Hubs. Everyone’s got one, and you’ll need one (or twenty) of these things at some point in your home automation ventures. Why? because apparently it’s expensive to build all the compatibility for the newer automation ecosystems like Nest (Google) and Homekit (Apple) into hardware like lightbulbs, and easier to build it into a separate hub, where all of these emerging standards can more easily (and cheaply) be packaged up.
Unfortunately for you, this means if you want to use Phillips Hue, you need their hub. If you want to use Lutron switches, you need their hub. Oh, you want to use GE Link bulbs? Guess what, no worries, they have a hub.
Recently the Raspberry Pi foundation announced another exciting milestone for enthusiasts in IoT and home automation… a $5 version of the massively popular Pi. Named the Raspberry Pi Zero, it takes the already quite small credit-card sized Pi and deploys it in an even smaller package at an incredible price. Good luck finding one though… Although, I did manage to find one recently, but only if I purchased it in a more expensive bundle. The bundle though included external pins, an adapter for the mini HDMI and another for the micro-USB, all of which I could use. You can find it here if you are in the Toronto area.
There’s nothing quite as delectable for your next home automation project as Raspberry Pi. If you’ve been living under a rock and are unfamiliar with this amazing little device, it is essentially a hobbyist’s dream. It is a small, embeddable computer that costs around $30. Projects with it range from making remote controlled Lego robots, to putting one in space. For physical computing and automating your home, it is a great form-factor, and there are a plethora of projects to choose from. You are really only limited by your creativity. Some example projects I’ve been investigating:
- Automating your home sprinkler system so that it adjusts the schedule depending on the weather
- Wiring up your own Nest-like thermostat controller
- Controlling your garage door with Siri
This last one was a good use case for me, as we had just re-done the garage doors and I didn’t want a control panel marring the new fascia we had installed surrounding the door frame. I wanted to keep it clean but still wanted to be able to open the door if I wasn’t in the car. What better way than with Siri!