[Semibug] Home automation stuff

Mike Wayne semibug15 at wayne47.com
Wed Apr 18 14:51:46 EDT 2018

Last night I mentioned that I've been playing with home automation.
Here's some of the products I'm using. While it's not, actually,
FreeBSD related, if the group is interested in an presentation,
I'd be willing to do that.

   I have a (strong) bias against using the "cloud" for stuff like
   this. Early on in this process, I picked up a Samsung SmartThings
   hub and a couple of sensors, they are a security nightmare and
   effectively impossible to secure. The company has NO interest in
   addressing this.

   While I consider myself pretty good at programming and system
   administration, my hardware skills are not very strong. So
   I focus on projects that do not involve lots of serious hardware

   I have been pursuing this for years. My goal has always been to find
   lots of inexpensive switches/controllers - this $40 each stuff is
   not realistic. My target was no more than $10 per sensor/controller
   and ideally closer to $5. I'd rather have a buch of cheap sensors
   than one expensive one.

Central processing is done on a Rasberry Pi (~$50, with case and
power supply) running the Open Source Hassio
This is a docker-containerized packge of Home Assistant that contains
all the software Home Assistant needs. Low power and quiet. I
initially tried to install the Home Assistant package on a FreeBSD
server but ran into too many problems and abandonded that effort.

For switches/sensors, I use the Sonoff products by itead:
Yes, you want to order them from China, these guys ship a LOT
of product and my multiple orders have each gotten here in
less than 2 weeks. 
   ~$5 for an AC-powered WiFi switch
   ~$10 for temp & hummidity monitoring AND a switch.
   Replaceable firmware. This seems to be the best:
   OTA upgradable (after the first install). Some of them are
      installable OTA from scratch but it's not consistant.
   I have not tried their wall switches, just the Basic, TH-10 and

The Sonoffs are not beyond even my limited hardware skills, I solder
one small header onto the board. I've also picked up the parts
to build a multisensor which requires no soldering at all. I followed
the instructions here:
As I was not in a rush, I ordered most everything for this project
from China. Lead time was about 7 weeks. You do not, of course, have
to use all the sensors on every build but the options are there.

I'm planning on replacing my central-system-monitored alarm system
with a product designed to do that, using existing alarm sensors.
I backed a kickstarter to do this, mine should ship this month and
the guy has quit his job to do this stuff full time. This should
integrate into Home Assistant, eventually, the code is out there
but I understand that it needs a bit more work:
I am also looking at setting up video cameras. I ordered one of these
for $30:
and will be replacing the firmware (I mentioned that I dislike the
"cloud"). As usual, out of the box these things want to chat with
the cloud and not do anything locally. But the hardware is based
on another camera that's been worked on a lot and now there is new
firmware for these too:

For the development environment, I use PlatformIO:
This lets me compile code and upload it into the devices.

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