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#24: Home automation system architecture

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with an electrician to totally rewire my house for home automation, so it works in a very different way to a normal house. This episode traces through how power arrives at my house, is distributed to a pair of sub-switchboards, and from there goes out to loads such as lights. It also covers the important pieces of the system including MQTT and OpenHAB.

General information about MQTT is available at the official MQTT site. The site doesn’t get many updates because the protocol standard itself is fairly stable and well established, but it’s a good reference site with links to many MQTT-related projects. See mqtt.org.

There are many MQTT broker implementations available, written in various programming languages and with different features and levels of performance. I use Mosquitto, which has been around for many years and has never let me down. Note that your MQTT clients won’t care what broker you use or what language it’s written in, provided it supports the features they need. Mosquitto is written in Java, but I typically connect to it from Arduino-based devices. See mosquitto.org.

OpenHAB is currently the main rules engine that I use, which also takes care of state management and provides an app for iOS and Android. I’m still running the v1.x release series, but v2 is out now which is a major rewrite. See openhab.org.

For a general purpose rules engine that communicates using MQTT, check out Node-RED. With a drag-and-drop editor based on Node.js, you can create rules right in your browser. I don’t currently use this, but I’ll probably replace my current home-brew rules engine with Node-RED some time in the future. See nodered.org.

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Micro Review: BlitzWolf BW-F4 Bluetooth speaker

I listen to dozens of podcasts, and I usually have one playing while I’m working on electronics projects in my workshop. The speaker in my iPhone is ok, but I wanted to get some kind of external speaker to give it a bit more volume.

BlitzWolf kindly sent me a BW-F4 Bluetooth speaker to use in my workshop. I’m not really into music (I’d rather spend my time listening to something that teaches me new things) so I can’t give an opinion on its sound fidelity, but so far it’s been great for listening to podcasts.

The BW-F4 charges by USB and can run from battery for most of the day.

It’s available online for about US$55.

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SuperHouse Vlog #56: Internet Vision Technologies is no more

The last few months have been an emotional roller coaster as my wife and I complete the sale of a business that I began in a spare room at my mother’s house more than 20 years ago. This hasn’t left much time (or emotional capacity!) to produce SuperHouse videos.

This is a big change in my personal circumstances, so hopefully I will be able to make more progress on SuperHouse now.