Ikea Tradfri Hacking

Smart lighting is all the rage right now. Sure, Phillips Hue is the giant player in the market, but there are plenty of ZigBee, Bluetooth, and WiFi light bulbs out there. Ikea–known for cheap furniture, meatballs, and waffles–is a recent addition to the field with their Tradfri system. Like most things from Ikea, they are effective and inexpensive. [Andreas] takes a Dremel to the controller and shows how to hack the system to use MQTT. You can check out the video below.

Once he had the device opened, the used the German Make magazine article we talked about earlier, to help understand what he had. Armed with the pinout, he was able to solder a wiring harness to the controller. He then connected a WeMos board. A little Arduino code later, and he was controlling the light with MQTT.

From MQTT, it was simple to connect the lights to a variety of systems without having to use a separate hub as they do for the default. [Andreas] notes, though, that the system doesn’t offer any feedback which can make things difficult. However, he has plans to further hack the devices in the future.

If you want to know more about MQTT, by the way, [Elliot Williams] did a good series that will help you get started.

17 thoughts on “Ikea Tradfri Hacking

    1. That might work for small installations, but the price of routers and wiring would be prohibitively high for a reasonably-sized home. Plus, routing those wires would be quite a job. I’m not sure how I’d get an ethernet cable to the lightbulb in my ceiling fan, but I don’t think I’d like it.

      The only alternative I can think of is communication by modulating the 60Hz signal in the wall power. That might be an interesting route, but that would seem even more unreliable than wireless. With wireless, you can at least predict that the signal won’t reach from the house to the garage. With the wall power modulation, two rooms that are right next to each other might effectively be quite distant for the signal, depending on how the wiring was laid out.

          1. X10 is limited to 120 bits per second — basically one bit per zero crossing of the AC — and so it takes a noticeable fraction of a second even for a simple signal like “turn node on,” where node has to be addressed in a fairly limited house/device space. As for relaying real information, forget it.

          1. Seems like a bus style network configuration would be fine for this stuff if you don’t mind running extra cable everywhere. It wouldn’t be reliant on oddball electrical systems that need gadgets to bridge between different runs either. You don’t need a traditional star layout for low speed IoT kinds of devices. A 10mbit bus throughout the house would be more than enough for a lot of things short of networked security cameras.

    2. My wireless zWave system has been working flawlessly (with the exception of 1 hardware controller replacement) for over 3 years. Once the system was set up properly, I can’t recall ANY time I’ve sent a command that was not processed correctly. And there is feedback, so if a command is not processed successfully, it can be detected and automatically re-sent.

    3. You can make things reliable enough with wireless.
      Super low power and mesh is good, but impractical because people don’t start with hundreds of devices at once. Just use a radio strong enough to reach any corner of you house in the sub GHz band. Adjust TX power automatically to reduce interference. Decent security with AES + nonce, no OTA. Reusult >99% of packets delivered first try.
      How I know: tried home automation with low power 2.4GHz (like NRF24L01) and gave up. Moved to RFM69 and all works flawlessly. http://www.electrobob.com/1000-1000-hardware/

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