Living in an urban city without a garden, I have been exercising my green thumb by accumulating more and more houseplants. I have them tucked away in every light-filled corner, hanging from every rafter in my tall ceilings. Which is a problem, because I have to get a ladder out to water most of them!
Using some cheap plant soil sensors and a simple Python script, I will have Home Assistant check all of my plants and make a list of which need my attention. Then when more than a few need to be watered, I can be notified or have the voice assistant give me an update.
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So many good uses for these chips, here are a few I’ve made and some I still intend to.
- ESP Easy – by far the easiest way to connect a bunch of cheap sensors to an esp8266. I have about 6 of these doing various things.
- Bed Occupancy Sensor – FSR sensor for pressure and a simple automation to determine bed occupancy
- WiFi Candle Using multiple WS2812 addressable LEDs to create a simple lamp that flickers like a candle.
- Notification Flag – Raise a flag based on a simple condition. Would be nice to combine in tandem with…
- Mailbox Sensor – Notify when mailbox is opened.
- DIY Milight Hub – I’ve been using this and it works great. Control as many cheap Chinese RGB bulbs as you want.
- Simple Water Alarm – If water shorts the wires, it wakes a sleeping esp8266 and sounds the alarm
- Door/Window Monitor – Along the same lines, a simple magnetic switch monitors the status of a window or door.
- Smart Power Strip – Retrofitting a power strip with 2 banks of controllable outlets, using 3D printed parts.
- Weather Station Display – Another super cool 3D printed project that plugs in and displays info on a small screen.
My favorite form factor of the esp8266 is the Wemos D1 Mini. Tiny, all the inputs you need, and there are many premade ‘shields’ for it so you can stack components.
An ongoing list of all the hardware I’ve gradually acquired. Links are to Amazon, but if you are patient most things can be imported from China for much cheaper.
Want to get started in home automation for cheap? Check out my $200 DIY Smart Home Shopping List to get started with a great foundation of hardware for use with Home Assistant. Control devices over WiFi, Bluetooth, infrared, Z-Wave, Zigbee, RF, and build some basic sensors – all for less than most kits from one proprietary vendor!
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