How To Automate a Dust Collection with Voice Commands

Before I explain how to automate a dust collection with voice commands in a workshop, it’s important to remember automation must be simple and convenient.  Why?  Because most people won’t use it if it is complicated – including myself.  

 

Dust collection systems in woodworking areas are very important not only to keep the shop clean, but to also maintain healthy air quality.  It is definitely not a good idea to work in a shop with a large amount of dust without an adequate dust collection system or air purification/filter system.

I have a decent dust collection system in my shop that is large enough to handle multiple tools.  It is mounted on the wall and I installed PVC pipe with 4 outlets & blast gates.

I needed an affordable way to automate dust collection in my workshop to make it easier to turn on/off before & after I use my power tools.  Currently, it is a very manual process and a pain to operate.

Different Options

There are many ways to automate dust collection in a workshop.

Some can be operated with a remote control, some are activated when a power tool uses electricity, and some of the higher end systems can be purchased with on/off automation from the factory.

I’ve dabbled in home automation systems since 2010 along with home surveillance systems.  Mainly, I used my systems for lighting control, home surveillance triggering, motion detection, & climate control.

Until recently, I didn’t think about using home automation technologies to automate dust collection in my workshop.  I also decided it would be more convenient to incorporate voice activation as well.

Things Needed to Automate Dust Collection

Configuration Procedure Overview

  1. Install SmartThings Hub
  2. Wall Oulet Installation
  3. Pair outlet with SmartThings Hub
  4. Install & Configure Amazon Echo Dot
  5. Link Amazon Dot with SmartThings Hub

Refer to video for details

 

 

Home Automation – Brief Overview

Home Controller

The brains of a home automation system is the home controller.

I currently own 2 home controllers (Mi Casa Vera 3 and Samsung SmartThings) in two different locations.

Both of these home controllers are very good, but I prefer the Samsung SmartThings because it is a bit more widely adopted among consumer manufacturers and user friendly.  For example, the SmartThings Hub integrates with Amazon Echo (Alexa) very easily as you can see in my video.

The Mi Casa Verde Veralite system did not officially support the Amazon Echo until very recently, which requires that you download beta code/firmware for Amazon Echo support.  I encourage you to do your own research on which home controller is best for you.

Home Controller Language

The home controller communicates with end devices via wireless protocols (i.e. languages) such as z-wave, zigbee, or insteon.  There are a few others, but they are beyond the scope of this blog post.

Keep in mind, these are not ‘WiFi’ protocols like 802.11.  They are wireless protocols that operate at a certain frequency.

Do you remember the days when the DVD industry wasn’t sure if BlueRay or HD DVDs would be the standard?  If so, this is sort of similar to the current state with the aforementioned protocols.  Maybe a bit further along, but you get the point.

Z-wave & zigbee are part of alliances which come together to manufacture endpoints which are compatible.  Insteon is proprietary and best used for very large networks.  Each protocol has pros and cons and I can discuss these in greater detail; however, it is beyond the scope of this post which is about how to automate dust collection system.

Think of these protocols as languages.  If an endpoint (wall outlet, light, etc.) is a z-wave compatible device, it cannot speak to a zigbee or Insteon endpoint.  The same goes for zigbee & Insteon.

Luckily, most home controllers speak the language of at least 2 protocols.

So, what does this mean?  It means you can have a SmartThings home controller with a z-wave wall outlet and Zigbee thermostat..

While this is possible, I prefer to use one protocol for my endpoints in order to take advantage of the mesh capability.

Mesh Networking

Z-Wave and ZigBee both use mesh networking to extend the distance they can be from the home controller.  Normally, the z-wave or zigbee device can be no more than 150 feet from the controller.  Mesh networking allows a Z-Wave or ZigBee signal to “hop” through other Z-Wave or ZigBee devices (respectively) to reach the home controller.  Certain powered Z-Wave or ZigBee devices can act as wireless repeaters to increase the range and strength of the mesh network.

 

Conclusion

To automate dust collection in my workshop was fairly easy & quick to complete.  Check out my home data backup solution article here.

I like simple projects that solve a problem and make my time in the workshop more efficient.  This project is easily expandable to control other parts of my workshop such as climate, lighting, fans, etc. – possibilities are endless.

I hope this project provided you with some value because this is, and always will be, my ultimate goal.

 
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