Monday, April 27, 2015

WiFi bulbs ... well ZigBee anyway

Some rules for home automation:

  • Rule number one: always listen to Wifey! (No her name is not Buck)
  • Rule number two: Avoid cloud only automation
  • Rule number three... [pauses ominously as Crash and Eddie cringe] he who has gas travels at the back of the pack.

Yes, I have something against cloud only HA. There's a loss of control and there are plenty of times when the internet connection is having issues. And there's a question of who owns the data (just look at Radio Shack). That doesn't mean I won't change my mind in the future but for now, that is what I think.

So I've been playing with the Philips Hue Lux Starter kit. I grabbed Markus Proske's Hue shell script library and was able to build a simple on and off script. A quick look at the demo script and I was up and running. Further investigation and I find there's a full API for the Philips Hue. Seems Philips is interested in the community, nice. I'm told I can link Cree bulbs to the Philips hub. I'll have to get some Cree ZigBee bulbs and give them try. I'm also hoping that there may also be some other ZigBee devices, such as sensors, that can be linked to the hub. So far I don't know of any. I also have the Connected by TCP hub and LED bulbs. I have the old firmware on the TCP hub at the moment and I have local control of the bulbs. I've done some digging and I haven't found an API for their products and I also understand that a new firmware update would cause me problems with controlling the bulbs locally. I haven't considered Wink because I've heard nothing other than you need an active internet connection to use the Wink and there is no local control. So looking at rule 3 (oops rule 2), I'm not interested in Wink. I guess I'll miss out on the Porkfolio (piggy bank), the Nimbus (gauges) and egg tray. Such is life. ;-)

The Hue Lux bulbs seem to work well, as did the TCP bulbs, and I'd like to get my hands on a color Hue bulb also. They're a bit expensive at $70 per bulb but it would be nice to have one to play with. I think it could be used as an interesting alarm signal. I have plans to build a lamp with a ZigBee white LED bulb and several color LED strings. So far my wife likes the idea and she's helping me with finding the appropriate lamp. I hope to have more on this later.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Internet of Things, sort of ...

I currently am a member of a nice maker space (IXR) in Wall Township, NJ (at InfoAge). And I've decided to add a few of my HA nodes to the network there. I have a spare weather station so rather than let it go to waste I'll set it up there. I'll then add one of my Chipkit MQTT nodes and finally I'll take a Raspberry Pi. I'll have to setup the Pi to use as much Cloud technology as possible. I'd love to figure out how to do NSF into the cloud for the Pi. I'll need to work on that. The MQTT node will be setup for simple commands, monitor attached sensors and control some very minor devices (LEDs, maybe a serial LCD). I'll also need to set it up to login to a cloud MQTT service. Control of the MQTT node will be done by my HA software in my home. So I'll have access to local and remote nodes. . I'm currently working on getting an MQTT service working with my home HA MQTT node.