Home Automation on a Shoestring

A few years back, we had some 433Mhz controlled sockets.
Forever loosing the remote, and the advent of the RasPi hack that could send radio signals, I hashed together a simple web page with big buttons to send a signal when pressed.

This worked 50% of the time. Sometimes taking multiple presses or wiggling of the antenna to work.

Later, I bought some Super-het transmitters, but that only improved slightly, but I had too much else to do than spend any more time on it.


Recently I really got into ESP8266 modules. Looking into fitting these onto the existing sockets above, IĀ found itead SonOff modules.

In the search for something to control them, I found Node-Red.

…Then the Amazon Echo Dot came out.

So currently, I have three lamps using MQTT to control them via Node-Red,
the Echo talking to Node-Red, as well as an iPad via HomeKit Emulation.

Next will be wireless door-bell andĀ thermostat sniffing…

[Big] Kids toys

[Big] Kids toys

When my kid was two, I bought her a motorised ride-on.
Not impressed with the ‘binary’ RC controls (press-for-whiplash), I swapped the ESC for a semi-real one from an RC car I had spare.

That lead me into the dangerous spiral of modifications!

When these leave the factory, they are built to a cost, so pushing the electricals beyond that without replacing, may bite you!


In the case of this, it all melted! – Why?

The car was slow, so I upgraded the motors. Unfortunately for the wiring, these drew in excess of 13A (opposed to 5A of the originals).

This was initially evident when the fuse blew, so I swapped for a 15A breaker and off we went for a joyride.

30 mins later it developed an intermittent cut-out, so we headed home – to which it promptly died.

Upon inspection, every wire and connector had deformed – the cut-out issue was a contact pulling away until it had cooled.

So, replace with better wiring – job done? No…

The wiring/connectors were acting as a shunt. Replacing the wiring promptly caused both ESC’s (accelerator and steering) to blow.

Double checking the wiring found no fault, but using a series lamp and repaired ESC’s were showing a start-up condition where the ESC’s H-bridge were dead-shorting and I simply had too much current available causing catastrophic failure.

THAT in turn lead me down the path of using mobility scooter parts…

But how do we RC those parts and cheap?

Read on…