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UP Core is a Low Cost & Compact Intel Maker Board Powered by an Atom x5-Z8350 SoC (Crowdfunding)

March 18th, 2017 19 comments

The UP community has already launched Intel Cherry Trail and Apollo Lake boards in the past with UP Board and UP2 (squared) boards, and they are now about to launch a cheaper and smaller board called UP Core powered by Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor with to 1 to 4GB memory, up to 64GB eMMC flash, HDMI, USB 3.0, … and I/O expansion connectors.

Click to Enlarge

UP Core specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Atom x5-Z8350 “Cherry Trail” quad core processor @ 1.44 GHz / 1.92 GHz (Burst frequency) with Intel HD 400 graphics @ 200 / 500 MHz
  • System Memory –  1, 2 or 4 GB DDR3L-1600 (soldered on board)
  • Storage – 16, 32, or 64 GB eMMC flash, SPI flash ROM
  • Video Output / Display – HDMI 1.4 port, full eDP (embedded DisplayPort) connector
  • Audio I/O – Via HDMI, and I2S
  • Connectivity – 802.11 b/g/n WiFi  @ 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 4.0 LE (AP614A)
  • USB – 1x USB 3.0 host port, 2x USB 2.0 via header
  • Camera I/F – 1x 2-lane MIPI CSI, 1x 4-lane MIPI CSI
  • Expansion
    • 100-pin docking connector with power signals, GPIOs, UART, SPI, I2C, PWM, SDIO, I2S, HDMI SMBUS, PMC signals, 2x USB HSIC, CSI, and PCIe Gen 2
    • 10-pin connector with 2x USB 2.0, 1x UART
  • Misc – Power & reset buttons, RTC battery header, fan connector, BIOS reflash connector
  • Power Supply – 5V/4A via 5.5/2.1mm power barrel
  • Dimensions – 66 x 56.50 mm
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0 to 60 °C

The board will support Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 10 IoT Core, Linux including Ubilinux, Ubuntu, and the Yocto Project, as well as Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

If you look at the bottom right connector of the diagram above, we can see an extension HAT for the 100-pin docking port will be offered, as well as an IO board, both of which should be compatible with Raspberry Pi HATs with 40-pin connectors. But so far, I could not find details about the extension HAT, nor the IO board.

The UP core is coming soon to Kickstarter with price starting at 69 Euros with 1GB RAM, 16GB eMMC flash, and WiFi and Bluetooth. Other part of the documentation show a $89 price for the 1GB/16GB board, so maybe it’s the expected retail price out of the crowdfunding campaign. You’ll find a few more information on UP Core page, but we’ll probably have to wait for the Kickstarter campaign to launch to get the full details, especially with regards to add-on boards, and pricing for various options.

Thanks to Freire for the tip.

Dell Edge Gateway 3000 Series Are Powered by Intel Bay Trail-I SoCs for Automation, Transportation, and Digital Signage

March 17th, 2017 No comments

Dell has recently introduced Edge Gateway 3000 series with three models powered by Intel Bay Trail-I processor, running Ubuntu Core 16 or Windows 10 IoT, with each model targeting respectively general-purpose automation, transportation & logistics, and digital signage and retail.

The specifications for the three models can be found in the table below.

Dell Edge Gateway 3001
Model for General-Purpose Automation
Dell Edge Gateway 3002
Model for Transportation & Logistics
Dell Edge Gateway 3003
Model for Media & Retail Kiosks
SoC Intel Atom E3805 dual core processor  @ 1.33 GHz (3W TDP) Intel Atom E3815 single core processor @ 1.46 GHz with GPU @ 400 MHz (5W TDP)
System Memory 2 GB DDR3L-1066
Storage 8 or 32 GB eMMC flash
Industrial-grade Micro-SD card: 8GB / 16GB / 32 GB / 64 GB
Connectivity 1 x 10/100 Fast Ethernet (RJ-45)
with PoE (15.4W)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Optional ZigBee module.
2x 10/100 Fast Ethernet (RJ-45), main port supports PoE (15.4W)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Integrated Zigbee/802.15.4 module for mesh
networking.
2 x 10/100 Fast Ethernet (RJ-45).
Main port supports PoE (15.4W)
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Optional ZigBee module
Cellular Connectivity 3G or 4G LTE for select countries, US/Canada 4G LTE with AT&T or Verizon
Video & Audio DisplayPort 1.1 up to 2560×[email protected]
3.5mm Line Out/Line
In; RealTek codec
Serial Interfaces 2x RS-232/422/485.
GPIOs 8x channel, independently
programmable, DAC, ADC.
CAN Bus CAN2.0 A/B/FD 1Mbps (CAN2.0), 5Mbps (CAN-FD)
USB 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0
GNSS Integrated GPS
Sensors Accelerometer, Pressure, Temperature and Humidity
Power Supply 12V-57V wide DC input;
PoE compliant with IEEE 802.3.af standard up to 15.4 W, 48 V over existing Ethernet infrastructure, no
modifications required.
Dimensions 125 mm x 125 mm x 51 mm
Weight Around 1.1 kg

While all three models can run Ubuntu Core 16 and Windows 10 IoT Enterprise LTSB 2016, the latter requires a 32GB eMMC flash. Each gateway also comes with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0, secure boot, BIOS password and I/O port disablement, and a fleet of gateway can be managed via Dell Edge Device Manager (EDM) cloud-based manageability suite (sold separately).

Gateway 30001 used for Mining Operations – Click to Enlarge

The gateway can be used for all sort of applications from mining management systems as shown above, to 18-wheelers, and revenue generating city fountains.

Dell Edge Gateway 3000 series will start selling this May for $399 and up. More details can be found on Dell website.

ECDREAM EC-V26 is a Mini PC with a 8″ Touchscreen Display Powered by an Intel Celeron/Pentium Apollo Lake Processor

March 15th, 2017 3 comments

Mini PCs with a touchscreen display targeting consumer markets, and looking like very thick tablets started with PiPo X8, and later other companies joined the fray with products like GOLE 1, but the form factor appears to have become popular with even more manufacturers, as Shenzhen EC Technology has now launched ECDREAM EC-V26 powered by Intel Celeron or Pentium “Apollo Lake” processor, and equipped with an 8″ touchscreen display.

ECDREAM EC-V26 mini PC specifications:

  • SoC (one of the other)
    • Intel Celeron N3350 dual core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.4 GHz with a 12 EU Intel® HD Graphics 500; 6W TDP
    • Intel Celeron N3450 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.2 GHz with a 12 EU Intel® HD Graphics 500; 6W TDP
    • Intel Pentium N4200 quad core processor @ 1.1 GHz / 2.5 GHz with an 18 EU Intel HD Graphics 505; 6W TDP
  • System Memory – 2GB on-board DDR3 + 1x DDR3 SO-DIMM socket up to 8GB
  • Storage – 32, 64 or 128GB eMMC flash + M.2 socket with optional 64 or 128GB SSD
  • Display – 8″ IPS display with a 10-point capacitive panel; 1280×800 resolution
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4b port up to 4K @ 30 Hz, VGA
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio jack, stereo speakers 1W/80 Ohm
  • Connectivity
    • Gigabit Ethernet (RJ45)
    • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n (single band) or  dual band Bluetooth 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
    • Bluetooth V4.0 + HS
  • USB – 2x USB 3.0 ports, 2x USB 2.0 ports, USB 2.0/3.0 Type C port (not for power)
  • Camera – Optional front panel camera
  • Misc – Power LED, power key, optional RS232 port
  • Power Supply – 12V to 19V up to 3.42A via 5.5/2.5 mm power barrel
  • Battery – Optional 4,000 to 10,000 mAh 3.7/3.8V battery with up to 2A charge current
  • Dimensions – 198 x 144 x 15-26 mm
  • Weight – TBD

The company told me it supports both Windows 10 and “Ubuntu Linux”, but it’s not clear whether there will be an Ubuntu version sold at retail, or the user will have to install the operating system himself/herself.

While the product description above shows a VGA port, it does not look like one (with 3 rows of 5 pins), but instead it should be the optional RS232 port (DB9). Alternatively, it might also be possible that the VGA and RS232 are just mutually exclusive, so you can select the one you want. If your model comes with VGA, it will support dual independent displays configuration. MiniPC DB also reported about the device, and managed to get a somewhat blurry picture of the motherboard, which still clearly shows the SO-DIMM socket.

Click to Enlarge

The company did not provided pricing info, but MiniPC DB’s guys think it will cost around $350 to $450 depending on options. [Update: the company told me pricing would be in the  $599 to $699 range]. You may find some more details on the product page.

$25 Orange Pi Win Development Board To Run Windows 10 IoT (and Linux, and Android)

March 13th, 2017 24 comments

Shenzhen Xunlong Software must already have over a dozen of Orange Pi boards, but this is not stopping them from launching more, and the company has just introduced Orange Pi Win, powered by Allwinner A64 processor, and beside supporting Linux and Android like other models, it’s rumored to run Windows 10 IoT too.Orange Pi Win specifications:

  • SoC – Allwinner A64 quad core ARM Cortex A53 processor @ 1.2 GHz with Mali-400MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 2MB SPI flash, micro SD slot up to 64 GB, footprint for optional eMMC flash
  • Video Output / Display interface – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz with CEC 3D and HDCP support,, MIPI LCD interface
  • Audio – HDMI, 3.5 mm headphone jack, built-in microphone
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet + 802.11 b/g/n WiFi & Bluetooth 4.2 (AP6212)
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Camera – MIPI CSI interface up to 5MP camera, up to [email protected] fps video capture
  • Expansion – 40-pin Raspberry Pi somewhat-compatible header
  • Debugging – 3-pin UART header
  • Misc – IR receiver; reset and power buttons; power and status LEDs;
  • Power
    • 5V via power barrel or micro USB port
    • Lithium battery header
    • Power selection jumper (4-pin header)
    • AXP803 PMIC
  • Dimensions – 93 x 60 mm
  • Weight – 48 grams

Supported operating systems includes “Android 4.4, Ubuntu, Debian, Raspberry Pi image, and Banana Pi image”. The latter is possible since Orange Pi Win is quite  similar to Banana Pi M64, except it has less RAM. “Raspberry Pi image” likely means Raspbian with Linux + Uboot for Allwinner A64 processor, and Raspbian image for Raspberry Pi won’t work. Linux support should now be relatively good due to the work done on other Allwinner A64 boards such as Pine A64 and Banana Pi M64, and I suspect Armbian builds should come soon enough.

Windows 10 IoT is not part of that list, but should eventually be supported according to a forum post, and Shenzhen Xunlong confirmed it by email. Not really surprising considering Windows 10 IoT has been ported to Pine A64 and Banana Pi M64 boards. You can check officially supported Allwinner boards directly on Microsoft Azure IoT device catalog, and Orange Pi Win is not there yet.

The board has just started to sell for $25 + shipping on Aliexpress.

Thanks to Tomaz, Aleksey, and tkaiser for the tip.

F&S Elektronik armStone A53SD Pico-ITX SBC Features Qualcomm Snapdragon 410E Processor

March 10th, 2017 6 comments

F&S Elektronik Systeme GmbH will showcase their solutions at Embedded World 2017 next week, including their latest ARM Cortex A53 modules and boards based on NXP QorIQ LS1012A, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 410E processors. Today, I’ll write about the later with the company’s armStone A53SD pico-ITX single board computer equipped with up to 32GB flash and 8GB memory.

Click to Enlarge

armStone A53SD board specifications:

  • Processor – Qualcomm Snapdragon 410E quad core ARM Cortex-A53 processor @ up to 1.2 GHz with Adreno GPU
  • System Memory – Up to 8GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Storage – Up to 32GB eMMC flash, 1x micro SD card slot
  • Display – 24-bit LVDS, DVI up to 720p, I2C for touch controller
  • Audio – Line In/Out/Mic via header
  • Connectivity – 1x 10/100M Ethernet, WiFi IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR/4.1 LE
  • USB – 3x USB 2.0 host ports, 1x USB 2.0 device port
  • Camera – MIPI-CSI connector
  • Expansion – Unpopulated 66-pin header with 1x CAN 2.0, 2x UART, 1x I2C, 1x SPI, up to 32 digital I/Os, etc…
  • Power Supply – 5V DC/±5%
  • Power Consumption – 4W typ.
  • Dimensions – 100x72x15mm (PICO-ITX form factor)
  • Weight – ~60g
  • Temperature Range – 0°C – +70°C; optional: -20°C – +85°C

The company provides support for Linux Buildroot & Yocto Project, as well as Windows 10 IoT for the board.  armStone A53SD-SKIT starter kit will be sold with either Linux or Windows 10 IoT, and includes a set of cables and access data for the download area.

Click to Enlarge

F&S armstone A53SD SBC will be available in Q3 2017 at an undisclosed price. Visit the product page for a few more details.

Beelink AP42 Apollo Lake Mini PC Comes with a VESA Mount, an M.2 SSD Slot

March 2nd, 2017 9 comments

Beelink has launched an update to their Beelink BT7 Cherry Trail mini PC with Beelink AP42 using a similar mechanical design, but upgrading the processor to an Intel Pentium N4200 coupled with 4GB DDR3 memory, and a 64GB eMMC flash. Like the previous model it can be mounted behind a VESA compatible monitor or TV, and can also be upgraded with your own M.2 SSD.

Beelink AP42 specifications:

  • SoC – Intel Pentium N4200 quad core Apollo Lake processor @ 1.10 GHz (baseline) / 2.50 GHz (burst) with Intel Gen9 HD graphics @ 200/750 MHz with 18EU (6W TDP)
  • System Memory – 4 GB DDR3
  • Storage – 64 GB eMMC storage, SD card slot, M.2 SSD slot up to 320 GB
  • Video Output – HDMI 1.4 up to 4K @ 30 Hz
  • Audio – 3.5mm headphone jack and HDMI
  • Connectivity – Gigabit Ethernet, dual band 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.0
  • USB – 3x USB 3.0 host ports
  • Misc – Power button and LED, reset pinhole
  • Power Supply – 12V/2A (TBC)
  • Dimensions –  11.90 x 11.90 x 2.00 cm
  • Weight – 337 grams

The current product page mentions that both Windows 10 and Linux are supported. The mini PC will ship with a power adapter, and an user manual in English. Based on the pictures on GearBest, the VESA mount and fixtures should also be included, and looks to be the same as the one coming with Beelink BT7.

I’ve reviewed Beelink BT7 mini PC last year, and found that it would throttle from time to time, and while I found the fan to be quiet, some people commented that it was noisy. Beelink AP42 should also have a fan, but hopefully the company has done some work to improve thermal design, and fan noise.

Beelink AP42 is sold on GearBest for $210.47 including shipping with EU, UK, or US plug, and pre-loaded with Windows 10 [Update: GBAP42 coupon brings the price down to $179.99]. Delivery is scheduled for March 7 to 15, so you’d have to wait a few days to get it shipped. I could not find a Linux version, and maybe there’s none, you may just have to install your preferred distributions yourself.

Via AndroidPC.es

NComputing RX300 is Raspberry Pi 3 based Thin Client for Windows & Linux

March 2nd, 2017 No comments

NComputing is a company specializing in thin clients, which are low power computers that run code from one or more powerful servers, so for example you could edit photos in Photoshop running in Windows 10 using a Raspberry Pi 3 board connected to an HDMI display. That’s exactly what the company had done with RX300 “cloud-ready” thin client based on the Raspberry Pi 3, and optimized specifically for the company’s vSpace Pro desktop virtualization solution for Linux and Windows.

Ncomputing RX300 hardware specifications:

  • Based on Raspberry Pi 3 model B board powered by Broadcom BCM2837 quad core Cortex A53 processor
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Storage – 8GB micro SD pre-loaded with software
  • Video Output – 1x HDMI 1.4 port
  • Audio – Via HDMI, 1x speaker jack (16bit/22kHz high quality audio)
  • Connectivity – 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB – 4x USB 2.0 host ports with full USB redirection support (2 required for mouse and keyboard)
  • Misc – Kensington security port, sleep mode button to disable display output for power saving mode
  • Power Supply – 5.1V via micro USB port

The thin client supports virtual desktops from 9 Windows operating systems: Windows 10 / 8.1 / 7, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012 / 2012 R2 U1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, and Windows MultiPoint Server 2012 / 2011. vSpace Pro 10 also supports VMWare & Citrix virtualization, so I assume this is how you could enable access to Linux distributions. Alternatively, the IT admin can also switch to “Raspbian Linux Mode” to use RX300 like any other Raspberry Pi 3 board.

RX300 thin client also supports 1920×1200 full screen video playback thanks to vCAST direct streaming technology, transparent USB redirection – meaning the server can access the local USB ports on RX300 -, and dual display configuration via an optional NComputing USB dongle (VGA or DVI). RX300 can also be mounted on the back of the monitor using a VESA mount kit.

NComputing solution are designed for small & medium businesses, schools and universities with IT admins managing a “fleet” of thin clients. If you want to do something similar at home, you can also use VNC with tools like TightVNC or DirectVNC. Performance may not be quite as optimized however, and you’ll lack all managements tools, which should not be needed at home anyway.

NComputing RX300 will start selling for $99 in March with one-year connection subscription to vSpace Pro 10 and a 6-month trial of vCAST streaming technology. After one year you’ll need to renew the license. Further details can be found on NComputing RX Series product’s page.

Karl’s Home Automation Project – Part 1: Home Assistant & YAML, MQTT, Sonoff, and Xmas Lights

February 27th, 2017 24 comments

Karl here. I am here to write about my home automation project. First thing I want to say is that I am very cost conscious and I don’t mind putting in extra effort into the setup of things to keep costs down. I did invest a lot of time and had to do a lot of reading to get my project going. It took while and I received a lot of groans from my wife while testing. I am still in the process of tweaking things.

I started watching a series of videos on YouTube from Bruh Automation. He introduced me to Home Assistant. It got me really excited. He uses a Raspberry Pi as a server but I already had a Wintel Pro CX-W8 Smart TV Box which I use as a server. I run 3 Minecraft Servers, Emby Server, iSpyConnect DVR (2 IP Cameras), Unifi wifi controller, and now MQTT Server, and Home Assistant. Below is screenshot of mostly idle.

If it weren’t for iSpy it would be around 5-10% most of the time. Emby transcoding is the only thing that is stressful and it is not used much. The reason I mention this is because after purchasing a Raspberry Pi with power supply and case, you are not far off from getting a z8300 box. Only downfall is dreaded Windows update auto reboot. I finally looked into it and disabled it. If you decide to use a Windows box, I would make sure you are running 64bit windows. One advantage to using a Raspberry Pi is there is an image on Home assistant with the basics pre-configured and just need to write it to an SD card.

Server side Setup

I won’t go into too much detail on server side, as I installed Python, Mosquitto, and Home Assitant (I followed the guide on their site for Windows)

Python was a breeze to install and just ran the executable and went with defaults. I already had it installed for something else and I am running 3.5.2 64-bit. There are newer versions now. Mosquitto was the most difficult. I followed this guide but substituted Win32OpenSSL_Light-1_0_2j.exe approx 2MB. A k version is available now. Home assistant was easy and used pip.

Christmas Lights

It was a little before Christmas when I started researching home automation. I had been reading about these inexpensive Sonoff devices here on CNX and I found a project on Github for some custom firmware by arendst that enabled them to be controlled by MQTT. (While getting the link it looks like a new project has started with some additional features here). My wife really likes decorating for Xmas and we have 3 trees and lots of lights. She mentioned getting some timers and boom I had my opportunity and ordered them the same night. After receiving It took me a couple nights and I had a simple automation turning Xmas lights on and off at specific times and life was good. I got an extra one to play with until Xmas was over. I redeployed the rest  around the house after Xmas.

MQTT

I really had no idea what this was and it took me a while to grasp. You can use a cloud based MQTT if you would like, but I prefer to run my own. MQTT is a service that relays messages between devices. There are 2 main items topics and payloads. To be able to tell a switch to turn on you send payload “on” to a topic, for example, “cmnd/testbench/power”. The light turns on and it replys back to a topic “stat/testbench/POWER” confirming that the light is on and the message is received. Because we are sending “on” to the topic each device using MQTT will need its own topic. Topics are case sensitive. I made a batch file to subscribe to all topics for troubleshooting so I could monitor the messages. The # indicates all sub topics.

Sonoff

I picked the Sonoff basic but there are also different varieties that add additional features which are supported by arendst software.

Arendst  has been very active with this project and adding/tweaking daily. When I first flashed the device, I did find a defect and notified him and he had it fixed and uploaded within the hour. He has very detailed instructions on the Wiki. First step before flashing is soldering headers. (I link to bent headers…which I initially thought I made a mistake but turned out it was good. They are easy to straighten) A USB to TTL adapter is also needed to upload from Arduino IDE. I recommend one like this because it provides both 3.3 and 5V.  After downloading and setting Arduino up, I only set my WiFi password and SSID in the sketch. After it boots the first time, it connects to your wireless network. Find the IP address in your router, and pop the IP address in your browser to finish the configuration. Set the MQTT server credentials and topic and your done. I never setup credentials on the MQTT server so it accepts any login. Finally after everything is programmed you need to connect it to mains. Beware do not connect mains while TTL is connected.  I bought some extension cords locally. Cut them in half and stripped back a ¼ inch of the insulation. Extension cords use stranded wire so I tinned them with solder to avoid any stray strands from shorting out. Then I screwed them down on the terminals making sure polarity was correct.

Click to Enlarge

YAML

YAML is unforgiving. It is the formatting that you configure Home Assistant in. A single space will stop Home Assistant from starting. Luckily on this last update if you restart Home Assistant through the browser it will test the configuration file before actually restarting. I purposefully put an extra space on line 54 to show it is easy to find any mistakes.

Click to Enlarge

I also recommend Notepad++ for editing in windows. You can break your configuration down into different files but I like one. Notepad ++ allows you to collapse the parts you aren’t currently working on.

I recommend adding one thing at a time and restarting to make it easier to find errors. And making a copy of the last working config before adding more. In the config below there are 5 sonoff’s and an automation to turn the lights on and off at specific times. This is extremely basic. I also recommend setting up one new device and be conscious of naming. When you get your config working properly on your first new device I copy the config to a new blank text window and do a find/replace.

Below is the screen capture of collapsed parts, and and full config (minus personal info).

Notice the test bench is on later firmware and the MQTT topic is slightly different

Next Steps

So now I have a smart home, right? Not in my opinion. I can turn lights on and off with a schedule or with my smart phone or at the light by pressing the button on the Sonoff. To me this is not smart. Setting a schedule is OK, but then you have the lights on unnecessarily and wasting electricity. Only real option is to press a button on the Sonoff but what difference is that than flipping a switch. Taking your phone out takes way too long, and I feel like it is going backwards. Below are estimated costs so far. By far the Windows Box will be the most expensive part if you choose to go that way. You can re-purpose just about anything that runs Linux to be a server. One other option is to run Linux on an S905x.

Money Spent

Cost of server not included nor shipping.

Item Qty Price Total
Sonoff Basic 5 $4.85 $24.25
Headers 1 $1.50 $1.50
USB to TTL 1 $2.54 $2.54
Total $28.29

If you find this entertaining or want me to go more in depth on a specific aspect let me know in the comments. I have been finding my time setting it up very satisfying. I am able to do some hardware and software work. I hope this might get your interest in home automation going, and find out it is not hard nor expensive. I would like to state none of the products linked were provided by the sites. I purchased with my own money.

The plan right now is to do a 3 part post. In the next post, we will integrate some inexpensive motion sensors and door sensors using 433mhz, then finally modifying the sensors to include a light intensity sensor.