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Controlling the Christmas Tree lights using my phone

8 posts in this topic

Posted · Report post

I tweeted over the weekend about using my phone to control our Christmas Tree lights and this generated quite a lot of interest, so I thought i'd post here how exactly i'm doing it! :)

The hardware

For the hardware, i've gone for something (relatively speaking when it comes to home control) 'cheap and cheerful', in that I picked it up on a deal a year or two ago at a rock bottom price. The system consists of two parts - a controller and the devices that are controlled 'over the air' by the box. The controller looks like this:

controller.png

The controller model is a 'ByeByeStandby Online Controller V2'. The cheapest place I can find to buy it is at 'Startup Media', where it costs £61.95 including delivery. 'Green Shopping' have the controller for £55.55 inc, but it doesn't specify if the controller is a V2 model (this is important). The controller is a box that plugs into your router via an ethernet cable and 'talks' to an online management website at http://online.domia.eu. This website lets you turn your devices on an off via the web.

The controller can control a number of different things but primarily it controls sockets and dimmers. A socket looks like this:

sockets.png

Each item has two little selector dials on the front - one for selecting a 'house code' (A-H) and one for selecting a unit code (1-8). This gives you the ability to control a good number of devices as you can imagine. The range of the controller box is around 30m.

As well as using the online controller to switch devices you can buy wall switches, remote controls and even motion sensors.

The software

As I mentioned above, the online controller connects to the ByeByeStandby site online and allows you to remotely control your devices. This is free, although a paid service is also available which allows you to set up timed schedules and the like.

The site looks like this:

bbsbsite.png

While this is all very well, the website doesn't really lend itself to being used on a mobile (and certainly not for automation). There are a couple of BBSB applications in the Android Market including Power Controller (which I bought and it works well).

All of the Market apps are designed to connect with your online controller over the local network. They cut out the online site completely and send UDP commands directly to your box. This is fine, so long as you are on a WiFi connection. I got around this problem quite easily, by remapping the external 53008 UDP on my router (the port used by BBSB) to my Online Controller box. Since my router has a DynDNS address, I could just put this address into the config option in the Power Controller application and bingo, control over the web.

Again, while this was pretty cool, this didn't allow me to do full automation via apps like Locale or Tasker (which I was aiming for - having the Christmas Lights automatically toggle depending on whether I was at home), so the next stage was to write a server script to send the commands that I could call from Tasker. I've now done this, it works well, and you can use it too if you want.

I set up a couple of new tasks in Tasker for a 'HTTP Get', and entered the following details:

  • Servername: pepsi.modaco.com
  • Script: utility/bbsb/send.php
  • Variables:
    • address=myaddress.dyndns.org
    • state=1 (for on, or 0 for off)
    • housecode=A (change as appropriate)
    • unitcode=1 (change as appropriate)

After assigning the 'off' one to leaving the 'Home' state and the 'on' one to entering the 'Home' statie, objective achieved! :D

I hope my experiences are useful to someone... Merry Christmas! ;)

P

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Posted · Report post

Great, now I've got to try and find ~£100 to play with this myself! :)

Where can we download the send.php script?

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Posted · Report post

Nice setup!

It's always nice to be able to turn on the coffe when you leave work so it's done when you get home... :D

Or just mess with the misses when you're not home... ;)

My wife thought we had huuuuge electrical issues there for a while..

Later she threatend to kill me.. *LOL* :)

Another way of doing this is using a Tellstick from http://www.telldus.se/, a laptop (pref. the HTPC) and Reconn's Unified remote or Pakerfeldt's RemoteStick..

The Tellstick is connected to the USB port of you laptop and controlled by the SW from Telldus, which is opensource btw..

The advantage is that you don't need to open up a site, you don't need a dyndns account and the Tellstick supports a lot of different

control sockets and can even be used as a dimmer regulator...

The downside compared to your setup might be the range... After about 40-50m the signal tends to die..

Your's look a little more powerfull...

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Posted · Report post

Great, now I've got to try and find ~£100 to play with this myself! :)

Where can we download the send.php script?

This is the send.php script. Quick'n'dirty. ;)

P

<?php

$address = $_GET['address'];
$state = $_GET['state'];
$housecode = $_GET['housecode'];
$unitcode = $_GET['unitcode'];

$sock = fsockopen("udp://$address", 53008, $errno, $errstr);
$res = fwrite($sock, "D:" . $state . $housecode . $unitcode . ":E");

echo($errno);

?>[/code]

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Posted · Report post

This is way cool! Thanks..

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Posted · Report post

Some of our people in the IBM Hursley office had something similar setup last xmas. Not sure if they are doing it again this year. They also set up a website so that us remote workers could change the colour of the lights with a single click. Pretty cool stuff based on MQSeries

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Posted · Report post

Hi,

Has anyone else had any problem with the .php script above?

Is there a more recent version of the script?

Many thanks

Matthew

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Posted · Report post

Hi,

Has anyone else had any problem with the .php script above?

Is there a more recent version of the script?

Many thanks

Matthew

Ok - got it sorted......

I have

<?php

$address = "192.168.0.14";

$state = 0 ;

$housecode = A ;

$unitcode = 4 ;

$sock = fsockopen("udp://192.168.14", 53008, $errno, $errstr);

$res = fwrite($sock, "D:" . $state . $housecode . $unitcode . ":E");

echo($errno);

But this seems to switch A2..... not A4......... has anyone else had this problem?

Very confused!

Thanks

Matthew

?>

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