18/06/2018 - PiHome

Posted on Mon 18 June 2018 in Blog

A few days off work….

As tradition dictates, time to mess with the electronic things in the house.

I'm leaving the computer alone for now. It's been around 6 months since I've done anything, had to do anything to it. Its working, I'm leaving it alone.

I don’t remember what prompted me to it but I started thinking about 433Mhz on the RaspberryPi again. I'd really like to be able to run a python script that switches a devices on and off. Possibilities become endless. I'd already created a relay controlled, web accessible (button on webpage) lamp, PiMote. That was before I switched all my sockets and light switches to wireless. I'd like to be able to control all of my wireless devices in the same way as PiMote.

Turns out, 433 on the Pi isn't that hard after all, when you've got the right instructions. With the existing PiMote website as a base the finished product took a 10 hours or so to set up.

You need to have WiringPi, 433Utils and Apache2 set up and working.

RaspberryPi 433MHz

Once I had the 433 plug sockets and light switches working, I had to get infrared working for other lights and potentially, tv remotes. My upstairs lights are GU10, LED, colour changing and came with a 21 button remote, they work using IR. I struggled for a few hours setting up an IR transmitter/receiver. The config was easyish, I managed to duplicate the remote using LIRC and kinda had it working.

RaspberryPi LIRC

Positioning the IR LED became a chore, dangling the Pi with one hand, keyboard in the other, running test scripts, all while trying to aim the IR LED correctly was difficult. Lading me to think, about how the final project would look. A Raspberry Pi 2b screwed to the ceiling with a few wires and bits sticking out.

Nope. It could look ok but, nope.

I have a Broadlink RM Pro. It talks all sorts of wireless, including IR. Its currently talking to an app on an Android phone that bridges to my Alexa. The apps subscription costs me around £5 a year. The RM Pro also has a mobile app that you use to create remotes. I don’t know exactly how either work, am not overly keen on the dependency of the subscription. I would like to replace the setup with something of my own doing. The RM Pro, does have very good IR. Much better than any circuit I could make, and better packaged.

After a little Googlemashing I found what I was looking for. Send commands from the Pi to the RM Pro.

RaspberryPi Broadlink RM Pro

This gave me a prettier, stronger transmitter for most types of wireless. I've disconnected the IR circuit completely. The RM Pro works better. I decided to leave the 433 setup in the case as it was quite powerful by itself (without an antenna), it's only six short cables and two small boards, fitting nicely inside the official/unofficial Pi case.

That, and I had spent half a day recording remotes, writing scripts, editing web pages and had it all working already.

The PiHome is currently sitting in a corner out of the way. The RM Pro has an equally unobtrusive home. I have unfortunately, lost my Alexa voice commands. Alexa and the bridge app sit in an unmanaged part of my network, they sit in a bubble together without access to anything else outside of the bubble. The RM Pro has been taken out of this bubble so the bridge no longer works.

Next project, replicate the android bridge app on the Pi. Interim project, buy another RM Pro for downstairs so the voice commands work again!!