal. It’s actually not very obvious and is easy to get used to.

I haven’t experienced any artifacts, the smell of burning plastic, etc. So far, it’s worked great.

There is one problem, though. I don’t know if it’s specific to older monitors or something that can’t be transmitted over DVI but the Xbox 360 does not receive the digital rights management information that it expects (yes, DRM here to ruin the fun once again). This means that Netflix streaming and probably any other video rentals or purchases will not work.

I haven’t tried this with my PS3 but I would be surprised to learn that it does not work the same way.