Post talk write up

Last Tuesday (5th July 2022), I spoke at Dotnetsheff for the time. I've been co-hosting with @kevbite for quite some years, but after many post-event talks in the pub, it was finally my time.

I spoke about all things home automation, with a brief entry into the world of it all. With me first starting home automation shortly after the arrival of my first child, I believe I was ready to “show off” what I had done up to now. Unfortunately due to one thing or another, the demo gods were not in my favor, I had a bit of a demo, but not as good as I was hoping for.

The overall engagement was great from the audience and we even had a giveaway sponsor from Smarthomeshopup, who came in to give away from Shelly devices!

There were quite a few questions covering quite a broad range of areas, which was great to see! And other audience members were putting their input in to different areas and how they have approached a solution, I’ll put in some of these below:

How can I get started / what do I need?

The easiest place to start is, you will primarily need a Raspberry pi 4 (2 - 4gb) version for the best experience with a compatible micro SD card. Installation is as easy as flashing the micro SD card with the Raspberry PI imager, we even now have Home Assistant within the Raspberry PI imager shown below:

Github integrations, can you tie it into Github?

Whilst it’s great people are thinking about having a backup, there are multiple different versions of backups, the best and easiest one is to use the built in backup feature, everytime you install an update a snapshot is taken prior to the update… This is great but if you don't take the snapshot off your pi, it’s pretty useless if you get a corrupt card…

You can also use google backup, this will run every X times a week / day and automatically upload it to a google drive account of your choice. For me, I primarily use this with a specified account solely for HA, that way it’s more “secure” my snapshots are usually around 58MB, so a free drive account with 200GB is more than enough. You can see how to set up a google account backup here:

If you still wish to use the Github backup methods for configuration files then the below is two great write ups from the home assistant community forums:

How to get started with Zigbee?

Zigbee integration is quite a large topic, I shall make a separate blog post on this hopefully “soon”...

But now… What is Zigbee? The Zigbee communication protocol was created in order to create a communication standard that multiple manufacturers could talk to each other with. It runs on 2.4GHz frequency and is capable of creating a mess between each device. This is the main advantage over using wifi devices which would only use a star topology. Meshing devices together creates a stronger backbone and enables you to go further away from your chosen hub.

This would allow you to use one bulb within one vendor and a switch from another and be able to control the bulb and switch together. This has allowed me to buy Hue bulbs, Ikea tradfri bulbs, switches and sensors. Along with other 3rd party switches and sensors too.

All of these devices talk back to my Home Assistance instance without using their own hubs, getting rid of the cloud and making it all locally controlled. This  would then enable me to turn lights on and  off locally without the reliance of the internet.

Who do you recommend to follow?

I have been through my youtube subscriptions and picked out the best of the best, these people have all helped me with something or another within my home assistance instances over the 3 years, I would suggest following them all, but that is up to you. Who I follow for tips, tricks and all round great content in no particular order:

Everything Smart Home -

Smart Home Solver -

Reed helps you find the best smart home tech: smart security cameras, lights, thermostats, locks, and more. Also loves adding smart home devices around his house and wants to show others how easy and simple it can be.

The Hookup -

The Hook Up is a channel dedicated to the latest smart home gadgets and technology.  The channel contains product reviews and tutorials related to smart home equipment.

Paul Hibbert -

Tutorials and Reviews for Alexa, Google Home, IFTTT, and a whole bunch of smart home gadgets and tech to automate your Smart Home. Pauls on a mission to automate the world!

Mark Watt Tech  -

Marks a software developer and has a passion for Technology, Software and all things Smart Home. He started off by helping out in forums and on Facebook posts and decided he  wanted to try and help a little more. Uses Home Assistant daily and loves to encourage and help others to use technology and software in meaningful ways to help automate, improve and just generally make their lives easier.

IntermitTech -

His YouTube channel is about his favorite subjects such as PC hardware and gaming, Home Networking, ESP8266, Phone Chargers, Phone cables and everything related! Intermittent is actually one of the first people I watched on Home Automation! He taught me how to flash the Sonos RF bridge with my current door sensors  and pair up some Xiaomi bluetooth thermostats with an ESP32 board.

Home Sight -

The Home Sight channel is dedicated to home automation!

He’s a communications engineer by day with a background in IT and electrical control systems. Automation in these videos is mainly based on Home assistant and integration with it, but he’s also covered other topics surrounding "Smart home" and general home automation.

Home Automation Guy -

Alan Byrne, the Home Automation Guy, and is here to give you unbiased advice on how to make your home smarter.  His aim  is to help make Home Assistant and smart homes accessible to everybody.

Drzzs -

An anesthetist by day and as far back as he can remember he's spent his "free" time taking things apart and figuring out how they work.  Legos, Erector sets, and RC cars, were his gateway drugs. Hes also rebuilt cars, made furniture, created sets and props for theatre, and most recently, he’s been making my dumb house more smarter. Now he makes videos about my projects.  

DigiblurDIY -
Digiblurs focus is on Home Automation, Security Cameras, and Smart Home products that are easy to put together, cheaper and offer many additional features than more expensive ones.  His goal is to have local control of our devices we pay for! He teaches some down to earth basics to solve real world problems you might encounter on your journey into the smart home field.