Starting out with home automation: A practical guide (VIDEO)on 16 March 2021 for Tech Professionals
During one of our recent webinars, Exellys alumnus Jeroen Reinenbergh offered some pointers about how anyone can get started with home automation using IoT. His talk covered everything from microcontrollers to starter kits, tutorials, and entry-level projects that anyone can explore. In this post, we’ll give you a quick teaser of what you can expect from this webinar, including tips on what you need to get started, how to choose the right projects and how to expand your current skill set to get the most out of IoT at home right now.
Jeroen Reinenbergh, IT Graduate Program Lecturer at Karel de Grote Hogeschool
After graduating in Business & IT and obtaining a master in Management Information Systems as well as Computer Science, Jeroen joined Exellys. He later founded Techsplore which provides workshops for those interested in learning IT in an accessible way. He recently decided to switch careers from IT consulting to lecturing. He currently teaches the IoT Graduate program at Karel de Grote Hogeschool.
Buy vs Build?
The first question facing any budding IoT-at-home enthusiast is whether to buy or build a system.
The main advantage of purchasing a system is that you get a complete solution with ‘plug & play’ functionality right out of the box or with minimal building requirements. However, you may also get vendor ‘lock-in’ where certain products from one manufacturer won’t work with those made by another.
A snippet from Jeroen’s webinar on getting started with IoT at home. Want to watch it yourself? Check out our YouTube channel!
On the other hand, building an IoT solution yourself will make your project more customizable, cheap, and fun. You’ll probably fail a lot, but you’ll learn from your mistakes. Ultimately, it will give you a greater degree of control over your IoT-at-home system and help you upgrade, expand, and improve it in the future.
Choosing a controller
The heart of every IoT at home system is a controller. One of the most popular controllers is the Raspberry Pi. The Pi is a single-board microcomputer that closely resembles a computer. It’s small, with limited memory and processing power. It has GPIO pins (used to connect input and output devices) and runs on a Linux operating system. This means that you can use it to do anything that you’d normally do with a normal computer such as running programs or streaming TV.
Next to an awesome gadget, a Raspberry Pi’s also the perfect gift your other techie friends!
Another popular controller is called the Arduino. Like the Pi, it’s a single-board microcontroller that you can use to run your IoT-at-home project. The main differences are that it’s slightly cheaper and is dedicated to a single task. Other popular controllers include the PyCom and the Espruino.
Selecting a Programming language
IoT at Home Ideas: What can you build?
You can start in whichever environment you want. Even starting from scratch straight in the command line could be a possibility, but Docker and Arduino are often the more popular choices. This opens up a world of possibilities when choosing your IoT-at-home project. Some of the most popular examples include:
Garage door controller
You can use an ESP32 module and Relay module to control a garage door with a mobile phone.
Connecting a Raspberry Pi 4B, camera module, replay module, display, and arcade buttons, lets you build a working photobooth.
Water level monitor
The ESP32 module lets you monitor water levels, in, say, a well or anywhere else you need. All you need is a Raspberry Pi Zero, an ultrasonic distance sensor, and a numeric display.
A Raspberry Pi 4B, camera module, IR LEDs, display, microphone, speaker, and push-button lets you build a working doorbell.
Like to play retro arcade games? All you need is a Raspberry Pi, USB arcade controller, and RetroPie software.
Need video surveillance? Connect a Raspberry Pi to an IP camera and run it using dedicated software like MotionEyeOS.
Hopefully, this post gave you a nice teaser about what to expect from Jeroen’s webinar. Whether you want to use a starter kit, follow a tutorial, or discover a fun entry-level project on sites like Hackster, Pi My Life Up, or Instructables, you’ll find yourself spoilt for choice.
Want to watch Jeroen’s full webinar? Head over to our YouTube channel!
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