Monthly Archives: September 2016

Amazon Alexa (Amazon Echo) Fact Check

Saw Amazon’s commercial for it’s Amazon Echo last night, I liked it, should bring plenty of attention to the Home Automation space.

It can do everything it showed, which I believe was 2 things, play music and turn on the sprinklers. But it can only play music out of the box.

The sprinkler set up will require another companies product which means the Amazon Echo is *really* just a voice activated front end, which is cool, but maybe a little pricey for $150.

And this means that if you really want to enjoy Home Automation you need to save your money and NOT buy the Echo first.

If you want to automate your sprinkler system, I can do that for you, or you can purchase a product that does that which should provide you with a phone app to control your sprinklers, maybe with voice recognition, maybe not. If it does provide voice recognition it will not be “always on” so you will have to push a button (the agony) to start the process, so you might as well push a button (the agony) to start watering your yard.

I have been using voice recognition and text to speech for about 3 years now, and just to let you know, voice recognition is not the holy grail, I thought it would be, but there are many times you won’t want to use your voice to control devices.

3am – “Alexa, turn on the bathroom light” – Your wife will not be amused. “Turn on kitchen light”

Watching a movie.

It will only work when you are at home, many phone apps will work from anywhere.

It will not work from your entire house, so you will want to buy “dots” to extend the range.

Out of the box it will play music, tell you sports scores, set timers for you, answer google queries, take money from your bank account . . . I mean purchase things from Amazon by voice command.

There are a few devices that work with the Echo at this time, and there will definitely be more, but again I would use this as an add on after I was done automating everything I wanted, not as a starting point.

Google will pay you $200,000 to hack Android through texting.

OK Google, let’s talk, it’s obvious you saw my YouTube Video posted on September 3, 2016, but you may also want to check out my blog post IoT OTG O M G !(posted on August 10) I have a server app and client apps almost ready to go as you will see in the video.

IOT OTG update:
Google may be looking for StageFright vulnerabilities, but with IOT OTG you don’t have to worry about that. I mentioned in the IOT OTG post that I wasn’t sure if you needed data enabled to receive texts, just tested it and you don’t! So you turn off your data connection in settings, which turns off 3G/4G but allows you to receive texts and connect to wifi, you either FORGET your WIFI password for your router that connects to your DSL/Cable modem that connects to the internet, or never set it up. You ONLY configure the phone/hub to connect to the wireless router that connects to your OTG Raspberry Pi’s and that’s it.

StageFright only works because it sends a text to the phone and then it MUST connect to the internet to download the malicious code, if it can’t get to the internet it can’t do —-!

And since your OTG wireless router doesn’t connect to the internet you are safe.

If you had 3G/4G enabled hackers may have been able to make you drop wifi and connect to 3G/4G but since data is disabled it will just connect back to the OTG wireless router.

IOS Home Automation Free


Free Home Automation!

Well, besides the cost of a smart phone and a Raspberry Pi.

I was amazed at how many Home Automation Apps are out there, I went through probably 20 of them and maybe 2 actually had hardware that I have heard of! A LOT of them I don’t really know what their purpose was, I guess you were supposed to call them.

Well that time is over!

Demo Video

From this blog I will show you everything you need to have you controlling garage doors and lights and fans from your home TODAY! (if you have a Raspberry Pi and a relay around)

Raspberry Pi’s can be purchased from Amazon, I get mine from Microcenter we have one that I can physically drive to and buy a Raspberry Pi in under an hour. I would think any hard core geek store would have them, probably not Best Buy’s, but I would think anywhere you can buy parts to build computers your self.

Now a little warning, Home Automation is connecting physical devices to the virtual world, even though you are only able to control your Raspberry Pi with this app when connected to your network wirelessly any one who has this app AND YOUR WIRELESS PASSWORD can do the same thing as you! So as soon as you connect the Raspberry Pi to your network you can no longer give out your password to just anybody. If you have kids and they have neighborhood friends I would be wary of doing this because your password probably get’s passed around.

There is a work around!

To show you what I mean do a search for fing in the app store.

With this app you can see every device on your network with IP Addresses and MAC Addresses!

Now, the only reason you can see all this is because you are connected to your network because you know your password. If you disconnect from your network and forget your network and refresh the scan you won’t see anything. And this app is also free, so anyone for the cost of $0 AND YOUR PASSWORD can do many things.

So when you are ready for the future, in the future your password is as important as your Social Security Number or your house keys.

So if you are ready to continue,

Things you need to do this Home Automation thing:

— Raspberry Pi Hardware —

1. Raspberry Pi (around $35)
2. A Micro SD Card (16 GB or higher) with Raspbian and configured the way I show you here.
(If the process seems too daunting, it is harder than I wish it was,
I sell pre configured 16 GB Micro SD cards for $15 – contact me through e-mail)
3. Power Cord for the Raspberry Pi (not included with just the Raspberry Pi) ($7)
You can use a cord for a Android phone if you have extras.
4. A relay ($4)
5. Wires to connect the relay to the Raspberry Pi ($9)
6. Ethernet Cable
7. HDMI Cable (to hook up to a TV or Monitor)
8. Keyboard and Mouse.
9. My Free App to test with. (it only works with devices on the same network)

If you are new to the Raspberry Pi here is everything hardware related you need to know.

Video Overview of Raspberry Pi hardware:
Raspberry Pi

My app uses the Broadcom GPIO pin layout numbering system:


Broadcom GPIO Pin Layout

That was the hardware part, pretty simple.

The not so simple part is installing the Raspbian Operating System (once you have done it a couple times you will be able to do it in less than an hour).

To do that go here: Raspbian Install

Next you will need to install a web server on the Raspberry Pi so you can send commands to it.
– Web Server (Apache) install –

sudo apt-get install apache2 -y

Then install PHP so it can execute python commands from web commands.
– PHP Install –

sudo apt-get install php5 libapache2-mod-php5 -y

– Permissions to run php scripts in web directory –

sudo pkexec visudo

go down to the very bottom and add:


ctrl-o (Save)

enter (Confirm)

ctrl-x (Exit)

Once you get the Raspberry Pi configured you will then need to download my python and php scripts to the Raspberry Pi from Git.

To install Git on the Raspberry Pi:

sudo apt-get install git-core

Make sure you are in the /home/pi directory.

Make a directory called git: sudo mkdir git

Go to that directory: cd git

Get my scripts from Git:

sudo git clone

Go to Home-Automation-Production directory: cd Home-Automation-Production

Python scripts go in the /home/pi directory – I will show you a shortcut

PHP scripts go in the /var/www directory – I will show you a shortcut
(UPDATE! raspbain JESSIE has changed this location to /var/www/html

(If this directory doesn’t exist you skipped the Raspberry Pi Configuration Process step which has you install a Apache Web server and PHP).


I am about to give you a command that takes you out of safe mode and into full on admin mode that will let you break anything without asking “Are You Sure?”

But this allows you to get to root which makes copying files to the right directory doable from a single command.

Make sure you type exit as soon as your done copying the files!

So while in the /home/pi/git/Home-Automation-Production directory type:

sudo su


Now type: cp *.php /var/www/ – to put the php files where they go.

(UPDATE! raspbian JESSIE has moved the location where to put PHP files, use above for
Wheezy, Use command below for JESSIE)

Now type: cp *.php /var/www/html – to put the php files where they go.

(UPDATE! use command below for both Wheezy and JESSIE python files)

And type: cp *.py /home/pi – to put the Python files where they go.

NOW TYPE: exit

You can now go to these directories and make sure they have:

/home/pi –

(UPDATE! raspbian JESSIE has moved the location where to put PHP files)

/var/www – powerOn.php powerOff.php togMe.php

/var/www/html – powerOn.php powerOff.php togMe.php

If they are there Your Raspberry Pi is now ready!

Now you can install my app from the App Store and click on the action button in the top right.

Enter in a name for the device you are controlling.

Enter in the IP Address of the Raspberry Pi.

Enter in the GPIO Pin number that is connected to the relay.

Select what type of device you are controlling.

Save it.

Long press the device name in the list, it should turn the relay on (unless you connected it to Normally Closed, which is reversed, then it will turn it off).

Tap the device name in the list to turn the relay off.


Now are here are some cool projects to put this to use:

Wireless Remote Outlets

Garage Door Opener
YouTube – Raspberry Pi – Home Automation – Garage Door Opener

Smart Power Strip 2.0
Mobile users click on MENU above.


Just tested it out, sent a text from one phone to a second phone, the second phone was connected to a wireless router which was connected directly to a raspberry pi, no internet connection!!

When the second phone received the text it sent a command to the raspberry pi through the wireless router turning on gpio 2.


Video to come soon . . .


Congratulations! You are getting a new “house phone” if you think about it, it was bound to happen . . . a server with connection redundancy.