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Re: hacking a home with free technology and Debian

Hi Daniel,

On 15/09/18 at 00:45 +0200, Daniel Pocock wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> I've got an interesting opportunity to completely replace all the
> sockets, lights, heating controls and appliances in my Dublin house with
> things that are free or easily hackable.
> Which direction are other people in the Debian and free software world
> going with such projects?  Searching the wiki, the only significant page
> I found was a reference to X10 protocol[1]
> Other people have mentioned having some success hacking proprietary
> devices that use Zigbee and ZWave.
> Can anybody comment on these or any other related technologies?
> Being more specific, at a bare minimum, I envisage having a small rack
> with a Debian server, smart power sockets to control things like the
> boiler and immersion heater and a range of lights around the house
> controlled centrally.

My experience in the world of home automation is that, when selecting
the technology (X10, ZWave, etc.) you should look at the whole chain:
- whether you can find software to control it
- whether you can find hardware to control it (typically a RF transmitter
- whether you can find end devices (switches, thermometers, etc.) that
  do what you need

Whether the protocol is open or not does not matter much, unfortunately.
What really matters is whether it has been sufficiently reverse

The fancy new technologies don't have that many end devices available,
or they are fairly expensive. (Or you might want to design your own
devices, but that's not something I was willing to do)

I've had some success with:
- software: domoticz (not in Debian, but Debian-friendly, and there's an
  ITP). I mostly use it through its REST API to automate stuff or get data
  (into a munin plugin for example)
- hardware controller:
  + a USB ZWave dongle
  + RFPlayer, a multi-protocol gateway that understands many
  (proprietary) protocols (but the firmware is closed source). There's
  another one on the market with a different set of protocols, called
- end devices:
  Zwave remove switches (beware of the max power they can handle if you
  want to control your heater), Oregon thermometers, OWL energy monitor,
  Zwave and Deltia Dore "pilot wire" devices (for electric heaters controller),
  roller shutters (note that there's two protocols on the market, and
  only one of them has been reverse engineered).


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