Recently I have ended up with 2 Z-Wave devices in my home, and while the devices work just fine without it enabled, I wanted to mess around with them in home assistant. I’ve seen lots of information on Z-Wave and Zigbee devices and sensors and had been looking at getting some anyway, so I used this as a reason to jump in.
Since I run Home Assistant on a VM via Proxmox, my setup will end up being a bit different than the usual “just plug in the USB Z-Wave controller and go” for those running Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi or NUC.
While working on making my macro pad trigger Home Assistant automations, I found the API would be the easiest way to integrate the systems. Here’s some of my experimenting with the API and how to call it from Linux curl and PowerShell Invoke-WebRequest
Using the Linux curl command is pretty straight forward.
Apparently windows has a build of the official Unix curl and tar commands, but my PowerShell prompts all had curl as an alias to Invoke-WebRequest. I did find that if i call curl.exe, it would run the official curl command.
Do be careful when copying and pasting between shells, I found that copying out of the PowerShell prompt and back in would yield an invalid token. This was also encountered in the WSL terminal as well.
The API is pretty straight forward after a little bit of trying things out. The documentation covers the capability but doesn’t have as many examples as I would have liked otherwise.
I was able to get WLED going on a light strip but I do have a lack of ideas on how to make use of it. I finally decided to go with the tried and true movie lighting. So my goal is to setup automations so that when my Roku begins playing something, the WLED strip dims and sets to a specific color (we’ll go with red), and when I pause or stop playing, it will turn to max brightness white light. This will give lower lighting while watching and brighter lights if something is paused (and I have to go get something). I’m still not entirely sure if I will end up making use of this in the end, but it will give me some ideas on what I can do and how to do it.
Adjust lighting when Roku plays some media
If light is on, dim when playing
If light is on, brighten and go to white when paused or stopped
Change to solid colors and a specific color
When the Roku goes to Idle, turn the light strip off
The Roku integration has a number of different statuses, however we’ll be focusing on 3 of them:
For our automations, we’ll be looking for changes in status in the following ways:
any status to playing
any status to idle
playing to any status
The plan is to create an automation for each one of these status changes. And each of those automations will perform the actions we have listed in the goals. To do this, we’ll be making use of the Roku and WLED integrations as well as the WLED webui for creating presets.
Setting everything up starts on the WLED webui side of things. This is where presets can be added to the device and various settings can be changed on the fly. We will be adding two presets for our set of automations (bright white and dim red). I did this on a desktop, so with the webui all the way open, it was on the far right side. I first set the LED strip to the settings I wanted the preset to use, then I clicked to add a new preset. Doing this twice got me the two presets.
Do make sure to note the presets numbers since this will be used to call up the presets when used in the automations later on.
Those presets can be called by the HASS automation to set things a bit more specifically than the HASS service will allow. The presets allow setting the solid color to use which I didn’t see as an option using the home assistant WLED service.
Dim when Playing
The first automation in our set of 3 is to dim the lights when the Roku starts playing some content.
The trigger for dimming the lights uses a state change from any state to ‘playing’. Since we don’t care about the original state, we leave the ‘from’ field blank, essentially acting as a wildcard, and we set the ‘to’ field to ‘playing’. This trigger will work when going from paused to playing, from an app to playing, etc.
The condition here is that the LED strip is already on. If the LED strip is off, we do not want to turn it on and start manipulating it.
It may seem a bit strange that we’re turning on the light as the action here when we already know its on, but it was the most straight forward way I could find to set the brightness on the light strip.
After turning the lights on, we want to set the lights to a solid color and call the preset to our dim red preset. I realize this could all be performed using the preset, but this is in part a relic of my experimenting with the automations. This can probably be simplified into the preset to handle the brightness, effect, and color.
The final (and only really necessary) action is to call a service with one argument to the light strip. The argument is the preset number that was created in the webui of WLED.
Turn Bright when Paused
The second automation in this grouping is to turn the lights up when pausing the video.
The trigger for turning up the lights when the media is paused is similar to the others. This time we want the state to change from playing to anything else. Due to this, we’re just using the ‘from’ field.
We only want to adjust the lights when they’re on, if we turn them off then we don’t want to be manipulating them.
The action for this automation is simple enough, we just need to set the light strip to the preset. This is a service call with one argument to the light strip.
Turn off When Idle
The final automation for this setup is to turn the lights off when the Roku goes idle. The idle state is when they Roku goes to the screensaver. In this automation, we’re not going to use the condition that the light strip is on, since if it is on or off, turning it off will have the exact same effect.
The trigger for turning off the lights when the Roku goes idle is similar to the others. This time we want the state to change from anything to idle. Due to this, we’re just using the ‘to’ field.
The action is simple to setup, we just want to turn off the light strip.
Testing and Changes to Plans
I went to play and pause the Roku far more times than I expected. Using the testing is how I found my sun condition of before sunrise and after sunset was causing problems. It took a few tries to figure out the right status settings for the automation. Below is the failed Sun condition that I tried to use.
Since this condition did not work, I decided to create a different condition, that the WLED strip is on already before manipulating it. Since the goal Sun condition was to manipulate the lights only at night, I decided that using the lights on/off status would be a good compromise and fit the same goal. I can just say ‘well if the lights are on already, then start manipulating them’.
This was a fun project to get some automation experience with WLED. I didn’t have the light strip setup with my TV as I hadn’t yet decided how I was going to use it, I just wanted to know what I could do. This does however work pretty well. This also gave me some other knowledge on the automations, triggers, and actions.
I found a guide for running WLED on an ESP8266 micro controller to drive individually addressable RGB cables. I thought this would be a fun little project after working with the smart plugs and home assistant automations. Since WLED is another FOSS and cloud-free project, this still fits with my whole fully self hosted smart home ideal. Since no project is fool proof and I have run into small problems when working on the project.
I have a number of Christmas light strands in various windows around my house. These get turned on once a year when we remember they exist and its around Christmas time. I decided that these would be a good use for home assistant to add some Christmas lighting during November and December.
To do this, I wanted an automation that would turn on the lights during specific months, and not during others. Thus I needed the current month available as a condition for my automation. I quickly found out that Home Assistant does not have this type of data built in, but can have it added relatively easily. I didn’t know how most of this was supposed to go together, so after a little bit of guess and check, here is what I ended up with.
I wanted a simple but useful project as my first bit of home automation after getting some CloudFree smart plugs. We have fairy (christmas) lights on our banisters going upstairs that we plug in whenever we want to use them, so why not set them up on the smart plugs and setup an automation to turn them on at night, and turn them off around when we should be going to bed. This seemed like a simple enough project for a first shot at it, and something that we would use.
Stairway lights turn on before sundown
Stairway lights turn off around bedtime on weekdays
Stairway lights turn off slightly later on weekends
I’ve wanted to mess about with the whole home automation craze that seems to be going on, but on a fully self-hosted installation (no alexa, no google assistant, my data staying all on my network). After the SelfHosted Podcast mentioned the CloudFree smart plugs, I knew they were the right gear to try out. The smart plugs come from CloudFree which has the plugs pre-flashed with Tasmota.
The quick start guide worked perfectly for the initial setup and getting the smart plugs on my WiFi network. I’ll have that guide below (in case its lost) and continue on with my own instructions for connecting to Home Assistant via MQTT afterwards.