Andy's Blog

A handful of ramblings...

Project S1.6 - Home Information Center

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As outlined in UPDATED: My Home Automation Roadmap, I am working on a information center for our kitchen. This device has a 15.6" touch screen that will display information about our home as well as a common calendar, an interface for Home Assistant, local weather, and other programs and databases.

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My Backyard Weather beta 2

My-Backyard-Weather-b_20190520-184435_1

Well another year of testing has come and gone so, it's time for an update! In short, I'm nearly there. This version is the last one with components mounted to a proto board. This is also the last dedicated version of the software.

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Project S1.10 - Bed Headboard Control

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Sometimes buying cheap can be a blessing in disguise. In the case of our new memory foam bed base, if we hadn't decided to skimp, we may not have realized the joy of an intregrated bed in our smart home scheme.

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Is the cloud worthwhile?

This is an interesting read that is supposed to be a product launch announcement but wound up being more of an indictment of cloud requirements by hardware providers.

https://blog.ui.com/2019/01/09/introducing-unifi-protect/

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Project S1.4 - Control panels

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As I mentioned in UPDATED: My Home Automation Roadmap, I found that controlling lamps with remote switches is an easy and efficient method of bringing dumb lamps into the smart home fold. However, it introduces a new issue, I don't want to have to pull out my phone every time I want to turn one on or off. Imagine needing to get up in the middle of the night and having to find the phone in the dark, blinding yourself when you turn the screen on, finding the app and the lamp in the app and flipping it on ... all while trying to stay somewhat asleep. Enter, control panels.

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$53 almost smart smoke detector

Ok, the secret to having a reliable, certified, inexpensive smoke detector may be in overlooked option that exists in some industrial smoke detectors - A/C relays. What do you really need in a "smart" smoke detector? For me, knowing which smoke detector went off is what I care about the most. Second is the ability for that information to be used in automation and notification. So, what I really need is a signal wire that tells my system that this particular unit detected something.
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Moes 3-way smart switch in a 4-way configuration - YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSDCdUFOj7k
I'm testing the Moes 3-way switch at the power end of a 4-way configuration. It does seem to work but I'm getting an unexpected leak voltage on the load when the circuit is off. Travis at DigiBlurDIY, confirmed that he was seeing similar low load results. It does appear that this is expected behavior and that a higher current load will drive the leaking voltage down.
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[Update: resolved, API reinstated and commitment to keep it around] Logitech Harmony removes local API - Home Assistant

https://www.home-assistant.io/blog/2018/12/17/logitech-harmony-removes-local-api/

If you think that the cloud powered device that you bought really belongs to you, then you might want to check this out.

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UPDATED: My Home Automation Roadmap

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It's a funny thing - what you find when you start a project you think you know something about. If you're doing it right then you'll likely discover that you're not as slick as you thought you were. I suppose that is why I love these projects and goals so much. They make me stretch. On the flip-side, scope creep is real thing and not every project can be a voyage of discovery. So, this is my self-imposed roadmap for the first two phases of my overall home automation goals.

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The Language of IoT

IoT and other Alphabet Soup

Internet of Things, Zigbee, Z-Wave, X10, MQTT, nodes, pairing! What is all of this? In this article, I'm going to go over the common language of home automation and try to help you make sense of all of these terms and concepts. *NOTE* this article is alive and will change as time goes by.

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Choosing a Home Automation Hub - How Hard Could it Be?

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As I mentioned in the introduction article of this series, there isn't a standard yet for smart home devices to talk to each other. However, the advertising and hype sure makes smart homes look like an easy care free way of life. Well, it isn't. If someone is telling you it is, beware! Snake oil will soon follow!

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8 Months of Home Automation Lessons

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Since February of this year, I've been working on a lengthy project - I am slowly adding digital control and automation to the everyday things in our home. This project, unlike most of the others I've started grew out of a need rather than a want. Sure, the want is there and I'd be lying if I said that this wasn't one of the most fun projects I've committed to but, in this case, this project started with attempting to fill a need. Now that this project has matured a bit, I want to start chronicling my journey so that others with a similar need may find these experiments useful.

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My Backyard Weather beta1

My-Backyard-Weather

It has been over a year and I feel like I have a decently tested version to post. It has been a learning experience to be sure and I am already working on some changes for the official version 1 of this monstrosity. In the meantime, here is My Backyard Weather, beta 1.

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Weather Station Project

Weather Station Project

Overview

I've always wanted to build a weather station. I have an interest in weather science but, for me a weather station is all of the stuff I like about electronics - real world use of remote sensing that can be used for practical stuff. From home automation to gardening to knowing what's in the air, local weather and environmental sensing can be used to make subtle cumulative changes that add up to better health and lower bills.

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New Project - Voice Controlled Home

Mr. IncredibleJay Napier is Mr. IncredibleIt is so easy to take everything for granted. Let's take for example, turning on the TV. Next to none of us give this simple task a second thought. I have had days when I came home from work so distracted that, after a few minutes of scurrying around the house, wondered if it was actually me that turned on the TV.

When you enter a room, do you make much of a mental exercise out of turning on the light? I don't. It is like breathing, I just do it. What about turning on a fan or changing the thermostat if you're too hot or cold. All of this is pretty simple stuff and most of us don't give it a second thought - that is, until you can't do it anymore.

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