Home Automation Covers Everything

When starting out on a project, it’s accepted best practice to try to avoid feature creep. Of course, we can’t all say that we follow this guideline completely every time. In fact, sometimes it can get away from us, and in rare situations it might actually turn out pretty well. That appears to be what happened with [superczar]’s home automation project which now covers basically everything possible in home automation.

The build started in 2013, so we assume that features have been added periodically and that the system wasn’t designed and built all in one furious weekend. Either way, though, it covers a lot: lights, switches, media players in several rooms, includes sensors and logging for temperature, smoke, fire, and power, supports a number of cameras, the doorbell, and the locks. It also includes voice control for most of the systems.

That’s an impressive list, but what really drew our attention to this project is that it used to be based on domoticz, but that community has waned over the years and [superczar] had kept his system patched together with self-built scripts. An accidental upgrade recently broke the entire setup, so rather than rebuild everything a migration was made to home-assistant, an open-source platform that has a more active community. We’ve seen plenty of projects around here that use it as a platform, for ceiling fans, custom remotes, and doorbells.

Thanks to [pradeepmur] for the tip!

The Internet Of Broken Things (or, Why Am I So Cold?)

Although the Internet of Things (IoT) is a reasonably new term, the idea isn’t really all that new. Many engineers and hackers have created networked embedded systems for many years. So what’s different? Two things: the Internet is everywhere and the use of connected embedded systems in a consumer setting.

The Philips Hue light bulb
The Philips Hue light bulb

Like anything else, there’s a spectrum of usefulness to IoT. Watching The Expanse, the other day (which is not a bad show, by the way), I noticed that if you had the right IoT lights, you could run an app that would change your lighting to suit the show in real-time. I don’t have those lights, but I suppose when the action moves to a dark sub-basement, your lights dim and when you are in a space ship’s reactor room, they turn red, and so on. Fun, but hardly useful or life-changing.

On the other hand, there are some very practical IoT items like the Nest thermostat. It might seem lazy to want to monitor and control your thermostat from your tablet, but if you are frequently away from home, or you have multiple houses, it can be a real positive to be able to control things remotely. With the recent blizzard on the U.S. east coast, for example, it would be great to turn on the heat in your weekend cottage 150 miles away while you were still at work or home. However, the Nest recently had a hiccup during an upgrade and it has made many of their customers mad (and cold). I’ll get back to that, in a minute. First, I want to talk about the problems with deploying something that will be in many varied environments (like people’s homes) that controls something real.

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Bus Pirate Firmware Update V0g


Firmware v0g for all Bus Pirate revisions is now available. Updates in this release include a bootloader, frequency generator/pulse-width modulator, SPI bus sniffer, MIDI library, configuration reports, improved user interface, and bug fixes. v0g is also the first firmware to fully support the v2 hardware branch.

We’re really proud of this release as it brings a much more consistent structure to the internal operation of the Bus Pirate. It lays the foundation for future CAN, LIN, and OBDII libraries, and it supports localization and translations.  Install and upgrade instructions are included with the firmware. Report bugs on the project issue tracker.

We document the new features after the break.

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