Bozzlife: Diving back into Home Automation

in STEMGeeks3 months ago

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This is the end result of a project that took far longer than it should have and eventually lead me back into the world of home automation.

I say "back into the world" because home automation is not something new to me. When I worked at Radio Shack back in the mid 90's, the X10 home automation modules were all the rage. I even bought an IBM computer from Radio Shack that had a serial adapter to control all of your X10 modules from your computer.

Somewhere between moving out of my parents house and then moving two or three more times, those modules got lost. Actually, for all I know my mom still has them in a tub somewhere at their house waiting for me to come claim them some day...

Back to the present

So basically, my whiskey collection was growing larger than we had room for in the cupboards. Since this area of our house has vaulted ceilings, there is a pretty large gap between the cupboards and the ceiling. I started to put some of my bottles up there and waited to see how my wife felt about it.

I shouldn't have been, but I was a little surprised when she said "so that is where we are keeping these now", only to follow it up with, "you should put some lights up there". Challenge accepted.

I purchased some battery operated LED micro lights from Amazon because I didn't want to drill holes through the cabinets to get to the power outlet above the microwave.

Then I realized how big of a pain it was going to be to turn those on and off all the time.

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So I bought these battery operated LED lights that came with a remote control. Two problems with them. First, they came like this with an obvious break in the wire. I submitted a return to Amazon and they refunded my money but told me to just throw away the lights.

Well, I am pretty handy, so I decided to try and fix them as opposed to throwing them away. I busted out my Weller soldering station and started the process of figuring out which wires connected where. I was eventually able to get the lights working.

That is when I ran into my second problem. The lights weren't nearly as bright as I had hoped they would be.

Back to the drawing board

I ended up biting the bullet and using some spare Christmas lights that we had.

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I resigned myself to drilling a hole through the top of the cabinets to be able to plug in the lights, but then I decided I didn't want to have to open the cabinet every time I wanted to plug the lights in. That is when I jumped onto Amazon and started looking at smart plugs.

There are literally thousands of options on Amazon. The funny thing is all of them pretty much look the same. They are just branded different. No doubt they are all made in the same factory and just shipped off to different vendors to be branded, programmed, and resold to work with their specific app.

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I ended up settling on the plug offered by Gosund. That brand had over 15,000 reviews on Amazon and the average of those reviews was in the four or five star range, so that seemed like a decent choice to me.

I was able to snag two plugs for less than $20 which I think is a pretty decent deal especially remembering how much those X10 modules used to cost.

Setup on the Gosund app was really simple. I have my IoT devices isolated on a separate network, so I had to connect my phone to that network initially just to get them registered. After that I was able to switch my phone back to my computer/tablet/phone network(vlan) and still control them.

I can't say that I played around with the Gosund app too much because I actually had bigger plans in mind. These smart plugs are Google Home ready, so I quickly started the process of adding them to my Google Home app. This gives me the ability to control everything from one place outside of the Gosund app. Plus it allows me to buy different brands of devices as long as they are Google ready.

Finally, the Google Home app also allows me to schedule times and dates I want them to turn on or off and it also gives me the ability to share our home with my wife so she can control them from her phone as well if I am not home.

You can also turn them off and on manually by pressing that button on the side.

My wife isn't entirely sold yet. She understands using the one plug for the lights above the kitchen counters, but when I added the other plug to a small lamp we have in the living room she laughed at me and called me lazy.

In my defense, last night we got home after dark and it was nice to be able to turn the light on prior to entering the house versus having to find our way to it in the dark. I think she will come around!


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So basically, my whiskey collection was growing larger than we had room for in the cupboards.

Drink some and chuck the empties!

I like having some variety!

Looks like a nice collection. I only have one whisky on the go, but my other half has lots of gin.

I wired our house with X10 initially, but they are much more expensive here. Can't use US ones as different voltage and frequency. I still have them and have controlled them with a Pi. Need to try Home Assistant again.

I just have an Ikea light and sensor for now. May try other stuff, but has to be family friendly.

Thanks! I am pretty happy with this Gosund stuff so far. As I mentioned I think there are about a million different similar companies.