Looking for new wifi chip

Z-Wave

During my exercises with smart home approach and wireless devices I was playing recently mainly with Z-Wave. While Z-Wave seems nice way to connect different devices and actors to wireless network it has some weak points for me.

Z-Uno solution
href=”http://e-rook.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/z-uno.jpg”> Z-Uno = Arduino style with Z-Wave[/c
  • Price – Z-Wave enables devices are not very expensive however if you want to deal with something fully customised for your needs it turns out chip is more expensive. Z-Uno is nice solution but for more experiments it can be costly.
  • Inclusion/Exclusion – ok, this is smart and secure. But often when I was fighting with my toys I was facing problems, especially with battery working devices
  • No direct mobile interface – simple – you must always run a server even for a single switch at home, even if you don’t want to use it from outside. Ok, ok – this use case is stupid for smart home as it does not even touch subject of being smart. But sometimes we can see need to quick adaptation of device without playing with a server – but mobile must be trusted and device itself should report back to smart home server with update.

The best features of Z-Wave however is low energy usage and mesh. Build-in mesh solution makes Z-Wave very good solution for having many devices spread around your home. I have dozen devices working in Z-Wave and there are pros and cons… But cost and problems with range/visibility sometimes disturbs me. But indeed there are still new devices coming to the market :).

WiFi

ESP8266
tp://e-rook.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/esp8266.jpg”> ESP8266 WiFi chip

[/caption]Another option which I have looked at was Wifi. I made a few small experiments and did some readings. during my tests I used ESP8266. Cheap solution with great possibilities. But it is missing mesh feasibility. it is great due to the price but building micro routers on each chip and mesh functionality yourself is cumbersome and depth of mesh is very limited. If on the other side we would like to connect all devices to single router I think router would come to its limits quickly with that many connections

But still this is very nice chip :). Maybe if I found out how to build bigger and efficient mesh I would gladly come back to it.

Bluetooth

-rook.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/esp32.jpg”> ESP32 with Bluetooth, WiFi and more stuff[/caption]Well.

Well… for long time I was ignoring BT as I had impression it is eating batteries quickly… But this was over 15 years ago :). I was scanning specifications around and found out we have BT LTE available with piconet, scatternet, Bluetooth 5.0 with mesh around the corner. Then for a while I was sad that ESP8266 has no Bluetooth… and then I found ESP32 with everything and even more – input/outputs, WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE, CAN and more and more. It looks really interesting…

So…

So in this situation I will keep my existing toys with Z-Wave running and try to investigate ESP32 more. And because the best way to learn something is to try to explain something someone else I will try to describe my progress with some examples and reference to interesting materials.

/Rook

Is smart home smart?

For some time I have been interested in smart home subject. Finally during last months I made a few big steps and started implementing something on my own. I have started build it alone from available components from different vendors and integrated with Smarthome app coming from z-wave.me.

Currently my system consists of some temperature , window open/close, motion sensors, plugs, dimmers, thermostats. It works, I like it. A friend of mine has similar system with much more features and scenes, I have also implemented some scenes, associations. So light on stairs automatically turns on when someone wants to go up/down, I can turn off heating/lights in kids’ room when they go out, turn off TV with equipment during sleeping time to preserve energy.

But – is such home smart?

I asked myself this question for the first time when I have added integration of IntChart to my TV plug

  • Power consumption of TV and decoder 160W
  • When XBox is up – 200W
  • Turn off 16W

Wait a second… 16W when nobody uses anything? While sleeping or outdoor? It is not smart.

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Z-Uno – new toy

My new toy – Z-Uno – has just arrived. My first idea is to use it as platform for managing a few items in the kitchen – two set of lights under the shelves, monitoring temperature, humidity and pressure. But first quick glance and checking if it works

Z-Uno unpacked

According to leaflet attached it is enough to connect the board via USB cable to the computer and lights should turn on. Z-Uno comes with blinking demo sketch preloaded. Start Smorthome UI and set controller into inclussion mode and press button B three times.

Z-Uno unclussion

Z-Uno will be found and configured as dimmers. Changing value will change frequency of LED blinking – easy

Z-Uno with blink demo

Z-Wave thermometers

Something easy

When doing my own Z-Wave installation I have decided to make it without rush with simple steps. As such I have started with measuring temperature. When I moved in I have prepared for this 6-wired cable going along the garage wall and outside to the garden. My RazBerry controller is waiting at home and I gather equipment. I plan to limit soldering and use more connectors – some may be too big but I do not make precise probes (yet).

Fibaro sensor, DS18B20 and some connectors
Fibaro sensor, DS18B20 and some connectors

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RazBerry – home controller installation

In this article I will come back to installation of home controller based on Raspberry PI and RazBerry daughter board. I will try to start from very beginning. In later posts I will be building environment around this control station – if I change my mind I will clearly describe it 🙂

OS installation

For controller I want to use Raspberry Pi 3, RazBerry daughter board and system will be installed on 32GB card. I do not claim it is the only solution – but easy to start.

Platform components
Platform components

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RazBerry – old glance

A few years ago when moved to new house I had a plan to introduce some automated system to control heating at first. Key reason was that I was very unhappy with heating system which was based on hot steam provided by power company. Problem was that with several houses on single connection there was huge loss and problem with getting satisfying temperature at given moment. As I had no clear idea at the beginning I though about building some wireless system which would allow me to control different components of the system.

That time I had Raspberry Pi and found out about Z-Wave.

RazBerry attached to Raspberry Pi
RazBerry attached to Raspberry Pi

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