Installing Volumio in a Proxmox Virtual Machine

Volumio is a really cool open source audio player project, meant for high quality playback and easy use with cheap devices. Basically, a plug-and-play network music appliance. I have a few already around the house – a Pi Zero W in the kitchen for streaming radio, a Pi 3 with nice DAC hooked up to the stereo for lossless file playing. At it’s base it is controllable by the standard mpd server, which allows it to be integrated into other audio solutions or controlled by software like Home Assistant.

I wanted to add a network controllable speaker to my NUC server, and it made sense to stick with Volumio. Here’s the steps for installing in a Proxmox virtual machine.

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Self Hosting: Complete Guide to Deploying Your Own Private NextCloud with Docker Compose

With all the revelations in the headlines about how exactly our private data is being mined to surveil and manipulate us, I’ve been thinking of more ways to take better control of my information. As they say, the internet is forever, and it’s become clear that once your information is out there all kinds of third parties may have access to it. While there is nothing particularly salacious in my calendar appointments or phone notes app, there is also no guarantee that future uses of this data by future technologies will be so benign. Just look at China’s “social credit” system.

Using the open source NextCloud software, I have deployed a private server that replaces all the common uses of cloud services: calendar, todo lists, files, passwords, bookmarks, contacts, and notes. All synchronized across all my devices on all platforms. Here’s my setup, deployed in Docker.

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Pi to NUC Part 1: Migrating Hass.IO to a Virtual Machine with Proxmox & Docker

As my Home Assistant setup has become increasingly complex, I’ve started to see the limitations of the Raspberry Pi platform. Graphs are slow, and the history and logbook are basically unusable to me. Everything works, but I’d like to be able to use these things with a lot more data and still have everything be snappy in the frontend. My other home server needs have grown as well, so I decided to get an Intel NUC and migrate all of my current servers to either Docker containers or virtual machines with Proxmox.

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The Cheapest WiFi Smart Switch: Flashing the Sonoff Basic

Setting up a smart home can be a costly affair, if every device needed an expensive proprietary smart switch you would spend quite a bit of money. With a very tiny amount of soldering and some custom firmware, the Sonoff Basic model can be turned into a locally controlled MQTT enabled WiFi smart switch for about $7 each. These tiny little esp8266 based boards can be spliced into a power cord to add WiFi control to anything.

I have about a dozen of these and they work great. Because of how cheap they are, I have started adding them to some ridiculous devices. Today’s DIY WiFi retrofit: my coffee mug warmer.

I want my mug warmer to come on automatically when I enter my office in the morning, but only if I’ve made coffee already. But first, I need to flash some new firmware onto my Sonoff.

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Location Aware Notification Lights with Node-Red and IFTTT

I am in the habit of going on cooking sprees while listening to music… loudly. I only share one wall with a neighbor here in the loft, and that neighbor is very tolerant. On a Sunday afternoon, with multiple dishes going at a time, my most used smart home feature is “Alexa, set a meatball timer for 25 minutes”. Having Alexa keep track of all my timers is really helpful when my hands are full. The problem is that I rarely hear the timer, and have burned a few things not paying attention.

Using IFTTT, Node-Red, and Home Assistant I can blink the lights in the room when the Alexa timer goes off – even if I wander off to a different room.

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Let's Encrypt

Setting Up Let’s Encrypt with Node-Red & Home Assistant

Privacy is important in the smart home, and one of the primary reasons to use Home Assistant is because it is totally under control of the user, on your own network. Since writing these posts, setting up encryption with Hass & Node-Red has been the number one question I’ve been asked about my setup. So after being lazy and just leaving my software behind a VPN and firewall, I finally git around to setting up SSL support for both Home Assistant and Node-Red.

Read below for a guide to securing your smart home with Let’s Encrypt.

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Morning Radio

Going Further with Home Automations in Node-Red

In my last post about using Node-Red to make automations with Home Assistant, I showed some very simple flows for turning lights on and off. While it is important to get used to the Node-Red way of doing things and it’s interface, none of the examples in my post are very compelling. All of that can easily be accomplished in Home Assistant already, so what makes Node-Red so awesome?

Let’s examine some of Node-Red’s features a little closer to get a better idea of what’s going on, how we can use that to create dynamic automations with Home Assistant, and an example of an alarm clock radio flow that uses some advanced logic nodes.

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Useful Sensor: Cardinal Wind Direction for Home Assistant

At a glance – gustier than usual this morning.

As someone who cycles to work most days, I keep a pretty close eye on the weather. One thing I like to know is which way the wind is blowing – a strong headwind means I should maybe opt for the road bike, not the cruiser. Home Assistant has a ton of weather platforms – and the Dark Sky one that I prefer tracks wind direction. The only problem is it returns the direction in degrees, which is meaningless to me.

See below for a template sensor that will convert degrees to a human-readable cardinal direction.

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Home Assistant: Making My Plants Talk with IoT Sensors and a Python Script

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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Useful Sensor: Motion Last Seen & Meta Motion Sensor

You know what’s great about motion sensors? They are very, very cheap to build yourself. All it takes is an esp8266 module like the Wemos D1 Mini, some PIR sensors, and the ESP Easy firmware and you can have a bunch up and running in a few minutes. I haven’t DIYed a battery powered one yet, but there are plenty of great Z-Wave ones available.

Once you have a couple of motion sensors in your smart home, you can have Home Assistant track the last place it saw motion. This is a useful bit of info – useful as a condition for your automations, or as an input for a bayesian binary sensor. See below for YAML to create a meta-motion sensor with a history.

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