I wanted to share something I’ve had on the back burner for a little while – Sonoff smart switches – both the basic switch and the fan controllers. A few weeks back, I got the itch to start monkeying with them.
I love MCUs. I mean that I really LOVE them. Working with micro-controllers combines a hobby (electronics) and my day job (developer) in a way that nothing else really can. The MCU market today is really crowded – which is great if you want to narrow down the perfect chip for your project, but it also means that getting dev kits to see which options are best for your projects can be really expensive.
A new project came up for me, so I decide to build my own dev kit. It is not as hard as you think and gives a lot of bang for your buck!
One of the co-founders of the Smarter Home club, Kerry Clendinning, put this together to help you think about the important goals and questions you should consider before starting your home automation project!
If you’re just getting started in home automation you’ve come to the right place. We are a community of enthusiasts ranging from beginner to expert and we even have some members who manufacture home automation equipment and write software.
Let’s talk about soldering.
A lot of folks only install pre-packaged systems or devices that just plug in and connect. That’s probably a lot smarter than what I do, since I have to spend so much time troubleshooting things and am perpetually re-evaluating my needs based on whether or not I’m able to make something work.
Today’s project is somewhat off the beaten path.
The backstory –
Tom, my father-in-law, was in the security business for over 30 years, up in Framingham, MA. In 2016, he sold his company to a larger organization with offices along the East coast. He worked for them through 2017, coordinating the transfer of clients (My wife and I are one of those clients – we bought the components and worked with a local installer for the parts I couldn’t handle) and doing additional sales for them.
He then retired last October, and, along with my mother-in-law, moved down here into a condo near where we live. I believe he brought down every PC and printer he ever owned – and also every tool from his garage ended up in mine.
When I talk home automation to my friends, some of them fade out and their eyes gloss over. Others find their initial enthusiasm dies off with “that’s gotta be really hard to set up.”
Nothing could be further from the truth these days.
One of my friends was talking with me about home automation and asked me what tools he needs to get started.
Before I suggested any specific tools, I told him:
1) The best tool you’ll ever use is your mind. Learn, research, think – make informed decisions.
2) You don’t ever have to crack open a wall plate to have a great home automation setup. You can use smart bulbs, smart plugs, and smart power strips to perform tasks that you might otherwise install a smart switch or smart outlet for. If that’s all you need, then don’t worry about the rest until you’re ready for something more advanced.
3) The right hand tool is whichever tool will best perform the task at hand.
Having explained all of that, he still wanted to know what to stuff in his tool box, so I put together a basic list for him.
Welcome to the Smarter Home Club’s first post.
I’m Doug, a software engineer from Florida.
My background in home automation goes back to the 2000’s, when I lived in NC. I’d worked from a home office for a year or so while waiting for office renovations. A few weeks before my new space was ready, there were a series of neighborhood break ins.
That worried me – a lot! As a recent home buyer, I was “house rich, cash poor” and couldn’t afford monitored home security, but I worked more than half an hour’s drive from home.
My solution was to buy a stack of X-10 wireless door and window sensors, some power line noise filters, a receiver, light switches, power outlets, and floodlights.
At the time, X10 devices were a couple bucks each if you bought specials from the company or from resellers on eBay. I bought a CM15a interface and a V572RF32 transceiver. I then wrote my own home security app in VB.net which sent a text message to my phone if a window or door opened while the alarm was set.
I didn’t worry about a break-in while I was at work, but I wouldn’t exactly say I had peace of mind…. I spent the next tow years refining and perfecting my home automation and security system, enjoying it just under a year before I moved to FL and would need to start all over again!
That’s how I got started.
SmarterHome.club is the website for our Facebook community, The Smarter Home Club – which is an umbrella for all kinds of smart home technologies – home automation, security, custom electronics, weather stations, alternative energy, you name it. DIY focused.
If you’re interested in joining the Smarter Home Club’s Facebook group, please follow this link: