CategoryHome Automation

Building a $5 Smart Plug

I love home automation and have added all sorts of devices to my home over the last several years. For all the devices I have the most used and most useful are smart lights.

I’ve said many times to not use smart bulbs and to use smart switches instead, but what if you want to control more than just lights? What if you want to control power to something like 3d printers, a soldering iron, or even a flat iron; something that would be dangerous to keep on when away but something that don’t have just one location and thus doesn’t have just one switch to control it.

That is where smart plugs come in.

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Why I Hated My Old Smart Home

I’ve had a smart home for over a year and learned a lot in that time. I’ve added devices, removed devices, and in the end have a nearly 100% different system than when I started.

The Beginning

I started with an Amazon Echo, a SmartThings hub, several Z-Wave light bulbs, and an ecobee 3 thermostat. Each of these devices was a great device to start with but I quickly outgrew them and have swamped them out for something better.

So why did I start with these devices, why did I change them, and what have I swapped them to?

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Setting Up a Budget Security System

Several months ago my office was broken into. We lost several thousands of dollars of computers but that was honestly not the worst part. Because all of those computers were used for development they all had SSH keys on them that could be used to access our servers. We encrypt all of our computers and all use very secure passwords but we don’t take changes with security so everyone that has access to servers had to change their SSH keys.

The whole incident was infuriating, mostly because of the wasted time, and not having anyone to blame left us all feeling frustrated. After we got our digital security back in order we decided to take some precautions with physical security and setup a security system.

If you’ve never setup a security system you might think it’s easy. Buy some cameras and plug them in, right? You couldn’t be more wrong.

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Google Home Mini Review

I love Google Assistant, and really love Google Home. I’ve talked about how it’s THE virtual digital assistant you should choose when setting up you smart home and how it’s years more advanced than any of the other competition.

I followed all the leaks and even Tweated about how I was going to buy a Google Home Mini the first day it came out, even though I already had two Google Homes.

Well, unfortunately the Google Home Mini is not what I was hoping for and not because I was expecting too much.

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Upgrading Your Home into a Smart Home Doesn’t Have to be Hard

I’ve had a smart home for several months now and daily I’m reading articles about the advancing field of home automation. Most of the articles make it seem that updating your apartment or house to be smart requires an engineer’s brain and several PHDs in the field of automation, programming, and computer science.

While setting up a smart home CAN be complicated it doesn’t have to be.

I’m going to cover the basics of setting up a smart home, describing what devices you need, what you don’t need, and comparing seemingly equivalent products.

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