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DIY Home Automation, New Generation

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DIY Home Automation, New Generation

Read about how one developer added ruuvitags to his home automation setup, and rewrote the backend and UI for added functionality.

· IoT Zone ·
Free Resource

I've had my DIY home automation system for controlling outlets and reading sensor data running for about two years now. The system has been working fine and I haven't had any need to touch the code since I added the sensor reading to it, until a few months back.

Need for New Functionality

A few months ago, I got a new IoT toy on lend from a friend until I got my own toy, a ruuvitag sensor beacon. Ever since I found the ruuvitag for the first time from Kickstarter, I had the idea of getting a bunch of ruuvitags and adding their weather station sensor readings as part of my home automation system.

The original home automation backend included only tellstick compatible devices and was written in Python, and in my mind, it was kind of a hack. The ruuvitag beacons communicate via BLE, i.e. Bluetooth Low Energy, and that meant that I needed to add functionality to read the beacon data via Bluetooth.

I found a ruuvitag Python library and initially thought that I'd just use that and extend the existing backend. As I started looking more into the ruuvitag and BLE beacon possibilities, I came across a Node.js implementation that would be able to read the beacon data. As I started looking deeper and extended my search within Node.js libraries, I also found a telldus library.

I've done some work with Node.js and even though it's not my first go-to choise it seemed that with it I could simplify my existing backend a lot and add the new functionality quite easily.

Backend Rewrite

I'm not going to get into the details of the backend code as it's basically a REST API that reads sensor data and controls outlets, just like the original implementation, but here's a link to the backend code and just a few notes about the backend.

The Node.js telldus library uses the native telldus library and is compiled with node-gyp so it needs to be compiled on the same architecture where the backend is going to be running. The compile time on my original Raspberry Pi was quite long.

The beacon library uses a Bluetooth library and it has the same restriction as the telldus library.

The readme file contains more information and instructions, in case you're interested.

Refreshing the UI

The UI of the original home automation system was a vanilla JavaScript experiment, and I thought that I should also update that, as I already rewrote the backend. This time I chose Vue.js, as it's something on the rise, and I haven't used it before. Just like with the backend, I'm not getting into the details of the code, but here's a link to the code and a screenshot.

Wait, What? No Tests!

I made a conscious decision not to write any unit or integration tests for this project, as without all the hardware (tellstick duo, controllable outlets, Bluetooth, ruuvitag), I'd have to mock them, and I'm not a big fan of mocks.

Sure, I could have written a unit test for parsing the sensor data from the beacon URL, but it just didn't seem worth the time and effort, as I have manually tested the implementation hundreds of times while developing.

Integration testing has also been manual while developing,, and continues to be manual as we use this system daily so I didn't see the need for automating that.

Final Thoughts

The rewritten backend of the home automation system seems to be working as reliably as the first generation, and I'm really pleased how much cleaner code I got with Node.js.

Vue.js seems to be a viable option, at least for small projects like this one.

I already have some ideas how to do some actual automation and analytics based on the sensor data, but that's another story.

P.S. I wish my ruuvitags had a light sensor, as that would extend the automation possibilities even more.

Topics:
iot ,home automation ,ruuvitag ,node.js

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