3 Advanced Open Source Projects for Home Security

Do open source security systems work?

If you're a hardware hero or a soldering soldier, you may be looking for new ways to put your electronics knowledge to better use. But is home security an option? Before entrusting your home's safety to an open-source security system and a single-board computer, there are a few things to consider.

DIY Has Advantages

By building your security system from scratch, you'll know every intimate detail of how it works, both the strengths and the weaknesses. Additionally, you won't have to worry about letting strangers into your home to set everything up.

That said, you need to be extra cautious with these types of endeavors. A mistake in your home security system can be a lot more costly than a bug in a more whimsical project.

Raspberry Pi in an orange clear case
Emma Gibbs / Getty Images

The Pato Surveillance System

This project -- designed by Jorge Rancé to monitor Pato the bird from afar -- teaches you how to build a sophisticated surveillance system for your home.

Detailed in The MagPi, Issue 16, the Pato Surveillance System includes instructions for connecting a Raspberry Pi to a webcam, thermometer, and PiFace board for Internet-accessible monitoring of your home's environment. And whether you plan on using this system to keep track of your whole house or just your bird's cage, there's a lot of useful information here that you can use as the foundation for much more complex systems.

HomeAlarmPlus Pi

If you're comfortable with technology such as NPN transistors, variable resistors, and shift registers, and you want to monitor your home and arm it with an alarm, then this is the project for you.

While not for inexperienced hardware hackers, Gilberto Garcia's instructions for building the HomeAlarmPlus Pi are well-documented, thorough, and easy-to-follow. Complete with a parts list, photos, and a code repository with documentation, this project shows you how to create a multi-zone alarm system for your home.

The HomeAlarmPlus Pi instructions are available on Garcia's blog, and the code repository is accessible on the project's GitHub page.


If you are the type of person who says, "Secure my home? I want to automate it completely," then it's time to meet LinuxMCE.

On its website, this well-established open-source project calls itself the digital glue between your media and all of your electrical appliances. Lighting and media? Check! Climate control and telecom? Check! Home security? Check!

Unlike the Pato Surveillance system and HomeAlarmPlus Pi, LinuxMCE isn't just a single project; it's a complete system for automating and securing your entire home. You're only limited by your imagination, skill set, and effort.

There's a lot of information online about this project, but the best place to get started is on the LinuxMCE wiki. From there, you'll not only get an overview of what's possible, but you'll also be able to access the latest source code, detailed instructions, and the community portal.