Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2018


Automating Your Lights with Open Source

Combining Open Source Hardware with Free and Open Source Software

This presentation will reveal the exact steps for making a low-cost lightning solution that combines open source hardware with free and open source software. It will cover a wide range of topics from designing a printed circuit board with KiCAD to software support and integration with the popular open source home automation platform Home Assistant through the machine-to-machine protocol MQTT.

We will review the designing process of open source hardware embedded devices that control 12V RGB LED strips and collect data from I2C sensors for light, temperature, humidity, color and gesture recognition. We will compare and highlight the differences between the software implementation of MQTT client with brightness and color control of the lights using pulse-width modulation (PWM) on embedded Linux through an add-on board for Raspberry Pi and a device powered by the low-cost microcontroller with Wi-Fi ESP8266.

The talk will also provide information about open source hardware licenses, KiCAD getting started guidelines, tips for avoiding common hardware pitfalls and mistakes. Furthermore, we will discuss the challenges of prototyping and low-volume hardware manufacturing. The talk is appropriate for anyone interested in combining open source hardware with free and open source software. No previous knowledge is required. The presentation will try to encourage more people to grab the soldering iron and start prototyping entirely open source products.

The open source hardware movement is becoming more and more popular. In this presentation, Leon Anavi will share his experience how to use free and open source software for making high-quality entirely open source low-cost lighting solutions using 12V RGB LED strips.

Unlike Phillips Hue or IKEA Trådfri, the open source hardware lighting solutions are more flexible and developer friendly. They can be easily integrated with various free and open source software platforms for home automation such as Home Assistant. The practical examples in this presentation will be based on the open source hardware Raspberry Pi add-on board ANAVI Light pHAT available at GitHub under CC BY-SA 4.0 license and a work in progress device with ESP8266. Both devices have 2 layer printed circuit boards made with the free and open source software electronics design automation suite KiCAD. Tips for avoiding common pitfalls and mistakes as well as recommendations for optimization of the SMT and THT assembly with be shared.

Home Assistant is written in Python 3 and runs perfectly on a Raspberry Pi. Out of the box it supports popular mass market Internet of Things such as IKEA Trådfri, Philips Hue, Google Assistant, Alexa / Amazon Echo, Nest, KODI and many more. Furthermore it allows straight-forward integration of other embedded devices that support the machine-to-machine protocol MQTT using the so called MQTT JSON Light component. MQTT broker, such as the open source Mosquitto, is required to distribute the messages in real time among all hardware devices in the lighting solution.

The presentation is appropriate for open source enthusiasts, engineers, students and even beginners interested in combining open source hardware with free and open source software.


Photo of Leon Anavi Leon Anavi