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Re: hacking a home with free technology and Debian

On 15/09/18 10:40, Lucas Nussbaum wrote:
> 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
>   device)
> - 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
> engineered.
> 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
>   RFXCom
> - 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).

Thanks to those who gave feedback already.

I created a wiki page to gather further ideas and links:


On the radio protocols, I notice there are also some SDR-based solutions


Using a device like LimeSDR, could SDR be a way to achieve a completely
free software stack and also have multiple protocols on a single



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