Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

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Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:01 pm

Hi,

Multimedia and home automation are hobbies of mine, and for two years I've been working on my own application called the Digital Home Server. The software is freely available on http://www.digitalhomeserver.net and I stress the fact that it contains no spyware, ads, nag screens or whatever. You can use it as you like.

It used to be a graphical interface for my 7" USB monitor, but the first version which I released about a year ago was not very well written (I can admit that now ;) ). I gave that version away for free as well, and I knew a few people who were using it, but I was no longer satisfied with it.

So I thought a bit before coding on where this application should go to, and it should become a mix between Home Automation and multimedia. Until now, a lot of focus has been on the multimedia part, but I'm getting more and more into home automation. I like to think that DHS has some unique features, notably that it's fully multi-monitor, and it can handle any size (from 7" up to whatever). Screens are specially designed for touchscreens.

Image

The application itself uses Widgets (small apps you can drag and resize) and modules (full screen applications). This is what I currently have released :

Widgets
- BE and NL railway delay (special app for specific audience)
- weather forecast
- rain radar (shows where rain is falling)
- MP3 remote control
- Digital clock
- Analog clock

Modules
- MP3 player
- Internet radio player (with radio station database)
- Photo slideshow (you can choose any monitor to send the slideshow to)
- Podcast player
- Shoppinglist (and use your iPhone to consult the list when shopping)
- Timer
- Video player (play anything for which a codec is installed, including HD and subtitles)
- Calendar (uses Google Calendar as backend)

In a few weeks I will release the DVD player (I worked almost a year on that DVD player, very hard piece of software I can assure you). Next will be an eBay watchlist widget. And a Yahoo stock watch widget is also in an early draft version. I actively develop new function for DHS, so I'll post the updates here as well (if nobody minds).

I have bought some Zwave devices, because I absolutely would like to have this mix between multimedia and home automation. But still a lot of work here :roll:

Still in "idea" phase
- too much to write down here, but I do have a long list...

Hope you like it. I'll be highly interested in your feedback and ideas !!

Soitjes.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Sun Aug 28, 2011 6:30 am

I just released version 2.0.3.1. New is the DVD Player. It can play DVDs from the optical reader, but also DVDR which are copied on the hard disk.

Image

Just like the video player, the DVD supports multiple monitors. So you can control the DVD which is displayed on one monitor from another monitor.

Soitjes.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Sun Aug 28, 2011 8:08 am

Interesting... I've always had a fantasy about installing touchscreens in the walls of my home to control things in every room. Probably not going to do it, but I like to dream.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Mon Nov 14, 2011 2:52 pm

Version 2.0.5.4 is now released. A new module : the wakeup module. I tried to imitate a flipclock, and a few minutes before you have to get up music can be played.

Image

A few other small updates have been implemented :

- the calendar now shows the number of meetings per day
- radio info is scaled and scrolls over the screen

Next module will probably be a slideshow module for Picasa albums (still discussing with myself), and I work very hard on xPL integration (worth a Google if you don't know what it is).

Soitjes.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:32 pm

Just released version 2.0.6.0. New is the Picasa slideshow module, which allows to make a photo slideshow with your Picasa Web albums.

Image

The module is very simple, because all content management is done in Google Picasa. You only need to enter your Google account and you're ready to watch the slideshows.

As usual, multi-monitor is supported and you send the slideshow to any monitor connected to your system.

The next modules will be "paperless home" (scan and archive documents, track unpaid invoices) and "Notify My Android" (send messages from the Digital Home Server to your Android smartphone).

Soitjes
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Mon Feb 20, 2012 1:41 pm

Release 2.0.6.5 is now available. New is the "Notify My Android" module, which allows you to send free notifications to your Android smartphone.

Image

You can set up multiple accounts or share accounts between smartphones (so that all smartphones get the same message), and sent messages are saved so it's easy to resend them quickly.

Soitjes.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Thu Jun 07, 2012 2:30 pm

Release 2.0.7.0 is now available. It took me a lot of time, and development was interrupted several times for other things, but I finally was able to release my “Scanning and Archiving” module. I developed a solution that would allow me to scan all documents that come in by post directly in DHS. The basic idea is simple : you create categories (water, gas, electricity, …) and then create a document in a category. Then you can create pages, which you can do by scanning a paper document, or to import a file from disk.

Image

You can then zoom in the page, print or export it and change the order of the pages.

One feature I wanted as well is the “unpaid invoice” tracking. When you create a document you can specify whether it’s an invoice, and whether it’s already paid or not. The number of unpaid invoices for each category can be followed using the widget, which you can place on your desktop.

Image

All scanned pages can be accessed via the browser, because I do my online payments from a laptop, not on my main DHS server. So I need access to the invoices from other PCs as well.

The only real feature that is missing is OCR, especially because the database engine I use has a text search feature, so it would work great, but I simply couldn’t find a free OCR library, and I don’t need it urgently enough to justify the cost.

What’s next ? I have foreseen a general maintenance release with plenty of little enhancements that I wrote down the past year. Then a Home Automation prototype (development is ongoing) will be integrated in DHS. At that point I have home automation and multimedia together in one application, and plenty of ideas. Controlling audio in multiple rooms is very high on my list, as well as radiator control in rooms.

Have fun,

Soitjes.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:08 pm

It’s been a while since I posted an update for my application. But I just released a major update for my Digital Home Server. Until now, a lot of focus was on multimedia applications, but now I released a set of modules that allows to automate your home. So you can manage your devices, create nice charts with sensor data, execute actions based on events using rules, and schedule actions (e.g. lights on). Obviously, all existing modules remain available.

Image

There are other screenshots available on my website : http://www.digitalhomeserver.net/screenshots/

This brings me to the mix of multimedia and home automation that I’ve been looking for from the start, and I like the result very much. And it’s not the end. I’m now working on a video surveillance module, and I’m hoping to integrate the Zwave protocol by means of the Razberry.

Regards,

Soitjes.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Wed Mar 20, 2013 7:33 pm

I don't mean to troll, but it seems like an awful lot of what you want has been done, just not in one place.

In particular, multimedia has been well covered. Have you considered integrating with XBMC? You could really offload a lot of work by turning into an XBMC plugin, or even better, use XBMC's backend and use your software as a frontend.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:10 pm

Thanks for posting these screenshots! It looks like a cool project. One question: I noticed that your setup is using Windows software, but you also have the photos of the Raspberry Pi + Razberry. Is the Raspberry Pi setup meant as a controller for a home appliance that would receive commands from your server? Also, are you considering a port of your system to Linux or another OS that would run on the Raspberry Pi? I have one, and home automation seems like the type of task that would work well on the RPi.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Thu Mar 21, 2013 4:26 am

@Forge

Yes, I did consider integrating with XBMC, and some other platforms that could serve as backend. But it's all way too complicated for what I need. It would make the application much more complex. And having it in one place allows to mix multimedia and home automation.

@chuckula

The Razberry is just a Zwave controller, like the RFXLAN from rfxcom is another kind of controller. Through those controllers I can easily manage devices. Running DHS on Raspberry, even if I would be able to port to Linux, would probably not go as the cpu power of such a Raspberry is somewhat limited. I pay a lot of attention to the GUI part, but it also takes some CPU.

Soitjes.
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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:32 pm

It's been a while since I posted an update. I’m very proud to announce the availability of release 2.1.3.0 of my Digital Home Server. New is the multi-room audio feature, allowing to manage audio streams to multiple rooms.

Sending audio to multiple rooms has a few specific challenges. Imagine that you walk through your house, and every time you leave/enter a room you hear different music. Or you could have a PC in every room, listening to the same Internet Radio station. You would have a little delay between the different audio streams, which is very annoying.

In DHS if you choose to hear the same music in multiple rooms the audio stream will be cloned, so that you hear exactly the same audio in all rooms.

DHS uses the approach of one sound card per room, as illustrated below

Image

Those audio cards are very cheap, and you can find plenty on eBay or DealExtreme. Every audio card is then connected to speakers in every room. Of course, this assumes you have audio cables to all the rooms in your house !

Once you have those sound cards you can create as many audio streams as you like, and send them to one or more rooms.

Image

In the above example you have two audio streams, where the second one is being sent to the Living Room and Kitchen.

At this moment, only the MP3 and Internet Radio modules are adapted for multi-room audio. The other modules will simply use the default sound card.

A more detailed guide is available : http://www.digitalhomeserver.net/using- ... io-in-dhs/

Next module will be “Where Is Wally”, another request from my wife. But you will have to wait for the release to find out what it is…

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Re: Free Windows software : Digital Home Server

Postposted on Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:37 pm

soitjes wrote:Next module will be “Where Is Wally”, another request from my wife. But you will have to wait for the release to find out what it is…


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