Intelligent building - F&Home Radio System

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F&Home RADIO - what is this?
F&Home RADIO is wireless intelligent building system dedicated for apartments, houses and business premises. Its concept and capabilities allow for the implementation of functions that so far seemed to be impossible, or available only to organizations and rich people. F&Home is a cheap solution, and its modular design allows for the division of the entire investment into stages spread over time. New features can be added to the system when needed. The initial system may consist of only a few elements (already offering a lot of opportunities for building automation), and, over time, can be expanded by additional modules to increase its functionality, and thus to provide better adaptation to individual needs.
Created by nearly 20 engineers, this proprietary system allows users to control: lighting, blinds, heating and cooling (heaters, air conditioners), garden sprinkler, gate and doors, burglar alarm. All this can be realized in many ways (including so-called Scenes, e.g. predefined lighting in certain areas). The control can be executed locally, remotely (with a smartphone, tablet, computer), or may be automated, by processing data from sensors (e.g. switching on lights at dusk, turning off the air conditioning after reaching preset temperature etc.) in accordance with a program schedule.
The system is already able to perform almost any building automation function in a "smart home". However, it is still under development, e.g. for deeper integration with CCTV systems and further extension of applications.
F&Home RADIO in action
System architecture
The heart of the F&Home RADIO is the server maintaining communication with wireless modules, local area network, the Internet, and a cellular network (via an external 3G modem). The server stores and executes the managing application for control of all elements of the system. It also collects data from sensors, processes the data according to a program, provides output data for visualization. The unit has a web server, real time clock and system operation control. Its circuits are characterized by very low power consumption (typ. 4 W) and noiseless operation. The server is programmed via LAN or WAN network with the use of free visual application - WiHome Configurator.
F&Home Radio System: rH-SERWER (main unit)
The server of F&Home RADIO system
Other system components are described below. Knowing how they work and the role they play in the system is the key to understanding the principles of operation of F&Home RADIO and the first step to designing and programming a specific system. They include:
  • physical elements:
    • sensors - collect information about physical conditions in the building, such as temperature, humidity, or about such facts as presence of people (e.g. motion detection), state of the contacts/buttons etc., and send the information to the server
    • actuators - modules that control various devices such as lamps, heaters, water valves, electrical outlets, garage door, shutters; they carry out commands from the server (power on/off or regulated)
  • nonphysical elements:
    • events - pieces of information from sensors such as temperature change, motion detection etc.
    • states and logic - the server is programmed (procedure) to react in the case of specific events (or state changes - such as the time of day); the consequence of the logic of the system are commands
    • commands - transmitted from the server to the actuators - containing information on the required state of these elements
Sensors and actuators do not contain logic or memory. The whole logic of the system is contained in the server. Each sensor and actuator is represented in the form of a virtual object within the server. With the dedicated software, the user can establish any logical relationships between elements of the system. The modules communicate only with the server, using wireless links. The modules can be divided into several groups, taking into consideration communication method (one-way or two-way), power supply method (battery or AC line), mounting method (standalone, mounted in a box or on DIN rail). Each module is provided with detailed technical documentation and description of the installation.
The information from any source (sensor) is processed by the server according to the implemented algorithm. The result (command) is transmitted via predetermined transmission channel to appropriate actuator. The actuator uses the command to control the connected electrical device. The whole network is based on star topology.
System architecture:
1. Sensors. 2. Events. 3. Logic + states (server).
4. Commands. 5. Actuators.
The built-in WEB server ensures availability of the F&Home RADIO system from any location via the Internet. It provides:
  • the user(s) with remote access to home appliances via mobile devices
  • the installer (having authorization) with remote access to configuration and maintenance functions
F&Home Radio system topology
Features and advantages of F&Home RADIO system
Carefully designed wireless transmission of the F&Home RADIO system eliminates the effects of temporary and continuous interference. Centralized transmission between the F&Home RADIO server and other components of the system allows for reliable connectivity. Compared to "peer to peer" method, the centralized transmission ensures much better system efficiency. Error-control method for data transmission with acknowledgments and retransmissions significantly increases the likelihood of delivery of the message to the recipient, which guarantees high level of stability and reliability of the entire solution.
Wireless transmission solutions guarantying high reliability of the system:
  • F&Home RADIO uses 860.6-878.6 MHz frequency range (European 868 MHz SRD band) that is divided into 30 channels. The output power of a transmitter is 4 dBm, and the sensitivity of a receiver is -105 dBm.
  • Each F&Home RADIO system is equipped with sets of double transceivers operating in parallel on two separate channels predetermined for the server. The system components can switch between the two channels. This way, an interference in one channel, even continuous, does not destabilize the system. The system automatically switches the transmission channel to the other channel, free from interference. In a low-noise environment, the two channels provide possibility to increase the range of the system, by applying antennas with different polarization.
  • The antennas of the server are connected via SMA connectors. The antennas of the sensors and actuators are 85 mm long sections of wire with diameter of 0.5 mm.
Recommended positions of antennas of the server and modules in a storied house. F&Home Radio provides reliable wireless communication. In the case of longer distances, thick walls etc., it is possible to use repeaters.
The transmitters with output power of 8 mW ensure open space range of 100 m. In buildings, the range decreases depending on the construction materials used and other obstacles, such as furniture. The server should be placed in the central part of the house, with sufficient air flow. The air should be free of contaminants, and the unit should not be located in close proximity to heat sources (stoves, heaters, direct sunlight), or devices generating electromagnetic interference. The server cannot be enclosed in metal boxes.
F&Home RADIO Server encodes the broadcasts with a unique key. The messages sent within the system have the appropriate structure. After receiving the message, the server analyzes data integrity and consistency of the key. A message received from other F&Home RADIO system will be ignored, as it were an interference.
What are the advantages of the F&Home RADIO system?
  • Secure communication in the 868 MHz band
  • Long range of wireless transmission
  • Acknowledgments and retransmissions significantly increase system reliability
  • Star topology - deliberate resignation from mesh networks (better use of transmission channel)
  • High data rates
  • Unique configuring tools with virtually unlimited possibilities
  • System under continuous development
  • Dedicated also for budget solutions
Sample scenes and sequences
A home system can be based on "scenes". A scene may be assigned to e.g. the time of day or any requirement of the residents. Here are a few scenes that may be executed automatically (depending on time of day), or triggered remotely by the users from their handhelds.
  • Morning Scene
    • Switching on the power outlet in the kitchen with connected e.g. a coffee maker,
    • Pulling up the shutters or blinds
    • Switching on the water heater
    • Raising the temperature of the air in the living room, kitchen and bathroom, for example to 22 degrees (Celsius).
  • Evening Scene
    • Reducing lighting to 40%
    • Switching on the power outlet in the bedroom with connected bedside lamp
    • Switching power for garden watering system (operating under additional conditions, such as insufficient moistness due to lack of rain)
  • Night Scene
    • Pulling down the shutters or blinds
    • Turning off electrical outlets in the kitchen
    • Reducing lighting to 30%,
    • Lowering the temperature of the air in the living room and kitchen, for example to 18 degrees
  • Nanny Scene
    • Starting the preview of the camera(s) located inside children's room
    • Activation of motion detection informing e.g. via SMS about unexpected events in predefined zones
  • Romantic Scene
    • Turning off the main lighting
    • Switching on LED (warm) lighting to 30%
    • Turning on gas fireplace
    • Pulling down the shutters or blinds
    • Switching on underfloor heating in the living room
Additionally, in the case of certain events the system of the smart home can trigger selected subsystems, such as:
  • Watering Sequence
    • Astronomical clock shows sunset on 19:00
    • Short-term weather forecast panel informs about cloudy sky from 18:00
    • The soil moisture sensor does not record rainfall - on the basis of the data the system turns on sprinklers at 18:00
    • Depending on the actual conditions the system switches on and controls outdoor lights.
  • Garage Sequence
    • The driver activates the sequence with a smartphone
    • The car is detected by the motion sensor in front of the garage
    • The signal from the sensor triggers the server to send command opening the gate
    • The signal from motion sensor in the garage triggers the server to switch on lighting and preselected home appliances e.g. water heater
The scenarios are just a fraction of the capabilities of the F&Home RADIO system. These are limited only by the imagination of the user.