I already had most of my lights converted to RGBW but couldn’t resist getting one of these when I heard they contained the ESP8266 and could be reprogrammed, I eventually ended up with three after buying a second to verify the first was not at fault and then a third to check it was the same product from a different source!
Inside is an ESP8266EX with 32Mbit flash and a MY9291 LED driver controlling 8 high power white LEDs, 6 red LEDs, 4 green LEDs and 4 blue LEDs.
I picked a couple of these up from Aliexpress earlier in the year, I had been planning to DIY something similar but when I spotted these Aiboo H801 RGBWW units for only £8.35 each there didn’t seem much point. They support the three RGB channels as well as two white channels, up to 96W per channel and can run on 5 to 24V. ESP8266 controlled with 8Mbit of flash.
Red is on GPIO15
Green is on GPIO13
Blue is on GPIO12
White 1 (W1) is on GPIO14
White 2 (W2) is on GPIO4
There are two on board LEDs, a red one on GPIO5 and a green on GPIO 1.
At the same time I bought the Sonoff S20 sockets I picked up a couple of these Sonoff POW units which are a similar inline mains switching module to the original Sonoff (now called the Sonoff Basic) but with the added benefit of power monitoring.
It has a max current rating of 16A, max power 3500W and is CE Marked for what it’s worth.
Unlike the original Sonoff these do have connections for passing an earth through and the terminals are of the push fit type rather than screw terminals.
Itead have expanded their Sonoff range a lot since I wrote about the original Sonoff module over a year ago. That module has been in use since then and has been rock solid although I did switch from the ESPEasy firmware to Theo Arends’ Sonoff specific firmware, now called TASMOTA which has seen a lot of development.
Back in December I also got a couple of these (then newly launched) Sonoff S20 plug in sockets which are basically just a Sonoff refactored to fit inside a nice plug in housing and are of course using the ESP8266, the price is good at £9.90/$12.86 plus a bit of shipping.
I picked this rather obscure USB device up from Banggood for only £6.69, it can receive and transmit codes for PT2262, PT2260, PT2264, PT2240, EV1527, HS2303-PT and the many compatible devices which means it will work with a huge number of cheap 433MHz devices such as the older OOK Energenie mains sockets and many low cost Chinese alarm sensors.
There is no English information available on these USB sticks that I could find other than the poor details on Banggood’s page and even the Chinese info is just a couple of vague screenshots so here is what I managed to figure out to make use of it. I now have this plugged into my Debian home automation server and I am using it with Node-RED to make use of some of the compatible devices I had in my collection.
Here are two similar but also rather different WiFi controlled mains switching relay modules that both use the ESP8266 WiFi SoC. Both come with a nice case, can be reprogrammed with your own firmware and are exceedingly cheap for what you get.
I’m using these with MQTT and Node-RED so that they seamlessly integrate with the other WiFi and 433MHz remote mains devices that I already have. In day to day use there will be no way to tell which type of device is controlling a particular light or appliance which is just how it should be.
I have been using my Amazon Echo and a Raspberry Pi running AlexaPi for voice control of lights, appliances and modes using ha-bridge, a Java app that emulates the Philips Hue API which is one of the few devices that the Echo supports natively. I use ha-bridge to call mosquitto_pub to send MQTT messages to my Node-RED based home automation system which allows me to control lights and appliances etc. by saying things such as “Alexa turn on the kitchen lights” or “Alexa switch the stairs lights off” or “Alexa turn cinema mode on”.
This works very well and as it is piggybacking on functionality that the Echo/AVS has built in there is no need for additional keywords but for something more advanced than on/off/brightness control we need to use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK).
With ASK skills you can add new functionality which is operated by saying something like “Alexa ask the house to….” or “Alexa tell the house to….” where “the house” is the name of your custom skill and what follows can be anything you like. You can also customise the response that the Echo returns to the user so this opens up a lot of opportunities.
I’ve used “Echo” throughout this post but this will work with a real Echo or a Raspberry Pi running AlexaPi or Amazon’s new Java client. It’s easy to set up with Node-RED and certainly beats all that tedious mucking about in hyperspace with IFTTT.
For years I used X10 for all my remote controlled sockets but the unreliability eventually drove me to RF based sockets, the Home Easy ones in particular as you can’t beat the price, often available for circa £20 for a pack of 3 with a remote control and easily integrated into Node-RED and the likes with a simple 433MHz transmitter and receiver, the downside being there is no security.
Anyway, there are lots of affordable WiFi controlled sockets on the market now and a common one is the Orvibo S20, £15.99 on Amazon, a bit less from some sellers on ebay or under £11 from Banggood (be sure to select the right model for your country there).
They seem to be pretty well made and are small unobtrusive units. They are designed to work only with their proprietary Android and iPhone apps but there has been severalpieces of work done on reverse engineering the protocol and some libraries for various platforms already exist but it looked easy enough to knock something up in Node-RED so that’s what I did as it is the heart of my home automation system these days. This is just simple on/off control here, no point in messing with the built in timers when we have better control than that in Node-RED itself.
A little Saturday afternoon project last weekend was putting together this geiger counter kit from RH Electronics in Israel, paired with a soviet SBM-20 Geiger-Müller tube sourced from an eBay seller in the Ukraine. Total cost was £32 which seems very reasonable to me.
The RH Electronics kit comes with all the components apart from the Geiger-Müller tube, it is all through hole components (there are a few SMD components in the design but these are presoldered) and the PCB is well labelled so it is very easy to build. It runs on 4.5-5.5V, has a very low power consumption, stable HV output for the G-M tube and support for both 400V and 500V tubes. It also provides a handy interrupt output so that it can easily be linked to your favourite microcontroller.