Nothing comes from nothing
Oldies but Goodies

SAGE Home Control System

In 1985, I developed a microprocessor controller under contract for an industrial instrument manufacturer. I had recently moved into a new home and decided that a derivative of this design, with greatly expanded I/O capacity, would be ideal as the foundation for a centralized Home Automation (HA) system.

At the time, HA or "Smart Home" was an emerging concept and I felt that building and installing a custom designed system in my house would be a good weekend project (though it quickly extended over many months).

Designated "SAGE" (a pet name I've used for various other projects), I designed a single board computer (SBC) based on the Hitachi HD6303 processor and added a large number of peripheral devices to monitor and control a variety of functions.

Ultimately, the SAGE HA project took about 2 years to install, largely due to an evolving software platform and a huge amount of hard-wiring throughout the house. Since then, the system has been updated and expanded to include many features which are locally and remotely controlled:

• Passive IR sensors in all living spaces to detect occupied rooms
• Automatic control of all lights based on ambient lighting & occupancy
• Multiple-zone, "learning" security system based on occupant's lifestyle
• Programmable wake-up alarms, alerts, and environmental lighting
• Programmable multiple-zone irrigation systems with rain sensors
• Voice synthesized status messaging through a whole house intercom
• Voice command and control of lighting, HVAC, media components, and more
• Five zone intelligent heating/AC control via occupancy, voice, or smartphone
• Two weather stations with 5 and 20 year archives
• 24-hour monitoring of power usage, zone activity, HVAC, lighting, and more
• 10+ year graphical records of power use, weather data, AC usage details
• Multiple CCTV/DVRs linked to touchscreens and TVs in the house
• Built-in seismograph, RFID + fingerprint security, water leak & MTH sensors
• Secure LAN, smartphone, and Internet access to all HA features and CCTVs
• Dual fault-tolerant hardware, isolated solid state core controller
• Primary core engine is 100% assembly code for speed and efficiency
• Triple redundant power supply with UPS, on-board lithium batteries

The SAGE core SBC has been running continuously for 38 years (as of 2023) and experienced only a single minor component failure (embedded video processor chip) in all that time. Due to the failsafe design of the hardware and software, the original SBC has never crashed nor been offline.


SAGE monitor station
One of the SAGE access stations with the original
(legacy) control panel (top) above a touchscreen LCD
showing floorplan, CCTVs, and other daily info.
Occupied rooms and active lighting are
continuously monitored and controlled.

SAGE Network Access
Remote access to lighting control
on a network connected tablet

SAGE Power Use
Energy usage summary via
integrated TED power monitor

SAGE Temp Graphs
Indoor/Outdoor temperature
graphs - weekly and annual
(Legacy, ca. 1986)
VIDEO: Demo of early voice control features (2013)

NOTE: Much has changed since this original video was made in 2013.
Voice control and predictive response has been greatly expanded to include lighting scenes, HVAC, media components, security, irrigation, and more.
Response times are also much faster due to improvements in hardware and networking since this video was uploaded.


Bored during a first-year college class, I began scribbling notes with a quickly conjured set of unique graphemes and phonemes. The result was a written language I called "Anabic".

Sadly, the class didn't get more interesting over the semester, so I ended up filling several notebooks with everything from daily journal notes and poems to conceptual thoughts and daydreams.

Anabic note
Page from a collection of poems written in Anabic (1972)
drafted during a particularly boring lecture.

During my earliest days writing code for microprocessors (way back in the 70's), I developed a preference for the MOS and Motorola families of devices. So when the 68000 processor became available in 1980, I wanted to be first in line to design a Single Board Computer using Motorola's new 16/32 bit device.

I eventually designed and fabricated two versions of my "IRIS" SBC, both using the 68000 but with different amounts of RAM and I/O peripherals. Version 2 was quite fast for the time, executing the Byte Sieve in under a second (assembly code).

Iris Detail
Processor and DRAM controller section of IRIS-16 (ca. 1981)

Ternary Logic TLU (Neural Nets)

The "holy grail" in computer science is the refinement of artificial intelligence (AI). Until very recently, developments in machine intelligence have mostly been modest and primarily limited to software techniques.

Back in the late 70's, I drafted a theory combining a hardware neuron simulacrum (the TLU or Threshold Logic Unit) with work on ternary logic I had done earlier. Time constraints prevented me and a colleague from building a prototype, but we did run software simulations with promising results. Today, neural nets are making a resurgence in machine learning and AI is back in the news.

Logic Diagram
Flow diagram for a Ternary TLU Simulation (1977)