So here it is, New Years Eve…….I’m up at 1 AM and reading “Best Tech of The Year” articles. Either one of two things has happened. Either nothing tremendously wonderful happened in Tech this year or the imagination and writing skills of journalists are now nearly non-existent.
Every list shows the latest cell phones or drones, or gaming device or newest TV offering. I’m sorry, but that just isn’t that inspiring to me. I may be a dinosaur but newer is not always better. Case in point. Look up the home entertainment category and most lists have some SONOS player. That’s a networked streaming audio system.
I’ve been using Logitechmediaserver so many years it isn’t funny. It streams Spotify, Tidal, TuneIn, Pandora (I dropped my Pandora subscription) and many, many more services.
Thought I’d do some philosophical stuff today instead of technical stuff today. Beware.
One of the things that first fascinated me as a little kid (besides baseball and before women) was radio. Specifically short wave radio. We had a world band radio in the house and it had the TV audio band. I used to think that was so cool. Then along came Citizens Band (CB) radio. Oh God how I loved that. I really find that odd because now at my advanced age of 57, and the fact I’m a licensed Ham, I really don’t care to talk.
But oh how I love to listen. I almost don’t care what I’m listening to as long as I’m LISTENING.
Above you working silently are Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES). They are operated by NOAA and are essentially weather satellites.
Now here’s the current configuration above. Seeing as how I live on the East Coast of the US I aim at GOES-16 or GOES East. Getting the signal is a bit of a challenge and requires some special hardware.
AirSpyHF+ on Spyserver on Raspberry Pi
What is a Spyserver and why do you NEED one? A spyserver takes an RTL-SDR software radio and allows it to be used over the network or controlled from the internet if you allow.
For this project I’m using the AirSpyHF+ ($199 USD). The AirSpyHF+ is probably the BEST HF SDR radio you can get. This project will let us operate from about 9kHz to about 31 MHz where AM radio, and Short Wave Radio reside.
I run RTL_433 to push data from several sensors and a motion detector to an MQTT server for home automation. For some reason as of late it is just not that stable. Could even be a hardware failure with the dongle….I dunno. I generally just run the program command inside a terminal on the raspberry pi it is installed on and just walk away. When it crashes I have to log back in the Pi and re-run the command. Un-cool.
The command I use specifically is this:
rtl_433 -F json -M utc | mosquitto_pub -t home/rtl_433 -l
Again, that pushes data found on 433.920 MHz devices to publish a topic on my MQTT server called “home/rtl_433”.
Found these cool little outlets on Amazon and verified they can be flashed with Tasmota Over The Air (OTA). They are technically called “Home Awesome Breathing Light Smart Light.
They are also sold under the name TMRLife Plug
They are another made in China device that is controlled via phone app and I generally don’t trust such things. Flashing the device with Open Source firmware is MUCH better for securities sake.
Last week I showed you how you can capture the remote codes for cheap radio controlled electrical outlets and this week the theme is MOTION DETECTORS. With a properly configured motion detector you can then trigger that outlet. For example……..when you open the pantry door the light comes on………when you walk in the laundry room, the light comes on……..when someone presses the smart doorbell, the lights come on. Pretty handy stuff.
Most home automation motion sensors send TWO signals. One when they are tripped and one when they reset. Most of them will stay tripped for a predetermined amount of time. Usually for 2-4 minutes or so. Good idea to know the state of the motion detector BEFORE you buy it.
For example I have a motion detector with a 4 minute reset on it in my garage and laundry closet. That means that both of those lights that get triggered are staying on for 4 minutes whether I like it or not (unless I write some crazy code).
I have a hot tub.
I have a fear that one day the hot tub will quit heating.
I have a fear that when it quits heating it will freeze over and crack.
So I’ve been living in fear for a few years until last week when I discovered 433 MHz devices.
So I took a chance and bought this pool temperature sensor:
I’ve been dabbling with 433 MHz devices over the past few days and tying those devices in with my home automation software named HomeAssistant. A decent transmitter receiver kit will set you back a whopping $10 or so. I opted for this one.
It performs extremely well in a home environment and has great specs.
One of the gotchas of this device though is it comes with ABSOLUTELY NO DOCUMENTATION WHATSOEVER. You’d be hard pressed to find much useful on line as well. So that’s where I come in.
Fortunately the wiring is pretty basic and the pins are clearly marked on the back side of the circuit boards.