Monthly Archives: July 2017

60 Countries ! ! !

Welcome Switzerland!, thanks for buying my watch app, hope you enjoy it. Like I’ve said before, it really works well from bed. But the true MAGIC is when you use it with the cloud, you can do anything from anywhere with a 42mm watch!

Also Croatia is getting a blue pin!

Thank you U.K. keeping a strong 5th place.

And Saudi Arabia, starting to see you regularly.

. . . and the U.S.A. with 60% more downloads!*

(* whatever the hell that number means, hint:2). Funny, I thought the Echo Dot was the top purchased item, now it’s the echo, hmmmm percentages and wavering reports, interesting.

60 Countries

Getting paid, and being able to brag? That is illegal some how I think. You should have to quit and then get hired back and sell your findings to them then.

Microsoft is making a thermostat? Woo hoo hoo! That’s scary! We have a Ford Escape with SYNC, 90% of the time it can’t see the bluetooth on my phone to play music, even though the phone can see SYNC. But after four years I finally found the “work around” (a Microsoft term) If I try and use Siri, it tries to make a call when I hold down the button, which also makes it miss the first half of the voice command, so you have to wait an extra 6 seconds before you can start speaking. Then it finally see’s the phone, but since it screws with voice commands . . . system settings / remove phone / Frank’s iPhone. That reminds me I need to find my headphone jack cable so I can listen to music in that car.

I also have some more apps I will be releasing in the next couple of weeks. The apps out there already, pretty much do it all, but I will release a couple that make it easier to operate without so much concentration. Apps that you would use on your night stand when you are half a sleep, or entering a room where you can quickly turn on the lights without aiming for a certain spot on the screen.

Now these won’t be free, sorry, if you want free you will have to download the apps that do it all, OH DARN!


The entire screen will be one button, you could use this to replace light switches on the wall if you have some old devices laying around.

You could also use it on your night stand for your bedroom light and a fan.

The main screen is just one button so you don’t accidentally click on the wrong button, then once you click on that button a second button can appear (you can configure this to happen or not happen) this would also be good for a wall switch so you could reach around without looking and tap the on button.

If you used it for a bathroom wall switch you could use the second button as a fan button. I also allow you to configure a timer to the fan button so that if you click the turn off light button the fan will remain on for the timer length you configure or you can turn off the fan and then the light, or you can leave the timer length set to 0 and both will turn off instantly when you click the lights off button.

You can have two buttons or not, and can set a fan timer or not, it also supports relay’s configured as always on.

iOS version:

I am also going to give the option to remove the configuration menu once it is configured. Because that will be the first thing anyone under the age of 5 finds first. If you remove it, the configuration will be permanent, unless you re-install.

I should be able to add timer functionality for the iOS version, but the device will need to stay on for anything over 3 minutes, Apple only lets things run in the background for around 3 minutes.

Also working on a full-time 2 button remote for iOS:

I really like vibration for positive feedback to let you know it understood your command, but I noticed at night if you have it setting on the nightstand the vibration could wake up the whole house, so I give you the option to turn that off. So many reasons why Alexa will not work.

Thank you France and U.K. for dropping a line!

I probably have just about as much time as you do if you have any improvements or issues you want to try to take care of.

I am not bi-lingual (I know enough German to make someone’s eyes roll) but I have been in computer support for awhile so I’m pretty good with broken english.

A special thanks to the U.K. for stoking my ego . . . (I was trying to tone him down a little)

So let’s get going . . .

If you have a Apple store near you be sure and try and make a visit!

TechCrunch – Apple unveils smart home experiences in its retail stores worldwide

. . . and while you are there, we will just skip to the end, go ahead and download my app. (Now this is TRUE gorilla advertising!)

Now for the middle part we skipped, write down or take a picture of all the prices for things like the Hue light bulbs, DON’T FORGET THE HUB! can’t do squat without the hub! And some outlets.

Then come to this post and let’s compare prices!

I’m going to go straight to the worse case scenario.

So in my basement I have 6 bulbs controlled by a Raspberry Pi and a single relay, I already own the bulbs so I don’t have to buy them to make them smart.

1 Channel 5v relay – $1.17 (I get mine from a local store, have not bought from this site, buy from who you trust)

Raspberry Pi – $36.98

16GB Memory – $7.99

Power Cord – $7.89 (free if you have a Android charging cable laying around)

Wires to connect the relay to the Raspberry Pi – $3.95

Enough cat 5 to get from the Raspberry Pi to the relay – $0.99 (if you buy one with connector ends you will just be cutting them off, but get whatever you want to pay for, if you are going to do your whole house, just get a box of cat 5)

My App – free.

Total: $58.97 (Man, that makes me laugh! wait till you see the price of the Hue Hub)

Stuff you will find at the Apple store:

Hue lights starter kit – $64.99 (not too bad, more than the whole project doing it my way, but not bad, you are essentially getting one bulb for free)

But we are not done! That get’s you two bulbs, we need 4 more, time for some PAIN!

Hue bulb 3 pack – $39.97!

Keeeeeep going!

I guess you have to get 2 more, you better find some place to use it! – $29.99

There app: free.

Total: $134.95! ( I can barely type right now . . . )



So that’s JUST YOUR LIGHTS, some of your lights, no outlets yet (gonna need another hub!)

but first, that only did one side of my basement, what about the other side?

Again 6 more bulbs.

My way:

Raspberry Pi – already have (free)
Power cord – already have (free)
Bulbs – already have (free)

1 Channel 5v relay – $1.17 (I get mine from a local store, have not bought from this site, buy from who you trust)

Wires to connect relay to Raspberry Pi – already have (free)

Enough cat 5 to get from the Raspberry Pi to the relay – $0.99 (if you buy one with connector ends you will just be cutting them off, but get whatever you want to pay for, if you are going to do your whole house, just get a box of cat 5)

First total my way: $58.97
Second total my way: $ 2.16
Grand Total: $61.13 – almost up to the STARTER KIT!


I ONLY! need 5 bulbs (had one extra)

Hue bulb 3 pack – $39.97!

I guess you have to get 2 more, you better find some place to use it! – $29.99

First total their way: $134.95
Second total their way: $ 69.96
Grand Total: $204.91 – getting close to a car payment here!

Oh, and I don’t ever want to blow that much money on light bulbs, so I’m not for sure, but I’m guessing since they are all individual bulbs you are going to have to set them all up and connect them together so they all come on with one click.

Doing it my way you are connecting to them at the switch so you set up one gpio pin number and it turns on all the lights automatically.

We’ll stop here for now, I want to show you what would happen if you want to add outlets to the mix, but their way will have multiple options, you will still have to buy another hub, be it an echo or a proprietary hub and then a single outlet, the outlet itself will cost almost as much as a Raspberry Pi and that only gets you 1 outlet.

My way you can use the Raspberry Pi that you have, but you need to buy a powered 5v usb hub, a relay and cat 5, less than the price of 1 of their outlets.

Why are there Soooooooo many refurbished Amazon Echo’s?

Woh, Woh, Woh, another refurbished Echo sale? Are they junk?

It seems like for the past 2 months, I know a whole month, there have been sales on Amazon Echo’s, and then you read the fine print and find out they are refurbished ones. Are they really made that poorly that they have enough to have advertised sales on them?

I think I did read somewhere that they may have just been returned because the person found out they didn’t want it, which is probably the case here.

They read about all these skills they have, and then they find out they are just trivia skills or things that they don’t really need to do hands free, or things that they can just do with their PHONE! But I suspect people think that oh, I can just buy this and some Hue light bulbs and I’ll be set! Then they find out all this talk about the Echo being a ecosystem is a blog purported lie. You still have to buy ANOTHER smart hub that could cost as much as the Echo ITSELF!

So you see the Echo IS NOT a ecosystem, it is a fancy front door you buy as a ADD ON for your ecosystem, which is IoT.

There are different flavors of IoT and the one I am focusing on is Home Automation, but they are really all pretty much the same, sensors and relays.

I love all the articles about the Echo, YOU CAN DO SO MANY THINGS, like set a timer, flip a coin, use it as an intercom . . . and many other things, which you never hear about and you buy one, and you find out that they are trivia skills, so you return it.

REMEMBER ECHO IS NOT A ECOSYSTEM, it’s just a door to someone else’s work, if you are reading this, probably your work, THE REAL ECOSYSTEM.

Also you want to think about this, ALL ECHO STUFF GOES THROUGH THE CLOUD, your internet goes down, it’s paper weight, NOT EVEN A SPEAKER. I know my internet doesn’t go down, but if you live out in the middle of no where that is something you want to think about.

So the ECHO is the LAST thing you should buy, not the first, it’s like buying light switches for a house you don’t live in yet.

Case in point, I don’t have an Echo, but I do have my sprinklers controllable from my phone, NOW I remember why I wait till the last minute to turn them on! I remember when I used to start them up the first time every summer I would have to run back and forth to the garage (whaaah) to cancel and start the next station. Now I just walk around the yard, click, station 1, click, cancel station, click, station 2, click, cancel station . . ., ok so I do have IoT OtG going, hey Siri, text J.. turn on station one, hey Siri, text J.. water flowers only, hey Siri, text J.. water yard . . . YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!.

China Alexa Amazon Echo speaks Mandarin

500 downloads! O’Canada!, my mistake, it also could have been Mexico, or India, or Germany, THANK YOU ALL!

U.S.A. – 131, Germany – 64, France – 44, India – 28, U.K. – 26

(58 countries total, 6 Continents, Still waiting Antartica!, I will send you a Raspberry Pi, E-MAIL ME!). (4 makes me smile)

Thank you, Netherlands and China.

USA came back on the 4th of July, Mexico again!, and Turkey, hopefully the pictures below are a litter easier to help you make it through the process.


Go here

Select Raspbian

Download this

Wait til done

Unzip image using 7zip

Select downloaded zip file

Extract it

let finish

when you have a .img file

Use disk imager on windows machine

write image to micro sd card

when write is complete, eject micro sd card from PC and put in Raspberry Pi

Open terminal app

Update Raspbian

Upgrade Raspbian

Upgrade can take a while, so watch some TV or do something else for a half hour.

Install Apache Server

Install PHP

Open file to set permissions

Scroll to end of file and add permission line

ctrl-o to save
ctrl-x to exit

Install GIT:

Install GIT

Make a GIT directory in /home/pi (you should already be there)

Go into GIT directory:

GIT directory

Get my files from GIT:

Get my files from GIT

Go into new directory with my files:


Enter into dangerous admin mode:

sudo su

Copy PHP files:

cp *.php /var/www/html

Copy Python files:

cp *.py /home/pi



DONE! You can make sure the files are where they need to be if you want:

file check

PHP files

Added my weekend project to the Projects Page

Free iPhone App

Free Android App