My dad came over early Sunday morning so we could pick up a truck and begin our whirlwind adventure tour:
We spent Sunday driving to Canberra, where we stayed overnight with my aunt before going to Glen English’s factory on Monday morning. Glen has just purchased a huge new Samsung PnP that will replace all his existing machines.
It took a few hours to get everything packed and loaded, then we headed back to Melbourne and arrived late Monday evening. I unloaded all the feeders and other accessories, leaving just the chassis of the machines in the truck.
Tuesday morning I drove the truck over to my friend Lachlan’s factory in Bayswater where we unloaded the chassis and covered them up to keep them clean.
Now I need to set up somewhere for them to live!
I’m going to build a positive-pressure cleanroom so they have a nice environment to operate in, without any dust to get in and disrupt the party.
There’s a lot of work still to do but I’m really excited about this big new development.
Hopefully in a couple of months I’ll be well set up to do high-quality assembly fairly quickly, and I’ll be able to do production runs of SuperHouse boards to get stock levels up to a reasonable level.
Note: I’m still writing this page, but I wanted to get the video up quickly because the Shelly launch event is only a few hours away!
For years I’ve been running my home automation switchboards using “temporary” controllers using Ethernet-enabled Arduino boards controlling DIN-rail mounted relays. My hope was that some day, someone would release a DIN-rail mounted control system with wired connectivity.
And now, all these years later, Allterco have done it. The new Shelly Pro 4PM looks like exactly the device I’ve been waiting for.
Disclosure: Allterco sent me this pre-release unit free of charge. However, I have personally paid for Shellys in the past and I’m sure I will in future. They had no input into this video, which is my own honest assessment of the Pro 4PM.
After being without power and Internet, things have now returned to normal at the SuperHouse so I’ve been able to pack and ship orders again this week.
Please note that I still can’t ship international orders as “letter” class. That option is displayed at checkout for small items because the shipping calculator still thinks it’s valid, but Australia Post won’t accept them.
I have customers placing orders using “International Letter” as the shipping method all the time, and I always have to cancel the order and provide a refund. Please don’t select that method! If I could disable the option in the shopping cart, I would.
International orders are fine at “Standard” class or above though.
Part 3: Tasmota conversion using a direct serial connection
Part 4: Replacing a Tuya module with an ESP8266
The easiest and safest way to convert a Tuya device to Tasmota is using Tuya-Convert.
This clever utility uses a security loophole to trick your Tuya device into thinking that it’s installing an updated version of itself, when in fact it’s replacing itself with Tasmota. This means you can do the conversion without any electrical connection to the device: you don’t need a serial connection, and you don’t need to open the case.
This is great because there’s no risk of electrocution and it can be safely done by anyone.
To use Tuya-Convert, three things need to be true:
Your Tuya device must use a module based on an Espressif ESP8266 / ESP8285 processor. This includes the TYWE1S, TYWE2S, TYWE2L, TYWE3S, TYWE3L, TYLC4, TYLC5, and TYWE5P modules. There is also an ESP32-based module called the TYWE3SE but I don’t think it can be converted with Tuya-Convert.
The device must not have been updated to new Tuya firmware that closes the security hole required for Tuya-Convert to work. If you have a device you want to convert, do not allow it to connect to your WiFi or pair with the app before you do the conversion. That may cause it to do an update and lock you out.
You must be able to put the device into “EZ Mode” manually. Usually this is done by holding down the primary power button for 5 seconds, but it can vary between devices. For devices like smart lights that don’t have a power button, it can sometimes be done by turning its power on, off, on, off, on and then waiting a few seconds.
If your device doesn’t meet these requirements, you can’t use Tuya-Convert and the rest of this tutorial isn’t any use to you. However, you may still be able to convert it using one of the other methods that I’ll show in the next two videos.
Sometimes manufacturers change from one type of Tuya module to another, without making any external changes to their product or the packaging. You can buy a device one day and it has an ESP8266-based Tuya module in it, and buy the same product a week later only to find it now has a Realtek-based Tuya module instead.
To be absolutely sure, you can open the product and check if the module is one of the ESP8266 or ESP8285 versions:
“EZ Mode” is one of the two possible methods that Tuya provide for pairing a device with their app and connecting it to your home network.
With EZ Mode, the device broadcasts a message asking if there is an existing network that it can connect to. Tuya-Convert listens for this broadcast and responds to it, allowing the device to connect to it.
The other mode is “AP Mode”, where the device starts its own WiFi network and then you need to connect to its network to configure it. Tuya-Convert doesn’t work with this mode.
You can run Tuya-Convert in a docker container or on a laptop or PC if you prefer, but for this tutorial I’m going to do a clean setup on a Raspberry Pi. This has the advantage that you can set up everything you need on an SD card, run your Pi while doing the conversion, and then take the SD card out and store it safely for future use.
Next time you want to convert a Tuya device, you can find a handy Raspberry Pi, pop in the SD card, power it up, and in about a minute you’re ready to go.
Install Raspberry Pi OS
Download the official Raspberry Pi Imager software on your Mac, PC, or Linux machine, insert your SD card, and install the default Raspberry Pi Desktop. The process is very simple and there are instructions on the Raspberry Pi site.
Once the SD card is ready, plug it into your Raspberry Pi, use the Ethernet cable to connect your Pi to your network, and turn it on.
Note that you must use a cabled Ethernet connection. You can’t use WiFi to connect your Pi to the Internet because it needs to use its onboard WiFi hardware to create a special network for the Tuya device.
With your Raspberry Pi running and connected to your Ethernet network, open the “Terminal” program directly on the Pi or connect to it by SSH.
Set WiFi region
Configure your geographic region in Raspberry Pi OS so that it will use the correct WiFi frequencies.
Go through the menus to select “Localisation Options“, then “WLAN Country“, then choose your country. Select “OK”, then “OK” again, then “Finish”, and let your Pi reboot.
Once it has finished rebooting, log back in.
Update Raspberry Pi OS
Make sure the operating system is fully up to date:
sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
Raspberry Pi OS usually includes Git pre-installed, but just to make sure you can run this command. It’s safe to run even if Git is already installed:
sudo apt install git
Set up Tuya-Convert
In your home directory, download the latest version of Tuya-Convert, change into its directory, and then run the provided script to install the prerequisites:
git clone https://github.com/ct-Open-Source/tuya-convert
Running the script will take a few minutes. Once it has finished, your Pi will be fully set up to run Tuya-Convert. You don’t need to do any of the previous steps again. Each time you boot up your Pi, it will be ready to go.
Prepare for conversion
With all the software already installed by the previous steps, start Tuya-Convert on your Pi. If you’ve just completed the installation steps above, you will already be in the “tuya-convert” directory. This pair of commands makes sure you’re in the correct directory in case you set up your Pi previously and have logged in again:
Tuya-Convert gives you step by step instructions as it runs.
It will start by asking you whether it should terminate dnsmasq and mosquitto. Say yes (“y”) to both questions.
Next it will come to a screen with 3 steps listed. At this point you need to have your phone or tablet handy.
When Tuya-Convert starts, it creates a WiFi network called “vtrust-flash”. Use your mobile phone or tablet to connect to this network, and use the password “flashmeifyoucan“.
Because the network doesn’t have Internet access, your phone or tablet may complain and say that it wants to switch back to your normal WiFi network. If necessary, tell it to stay on the vtrust-flash network.
Your setup should now look like this, with your Pi connected to the Internet via Ethernet and your phone or tablet connected to the Pi via WiFi:
Put your phone or tablet aside. It doesn’t do anything for the rest of the process: it’s only there so that there is always at least 1 device connected to the vtrust-flash network, to keep it active.
Your Pi should still be waiting patiently with the 3 steps listed in the terminal, and it’s now ready to convert as many devices as you want.
Plug in your Tuya device, and then put it into EZ Mode. Usually this is done by pressing the main “power” button on the device for at least 5 seconds, but some devices require you to turn its power on, off, on, off, on and then waiting a few seconds.
If your Tuya device has a status LED, it will then start flashing to indicate that it’s in EZ Mode.
In the terminal on the Pi, press ENTER to tell Tuya-Convert that you’re ready to proceed.
Tuya-Convert will then pair with your Tuya device, and take a backup of the existing firmware. It saves this backup on your Pi and you can use it later if you want to restore your Tuya device to its original factory setup, but don’t rely on that! After this point it’s best to assume that your device is never going back to its original setup.
You’re now faced with a list of options. The terminal will say:
Available options: 0) return to stock 1) flash espurna.bin 2) flash tasmota.bin q) quit; do nothing Please select 0-2:
You can bail out at this point by typing “q”, and your device will be left untouched.
This is the point of no return! To install Tasmota, press 2.
After all the setup that you’ve already done, actually flashing Tasmota to the Tuya device only takes about 9 seconds.
Congratulations! Your Tuya device now has Tasmota installed.
Tuya-Convert will now ask if you want to convert any more devices.
If you only had one device to convert, you can say “N” (or just press ENTER) and Tuya-Convert will exit. You’re now ready to follow the normal Tasmota setup and configure your device.
If you have more devices to convert, you can unplug the device you just converted, plug in your next device, put it into EZ Mode, and select “y” in the terminal. Repeat this cycle as many times as you like to convert all your devices.
Once you’ve finished converting devices, don’t forget to switch your phone or tablet back to your normal WiFi.
If you think you may want to convert more Tuya devices in future, shut down the Pi cleanly and then put the SD card aside. This saves you going through the long setup process of installing Raspberry Pi OS, Tuya-Convert, and all the required software. It will be ready to go next time you need it.
I keep my collection of SD cards in small envelopes, with the purpose of the SD card (including the username and password) written on the envelope. That saves me trying to remember what’s on each of my SD cards, or how to log into them.
Configure Tasmota on your device
Tuya-Convert installs a very basic Tasmota binary that will allow your device to connect to WiFi, but it may not be the specific Tasmota build that your device requires for its features to work.
The best place to get information about specific devices is the Tasmota Device Templates Repository. Look up your device there to find out what Tasmota build you need to install, and how it should be configured.
Finally, if you’ve found Tuya-Convert to be useful, please consider supporting the project by making a small financial contribution. Links for that can be found on the Tuya-Convert page.
Part 3: Tasmota conversion using a direct serial connection
Part 4: Replacing a Tuya module with an ESP8266
Tuya is an important part of the DIY home automation ecosystem, but it’s easy to underestimate everything that it can do. In Part 1 of this mini-series I explain what Tuya is, and why it’s so attractive to appliance manufacturers. Why don’t they all just make their own apps and IoT infrastructure? There’s more to it than you may realise!
Device manufacturers could build their own IoT platform from scratch, but it’s a huge job. There are many pieces to the puzzle, and you can’t just build it once and then leave it. You have to commit to 24/7/365 operation, with round the clock staff to make sure your system always works.
Tuya makes a range of modules to suit different purposes, grouped into families based on the radio type. They have families for:
Narrow band IoT
Each family has multiple modules with different physical shapes and I/O options, so that manufacturers can select the one that best suits their needs.
The names of the module families indicate the radio type included on the module, and the manufacturer of the microcontroller that’s included. For example, the “WBR” series supports WiFi (“W”) and Bluetooth (“B”) and has a Realtek (“R”) microcontroller onboard. Once you understand the naming convention, you can look at a Tuya module and have a good idea of what it can do.
Tuya modules are available fully certified in many parts of the world, so they’re a great source of hardware that’s officially approved for use. However, the Tuya firmware ties devices to the rest of Tuya’s infrastructure, so hobbyists often replace the factory firmware with an Open Source replacement such as Tasmota.
But there’s a catch. Tasmota only runs on ESP8266, ESP8285, and ESP32 microcontrollers.
Early Tuya modules were based on the ESP8266/ESP8285 microcontroller, and had the family name “WE”. These included the TYWE1S, TYWE2S, and TYWE3S.
Both to save cost and to prevent their firmware from being replaced and keep users locked into their ecosystem, Tuya have moved away from Espressif microcontrollers. Many older products still ship with TYWExS modules because they were designed before the move to other microcontrollers, so if you can find products with these older modules then it makes things much easier for you.
In the next few videos I’m going to show you how to convert Tuya devices to run Tasmota.
Finally, if you’ve found Tasmota to be useful, please consider supporting the project by making a small financial contribution. Links for that can be found on Tasmota’s “Contributing” page.
There are far too many one-off programming headers for Espressif MCUs. I wanted a simple programming header that I could use consistently across my projects, and I was surprised that there hasn’t been any consensus around a single header.
This is my attempt to specify a header format that can be used in future ESP8266 / ESP32 projects, and hopefully could even be adopted by companies that make popular products based on Espressif chips.
Whatever data source you want to record, there are a few common building blocks that you will need. Each of these building blocks has multiple alternatives. There are also totally different architectures that do things in a different way.
However, this particular combination of software is ideal for home automation, because these software building blocks can also be used for other purposes within your overall system.
You can install the various software elements on different computers, or in virtual machines, or using Docker containers, or on a NAS, or in many other ways.
To keep it simple and because many people already have one spare, we’re going to use a Raspberry Pi.
Prepare Raspberry Pi
Begin by installing Raspberry Pi OS (formerly known as “Raspbian”) on your Raspberry Pi. The easiest way to do it these days is to use the Raspberry Pi Imager, which runs on Windows, MacOS, or Linux and can be downloaded from www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/.
Use the Imager to download and install Raspberry Pi OS onto a micro SD card, insert it into your Pi, and start it up.
TODO: logging in first time.
Make sure your Pi has the latest packages by applying all updates:
sudo apt update sudo apt upgrade
You now have a Raspberry Pi with a basic Raspbian OS installation, ready for customisation.
Step 0: Get the IP address
We’ll need to know the IP address of the Raspberry Pi later. If you’ve connected using the hostname or you’re using a screen and keyboard, you can get the
Step 1: Install the Mosquitto MQTT broker and clients
There are many different MQTT brokers available, but Mosquitto is the most popular and it has served me well for many years. Install both the “mosquitto” package and the “mosquitto-clients” package, so that you have both the broker and some handy command line clients that you can use for testing:
sudo apt install mosquitto mosquitto-clients
The Mosquitto broker will be set up with a default configuration and will work fine out of the box, but we’re going to change the configuration to make it more secure.
You can leave your MQTT broker unprotected, but it’s a good idea to set a username and password on it.
First, create a text file that contains the username and password with a colon to separate them. You can do this on the command line with a single command:
echo "mqtt_username:mqtt_password" > pwfile
This will create a text file called “pwfile” with the details in them.
Use the passwd utility provided as part of the Mosquitto package to encrypt the file:
mosquitto_passwd -U pwfile
Display the contents of the file to verify that it has now been encrypted:
You will see your username in plaintext, followed by a string of gibberish which is the encrypted form of the password. If the password is still plaintext, it means the encryption command above didn’t work.
Move the encrypted file into the Mosquitto configuration directory:
sudo mv pwfile /etc/mosquitto/
Mosquitto needs to be told where the new file is located. Use an editor such as Nano to open the Mosquitto configuration file:
sudo nano /etc/mosquitto/mosquitto.conf
Near the bottom of the file, just above the “include_dir” line, add these lines:
To save your changes and exit, type CTRL+X, then Y, then ENTER.
The config change won’t be applied until InfluxDB has been restarted, so restart it manually:
sudo systemctl restart influxdb
From now on, any time you want to connect to the InfluxDB command line you will need to supply the username and password.
We need to do that now, so substitute the password you set:
influx -username admin -password <adminpassword>
If the previous changes worked, you should now be connected to InfluxDB again and authenticated as the admin user that you just created.
Next we need to tell InfluxDB to create a database where we can store sensor data. In this example I’ve simply called the database “sensors”:
CREATE DATABASE sensors
That was easy! Because of the way InfluxDB works, there’s no need to create a schema with tables and columns like you would be a relational database such as MariaDB, MySQL, Postgres, or SQL Server.
All you need to do is create an empty database, and it will be automatically populated when you start sending data to it.
Leave the InfluxDB client by typing exit, as before:
Step 3: Install Node-RED
There are several different ways to install Node-RED, and it’s readily available in the Raspbery OS packaging system. However, the Node-RED team recommend that you do NOT use the packaged version.
Instead, they provide a handy script that installs the latest version of Node-RED from the official release, and helps you keep it updated. The installation script goes far beyond that, however. It also:
makes sure there’s no existing installation of Node-RED and removes any that it finds in order to prevent conflicts
installs the latest Node.js
gives you the option of installing a set of useful nodes specifically designed to run on a Pi
sets up Node-RED to run as a service and installs tools to help you manage it
Before running the Node-RED installation script, install the tools needed by NPM to build binary modules:
sudo apt install build-essential git
Now you can run the official Node-RED installation script:
echo "deb https://packages.grafana.com/oss/deb stable main" | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/grafana.list
Update the package list (again!) and install the Grafana package:
sudo apt update
sudo apt install grafana
Just like the other packages we’ve installed, we need to enable the service so that it will start automatically:
sudo systemctl enable grafana-server
That takes care of starting Grafana at boot. For now, let’s start it manually:
sudo systemctl start grafana-server
Step 5: Configure your sensors to send data to MQTT
For each sensor that you want to log and report, you will need to go through a series of steps to ensure that the data is received by your Raspberry Pi, processed by Node-RED, stored in InfluxDB, and then charted using Grafana. This is a process that you will repeat multiple times as your build up your home automation system.
Let’s break it down into a series of simple steps.
Begin watching MQTT for messages. There won’t be any messages yet, but this is a handy technique for discovering new devices when they begin reporting to MQTT. On your Raspberry Pi, open a terminal and run the Mosquitto client command that we ran earlier:
This launches the Mosquitto client in “verbose” mode (the “-v” flag) and subscribes to all topics using the wildcard character. What this means is the client will display every message that is published by any client to any topic, and report not just the message but also the topic that it appeared in.
On a busy MQTT broker this is like drinking from a fire-hose!
However, we don’t have any sensors using our MQTT broker yet so you shouldn’t see anything happen: the terminal will just sit there waiting to display messages. Leave the terminal open so that you can see any messages that are published.
Configure sensor to report using MQTT. The exact process for this will depend on your device. Typically you will need to configure three things in your sensor:
The IP address (or hostname) of your MQTT broker. In this case, it’s the IP address of the Raspberry Pi.
The username and password for MQTT. We configured this way back at the start of the process. If you don’t have a username and password on your broker, you can skip this.
The MQTT topics for reporting. In many devices this should default to something sensible, and you may not need to change it. For our Air Quality Sensor project, the topic will be generated automatically based on the chip ID of the ESP chip.
If you are using the example Arduino sketch for the Air Quality Sensor, open it in the Arduino IDE and go to the tab called “config.h”. Edit the broker IP address and the MQTT username / password to match your own settings:
Compile the sketch and flash it to the Air Quality Sensor, just like in the previous episodes.
After the sensor starts up with the new settings, you should see some action in the Mosquitto client! You’ll see a startup message from the sensor, and then it will periodically begin publishing its readings.
Step 6: Receiving and storing single-value sensor readings
Step 7: Receiving and storing JSON-formatted sensor readings
Step 8: Create a dashboard and widgets in Grafana
You can access the Grafana user interface using a web browser, by connecting to port 3000 on your Raspberry Pi. The URL will look something like:
Substitute the IP address or hostname for your Raspberry Pi.
To log in, use the username and password “admin” and “admin”. Grafana will ask you to change the password on first login, so set it to something secure.