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Apple Home App setup

HomeKit is the protocol for smart home devices secure communication to each other. And the beauty of it is that all HomeKit compatible devices can be managed from one application on the phone – Home by Apple. One app to manage it all means less mess and less frustration for opening the right app to unlock the door or to turn on the lights. All HomeKit enabled devices can be controlled by voice with Siri.

It is recommended (I even would say it is mandatory) to have Apple TV gen3 or gen4 at home for remote access to HomeKit devices. Apple TV as a bridge for HomeKit is good not only for remote access. If some gadgets, for example August smart Door lock or Elgato Eve thermometer works over Bluetooth and does not have dedicated bridge – they can automatically connect to Apple TV by Bluetooth and to be ready for access from anywhere. Continue reading Apple Home App setup

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Smart Door Lock

Smart home can’t be smart without smart door lock. Door has to unlock simply by walking to it with your phone in the pocket. I think that one of the best for it is August Smart Lock. It is compatible with HomeKit, easy to install and is reliable. This Smart Lock does not require to change your lock. If lock is standard deadbolt, it is easy to retrofit. From outside any part of door lock is not changed and can be operated by key. In the inside smart lock replaces thumb turn. Continue reading Smart Door Lock

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Wi-Fi for Smart Home

Smart house needs smart wireless network. Many HomeKit smart device use Wi-Fi for internet connectivity. If wireless internet is down – all house is down.

While trying different wireless routers I have found, that Apple devices connects faster to Apple wireless routers. So, because I am in Apple ecosystem I am using Apple wireless routers.

For my home it is enough for one Apple Airport Extreme in the center of first floor. Its long range and strong signal will cover first and second floors. And I hope the basement. Also, I need my wireless network outside the house in the backyard and near the front door. For this I will use smaller airport version – Apple AirPort express, placing two of them in sealed boxes outside the house. One near the entrance and one in backyard.  Airport express does not have ultra-fast AC standard connectivity, but for unlocking front door, opening garage door or controlling lights and music in backyard will be more than enough. Of course, this could be done by 3G internet, but the problem is that while being near the home, phone picks up weak Wi-Fi signal from inside the home and the unlocking of door is painfully slow. And when all smart house management depends from wireless network it is very important to connect Wi-Fi routers to Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). In this case power small power supply outages will not disrupt communication of smart devices. Continue reading Wi-Fi for Smart Home

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Mikrotik configuration

After plugging in Mikrotik router it is almost ready to do internet routing. With default configuration it will give internet to computers, but to fully functioning we need to configure it.

Access configuration of router we can through internet browser or Winbox program. As Winbox runs on Windows OS, I will configure it on internet browser. For easier access, plug in computer to Mikrotik by LAN cable. Defaul Mikrotik IP address is 192.168.88.1. Default username: admin password: admin. As we enter this ip address in browser, we can see welcome screen with “Quick set” configuration: Continue reading Mikrotik configuration

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Cables

I hate cables. Seriously. There is a lot of trouble with them. Cables are constantly interconnecting, they are too short, can’t find them or do not have the proper cord.

From the beginning I was thinking that it would be possible to setup home without a network cable. But while I was planning where my equipment will be placed and where it will be plugged in, it turned out that network wiring will be needed. And I really needed a lot of cables.

I planned to carry out the wiring only where it is really needed, that is: for the security CCTV cameras, WiFi base stations, TV in the living room and in the kitchen, an IPTV box, that  is used with the TV also requires a cable, to the heating system control nodes, the door and the garage door, and maybe a couple of wires just in case. I did not lay them near every power outlet, to the bedrooms, and so on. And I used 3 boxes of network cable, 305 meters each! 915 meters of LAN cable at all! And I already see that maybe I will be missing the cable in one place or another… So, in those places, it will be necessary to return to the original idea that everything is about to be wireless. Continue reading Cables

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What is smart home?

Smart home is not something new or very futuristic. But until now smart home systems seemed to be very complicated, needed to have skills to install smart home controls and was not cheap. In general, when choosing smart home system, you had to choose one brand or manufacturer. And one manufacturer could to offer limited number of smart devices, for example only smart heating system.

However, as the software progresses, the smart home systems become more and more simpler. Smart devices begun to use wireless networks for communication, which further facilitates the installation of such systems, because adding a smart device to the home no longer requires tearing down the walls to run the wires for device management.

Remotely controlled devices are now more widespread. And now is hard to surprise someone that you, for example, have the possibility of switching on or off heating control or home security system over a distance. Many new devices have it. However, when installing separate and interconnected non-communicating devices, the wall on which the control panels are installed may look something like this: Continue reading What is smart home?

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Router for smart home

Router at smart home is essential piece of equipment, providing fast and reliable internet connection. As long as your internet provider provides fast and reliable service. Here in Lithuania, major ISP’s provides fiber to the home service, so using such provider we can get reliable and high speed services.

In many cases internet services provider provides to the user preconfigured router. Such router in many cases is reasonable solution. But if you need some special configuration – such router will have limitations.

Here is a list of my requirements for the router:

  • It has to be reliable and fast.
  • Has to provide solid firewall.
  • Has to have VPN server function for remote connection to home network.
  • Has to support virtual networks vLAN, for local IPTV from ISP.
  • It has to be easy to configure and maintain.
  • Has to have some kind of functionality to restrict, limit or turn off internet for selected device at selected time.

I have been using a lot of different routers with various firmwares: Apple, Linksys, TP-Link, Asus devices. With default firmware these routers are capable of providing basic functionality or router. Internet connection sharing and protection of network. But if you need to configure virtual network for IPTV or VPN server, you need to install third party firmware. For example DD-WRT or Tomato. From my experience i can tell, that there are many problems using 3rd party firmware, such as router becomes unstable and reboots on high load, or it just not provides the required speed of internet. Continue reading Router for smart home