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.
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.
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
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.
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.
You see all these Home Security systems being advertised all the time and they all have one gotcha. Some kind of charge every month. Why not just make your own? Also it costs PENNIES on the dollar compared to some of those others.
One of the biggest components of home security is knowing the state of windows and doors. And that is very simple to obtain and with INEXPENSIVE hardware. This guy is the backbone to this project:
This is a NodeMCU ESP8266 Internet of Things (IoT) chip. Translation: It’s a little teeny tiny small board computer with a wifi antenna on it.
You can get ESP8266 devices WAY cheaper than this even though this guy only costs $9 or so. A couple of things I like about it are that it has a Micro USB input connector on it and the legs are already soldered on.
If you have dabbled in Home Automation you’ve probably heard of Sonoff. They make all manner of home automation devices. I’ve been largely ambivalent towards them as I prefer Z-Wave devices and hackable outlets to power most of my home automation needs. But I kept READING ABOUT THEM. Everywhere you turn on the Home Automation sites people are talking about Sonoff and something called “Tasmota Firmware”.
I decided to see what all the fuss was about and ponied up the requisite $11 for a Sonoff RF from Amazon. I’ve been on a 433 MHz device kick lately and I like the fact that radio controlled devices can work even when the network goes down. As long as a Raspberry Pi is on that delivers that radio burst…….BOOM……the lights go on and off.
So I got one just to play with. The interesting thing to me is that not only is it 433 MHz radio controlled it also works with WiFI and if you flash it with Tasmota Firmware it will do MQTT as well. Okay, I’m getting slightly impressed here.
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.