SPECIAL: Motorized Blinds, Windows, Skylights, Etc: Smart Home Hub
(by Adrian Biffen, Senior Tech)
RF-IR Blaster from BroadLink®: OverviewWhether it is Z-Wave, Zigbee, Alexa or anything else, it has always been our policy to provide interfacing support for all home automation systems.
But we often get requests for a simple, affordable phone app, and we think that the new BroadLink® solution is an excellent choice.
This RF-IR blaster has quickly become our hub of choice for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its ability to "learn" RF radio commands for our motors and standard IR codes for TV and other media systems.
This means it can directly control our RF shade and blind radio motors, and other devices that use IR remote control, such as projectors, air conditioners, TV, and other media systems.
It can also control our skylight/window openers, our smart film, our drapery motors, and many other devices, such as fans, LED lighting, etc. It can even learn x10 radio commands, in case you have a few of those old modules in your home.
Everyone seems to have old tablets and phones these days that still work fine with wifi, and here's a great way to put those units to work as powerful remote control terminals for your smart home!
If you want to take it even further and add support for many other system hubs like Alexa®, Wink®, SmartThings®, Vera® and Wemo®, take a look at the Home Assistant home automation system. Written in Python 3, it is an excellent system that runs on any platform (Raspberry Pi included) and supports literally hundreds of devices, including our blind motors and skylight/window openers via the BroadLink® plug-in.
The Home Automation Special
Our Christmas and New Year's special was so successful that we have stocked up and are now giving away a free RF-IR blaster system (for a limited time, until further notice) with any purchase of:
- 5 or more DIY motors and actuators. This can be a combined order of different blind motor sizes and/or skylight/window openers.
- 3 custom shades from our Custom Blinds and Shades Division, with the excellent Mermet® fabrics
- 1 square yard of our high transparency switchable smart film from our Smart Film Division
The following is a brief repeat of our main article series about the hub. If you want to jump straight to the artice series, please see the link at the bottom of this page.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time.
Control TV and Audio Systems
It is also an excellent IR code learner too, for controlling all your Netflix streaming, TV, sound and other media systems. With the ability to chain events to a single button press, you can very easily set up a sequential process for some application in your home.
Perhaps you need an initiating process for a home theater system in a media room - dim lights, lower blackout blinds, turn projector on, activate audio system, deploy projector screen, select Netflix ... and on it goes ...
You can create a series of button controls for your home, quickly from scratch, even quicker if you use the available existing templates. Once that is done, you can share your remote control system simply by cloning it to any other phone on the local network. You can also upload it to the cloud to support family or clients in remote locations.
If you have an old tablet or phone, you can quickly convert it to a sophisticated remote control. The app will work on fairly old phones too, without a SIM card (as long as the WiFi section still works).
You can easily extend operation to your PC or laptop by using a 'phone cloner' that puts your phone screen onto your local machine screen, using mouse clicks to simulate button presses. We used the excellent Seven Square program to display our Android phone screens on our local Ubuntu laptops via a USB connection. There are similar programs for Mac, Windows, and IOS.
It doesn't fall short on the sensor side either, with capabilities for detecting environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, air quality, smoke detectors, etc. It also has security accessories for detecting door/window opening, motion, and other events that fall into the security realm.
Feature Summary for Smart Home Automation Hub
- Ease of use - be up and running in a few short minutes (Android and IOS phone apps)
- Ability to learn both RF & IR codes simply by holding a remote to it and pressing a button
- Not cloud dependent - it only requires your local WiFi router network (optional cloud features are available)
- Ability to instantly clone the phone app settings to other phones or tablets; keep all your family phones updated
- Ability to chain events for one button press - eg. dim lights, lower blackout blinds, turn projector on, deploy projector screen, select Netflix
- Ability to set up IFTTT (if-that-then-this) scenarios for event reaction - eg. If rain detected, close motorized skylight
- Ability to expand capabilities with 3rd party software such as Tasker, an excellent Android app, with remote access capabilities.
Please see the full article series A Really Smart Automation Hub for further information.
Also, see the follow-on series about our other devices:
- IFTTT example: rain sensor for closing skylights
- IFTTT example: temperature and light sensitive blinds and shades
- Wi-Fi Smart Plug with timers and IFTTT capabilities
Buy These Products In Our Online Store
If you are interested, you can also purchase these products in our DIY online automation store.