Category Archives: Software

Software

Making Your Refrigerator SMART

I have an old refrigerator in my garage which I suspected was a power hog.  I bought a Sonoff S31 Power Monitoring outlet and flashed it with custom firmware (Tasmota) and blogged about that here.

I’ve since figured out you can do a WHOLE LOT MORE with a Tasmota flashed Sonoff S31. I figure there are two important things you’d want to know about an old refrigerator.

  1. Is it running?
  2. Has the door been left open?

Both answers can be tackled with home automation.  I use the EXCELLENT program HomeAssistant.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

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Using A Laptop As A TV – Old School Stuff

So sometimes a really good technology just never really takes off.  A USB TV Tuner is just one such technology.

It should have taken off.  Just about everyone who has a laptop should have one of these.  I have three.

So what would you use it for?  In my case I live in a Hurricane zone and in fact got blasted by Hurricane Florence last year and had no power for several days.  (Actually I had power because I have a full house generator). Anyway, due to a concern for the amount of fuel I had on hand I shut down at times and THIS is how I got my news during those times.

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Reading Other People’s Pager Traffic And Shit

Did you know a lot of people still used pagers? I had no clue. Did you know that all that pager traffic and all those messages are sent unencrypted and can be easily decoded? All you need for hardware is a $10 USB SDR radio stick with a cheap indoor whip antenna.

NOTE: Reading pager traffic is NOT against the law, however retransmitting it or acting on any information you learn from it is. Decode for good. Not evil.

And much like any other Linux techie project I’ve ever done following the directions somewhere else DIDN’T WORK. Oh, it mostly worked but something is always missing. This page is for the first timer trying to figure this out. And for me to recreate this once I screw it up or my computer dies.

Doing this on Windows is easiest and the directions I found here DID WORK. This will be a tutorial on Ubuntu (Or LinuxMint) Again most everything worked but the actual decoding process didn’t until I changed a thing or two. Also one major step was left out that almost caused this to epic fail for me. YMMV. Depends on the Decoder your system is using.

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How To Keep RTL_433 Alive For Your Home Automation Using Supervisor

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”.

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Flash Outlets with LED Ring With Tasmota

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.

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Power Monitoring To Find What’s Costing You Money!

In the interest of being good stewards of the planet AND saving money it’s a good idea to keep an eye on energy consumption.  But how?  You’ve probably seen commercials for Sense Energy Monitors but that seems kind of extreme to me. Also it has a learning algorithm that takes MONTHS to work and some items never get properly identified.

I’m taking the ONE AT A TIME approach by using simple outlets that can be used for single applications.   Introducing the Sonoff S31

Very cool and also reasonably inexpensive. These work right out of the box and link to an app called EWELink.

Just for the record I think EWELink is CRAP.

Also this is Cloud based and the Cloud lands in China somewhere which really doesn’t appeal to me at all.  So we’re going to flash this device with Tasmota firmware and no more talky talky to China.

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Hacking Unknown 2 Channel Relay With Tasmota

In my quest for the perfect low voltage or dry contact garage door relay I stumbled across this one that I found on Amazon

Seems like it might have been made by ITead because it came programmed with EWELink software.  Having said that I cannot find it on their website and I also thought it might be a Sonoff brand name.   I still think it is ITead but I just can’t prove it.

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Sonoff SV for Garage Door Opener

I was using a Sonoff 4 Channel Pro relay in my “Smart Garage Door” project however it was big time overkill.  I only need one relay to pull this off.   In addition to this I was using a NodeMCU ESP8266 to act separately as the garage door sensor.   So in essence I had:

  • Spare Remote Control (for Security 2.0 garage door opener)
  • Sonoff 4 Channel Pro Relay
  • NodeMCU ESP8266 Chip for Door sensor

Now I have

  • Spare Remote Control
  • Sonoff SV

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Flashing Single Channel Inching Relay (Sonoff?) With Tasmota

Decided to put a smaller, single channel relay in my Garage Door project. I ordered what I believe is an ITead Sonoff Inching Relay.

This module is preloaded with software and you can use an iPhone to trigger the relay using an app called EweLink

Basically you start the chip up, connect to its WiFi network and configure it to yours.

 

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IPsec VPN on pfSense to replace OpenVPN Connect on IOS

My OpenVPN Connect app on my iPhone just quit working.  This is how I kicked its ass.

I have been a big fan of Virtual Private Networks for YEARS.  If you are on an untrusted connection such as Airport or Hotel or Coffee Shop the safe play is to connect to a VPN which encrypts your communications in a tunnel between your computer and your VPN server.  It wildly increases security.

So for years I have run an OpenVPN server on my hardwire firewall which runs an OS called pfSense.   If you have any inkling of security at all you should run a hardware firewall.  But that is a discussion for another day.  Anyway pfSense has an easy configuration for OpenVPN with a client export feature that is second to none.

However, the IOS OpenVPN app JUST QUIT WORKING.  I can connect to my VPN but traffic doesn’t seem to move.  I can’t do anything with it at all.  So I hit the OpenVPN IOS forum and sure enough……..this is a thing.  Since October 2018 as well!  To confirm this is the problem I can connect to my OpenVPN server JUST FINE with my iPads which have the older app.

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