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DIY Coffee by Brian Jepson

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Chapter 5. Automate Your Coffee Pot Using X10

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Illustration by Damien Scogin

What good is a coffee pot if it can’t be controlled from the internet? By Dave Mabe

If you’re anything like most geeks I’ve met, you probably have a coffee pot that gets a lot of use catering to your caffeine addiction. I decided to play around with X10 technology and an open source software program called MisterHouse to automate my coffee pot and make it more user friendly.

I wanted to wake up to freshly brewed coffee, and I’m too lazy to remember to turn off the pot after a period of time to prevent burning. Sure, you could buy a fancy coffee pot that has some of the features I wanted built in, but even the most expensive coffee pot can’t touch the flexibilities you can create with a little Perl code.

MisterHouse (misterhouse.net) runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and lets you write simple Perl code to control a variety of hardware. To control your coffee pot, you’ll need to buy an X10 PC interface and an appliance module (less than $50 new — even less on eBay). You’ll plug the appliance module into the electrical outlet and the coffee pot into the appliance module. You’ll need a coffee pot with a mechanical switch — it needs to be able to be turned on and off simply by controlling the power supplied to it. The PC interface connects to a computer’s serial port and plugs into any electrical outlet.

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