[Marcel] thought – what if he had more control over his house ventilation system? You could add some nifty features, such as automatically ventilating your house in the mornings when everyone’s away, only creating noise when nobody’s around to hear it. Sadly, most ventilation systems are not automation-friendly at all – he was lucky, however, as his system came with a wireless remote. [Marcel] reverse-engineered this remote, created a USB dongle speaking the same protocol, and tied it into his Home Assistant setup!
The remote in question is Orcon R15, with an Atmel MCU talking to a CC1101 chip through SPI. He sniffed the SPI communications when pressing different buttons, figured out the protocol by comparing the recordings, and built a test setup with a spare Arduino and CC1101 module. It worked, and he set out to design a separate dongle, using an ATMega32U4. The dongle looks pretty neat, and fits a Hammond enclosure – what’s not to like?
Then he set out to develop the firmware, and didn’t disappoint on that front either. His code doesn’t just imitate the original remote perfectly in terms of control, it also has user-friendly pairing flow, keeps track of the system’s current state, and still lets the original remote be used in parallel. Eagle files for the PCB are available on the project page, with the code and a PDF schematic available in the GitHub repo. This entire journey is described in the Hackaday.io page, and we would recommend you check it out for all the insights it provides!
Ventilation systems don’t tend to be designed for automation, and it’s endearing to see hackers working on conquering this frontier. Last time we’ve seen a ventilation system hack, it had the additional challenge of being landlord-friendly, and we think the hacker nailed it!
When a person owns the home they live in, often the only approval they need for modifications is from their significant other or roommate. In the worst case, maybe a permit is required. But those who rent their dwellings are far more constrained in almost every case, and when it comes to environmental controls, they are most decidedly off limits. Unless you’re a resourceful hacker like [Nik], that is, who has seamlessly integrated his apartment’s ventilation system into his smart home controller — all without any permanent modifications!
The controller itself only gives three settings to vent the apartment: Low, Medium, High, and then High for 30 minutes, with all modes having to be actuated with a manual button press. [Nik] wanted automation and integration with his smart home.
Thankfully, the engineers who designed the controller used in [Nik]’s apartment made it very convenient to reverse engineer it. A flat ribbon cable conveniently breaks out all of the buttons and 12 VDC, and he can interface directly using its connector. First hack: done.
Next, [Nik] needed a longer cable to run between the controller and his ESP8266 based control module. Finding the connector on AliExpress was easy, but finding a compatible cable of length required some more resourcefulness. The cable was eventually sourced from the airbag controller of a Renault Megane! Second hack, using a car part in a controller: well done!
Integration into his smart home wasn’t just electronic. The module looks right at home above the original controller, and if you didn’t know better you’d never think it wasn’t original equipment. Final hack: Done!
The most influential conditions for mushroom cultivation are temperature, humidity, and CO2 concentration, and to automate handling the environmental conditions [Kyle] created Mycodo, an open-source system that leverages inexpensive hardware and parts while also having the ability to take regular photos to keep an eye on things.
Calling [Kyle]’s documentation “comprehensive” doesn’t do it justice, and he addresses everything from setting up a positive pressure air filtration system for a work area, to how to get usable cultures from foraged mushrooms, all the way through growth and harvesting. He even includes a delicious-looking recipe for fried mushrooms. It just doesn’t get more comprehensive than that.