Raspberry Pi Shade and Blind Motor Control
Bulletin

BroadLink® RF-IR Blaster Automation Hub: Need an easy phone app system? Take a look at our affordable blind and shade hub, operated by Android and IOS apps. This RF-IR blaster hub can "learn" RF radio signals for our blind motors and skylight/window openers. It is also has IFTTT event triggering (if-this-then-that) and IR learning.

Turn all your old phones and tablets into powerful WiFi home automation controllers!

Mermet® Custom Shades: Our DIY shade and blind motor kits are popular, but for those of you wanting a more complete solution, we are now offering high quality shade and blind fabrics from Mermet®, mounted on standard tubing, with hem bar. Our motors just slide in and lock in place - no fuss no muss! Please check our Custom Blinds and Shades website for info.

Easily Turn A Pi Into a Low Cost Home Automation Hub

Adrian Biffen, Senior Partner

Raspberry Pi® controls our blind motors, and makes a great automation hub The Raspberry Pi® is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that uses an HDMI computer monitor or TV, and a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a very capable device that enables people of all ages to explore computing and to learn how to program.

It was originally designed as an educational tool by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the UK (circa 2008), and it took the computing world by storm, selling over 2 million units in the first 2 years (they were expecting perhaps 10k in sales).

It has now evolved into a second generation product (Raspberry Pi 2 Model B), and we are convinced it can function as a home automation controller just as well as other dedicated units such as Vera®, Wink®, Homeseer®, SmartThings®, etc.

Editor's Note: We now have the new Pi 3 Model B, with built-in Wifi (worked out of the box ) and Bluetooth 4 Low Energy (BLE).

As a home automation hub, it does not depend on the cloud for operation, something we feel is a very important consideration when setting up an automated system. We certainly don't want our home to stop working if the internet connection fails, especially if it was controlling our greenhouse too!

Were were, quite frankly, blown away when we loaded the Noobs operating system installer onto the micro SD card, plugged in our HDMI 12 ft projector screen, connected the Internet cable and booted it up for a first look.

We selected the Raspbian Operating System, and after installing this automatically, it booted straight into a GUI (Graphical User Interface) at a superb resolution of 1080P, replete with browser, email program, office suite, programming tools, text editor and a whole host of other features and programs we haven't explored yet.

Raspbian is the officially supported version of Linux (based on Debian), but you can buy very inexpensive micro SD cards (they are about the size of a thumbnail) and install other operating systems such as Ubuntu Mate, OpenElec, Risc OS, etc. We bought a 16 GB card for about $12, but that price will continue to drop. Because it has an ARMv7 processor, it can run the full range of ARM GNU/Linux distributions, including Snappy Ubuntu® Core.

Raspberry Pi® controls our blind motors, and makes a great automation hub If you are a casual user of a laptop or desktop machine, this baby is a very suitable replacement, just as a general purpose computer. If you don't own a computer, the Pi would work just fine as your entry point into the world of computing.

But our interest was in applying the Pi as a home automation controller, and there are a number of excellent open source software packages that can be used; here are some good examples:

  • Home Assistant, written in Python 3, with BroadLink support
  • OpenNetHome, written in Java language
  • OpenHAB, written in Java language
  • Domoticz, written in C/C++ programming language
    • These software applications set up the Pi as a web server on your local network, and you can access it with any browser on any device in your home, or from anywhere on the Internet (if you decide you want remote capability).

      The home automation software runs in the background and you can still use it as a functional desktop for browsing, email, etc. while the automation system is running.

      Motorized Blinds & Shades Using Home Assistant on Raspberry Pi

      We have now tested the integration of our BroadLink products with the Home Assistant system on the Pi, and it works really well. You can read about it further here:

      Raspberry Pi home automation controller with Home Assistant and BroadLink RF-IR blaster

      For more information about OpenNetHome, please read on ...

      Shade and Blind Motor Control Using the OpenNetHome System

      We have been supplying our blind and shade motors to many customers in Norway, Sweden and Finland (and other European countries) for quite a few years, largely because our Mini motor fits small Ikea® manual roller shades quite nicely.

      Stefan Stromberg had heard about this from our Scandinavian customers and asked us if we would like to participate from the automation point of view; we quickly jumped at the opportunity and suggested we use a low cost RF USB dongle (the 433 MHz Jeelink Classic from Jeelabs) to connect and control our blind motors and window openers.

      After collaborating for several months, we emerged from this exercise with a low cost system that can run any of our shade and blind motors, our window and skylight openers, and many other devices.

      Please Note: Our blind motors and window openers are operated with wall mount and hand held controls, and our system is designed to allow automation to be added at any time. This means you can start with our simple remote controls and add the automation later, and take your time with it. Our remote controls will continue to function while you build your automation system and will also continue to function after the automation is activated.

      The OpenNetHome automation software is installed easily and quickly from the cloud with a few simple commands, and once that has happened, you can pretty much stick your Pi in a closet somewhere because everything can be configured from your regular computer via the browser.

      However, if the Pi was the only computer you had, you could still use it for browsing, email, spreadsheets, word processing or whatever you need to do, while the automation software runs in the background.

      Raspberry Pi 2 Model B Specifications

      • A 900MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU
      • 1GB RAM
      • 4 USB ports
      • 40 GPIO pins
      • Full HDMI port
      • Ethernet port
      • Combined 3.5mm audio jack and composite video
      • Camera interface (CSI)
      • Display interface (DSI)
      • Micro SD card slot
      • VideoCore IV 3D graphics core

      You can find out where to buy the Pi 2 Model B unit by searching for this phrase: "buy a pi [country]"

      Here are some examples using the DuckDuckGo search engine that doesn't track you:

      buy a Pi USA

      buy a Pi Canada

      buy a Pi Australia

      We bought a kit, complete with power supply, case, and micro SD card with Raspbian on it for about $65 US. Then we accidentally broke the SD card in half when we put the Pi into its case, so we bought a new 16 GB micro SD card ($12), and went through the process of downloading NOOBS and installing Raspbian from scratch, which was very easy to do (see part 2).

      We sincerely hope you enjoy using these articles; if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time!

      PART 1: Raspberry Pi As A Home Automation Controller: Introduction (YOU ARE HERE)

      PART 2: Raspberry Pi As A Home Automation Controller: Using NOOBS to Install Raspbian

      PART 3: Raspberry Pi As A Home Automation Controller: Installing OpenNetHome Software

      PART 4: Raspberry Pi As A Home Automation Controller: Creating a Window Blind Device

      PART 5: Raspberry Pi As A Home Automation Controller: Using 3D Software to Create your Floor Plans