Knocki: Make Any Surface Smart

Update – As of Jan 2018 I still haven’t received my 3 Knocki devices, currently they should be delivered around spring

I have recently backed Knocki on Kickstarter. The campaign got nearly 9,000 backers and raised 1.1M dollars.

Knocki is a small wireless device that instantly transforms ordinary surfaces (walls, tables, doors, furniture, countertops, & more) into powerful yet easy to access remotes for your favorite devices and software.

It’s compatible with all the top IoT
8010c8acc8f5bda810b52904acccc710_originalTheir 1M dollar stretch goal unlocked the API so the possibilities are going to be endless.

My main reasons for backing is to reduce the use/need of a mobile or tablet to execute home automation tasks. I backed the 3 Knocki kit with one going under my coffee table in the living room to be able to turn control the TV and Lights in that room, one in the kitchen to be able to control music and again lights from the kitchen worktop. The third I currently don’t have any plans for and will decide when I receive them around christmas time but if it’s anything like the Neeo Remote I backed I wont be getting my hopes up for a christmas present. I have applied for the alpha program to be a tester so I could get it earlier we will have to wait and see a full review will be done when I have received them.

Loop Energy Saver Review

As of Jan 2018 I haven’t seen this in stock anywhere for over 6 months

I purchased Loop Energy Saver before I got the keys to the new house and was one of the first things I did on completion day as I wasn’t moving in on that day and don’t plan too till near the end of march so there wasn’t much else too do. I got both from B&Q for 50 pounds delivered. I went with the Loop as it seemed the best at what I need it to do I did look at much more expensive Z-Wave devices but there wasn’t really any added benefit as your not going to start automatically turn devices off or getting a notification your using too much.

The setup is easy you go to the Loop website and click setup and follow the instructions and within a few minutes you should be able to see your real time usage of electric. Gas is a bit harder to setup up well they say that but mine worked first time you have to place the sensor on your gas meter and turn your heating on for 30 minutes, after which loop will let you know if its working, if not your have to move the placement of the sensor and try again. Electric is realtime but gas it’s on a 15 minute delay.

Summary Loop Energy Saver

I just wanted to be able to track our usage and see if we can make changes over time, Over the last two weeks of being in the house slowly changing the 50/60 Watt light bulbs to Phillips Hue White which use 9.5 Watts at full brightness. It was easy to see the difference it was making on the RealTime Loop page.

Currently as the house is not being lived in the energy used when we are not there is under 10 watts as only the hubs and a fridge. Explore Loop Energy Saver
You can show a graph for year, 6 months, 3 months, Week and day. You can compare your electricity usage to your gas, other users or yourself. There’s a CSV export for both so you can analyse data the data how ever you want.

You can set weekly goals and/or budgets to help you try and save money and the planet, as it gives you a CO2 total each week. After its gathered enough data (around 30 days) it will offer alternative energy providers that should save you money but this is only useful if your no longer in contract.

The device is made by a UK company called Navetas there are rumours that they are making a water sensor which I hope they are but its not going to be cheap as you might need to get a plumber in to install it.

ActionTiles, your home has a home page! – UPDATED 2018

UPDATE 2018 – SmartTiles no longer exists as it’s been replaced with ActionTiles which I’m afraid isn’t free but at the time of writing (Jan 2018) its $28.99 US for a lifetime licence which is a bargain and have definitely got my money’s worth over the last 18 months since it became a paid app

ActionTiles is a website that is fully customizable, of which can display all your devices form SmartThings in a useful way, Once installed you can create pages which can be used for different devices Mobiles, Tablets and Laptops with different resolutions or if you have loads of devices you can create links between pages. The best part you don’t need a server or anything it all runs from your hub/cloud. You can also add CCTV Camera’s that are not supported by SmartThings if they support MJPEG Video Stream.

An example using the default Metro theme


The main reason this was created was for old tablets to be mounted on walls displaying the house information in the most user friendly way, this may get those Wifes that are on the fence with home automation to see the light! The next reason is once you have added over 20 devices to SmartThings using the Samsung Mobile App just becomes annoying for example I was renaming devices (things like hue bridges, harmony hubs) so they started with a Z so they appeared at the bottom of the device list but this still didn’t help once I got to over 50 devices and I haven’t finished yet adding it will become a complete mess. I tried to use the the Rooms method of finding devices but I either forget as I’m so use to going to the full list or it isn’t any faster.

4f131a564e86f153290c722dc05597e99e5e1669 7e6efdc8df_666x500 SmartTiles-bbadalucco

I used a old nexus 7 and along with a app called Fully Kiosk Browser & App Lockdown which allows a full screen browser with motion detection, it has a huge amount of features, there’s a list on there website it is free but there will be a text overlay saying to purchase the full version which is currently 4.90 EUR per device. Here is my Nexus 7 in the kitchen using a amazon basic’s stand which currently is £6.99.

So ActionTiles taught me something I didn’t know I could do on my android phone it also works for iPhones too, you goto the ActionTiles link the app gives you and do the following

Mobile Native App (Android and iOS)
To install SmartTiles as a native app, open the URL in Safari on iOS or Chrome on Android device, then add shortcut to the home screen. When the shortcut icon is tapped, the dashboard launches as a full screen native application (without tool bars).

For more information see the ActionTiles Website

Nest Thermostat UK & Samsung SmartThings

Please Note: Getting the Nest Thermostat to work with Samsung SmartThings is against Nest ToS the statement from Samsung

“SmartThings doesn’t officially support Nest at this time, though we are continuing to work on integration. This integration violates Nest’s Terms of Service, so proceed at your own risk. SmartThings doesn’t officially endorse or maintain this or any other Community-created integration. We know that many SmartThings users are eager for Nest support, and we are too. So please stay tuned.”

The popular device handler code for the Nest thermostat has extra US features that the UK Nest doesn’t have after a few weeks of using said code and trying to modify it myself and failing, today I finally found code that someone has take the US stuff out completely.
The reasons why so many people break the Nest ToS is you have more options on how to control the Nest

  • Set the Nest Home & Away modes the same time as SmartThings this means Nests own Auto-Way feature becomes useless (And might as-well be disabled) but your be saving more money as the Nest will be set to the right mode quicker.
  • Use extra temperature sensors to help Nest get to the right temperature in the right rooms different times of the day for example use the Nest temperature sensor during the day but at night use the sensor in the bedroom. In the future I would love to add Z-Wave TRV valves on all the radiators in the house so SmartThings and Nest will be able to work together to get every room the right temperature. These TRV valves ranges from £30 to 70 pounds each but you don’t need to drain your system to install as long as your current TRV uses the right valves you pop off your current TRV and install the Z-Wave one. Currently there doesn’t appear to be any device handler code for the TRV’s available in the UK so its I either wait till someone does or I buy one and try myself.
  • Can be accessed and changed in (More about SmartTiles Soon).
  • Use SmartApps Example door or window left open for X minutes turn of heating till closed.
    Read more ›

Z-Wave Door Bell UK For Under 50 Pounds

The currently in the UK no one sells a Zwave/Zigbee Doorbell, there is one in the US Aeotec’s Doorbell but has been pulled from the market twice last year.
One of the biggest UK stockists of home automation products has the following in there FAQ page

Do you sell a Z-Wave enabled door bell / chime?

Unfortunately this isn’t a product that we sell – we know that a few different manufacturers make these, but we’ve heard that the feedback from users has been poor. We have therefore taken the decision not to stock them.

Well my new house that I’m in the process of moving into didn’t have a door bell at all so I needed to start looking for a door bell that had a LED that would flash when the door bell went off. So I went to wiko’s and paid 17.99 for a Wireless Battery Door Bell as I don’t want to waste a plug socket on a door bell. Right the reason we need the LED is so we can use it as a binary input which is where the Fibaro FGK-101 Door and Window Sensor I have seen it as slow as £30 but seems to average around £35.

Read more ›

Automated Lighting In The UK – UPDATED 2018

When I purchased my new house just before Christmas 2016, I knew I had to fit Philips Hue in all rooms, not only would it save money on lighting the house but the added control features inside the bulb it’s self are a must for automated lighting in the UK as almost all UK homes do not have a neutral wire at the plug socket so Z-Wave devices that can fit behind a light switch are not able to work, If you have a new build it might be worth getting a electrician as you have fake walls to run a neutral wire to the light switch as most new builds have 100’s of downlight LED’s which will most likely be a GU10 bulb fitting which Philips, TCP nor LIFX make a white only bulb for, only Philips make a colour for 50 pounds each.
Read more ›

Logitech Harmony & Smartthings now works in the UK

Update – This post is old and no longer applies as Logitech Harmony has now been officially supported in the UK for over 18 months now

Samsung have finally fixed the OAuth Problem for the Logitech Harmony UK Servers since SmartThings release in the UK its been a annoying process of making the Harmony work with SmartThings and to be honest it still is as Samsung takes ages to add compatible products to the UK marketplace so the only way is though the IDE.

User xAPPO Posted the following on the Samsung UK SmartThings Community two days ago

I added SmartThings to the Harmony iOS app first – selected my ST hub location and then enabled the devices I wanted. That worked OK (although it’s easy to overlook the spinner select for location at the bottom of the screen).

I then added the Logitech Harmony (Connect) SmartApp in the ST IDE ‘My SmartApps’ – enabled oAuth in the ‘App Settings’ and then ‘Publish’ (For me) … and then I did the same for the Logitech Harmony Hub C2C device in the Device Handlers and ‘Publish’ (For me). I did not have to edit either code in any way (for example to change the EU server address).

Then using the ST app via ‘My Apps’ in ‘SmartApps’ I entered my Harmony account details – it authorised (a bit slowly) and then found my hub and my activities (again a bit slowly) which I could then add to ST. My hub then appears as a device using my new device handler in the ST IDE and I have control from ST.


Read more ›