Logs, logic and inspiration: Managing a complex home control setup

You know how it goes.  You start with one or two home control devices.  You find it amazing that you can control them from your phone.  You want more.  And more…

Here’s a quick diagram of my current setup at home.


There are at least 77 items for the home control system to control.  Each one has a unique set of capabilities, and inter dependencies with other devices.  Certain groups of these items require different communication protocols, some radio, some infrared, some HTTP and some via a webserver.

As my system has been created from several protocols and brands, I find it engaging and a full-on hobby to ensure they perform perfectly in concert.  Basic scripting has become more in-depth as I attempt to squeeze out the most from every device.  Although adding additional functionality is stimulating for me and ultimately rewarding for me and my flatmate, each iteration adds a new layer of complexity – and like every complex system, the bigger it is, the harder it can fall.

I’ve recently been faced with a problem.  A few times in a row, the Raspberry Pi 2 has frozen overnight. The controls and automatic lighting obviously do not respond, and then something as simple and as taken for granted as getting light and audio into the shower requires scrabbling through phone apps: not good if the water is already running!  Worse, the switches that are supposed to be triggered in the early morning, such as the “it is dawn” variable do not fire.  So with such a complex system how do you diagnose the problem?


The first answer is logs.  Loads of logs.  Ensure each of your subsystems are writing down what they are doing and just as importantly when they are doing it.  You can then rifle through the logs and find anything that is not behaving as you’d planned.

Inter-dependency diagrams

Okay, so this may be the most geeky thing I have said on this blog so far, but I like to keep diagrams and spreadsheets showing which systems and activities are inter-related.  And in the event of a catastrophic failure, they pay dividends.  You can literally trace your finger through the lines and see which scripts you need to check if something is not working right.  You can also keep track of things like ID codes and group codes for all your connected devices.


To do this you need to empty the house of unexpected variables (i.e. the rest of the family and pets large enough to trigger any sensors) and then physically run through each process that you think may be causing the problem.  If you are anything like me this usually involves an embarrassing and potentially uncomfortable period where you are remaining totally motionless right in front of a motion sensor to see what happens when the “no movement here” signal is sent.


You may be surprised by the other users’ perception and understanding of your home control system.  Ask other occupants what they think is happening.  At best they could hit the nail on the head, and if not they just may throw something so left-of-centre out there that is provides you with the fresh outlook you need to trace the problem.


I feel this entry will become outdated very soon.  As consumers we are on the cusp of having our cake and eating it: a fully integrated one-stop solution for home automation that will work seamlessly and without requiring manual programming.  It may even have the ability to provide reasons for failure and suggest ways to work around it, especially if open-source and app-based: a fellow user in the Netherlands could be granted temporary access to help sort out the problem you’re having with your garage door in California.

This new way will remove the complexity involved in getting disparate systems to work together, but will it provide the level of control we ‘first gen’ full home control aficionados will require?  Either way, I’m glad I’ll be able to say “In my day, we had to fumble around to find the solutions to these issues, and sometimes create our own!”



Syncing your Hue lights to Sonos – part 2

I successfully built a program to sync up Phillips Hue lights with Sonos in this post.  Unfortunately the Echonest API is no longer in use and I have run up to difficulties with authorising the replacement Spotify API (any help with that is gratefully received!).

I’ve also always fancied myself as a lighting technician and the responsiveness of the Hue lights got me thinking that there might be a way to sync my lights to a specific track or a bunch of tracks.  Imagine a party where the lights “do their own thing” until a track comes on that is recognised, and then the lights sync up in exactly the way you have programmed them.

I wanted to make the program do as a minimum the following:

  • Have a “default” setting where the lights change in a generic but random way
  • When a track starts, to detect that the track has “light cues” associated with it and to start playing the light cues alongside the track
  • To be synced to the second, so that the lights always “keep up” with the track
  • To be able to “join in” and catch up with the track, even if it is paused or rewound (completely or partly)

The attached files are small, and are by no means polished, but they do the job and the program can run all night successfully changing between “I don’t know this song so I’ll just do a random light show” to “Oooh! I know this song, let me load up the light cues and join in!”.

There are two parts: and Excel spreadsheet where the lights are encoded, and a small python program that is run to manage the current playing track and loading of the associated light cues if they exist.

This program also relies on the node-sonos-http-api code by Jishi available here (https://github.com/jishi/node-sonos-http-api)  with installation instructions mentioned in my previous Hue/Sonos post.  This node program should be running (it always is on my Raspberry Pi as I use it to control all Sonos throughout the flat using HTTP commands).

The Excel spreadsheet:

The spreadsheet is a macro-enabled spreadsheet that allows you to create, load, edit and save light cue files (saved as *.lig files).  Simply open the spreadsheet and listen to your music.  When you come to a part of the music that deserves a light change, you go to that line and then choose a function and type in some numbers.

At the top of the spreadsheet, type in the name of the track you want to set up a light cue datafile for.  Enter the whole location of the file but without any extension.  For example, if the track is called Like a Cat, and you want it to be saved in your C:\Users\Sample\Documents folder, in cell C5 type in C:\Users\Sample\Documents\Like a Cat

A word of caution here: run the program and change the Sonos to the track you want to encode first.  The program will show the exact name of the file it is looking for.  In order to simplify the program, it strips out brackets and hyphens, as well as commas and full stops (periods).  You may therefore end up with a track name that has a few extra spaces in it, so look out for that.

In cells C9 to L9 enter the reference numbers of each light you want to use in this song.  You can use all available lights or just some.  You don’t have to select the same lights for each song, but remember if one known song comes on after the other, some lights may remain as you left them in the first song if you don’t include them in the second song’s list.

In cell C11 enter the group number of the Hue lights you want to control.  This is useful as some of the light cues you can use address the whole group rather than individual bulbs in sequence.  You can set groups using the Hue API.

Listen to a song and then work out in your head what would be a good lighting effect.  Maybe you’d like each bulb to flick between strong random colours every 2 seconds, or maybe you want a low orange glow on all lights until the chorus, and then raise up the lights to a vivid red, maybe making them flash at just the right moment.

For each song you can enter as many or as few lines of light cues as you like, even just one at the beginning of the track, to change the lights to match the mood of the music for the whole song, or maybe an epic display matched perfectly to each bar.

Functions available are:

ALLSET which changes in sequence each light you have specified to use

CHGALL which changes the whole group of lights instead of each individual light

FLASH which pulses the lights either once or twice (depending on how fast your host machine is)

INDIV which controls one individual bulb (enter this in the Lightref/delay column). If you want to change 2 bulbs together just put two INDIV lines together, one after the other, a second apart.

ALLBRI ignores a lot of the variables supplied and just changes the whole group of lights to a specific brightness

ALLOFF and ALLON switch the whole group of lights off or on, at a transition time you specify

CHGSEQ changes each light sequentially, just like ALLSET, but waits a certain number of seconds you specify (enter this in the Lightref/delay column)

How to write a light cue line:

First choose what you want to do.  Let’s say in the very first second of the track we want to bring up all the lights to a dark, moody red colour.  Enter the following line.


I want to force the lights to one specific colour, so I have entered the same number into MinHue and MaxHue so that I am sure that colour 0 (red) will be chosen.

Then we want to spring into vibrant colours which change every 10 seconds, from the 15th second of the track.


Notice this time I have set MinHue to 0 and MaxHue to 65000 – this gives a good range of colours, in fact the whole spectrum.  I set MaxSat and MinSat to 255 as I don’t want to mix the colours with any white.  The closer you get to 0 for Sat, the more white is mixed in with the colour.  I have set TransTime to 10 because I want them to change over the period of 1 second.  I could have put 5 or 1 in there if I wanted a faster or instant response.  There is some randomness between the brightness too, from 100 (mid-dim) to 255 (bright).

I then copy this line from column D to column L and then paste into 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 35 seconds and so on.

When I get to the end of the song I just finish.  Nothing else to do unless you want to add some other flourishes.  Let’s go back to 2 minutes and 24 seconds, as there is one enormous drum solo that starts there and I would like to put pulsing white lights for 10 seconds.


Now just click the Export button at the top.  Excel won’t reportanything (I told you it wasn’t finished) but the light cue file will be saved in the location and with the name you specified in cell C5.  Make sure it has shown up.

You can quickly build up quite a catalogue of “*.lig” light cue files.

When done, copy these files to the location where you’ll be running the python program (oh, you’ll need to create or download one called “default.lig” which is the file that the program will open if the track playing does not have its own file).

Inside the python program change to the address of the server that is running for node-sonos-http-api (the address where server.js is running) and then change the Sonos zone name from “Living%20Room” to the one that will be playing the music.  If you want more than one player to play music (at a party for example) make sure the player you specify here is the “main” player and additional speakers are grouped to it.

Run the python program (in python 3) and you’ll see it start to wait for the Sonos player to start playing something.  Play one of the songs you have created a light cue file for and make sure it opens.  If it does, you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labour! If not, first check what file the program was actually looking for (each title is printed out by the program when the Sonos player changes track).

I hope you enjoy this small program and light cue creation spreadsheet.  Please let me know how you’d improve it or if you use it!  Thanks as always for your comments, they keep me writing these posts.


Take off the “.doc” extension before using – WordPress does not allow me to upload *.py, *.xlsx or my own *.lig files.



Hue Music Encoder 2.xlsm

Writing a home control front end in HTML.

I’ve been asked a few times about my custom front-end for my Domoticz, Hue and Sonos setup, so here are a few HTML snippets and where to put them, assuming you are running Domoticz on your home control server.

Right from the offset I must stress that the Icons I have used are made by various incredibly skilled designers at http://www.flaticon.com/ and therefore this front end cannot be used for any commercial purpose.

I have previously written an extensive post about the continuous development of a home control user interface and have posed a video containing my front end, so this post will not be about the thought process behind creating a UI, rather how I have managed to put one together using HTML.

I must also stress that I am not an expert in baking a web app.  Developers may read my code and scoff at its inefficiency but it works for me, and hopefully can give you some inspiration.


The layout of all panels follows the same template: A main area where the actual buttons and controls live, changing depending on which screen the user selects; the ‘scenes’ bar, a blue strip towards the bottom of the display which is a kind of ‘quick access’ ribbon for regularly used commands; and a Links bar which permanently shows the pages that can be displayed.


There is also a ‘notifications’ display which shows up just above the scenes bar with information provided by a variable in Domoticz.  This text can be ‘cleared’ by touching it (more on this later).

All screens use variations on the same HTML so not every screen is shown in detail in this post.

Home Screen


Home is where the heart is.  I like the home screen to be simple, uncluttered and good looking.  It’s by far the screen shown most regularly so less is more here.

The interesting part of this screen is the background.  It changes depending on the weather.  First I saved six 2000×600 backgrounds with names ranging from weatherback-rain.png to weatherback-fog.png.  You need cloudy, fog, partlycloudy, rain, snow and sunny.  I set the size of these backgrounds to fit the tablet which the screen is displayed on so you may need to adjust accordingly.

The HTML code to change the background depending on the weather is as follows (change xx, yyyy and zz to the address of your Domoticz server, the port Domoticz is using and the idx code of your weather source in Domoticz):

function updateweather(){

                var forecast

                var xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();

                var url = "http://192.168.1.xx:yyyy/json.htm?type=devices&rid=zz";

                var forecast

                xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {

                 if (xmlhttp.readyState == 4 && xmlhttp.status == 200) {

                 var myArr = JSON.parse(xmlhttp.responseText);

                                                forecast = myArr.result[0].ForecastStr;

                                                console.log("Forecast is " + forecast + ".")

       // myFunction(myArr);

                                                 if (forecast == "Partly Cloudy") {

                                                 document.getElementById("weatherindicator").src = "weatherback-partlycloudy.png";


                                                 if (forecast == "Sunny") {

                                                 document.getElementById("weatherindicator").src = "weatherback-sunny.png";


                                                if (forecast == "Rain") {

                                                 document.getElementById("weatherindicator").src = "weatherback-rain.png";


                                                if (forecast == "Fog") {

                                                 document.getElementById("weatherindicator").src = "weatherback-fog.png";


                                                if (forecast == "Snow") {

                                                 document.getElementById("weatherindicator").src = "weatherback-snow.png";


                                                if (forecast == "Cloudy") {

                                                 document.getElementById("weatherindicator").src = "weatherback-cloudy.png";




xmlhttp.open("GET", url, true);




Notice that the last line of this code sets up the web page to update the weather picture every 60 seconds.  Ok, in the body of your HTML you’ll need something like

<div id="weatherdisplay" align="left" class="weatherback"><img id="weatherindicator" src=""></div>

And you’ll need something like this wherever you save your CSS:

div.weatherback {

    position: fixed;

    top: 0px;

    left: 0px;

    width: 1000px;



Activating Hue scenes

The API for Hue is relatively easy to use.  I used the API to save scenes to each room and then can recall them from the press of an icon on the scenes bar.  The HTML at the scene bar is easy:

<a href="javascript:;" onClick="groupscene(1,7);switchoff(24)"><img src="scene-cinema.png" width="150" height="150" border="0"></a>

The button called scene-cinema.png does two things actually, sets the group 1 to scene 7 and then switches of a switch in Domoticz.  Let’s see the code for each of these functions:

function groupscene(group,scene){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.aa/api/bbbbbbb/groups/'+group+'/action', '{"scene":"'+scene+'"}');


Change aa to the address of your Hue bridge and bbbbbb to the name of the developer (if you followed the Hue API instructions from the Hue website this might be “newdeveloper”.  If your scene does not change straight away then your control panel might not be authorised to the Hue bridge.  If this is the case, press the button on the Hue bridge and then try again a couple of times.

function switchon(devicecode){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.xx:yyyy/json.htm?type=command&param=switchlight&idx='+devicecode+'&switchcmd=On', '');



function switchoff(devicecode){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.xx:yyyy/json.htm?type=command&param=switchlight&idx='+devicecode+'&switchcmd=Off', '');



function toggle(devicecode){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.xx:yyyy/json.htm?type=command&param=switchlight&idx='+devicecode+'&switchcmd=Toggle', '');



function dim(devicecode,dimlevel){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.xx:yyyy/json.htm?type=command&param=switchlight&idx='+devicecode+'&switchcmd=Set%20Level&level='+dimlevel, '');


The above codes (again change xx to the address of your Domoticz server and yyyy to the port number) are all similar. Switchon, switchoff do what they say on the tin.  Toggle changes the state of an on/off switch and then dim sets a certain switch you specify (idx) to the dim level you select (dimlevel).

While we’re here, here’s a list of the other Hue functions I put into the home control system:

function lightoff(light){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.aa/api/bbbbbb/lights/'+light+'/state', '{"on":false}');



function lightmax(light){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.aa/api/bbbbbb/lights/'+light+'/state', '{"on":true,"bri":255,"sat":0,"hue":0}');



function briup(group){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.aa/api/bbbbbb/groups/'+group+'/action', '{"bri_inc":40}');



function bridn(group){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.aa/api/bbbbbb/groups/'+group+'/action', '{"bri_inc":-40}');



function groupcontrol(group,hue,bri,sat){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.aa/api/bbbbbb/groups/'+group+'/action', '{"on":true,"bri":'+bri+',"sat":'+sat+',"hue":'+hue+'}');



function groupscene(group,scene){

                execute('PUT', 'http://192.168.1.aa/api/bbbbbb/groups/'+group+'/action', '{"scene":"'+scene+'"}');


So these are the main components of the home page – and here’s a snippet of how I go the inside and outside temperature (change zz to the idx of your temperature sensor):

function updateintemp(){

                var instatus

                var xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();

                var url = "http://192.168.1.xx:yyyy/json.htm?type=devices&rid=zz";

                xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {

                if (xmlhttp.readyState == 4 && xmlhttp.status == 200) {

               var myArr = JSON.parse(xmlhttp.responseText);

                                                instatus =  "Inside: " + myArr.result[0].Data;


                                                document.getElementById("intemp").innerHTML = instatus



xmlhttp.open("GET", url, true);




You need a div with id “intemp” positioned where you like, and again the last part of the above code sets up the web app to update the temperature each 20 seconds.

Devices screen


The devices screen updates the icons with a green bar when the switch is on and a grey bar when off.  I save two identical png pictures, one with -on.png at the end and one with -off.png.  I enter this HTML repeatedly, changing the id and the source of the picture for each button:

<a href="javascript:;" onClick=”toggle(xx)"><img src="chesterlampoff.png" width="125" height="125" hspace="5" vspace="5" border="0" id="chesterlamp"></a>

Change xx to the idx of the device in Domoticz (you can find the idx of the device in the ‘Devices’ tab of the Domoticz interface.

Change the id=”chesterlamp” to id=”whateveryourdeviceiscalled” then change the img src to the ‘off’ picture for your device.

In the code part you need the following:

function updatedevice(idx,location,onimage,offimage){

                console.log("checking status of idx "+idx)

                var xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();

                var url = ""+idx;

                var onoff

                xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {

                if (xmlhttp.readyState == 4 && xmlhttp.status == 200) {

               var myArr = JSON.parse(xmlhttp.responseText);

                                                onoff = myArr.result[0].Status;

       // myFunction(myArr);


                                if (onoff == "On") {

                                document.getElementById(location).src = onimage;


                                if (onoff == "Off") {

                                document.getElementById(location).src = offimage;


                                if (onoff == "Open") {

                                document.getElementById(location).src = onimage;


                                if (onoff == "Closed") {

                                document.getElementById(location).src = offimage;



xmlhttp.open("GET", url, true);



Then another function where you will put all the code to tell the web app to update the icons depending on how Domoticz reports the switch (on or off, or even open or closed if you’re using door sensors too):






                }, 1000);

I’ve put two switches here, Chester’s lamp and the washing machine.  You can add as many switches as you like here, as long as they have been set up in the body of the HTML.

There are two other functions that are called each second too: countup() and updatenotification(11)

Automatically reverting to the Home Screen

If you want the screen to revert to home after two minutes of inactivity, you can use this code:

First put

var ticker = 0;

at the start of your code block, then put:

function countup(){


                console.log("Ticker is " + ticker);

                if (ticker>120) {

                                console.log("Moving to index...")




This means that once the variable ‘ticker’ has incremented to 120, the screen will go to the page called index.htm.  If you use this code, remember to put this at the end of each function:

ticker = 0;

This will reset the timer so that another 2 minutes have been added to the time before the page will switch to the Home Screen.

Notifications from Domoticz

I have set up the screens to show a strip which indicates what Domoticz is up to.  Some of my LUA scripts in Domoticz update a variable with a string of text in English to tell the user what Domoticz is doing.  This could be confirmation that a switch has been turned on/off or it could report is something has been triggered automatically.

First, create a string variable in Domoticz called LastEvent and then note down its idx.  In the below case the idx is 11 (and there’s already a string update in there too, yours will be empty when you first set it up).


Back to the home control HTML:

function updatenotification(idx){

                console.log("checking status of idx "+idx)

                var xmlhttp = new XMLHttpRequest();

                var url = "http://192.168.1.xx:yyyy/json.htm?type=command&param=getuservariable&idx="+idx;

                var textentry

                xmlhttp.onreadystatechange = function() {

                if (xmlhttp.readyState == 4 && xmlhttp.status == 200) {

               var myArr = JSON.parse(xmlhttp.responseText);

                                                textentry = myArr.result[0].Value;

       // myFunction(myArr);

                                document.getElementById("notification").innerHTML = textentry;



xmlhttp.open("GET", url, true);




function clearnotification(idx){

                execute('PUT', ""+idx+"&vname=LastEvent&vtype=2&vvalue=%00", '');


And in the body of the HTML (so once the text is clicked the variable in Domoticz is reset to null):

Something like this for the CSS: div.notificationpane {     position: fixed;     bottom: 250px;     left: 0px;                 width: 100%;                 font-size: 30pt;                 background-color: #333333;                 text-indent: 25px;                 opacity: 0.6; }

Then in the LUA script, when you want to notify the user about something, you can add a line like this:

commandArray['Variable:LastEvent'] = tostring(os.date("%H") .. ':' .. os.date("%M") .. ' Rear balcony door opened, lights on for 15 minutes.')

This adds the time and the text to the variable, which then almost immediately pops up on the Home Control screen until it is clicked.

Where to store your HTML

When you have created your masterpiece, you can save it in a new folder of your choice below the /domoticz/www/ folder.  You can use something like WinSCP to create a folder and then transfer all your files in one go.

Then, when you usually navigate to to go to the Domoticz home screen, add / then the name of your folder then /index.htm or whatever your home screen address is.


Due to the jerry-rigged nature of my HTML code I am not going to publish it in its entirety.  I also don’t know the ins and outs of using the flaticons.com icons and publishing them directly.  Hopefully, however, this post will give you some inspiration to write your own home control front end.

Creating a security system

A major plus for home automation is the ability to give any device multiple purposes.  With a little imagination, a Sonos speaker can become a voice announcer, a lightbulb can become an effective method of simulating occupancy in a home.

Everyone wants to feel their possessions are secure.  A standard house alarm is useful- and many are becoming smarter- but there is always the chance that a ringing alarm box is less of a call-to-arms and more of an annoyance to be ignored.  With that in mind, I would suggest building your own security system to notify you as soon as something is out of the ordinary.

This security system is created wholly from home automation products and is armed when you select a switch called “Leaving” on Domoticz, waits for 5 minutes to allow you time to come back in if you have forgotten anything (which I always do!), then after a further 5 minutes attempts to detect your phone(s) and if they are in wifi range, disarms the system again.

What you’ll need

  • Raspberry Pi running Domoticz
  • RFXCOM RFXtrx433
  • A number of door sensors, vibration sensors or PIRs (or any combination of these)
  • Python running on the Raspberry Pi
  • Maybe a network IP camera if you want to capture a photo when the alarm is triggered

How long it will take

Depending on the number of door sensors/PIRs/Cameras that you want to install, it could take anything from 15 minutes to several hours.

Step One – Install your devices

Choose entry points to your home.  The obvious one is the front door but also think about other places where someone may try to gain entry.

For doors, place the sensor towards the top of the door.  Remember to look at where the battery will need changing from, and ensure this will be easy to access by orienting the battery compartment/drawer towards the ground.  If space is limited, remember that there’s nothing to stop you attaching the larger part of the sensor (the transmitter) on the door itself and the smaller part (housing the magnet) on the frame of the door.  Use sticky strips first to test, even if you plan to screw the sensor to the door later.

For vibration sensors you can usually affix these directly to the window using suction cups.  If the type you have requires a more permanent fixing, try taping the sensor to the window first to ensure you (and other family members) are happy with their placement.

For PIRs, install these unobtrusive but accessible areas.  Remember that as these devices are wireless, you can even place them on shelves.  You don’t need to put them in corners of rooms like wired sensors.  Choose places where it would be impossible not to cross the detector if moving from room to room (hallways are a great position).  Remember that if you have pets the sensors should be raised up so that they can only be activated by humans.

Learn and name each sensor into Domoticz.  Remember to specify what type of device you are adding (PIR, Door sensor etc).

Step Two – Create a few Dummy switches

Create a dummy switch called “Leaving”.  This will be ON when you have left the home and OFF when you return.

Another dummy switch called “Security Alarm” is needed.  This is the switch that tells the scripts whether to send you an alert when a sensor is triggered.  You don’t want to get alerts when you are at home (as you’re probably the one triggering them!)

Another dummy switch called “Waiting for Phones” needs to be created.  This will be ON when the security system is waiting for you to return home.

Then create a switch for each phone you want to automatically disarm the system with.  I use two switches (“Chesters Phone” and “Harrys Phone”).

Finally, we need one more dummy switch – “Arm Security”.

Step Three – Write the scripts

A few scripts are needed now.  What will happen when you switch on the “Leaving” switch?  What about when it is turned off?  What happens when a sensor is activated and the “Security Alarm” switch is on?

The first code I write is saved as “device_SECURITY_Leave.lua” and is saved in the domoticz/scripts/lua/ folder

commandArray = {}
if devicechanged['Leaving'] == 'On' then
 commandArray['Environment Automation'] = 'Off'
 commandArray['Living Room Camera'] = 'On'
 commandArray['Security Alarm'] = 'Off'
 commandArray['Arm Security'] = 'On'
 commandArray['TEMP Set to 15'] = 'On'
 return commandArray

This script (which I have reduced down as there are tens more switches to change when the flat is left unoccupied) runs once the Leaving switch is turned on.

We need a script to say when the alarm is activated – notice that I don’t switch the “Security Alarm” switch on with the above code.  If I did, once the Leaving switch was set, notifications would be sent to my phone as I walk through the flat to leave and open the front door.  I want to add a delay to the arming of the system.  This script is a timed script so starts with the text”script_time” instead of “script_device” – I’ve called it “script_time_SECURITY_Leaving.lua”

t1 = os.time()
s = otherdevices_lastupdate['Arm Security']
year = string.sub(s, 1, 4)
month = string.sub(s, 6, 7)
day = string.sub(s, 9, 10)
hour = string.sub(s, 12, 13)
minutes = string.sub(s, 15, 16)
seconds = string.sub(s, 18, 19)
commandArray = {}
t2 = os.time{year=year, month=month, day=day, hour=hour, min=minutes, sec=seconds}
difference = (os.difftime (t1, t2))
print ('Leaving difference ' .. difference)

if (difference > 300 and otherdevices['Security Alarm'] == 'Off' and otherdevices['Arm Security'] == 'On') then
 commandArray['Security Alarm'] = 'On'
 commandArray['Arm Security'] = 'Off'
 print ('Security Alarm is now armed.')
 commandArray['SendNotification']='Security Armed#Security alarm is now armed.'

if (difference > 600 and otherdevices['Waiting for Phone'] == 'Off' and otherdevices['Leaving'] == 'On') then
 commandArray['Waiting for Phone'] = 'On'
 commandArray['Harry Phone'] = 'Off'
 commandArray['Chester Phone'] = 'Off'
 print ('Waiting for phones to return.')

return commandArray

Again, I’ve removed quite a few of the potential sensors to activate the alarm, but you get the idea.  You may notice another switch in there – “SECURITY Living Room”.  This switch is linked to a network camera we have in the living room, and thanks to the inbuilt scripting in Domoticz, sends a picture from the camera via email to multiple recipients.

The Security Screen of my homemade home control panel

The above script checks how long it has been since the “Arm Security” switch has been activated.  If 5 minutes, then the “Security Alarm” switch is turned on.  If 10 minutes, then the system starts searching for phones.  Living in a block of flats it is hard to judge the best interval for this.  On more than one occasions Chester and I have left the flat for the day, only to bump into a neighbour on the stairwell and have a gossip with them.  This has turned into more than a 10 minute delay, and as we’re still in range of our WiFi, this in turn switches off the “Security Alarm” switch.

Now we need the script to watch out for our phones to automatically disarm the system.  This is in three parts.  One part controls the timing (i.e. run a script every minute if waiting for phones to return) while the other two try to find our phones using a quick Python script.  The first goes in the domoticz/scripts/lua folder and I have called it script_time_SECURITY_Phones.lua:

commandArray = {}
if otherdevices['Waiting for Phone'] == 'On' then
 os.execute('python3 ./Security-Detection-Harry.py &')
 os.execute('python3 ./Security-Detection-Chester.py &')
return commandArray

As you can guess, we now need some Python programs.  They are both the same (except each phone has its own static IP address and its own switch in Domoticz).  These are stored in the domoticz folder itself (not in any subfolder):

This one is called Security-Detection-Harry.py

import urllib
import requests
from random import randint 
import base64,requests,json,time,datetime
import os
Detects Harry's phone and switches Domoticz if found.
hostname = ""
response = os.system("ping -c 1 " + hostname)
#and then check the response...
if response == 0:
   print (hostname, 'is up!')
   req = requests.get('')
   print (hostname, 'is down!')
   req = requests.get('')

So the above script searches for my phone (the IP address of my phone is fixed to and switches a switch in Domoticz if my phone is detected or not.  In the above example Domoticz has given my “Harrys Phone” switch the number 17, so that’s the one I want to alter depending on whether the phone is present or not.

The next script deactivates the security alarm if the phones are detected.  Saved in domoticz/scripts/lua it is called script_device_SECURITY_Phones.lua:

commandArray = {}
if devicechanged['Waiting for Phone'] == 'On' then
 commandArray['Harry Phone'] = 'Off'
 commandArray['Chester Phone'] = 'Off'
if (devicechanged['Chester Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Waiting for Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Leaving'] == 'On') then
        commandArray['Leaving'] = 'Off'
        print("Chester's phone detected.")
 commandArray['SendNotification'] = 'Security Message#Chesters phone detected.  Disarming system and switching on devices.'
if (devicechanged['Harry Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Waiting for Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Leaving'] == 'On') then
        commandArray['Leaving'] = 'Off'
        print("Harry's phone detected.")
 commandArray['SendNotification'] = 'Security Message#Harrys phone detected.  Disarming system and switching on devices.'
if (devicechanged['Chester Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Waiting for Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Leaving'] == 'Off') then
        commandArray['Waiting for Phone'] = 'Off'
        print("Chester's phone detected.  No action taken.")
if (devicechanged['Harry Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Waiting for Phone'] == 'On' and otherdevices['Leaving'] == 'Off') then
        commandArray['Waiting for Phone'] = 'Off'
 print("Harry's phone detected.  No action taken.")
return commandArray

Very nearly there!  This script is saved in domoticz/scripts/lua and is called script_device_SECURITY_Return.lua and tells Domoticz what to switch back on when one of us arrives home.

commandArray = {}
if devicechanged['Leaving'] == 'Off' then
        commandArray['Power Up'] = 'On'
        commandArray['Living Room Camera'] = 'Off'
        commandArray['Arm Security'] = 'Off'
        commandArray['Waiting for Phone'] = 'Off'
        commandArray['Security Alarm'] = 'Off'
        commandArray['Environment Automation'] = 'On'
 if otherdevices['VAR Dusk'] == 'On' then
         commandArray['DIMMER TV Lamps'] = 'Set level 100'
  commandArray['Front Balcony Lights'] = 'On'
        commandArray['Air Purifier'] = 'On'
        commandArray['Living Room TV'] = 'On'
        commandArray['Washing Machine'] = 'On'
 commandArray['Cat Sitter'] = 'Off'
return commandArray

Now there’s only one thing left to do: decide what happens when the alarm is activated.  You could turn on lights, make sound come out of a network speaker, switch on the TV, contact you using the Domoticz alerts function… the list is endless.  Here’s some of my code, again stored in domoticz/scripts/lua and this is called script_device_SECURITY_Sensors.lua

commandArray = {}

if (devicechanged['DOOR Entrance'] == 'Open' and otherdevices['Security Alarm'] == 'On') then
 commandArray['SendNotification'] = 'Security Message#Front door opened.'
 commandArray['VAR Entrance'] = 'On'
        commandArray['SECURITY Entrance'] = 'On'

elseif (devicechanged['DOOR Hallway'] == 'Open' and otherdevices['Security Alarm'] == 'On') then
 commandArray['SendNotification'] = 'Security Message#Hallway door opened.'
        commandArray['SECURITY Living Room'] = 'On'

elseif (devicechanged['DOOR Hallway'] == 'Closed' and otherdevices['Security Alarm'] == 'On') then
 commandArray['SendNotification'] = 'Important Security Message#Hallway door closed!'
        commandArray['SECURITY Living Room'] = 'On'
        commandArray['VAR Entrance'] = 'On'
return commandArray
This is a small (but functioning) fragment of all the sensors that will trigger a security alert in the flat if we are away and something unexpected happens.
I have probably made this system more difficult than it needs to be over time, but this security system does work flawlessly and does provide peace of mind when we’re away.  If you have some home automation sensors doing one type of job, why not get them involved in creating a bespoke security system… and make them earn their keep around your home.  Your family will thank you for it – as long as the process of arming and disarming the system is as user friendly as possible.

LightwaveRF and IFTTT

LightwaveRF have opened a channel on IFTTT, meaning that as long as you have a Lightwave Link Hub, you can control your lights (and later, switches) via a staggering array of recipes  using pre-made ones or by picking a choosing events from a long list of items such as calendar entries, Nest devices and emails.


Although not as useful for me as I prefer lower-level controlling of the devices, I can see that this is a great leap for LightwaveRF.  The company produces really good quality products and I am surprised that not more people have heard about them.  Hopefully this partnership will switch on more people to the potential time and energy saving attributes of good quality home automation products.


Controlling Sonos via LightwaveRF Mood Controllers

I had a request to write about how I control my Sonos players via my LightwaveRF Mood Controllers.  Actually, it’s a good call: re-engineering the mood controllers from simple light switches to pads which can control both lighting moods and audio more closely reflects the ‘built-in’ panels found in expensive custom installs.  In fact, using the technique below there’s nothing to stop you from controlling any number of home control activities from your mood controllers or handheld remotes.

I can say with authority that without these wall-mounted controllers all over the flat, I would never have been allowed to continue developing the system.  Having a familiar controller in each room ensures that users don’t need to run to the central controller or get out their smartphones whenever they want to make quick and regular changes to the light, heating or audio settings.

What you’ll need:

A summary is that node-sonos-http-api does the vast majority of the work, by ‘listening’ to all connected Sonos controllers and controlling them by very simple http requests.  These http requests are triggered by Domoticz once a signal is received from the mood controller.

How long this will take:

  • If you already have the Pi running Domoticz, and have been using a Sonos player already, and maybe have just bought a LigtwaveRF mood controller or other wall controller compatible with Domoticz, the whole thing will take about 30-40 minutes if you take your time.

Add the mood controller to Domoticz

From the Domoticz interface select the Switches screen, then select Learn Light/Switch at the top.  You should imagine the mood controller as two distinct switches stuck together: as far as Domoticz is concerned the two largest buttons are a completely different device compared to the four smaller buttons.

Immediately press the large OFF button (marked with a zero) on the mood controller.  In the box that appears give the mood controller a name – remembering that this is only the name given to the top two buttons of the controller (e.g Bathroom Lights).

This time we’re going to learn the lower row of the mood controller (the four smaller buttons). Repeat the above by pressing Learn Light/Switch and this time immediately press any one of the smaller buttons on the controller.  Name these too (e.g. Bathroom Audio).

Back up your Domoticz database

Just in case the next step causes problems for you it might be good to back up your system.  I’ve only needed to restore the system once – when I made a complete mess of installing node and npm.

Install node-sonos-http-api

I did this to install and it worked.  You may have a different setup or you may want to select another way of doing this.

Make sure you have node and npm installed.  If you don’t, search for and follow the instructions on how to install these carefully as I have messed this up more than once, by being all “I know how to do this, I’ll just skip this step”.  When will I ever learn?!

Get to the Domoticz folder and create a folder called sonos.

In the sonos folder, clone the node-sonos-http-api program by typing

git clone https://github.com/jishi/node-sonos-http-api.git

Navigate to the new node-sonos-http-api folder and fix the dependencies by typing

npm install

You can now run the program by typing

node server.js

Now the magic starts!  Open a browser and navigate to, where is the address of your Pi and Kitchen is the name of your Sonos speaker.

The browser will ‘open’ a blank page, but the speaker in the room will start playing (assuming something is in the play queue.  If not use  This time, the playlist “My Playlist” is selected (make sure you use hex codes such as %20 instead of spaces in the URL- this includes rooms, so Living Room becomes Living%20Room).

Use the commands listed here to control your Sonos players.

Create scripts

Consider the commands you will want to send to Sonos via the mood controllers.

In this example my room is called Bathroom and the functions I want to add to the mood controller are play, pause, Radio 4 and a playlist called Harry 1.

I’ll need to create four scripts.  The easiest way to create scripts on the Pi  is to use nano, or off the Pi I use WinSCP.

Make sure the scripts are stored in the domoticz folder (not any subfolder).

The scripts will be called Sonos-BR-Play,.sh Sonos-BR-Pause.sh, Sonos-BR-R4.sh and Sonos-BR-Harry1.sh

Sonos-BR-Play will include the following text (just one line is needed to send an http request via a command called curl):


Where is the address of the Pi and ‘Bathroom’ is the exact name of the Sonos player.

The other 3 files contain very similar commands:





So now I have these files in the domoticz folder.  I need to make them executable by Domoticz, so in the domoticz folder type

chmod u+x *.sh

We’re coming to the last part now!

Create LUA scripts for Domoticz

We need to run the scripts we created when Domoticz detects the button being pressed on the mood controller.  Let’s imagine the 4 small buttons on the mood controller are going to control the 4 functions we’ve just created scripts for.  The four buttons change the Domoticz device to Group Off, Group Mood 1, Group Mood 2 or Group Mood 3.  You can test this by pressing the buttons and waiting to see Domoticz change the status of the device.

I’m going to imagine that the mood controller’s set of 4 buttons is called ‘Bathroom Audio’ in Domoticz.

Go to the domoticz/scripts/lua folder and create a new file called script_device_BathroomAudio.lua

In the script I’m going to put this text in (you should see by the contents how you can change this):

commandArray = {}

if devicechanged['Bathroom Audio'] == 'Group Off' then

print ('Bathroom Play via mood controller')

elseif devicechanged['Bathroom Audio'] == 'Group Mood 1' then
print ('Bathroom Pause via mood controller')

elseif devicechanged['Bathroom Audio'] == 'Group Mood 2' then
print ('Bathroom Radio 4 via mood controller')

elseif devicechanged['Bathroom Audio'] == 'Group Mood 3' then
print ('Bathroom Harry Playlist via mood controller')


return commandArray

That’s it! You should be able to control your Sonos anywhere you can stick a LightwaveRF mood controller.  Let me know how you get on!

The trials and tribulations of creating a 'smart home' in the UK