Six months ago I was reviewing the AiThinker AiLight, a great looking light bulb with an embedded ESP8266EX microcontroller, driven by a MY9291 LED driver. Just before summer IteadStudio released it’s Sonoff B1 [Itead.cc] light bulb, heavily inspired (probably same manufacturer) by the AiLight, at least on the design.
Now that IteadStudio has become popular between the home automation community you can also find the Sonoff B1 on global marketplaces like Ebay or Aliexpress for around 13€.
A closer look at the B1 uncovers some important differences. But before going deeper into the details let me first say that this post will probably look more like a review, at least more than I use to write. And second, yes: ESPurna supports the Sonoff B1 🙂
Itead Studio has been releasing interesting gadgets for the Home Automation community based on a low price tag and extreme hackability. You can google “sonoff” (the main brand for Itead Studio home automation devices) to get more than a million hits, including official pages, reviews and lots of hacks. The ubiquitous ESP8266 (or its sibling ESP8285) is the core of all those devices, using WiFi instead of the traditional RF messages, replacing a remote with mobile apps or voice commands. But also, using custom firmware like ESPurna, technologies and solutions like MQTT, Node-RED or Home Assistant. But one of the latests devices from the chinese firm tries to bridge the gap between those two technologies: the Sonoff RF Bridge 433.
In my last post I tried to explain how to access your IoT devices at home from the Internet in a secure way using a reverse proxy. Truth is that I had it running since maybe 6 months ago without giving it too much use until recently. Reason? My Nexus 5 had been having serious problems (battery not charging, screen broken, earpiece not working,…) and I decided to replace it with a new mobile phone and the new one has Google Assistant built in.
So one of the first things I have tried is to make Google Assistant toggle my smart switches flashed with ESPurna. Nad as it turns out it’s not hard to do but -at the moment- you have to relay on a cloud service like IFTTT (IF This Then That). This is a key difference with Amazon Alexa services you have to be aware. It has some benefits but also some drawbacks.
When you are hacking with IoT devices at home you get to face the challenge of accessing remotely to them, that is from outside your home network. I’m not saying your home network is a safe place, beware. But that thing outside, you know, “the Internet”, it’s so scary… Unfortunately, most IoT devices are just not ready for the jungle. Neither the commercial ones, nor the hacked ones you might have. I wouldn’t dare to open a port in my router to anything inside unless it’s encrypted. So what should we do?
A few months ago I wrote about the Sonoff SC sensor hub by Itead Studio. It’s a device with a Sharp GP2Y1010AU0F [Aliexpress] dust sensor, a DHT11 humidity and temperature sensor, an LDR as light sensor and a mic. The sensors are driven by an ATMega328P microcontroller but there is also an ESP8266 on board for WiFi communication, a pretty standard set up when you have several sensors and the ESP8266 GPIOs are just not enough.
On the first post I already did a small mod to replace the DHT11 humidity and temperature sensor with a more accurate and pin compatible DHT22. Since then, several readers have contributed with code and ideas. My progress implementing and testing them is slow, so I though about writing a first post about some modifications I (and others) have done to the device.
So this is a work in progress post. At the moment, all the code for these modifications is in the dev branch of the repository.
This custom Sonoff SC firmware is released as free open software and can be checked out at my SonoffSC repository on Github.