Oh, Hi! Welcome!
This is my first “real” article after a long time.
Today I’ll talk about a topic I’m really enjoying lately.

Smart Home & Smart Home devices.

My journey in smart home technologies started a while ago but since I moved to a new apartment (#UniversityLife), I had to re-do and re-think a lot of things.

My new setup should be: portable (so it can move with me), unintrusive (‘cause it should blend in the environment) and cheap (‘cause money aren’t unlimited).

Hardware Side

I’ve decided to use a hardly-constrained hardware platform. A Raspberry Pi Zero W.

The Raspberry Pi Zero W isn’t what I define a “power-house”. It’s a great little device and it has great potentialities for its price.

If you aren’t familiar with its specs the list below should help you understand its capabilities.

And for the wireless side:

As you can see the RPi Zero W is a great little device and its ports are a godsend for my Smart Home needs.

Software Side

After years of OpenHab, I finally decided to switch platform.
My new platform of choice is Home Assistant.

What’s Home Assistant?

Home Assistant is an open-source smart home platform written in Python. It’s a really cool piece of software and you can extend it endlessly.

It’s Raspberry Pi-Friendly and it has a great material design inspired web interface.

The only downside is that it’s configuration-files heavy and it’s not so beginner friendly.

If you wrap your head around it you can build a lot of great things with it.

Installation

After figuring out the software we need, it’s time to install it.

Since I want to run other things on my Raspberry Pi, I decided to take the Hassbian route.

Hassbian is a special flavor of Raspbian that’s already configured and optimized to run Home Assistant.

This guide is valid for November 2017, please reefer to the official guide.

To install Hassbian you need:

So here are the steps to follow:

  1. Download the Raspbian image from the Home Assistant site. [Direct Link];
  2. Plug the Micro SD card to your computer;
  3. Write the Image to the Micro SD card.
    • On a Mac/Linux you can use dd as follows:
        dd if=<raspbian_img_file> of=<your_device> bs=4M
      
    • On Windows you can use Win32DiskImager or Etcher. Follow the official guide.
  4. Now you’ve to decide how to connect your RPi to the network.
    • If you wanna take the ethernet way just plug your cable.
    • If you wanna take the Wi-Fi, follow the guide below.
  5. Boot your Raspberry Pi;
  6. Wait Home Assistant to install itself.
Connect to a Wi-Fi network
  1. Mount your Micro SD card “boot” partition on your machine;
  2. Create a new wpa_supplicant.conf file and put in it:
     country=<YOUR_COUNTRY_CODE>
     ctrl_interface=DIR=/var/run/wpa_supplicant GROUP=netdev
     update_config=1
    
     network={
       ssid="YOUR_SSID"
       psk="YOUR_PASSWORD"
     }
    
  3. Save the file;
  4. Put the Micro SD in your PI.

Now that you have Home Assistant installed on your Pi you can play with it by reading the documentation.

A little intro to my setup

My setup right now is pretty basic.

I have a DHT22 sensor connected to my Raspberry Pi Zero W that’s able to monitor temperature and humidity of my bedroom.

The outlets I use to control my appliances are some generic 433Mhz ones.
You can buy a 3-pack of them for around 20€. It’s fairly easy to control them using a 433Mhz transmitter connected to the PI.

To control my main bedroom light I use a 433Mhz lamp holder.

The cost of this “smart-home” project floats around 45€ (including the RPi Zero W).

As you can see it’s simple to bring down the entry point of smart home devices.

Considering that a Philips Hue Kit costs around 80€ and after that you’re locked down to only a platform, the benefits of running your Home Automation Hub are pretty clear.

I’ll write more about my home automation project explaining things in depth when I’ll reach a “ready for production” state.


Let me know what you think of Home Assistant and this article using the comments below or by hitting me up on Twitter.