Home Assistant Display Uses E-Ink

[Markus] grabbed an ESP32 and created a good-looking e-ink dashboard that can act as a status display for Home Automation. However, the hardware is generic enough that it could work as a weather station or even a task scheduler.

The project makes good use of modules, so there isn’t much to build. A Waveshare 2.9-inch e-ink panel and an ESP32, along with a power supply, are all you need. The real work is in the software. Of course, you also need a box to put it in, but with 3D printing, that’s hardly a problem.

Well, it isn’t a problem unless — like [Markus] — you don’t have a 3D printer. Instead, he built a wooden case that also holds notepaper.

The software uses ESPHome to interface with Home Assistant. There is a fair amount of configuration, but nothing too difficult. Of course, you can customize the display to your heart’s content. Overall, this is a great example of how a few modular components and some open-source software can combine to make a very simple yet useful project.

There are many ways to use an ESP32 in your home automation setup. Maybe you can salvage the e-ink displays. Just try not to get carried away.

The Easy Way To Make A Smart Appliance

It seems that finding an appliance without some WiFi connectivity and an app to load your laundry data into the cloud is an increasingly difficult thing to do in the 2020s. Many of us resolutely refuse to connect these smart appliances to the Internet, but not because we don’t see the appeal — we just want to do it on our own terms.

[Terence Eden] did just this with his rice cooker, using a surprisingly straightforward approach. He simply connected it to the mains via an energy monitoring smart plug, and that was the hardware part, done. Of course, were it that simple we probably wouldn’t be featuring this here, as the meat of this project lies in connecting it to his smart home systems and getting something useful from it.

He’s using Home Assistant, and after a bit of messing about had it part of his home automation system. Then it was time for Appliance Status Monitor, which allowed him to easily have the rice cooker send him a notification once it has done its thing by monitoring the power it was using. All online, part of a smart home, and not a byte of his data captured and sold to anyone!

This isn’t the first home automation project we’ve brought you from this source.

Hackaday Podcast Episode 263: Better DMCA, AI Spreadsheet Play, And Home Assistants Your Way

No need to wonder what stories Hackaday Editors Elliot Williams and Al Williams were reading this week. They’ll tell you about them in this week’s podcast. The guys revisit the McDonald’s ice cream machine issue to start.   This week, DIY voice assistants and home automation took center stage. But you’ll also hear about AI chat models implemented as a spreadsheet, an old-school RC controller, and more.

How many parts does it take to make a radio? Not a crystal radio, a software-defined one. Less than you might think. Of course, you’ll also need an antenna, and you can make one from lawn chair webbing.

In the can’t miss articles, you’ll hear about the problems with the x86 architecture and how they tried to find Martian radio broadcasts in the 1920s.

Miss any this week? Check out the links below if you want to follow along, and as always, leave your comments!

Direct download in DRM-free MP3.

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast Episode 263: Better DMCA, AI Spreadsheet Play, And Home Assistants Your Way”

Our Home Automation Contest Starts Now!

Your home is your castle, and what’s better than a fully automatic castle? Nothing! That’s why we’re inviting you to submit your sweetest home automation hacks for a chance to win one of three $150 DigiKey gift certificates. The contest starts now and runs until April 16th.

Home buttons project, simple home automation display
[Matej]’s Home Buttons gets the job done in open-source style.
We love to play around with home automation setups and have seen our fair share, ranging from the simple “turn some lights on” to full-blown cyber-brains that learn your habits and adapt to them. Where is your project on this continuum?

Whether you’re focused on making your life easier, saving energy, gathering up all the data about your usage patterns, or simply stringing some random functions together and calling it a “system,” we’d like to see it. Nothing is too big or too small if it makes your home life easier.

Home is where the home automation is!

To enter, head over to Hackaday IO and start documenting your project there. We are, of course, interested in learning from what you’ve done, so the better the docs, the better your chances of winning. And if you need some inspiration, check out these honorable mention categories.

Honorable Mention Categories

Thanks again to DigiKey for sponsoring this with three gift certificates!

Hackaday Podcast Episode 254: AI, Hijack Guy, And Water Rockets Fly

This week Hackaday Editors Elliot Williams and Al Williams chew the fat about the Haier IOT problem, and all other top Hackaday stories of the week. Want to prove your prowess at C programming? Take a quiz! Or marvel at some hairy display reverse engineering or 3D-printed compressor screws. On the lighter side, there’s an immense water rocket.

After Al waxes nostalgic about the world of DOS Extenders and extended memory, the guys talk about detective work: First detecting AI-written material, and finally, a great detective story about using science to finally (maybe) crack the infamous DB Cooper hijacking case.

Follow along with the links below. Don’t forget to tell us what you think about this episode in the comments!

Here’s a string of bits containing the podcast that looks suspiciously like an MP3!

Continue reading “Hackaday Podcast Episode 254: AI, Hijack Guy, And Water Rockets Fly”

Haier Europe Eases Off On Legal Threat And Seeks Dialogue

After initially sending a cease and desist order to [Andre Basche] – the developer of a Haier hOn plugin for Home Assistant – Haier Europe’s head of Brand and IoT has now penned a much more amicable response, seeking to enter into dialogue in search of a solution for both parties.

This latest development is detailed both in the ongoing GitHub issue, as well as the Takedown FAQ and Timeline document that [Andre] created to keep track of everything that’s going on since we last checked in on the situation. As things stand, there is hope that Haier Europe may relent, especially as the company’s US division has shown no inclinations to join in on the original C&D.

In the confusion following the initial C&D announcement demanding the take-down of [Andre]’s hOn-related repositories, it was not clear to many which Haier was involved. As it turns out, Haier Europe as a separately legal entity apparently decided to go on this course alone, with Haier US distancing themselves from the issue. In that same Reddit thread it’s noted that GE Appliances (part of Haier US) has had a local API available for years. This makes Haier Europe the odd one out, even as they’re attempting some damage control now.

Amidst this whirlwind of developments, we hope that Haier Europe can indeed reach an amicable solution with the community, whether it’s continued API usage, or the development of a local API.

Alarm Panel Hack Defeats Encryption By Ignoring It

As frustrating as it may be for a company to lock you into its ecosystem by encrypting their protocols, you have to admit that it presents an enticing challenge. Cracking encryption can be more trouble than it’s worth, though, especially when a device gives you all the tools you need to do an end-run around their encryption.

We’ll explain. For [Valdez], the encrypted communication protocols between a DSC alarm panel and the control pads on the system were serious impediments to integration into Home Assistant. While there are integrations available for these alarm panels, they rely on third-party clouds, which means that not only is your security system potentially telling another computer all your juicy details, but there’s also the very real possibility that the cloud system can either break or be shut down; remember the Chamberlain MyQ fiasco?

With these facts in mind, [Valdez] came up with a clever workaround to DSC encryption by focusing on physically interfacing with the keypad. The device has a common 16×2 LCD and a 25-key keypad, and a little poking around with a multimeter and a $20 logic analyzer eventually showed that the LCD had an HD44780 controller, and revealed all the lines needed to decode the display with an ESP32. Next up was interfacing with the keypad, which also involved a little multimeter work to determine that the keys were hooked up in a 5×5 matrix. Ten GPIOs on the ESP32 made it possible to virtually push any key; however, the ten relays [Valdez] originally used to do the switching proved unwieldy. That led to an optocoupler design, sadly not as clicky but certainly more compact and streamlined, and enabling complete control over the alarm system from Home Assistant.

We love this solution because, as [Valdez] aptly points out, the weakest point in any system is the place where it can’t be encrypted. Information has to flow between the user and the control panel, and by providing the electronic equivalents to eyes and fingers, the underlying encryption is moot. Hats off to [Valdez] for an excellent hack, and for sharing the wealth with the HA community.