Tag Archives: home automation

The Popp-Hub Home Automation Gateway with the Raspberry Pi

Sometimes it is necessary to monitor the home remotely, such as when you are away on a vacation. For this, you need to hook up all the sensors in the home to the Internet for remote monitoring and control. To avoid the complexity of wiring, people prefer wireless devices for monitoring the sensors. As wireless devices could also be in the form of nodes, with each node monitoring multiple sensors, you need a gateway acting as a bridge for connecting many wireless nodes to the Internet.

Launched by Z-Wave Europe and Popp & Co., Popp Hub is one such home automation gateway. What distinguishes it from others available on the market is it is based on the famous Single Board Computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi running Linux. The Z-Wave Plus home automation Popp Hub supports Z-Wave and IP smart devices.

The reference design of the Popp Hub gateway includes a software stack certified by the ZigBee Home Automation. It also includes tens of APIs for simplifying the ZigBee integration and the development of applications within a Linux system. The APIs incorporate TCP/IP for the ZigBee bridge as this enables easier integration of low power connectivity solutions and faster development of applications. The included USB dongle is CC2531-based and it runs the ZigBee HA1.2 certified Protocol Stack, MAC and PHY – this has been extensively tested for interoperability.

Z-Wave Europe GmbH is Europe’s largest distributor for all devices based on the Z-Wave wireless technology. They sell and distribute the Popp Hub smart IP home gateway on behalf of the UK-based Popp & Co. The Single Board Computer RBPi2 in the Popp Hub runs the Z-Way Middleware. According to Z-Wave Europe, Z-Way Middleware happens to be the first Z-Wave controller certified to the new standard, the Z-Wave Plus.

Z-Wave Europe claims you can connect Z-Wave wireless enabled devices sourced from more than 300 device manufacturers to the 89x71x25mm Popp Hub. These devices could be remote controlled devices, for windows and blinds, alarms, lighting, security or HVAC. Additionally, Popp Hub is capable of working with several non Z-Wave devices as well, such as IP based devices, plugins and IP cameras.

Users can use a mobile Android or iOS application, a remote control or a single wall switch to control up to 230 Z-Wave devices connected to the Popp Hub. This includes features such as selectively activating the heating system or closing windows automatically depending on changes in the weather conditions. If a sensor device has set off any alarms, you will receive a notification from the application.

The RBPi2 is a 900MHz, quad-core Cortex-A7 SoC that runs on 1GB of RAM and Linux-based firmware. All major ports of the RBPi are exposed to the user. Besides, it has an audio jack, an Ethernet port and four USB ports. You can use Wi-Fi or other wireless devices on the USB ports. The internal SD slot handles the 8GB SD card that holds the Operating System.

Within the Popp Hub, a Sigma Designs SM5202 chip augments the basic RBPi2 functionality. This is a static controller certified by Z-Wave Plus and it provides 48 command classes and adds enhanced security.

Raspberry Pi and Energy Harvesting Wireless Devices

Do-It-Yourself home automation enthusiasts will welcome the idea of a wireless arrangement when setting up devices for automating their homes. It would be still better if these sensors and switches did not require an external power source to make them work. EnOcean Pi makes both these scenarios possible, with the tiny ubiquitous single board computer, the Raspberry Pi or RBPi, acting as a home automation server.

Therefore, with the EnOcean Pi, enthusiasts can set up home automation systems without any cables connecting the self-powered sensors and switches. Depending on information from sensors measuring temperature, humidity and from those detecting human presence, the RBPi may switch lights on/off and control blinds on windows.

Enthusiasts may either have sensors and actuators communicating directly with one another, or control them through an intelligent and smart home server. The latter allows adding remote sensing and remote control for home automation, which can be done conveniently through a PC or a smart phone. This type of home server is ideally suited for a tiny single board computer such as the RBPi. The EnOcean Pi then acts as a gateway controller to the EnOcean radio world. Element14 offers three types of kits for this purpose – the starter kit ESK 300, the developer kit EDK 350 and the Sensor kit PSK 300.

The wireless module, EnOcean Pi, comes in three versions – 868MHz for Europe; 315MHz for Japan, India and North America; and 902MHz for North America. This wireless module connects to other self-powered EnOcean sensor modules, which generate their own power through energy converters that use temperature differences, light or mechanical motion as an energy source. Therefore, the RBPi receives necessary data for intelligent control from maintenance-free sensors and actuator solutions.

It is always possible for OEMs and developers to design low-cost gateways for embedded applications including smart home solutions. Rather than developing new products from scratch, developers now have the option of using the EnOcean Pi and RBPi for creating a ready-made smart home box. This can process and visualize the data coming from self-powered wireless sensors, thereafter providing central control of a wirelessly connected house.

Users wanting to develop and integrate quick applications can download the EnOcean Link Trial Version middleware that comes with the new Pi accessory. The RBPi acts as a gateway, automatically controlling the EnOcean-based energy harvesting wireless sensors, switches and thermostats. That ensures a comfortable management of lighting, shading and HVAC, thus helping to save energy.

For a bi-directional communication via radio and serial interfaces, EnOcean Pi also offers the EnOcean Smart Ack controller functionality. The RBPi can use the serial interface to send and receive radio messages transparently in both directions. In this case, using the Smart Ack technology, the EnOcean Pi acts as a postmaster and controls up to 20 bi-directional sensors.

The EnOcean Sensor Kit has a set of three wireless sensors that includes a temperature sensor, a reed switch and a push button. Rather than use a battery, the sensors have a solar cell that supplies them with power. Each sensor has a wireless module with a built-in antenna requiring no cables. That makes the sensors totally self-powered and maintenance-free.