Autonomous House: Structural Conduit and Universal Hubs...
- To: domesteading at sculptors dot com
- Subject: Autonomous House: Structural Conduit and Universal Hubs...
- From: The Butterfly <salsbury at bootstrap dot sculptors dot com>
- Date: Sat, 2 May 1998 00:26:18 -0700
Here's one for general discussion:
This will probably grow into one of the mainstay pieces of
equipment that Reality Sculptors will first manufacture, and it will become
the underlying infrastructure of other building projects, so feel free to
toss this one around for a while.
Yesterday, while I was stringing phone line underneath the dome to
provide telephone access in the computer room, where we didn't have any
phone jacks, I had a few interesting thoughts.
One, which I think of every time I have to crawl under the dome to
string some wires (several times so far in the past 2 weeks), is that the
entire thing should be on pneumatic legs, rather than the little wooden
beam legs-on-concrete-pads that it currently has. Then, when you need to be
underneath, you just hit a button and the house jacks itself up.
This has other applications, even more important to portable
-Auto levelling: When a house is delivered, it should be able to
settle on anything from flat land up to 45 (or perhaps 60) degree
slopes. Obviously the legs need to be independent, and dynamically
adjustable, so that the house can stay level no matter what the terrain.
-Staying above surrounding areas: Since these have a great
potential market as mobile scientific lab spaces and living quarters, it
must be assumed that they might need to be positioned in or straddling
streams, at the very peaks of mountains, and also in the canopy of
jungle/rainforest regions. I personally thing it'd be VERY cool to live at
canopy level, or perhaps just above it, with the extending/telescoping legs
going down through the canopy to the jungle floor 50 or more feet below.
The other main idea, and perhaps much more useful even than the
adjusting legs, is the power & communications system.
I was having to drill through flooring, put wire through, drag it
under the house (staple-tacking it as I went), bring it to the phone
junction box, wire it in there, install phone jacks in the house and wire
in to those, etc.
Last week, when putting up the outside speakers, I was under the
house too, dragging wires, tacking them in place, etc...
At some point, I'm going to try to figure out an aesthetically
pleasing way of running some ethernet from the computer room, probably back
under the house, and then getting it to the upstairs bedroom where the
Design Studio and reading room are, so that I can have some connectivity up
In other words, and in the larger sense of providing housing and a
dwelling service to people: "Everyone's going to have different needs, and
stringing wire is a drag." :-)
So, given those two general principles, I wanted to find a general
solution, and came up with this:
Why not make it so that each and every piece of tubing that makes
up the framework of the geodesics in the future Autonomous House is a piece
of conduit? Not just a metal pipe, but a manufactured unit that has several
things running down the length of it, and is capable of carrying the
various signals that people will inevitably want to run through their
house, now, and in the future.
Each end would have a plug-like attachment, which goes into a
socket on a "universal hub". These would be the traditional 5- or 6-socket
hubs common to geodesics, but unlike standard hubs, these would be "smart"
hubs. Akin to the "smart" ethernet hubs used in the computer industry, they
will have a modest amount of switching hardware built in, and a variety of
sockets to handle common household needs.
As a rough draft, I can think of the following things commonly used
in a house:
-AC Electricity Outlets
-DC Electiricty (This is more common to find in off-the-grid
houses, but just about ALL electronics in homes really runs on DC,
which is why they have those big transformer-bricks on the plug.)
-Computer Networking jacks (More and more common)
-Fiber optic cable for high-speed networking (will be in greater
demand as time progresses)
-Speakers for home audio/video/entertainment
So I propose making the tubing/framework/struts to have, at a
minimum, a few power cords running their length, (DC & AC), some
communications-grade wiring (phone/computer/video/audio), some cable to
handle speakers (perhaps this can be rolled in with the above), and a piece
of fiber optic cable to handle future use, or to handle ALL other data
signals, reducing it to simply power and fiber optic.
Each Hub has sockets to accept the power/data/fiber connections,
and enough smarts to handle dynamically addressable switching of all types
of current/data/light passing through to route the signals anywhere in the
dome. It also has an array of plug-in jacks to accept connections. AC/DC
power plugs, phone/computer jacks, speaker/audio/video jacks, perhaps
programmable control switches/touch sensors, and the like. And at least
some of them would have these jacks on BOTH sides of the hub (inside and
out), with appropriate weather-sealing, so you can access data/power/sound
from outside as well as in.
The practical upshot of all this is that you never have to run
around drilling and dragging wire again.
-You get a new phone, you decide where you want it in the house,
and you plug it in to the nearest hub.
-You get some new speakers, perhaps for a different room, or
outside. You position them where you like them (perhaps mounting them on
the walls, as we've done) and plug them in to the nearest hub.
-You get another computer, move it to a different room, and plug it
into the nearest hub. (Power, data, and perhaps telephone. Maybe even the
sound board can go into the audio channel, to route sound to your stereo
and give you surround-sound.)
-New lights (for inside or out) just hook up to the nearest hub.
-Outside security system, motion sensors, infrared sensors, etc.,
just mount and plug in to the nearest hub, and are instantly connected to
your central computer's security monitoring software.
-Want a specific light switch to control a specific thing? (Perhaps
not just lights, but the stereo, or whatever...) You just program it so
that switch #28 does function XYZ. You can change it tomorrow, if you like,
or leave it for years. And everything can also be controlled via computer,
from anywhere in the house.
And using the routing protocols of the internet, you can build
redundancy into the system. The switchable hubs can route
data/power/etc. directly, in the shortest path, from stereo to speakers, or
from phone to computer, or from computer to a video screen and keyboard on
the other end of the house. But they are also fault-tolerant: If a strut
shorts out or a wire breaks, then the hubs will notice the signal drop,
re-route the data or power around the break, and you don't have an
interruption in service. (You do, however, get an email or notice that the
strut needs replacing, and perhaps a note goes to Reality Sculptors -
Global Dwelling Service to have them ship out a replacement part,
automatically...it's part of the service contract. :-) )
So, that's the new idea...What do you think? Any suggestions or
additions? I actually think this wouldn't be terribly difficult to spec out
and plan for manufacturing. The hubs would be trickier than the conduit,
but probably not too much. Then we need to make a million of 'em, and start
building houses out of the tinkertoys... :-)
___________________Think For Yourself____________________
Patrick G. Salsbury - http://www.sculptors.com/~salsbury/
Check out the Reality Sculptors Project: http://www.sculptors.com/
"Brainwash yourself, before someone nasty beats you to it."
-World Entertainment War
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