The SmartHome Ninja

Owner, creator, imagineer, smart home enthusiast, tester, practical applicator extraordinaire.

Create a Cheap DIY Smart Mirror in 15 Minutes With A Raspberry Pi Zero!

 I wanted to share a really cool setup that was pretty easy for all of those Smart mirror enthusiasts out there. If you haven't seen my article on creating a smart mirror with voice-control- you can see that link down at the bottom. In this article- I'm going to briefly share how I created a similar build with a Raspberry Pi Zero W. Why is this important? You can save an extra 20% on cost by building it with a Raspberry Pi Zero. In leui of this article - here's a picture of the Smart Mirror using the "Magic… Read More

What is a Smart Home?

What is a Smart Home? Home Automation?  Connected Home? Smart Home is a concept that continually evolves.  From legacy products like sprinkler, light, and device timers to sensor-activated lights triggered by motion, light, sound and other various elements.  These triggers work like cause and effect to make a convenient recipe, scene, activity of a single event or series of event.  Essentially all that consists of a Smart Home- is a network of devices speaking a common language (via wireless or hardwired) to communicate with each other.  That said, some homes don't have a full-blown breakout of devices, I'll explain.   What Do… Read More

Why Philips Hue is the Best All-Around Smart Lighting System & Our #1 Pick

From helping a father get more rest to- syncing lights with texts, email alerts and even a display, Philips Hue has you covered. I've used it for almost anything I can think of, and still after a few years- stand by this product. Lately I've been hooked on working to improve my own sleep-cycle and have tried manual scenes to an app-driven experience from the makers of F.lux. If you are debating on picking out a Smart Home Lighting system that is literally plug-and-play with little fussing around and great wireless reliability, then this system is no exception.   Simply… Read More

DIY: Want to Create Your Own Voice-Controlled Smart Mirror? Here’s a video and list to do it!

 See the guide and list of things you need broken down below.  This was voted as one of the BEST Raspberry Pi Projects by MagPi.  Also, credit goes out to the original developer and genius behind the Magic Mirror by a developer named Michael Teeuw aka MichMich on Github!  Make sure to Like & Share my Video!   Build your own Smart Mirror-  Disclaimer - the video is only showing how to get magic mirror installed on your raspberry pi via raspian OS from scratch (along with google assistant in the second half of the video). You need to get… Read More

Do-it-Yourself – Build A Smart Cat Laser Toy to Keep Your Cat Entertained For Hours

Today we are going to go over creating a "smart" cat toy with an Arduino board and some Servos.  You can build this yourself, regardless of your experience, especially if you don't have a programming background. Link To Video: https://youtu.be/-WkcTPKJrrg Do you want to build your own automated laser toy for your cat?  How about one you can voice-control or setup with a timer? A low-budget version of 3 parts needed to purchase: Click here to see the base parts. What's in this Guide? In this guide, I'll be showing you a list of things that you need, variations to… Read More

Guide: Everything You Can Do With Google Home and Google Assistant In Your Smart Home

Do you want to know what you can do with Google Home Assistant?  Home Automation is no stranger to Google, with all of the integrations, features and voice-assistant that this technology has to offer.  Here's a comprehensive guide of Google home automation integrations to help assist you in your smart home journey.   Image Credit: AndroidCentral   You can control almost anything in your home, whether it is lighting, switches, tv and electronics- to even your water heater, router, and sprinkler system which I never even thought would be possible yet!  See more information below, and be warned- this is… Read More

What voice assistant is most practical? Battle of Google Home, Amazon Echo, Samsung SmartThings, Apple Homekit & Microsoft Cortana

Today we're going to talk about Start Home, generally speaking. What voice assistant should I use? I hope this helps serve as a guide for the ultimate experience you are looking for!      It's still pretty hard to tell but one thing is definitely certain- it looks like Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft are all still in the race with voice assistance.   Does it matter who you go with? Not really, in some cases.  However if you want to have a better experience and you want to have a stable and working smart home system, with features… Read More

SmartThings: What’s in the App? Let’s have a look!

What is SmartThings?  What is the SmartThings app? It is technically a Home Automation/Smart Home 'ecosystem' of 'things' to control your home.  Devices like smart lights, motion sensors, temperature/ambient sensors, cameras, and even appliances.  SmartThings started from the ground up- and ended up being acquired by Samsung.  That's why you see Samsung tied to the Smartthings product line now, but not on SmartThings products a few years back.  The app is simply the interface to control the devices that are connected to the SmartThings hub.  The hub is somewhat like a router- for all of your smart home devices- so… Read More

Want a cheap Alexa-Enabled Smart Switch/Power Outlet? Here’s a couple options.

Introducing the Power Pivot Genius:   So, I was looking around online for a Z-wave or Zigbee Power-Outlet to setup some DIY excellence- and happened to stumble on this old gem - The Quirky Pivot Power Genius.  Not only is it a Smart Switch that can be used with Alexa - but it has TWO.  The price looks like it has been reduced nearly 75% and so I had to mention, in case anyone was interested.  Seeing as setting up a sonoff switch or buying a cheap individual switch is nearly around the same price - this one seems a… Read More

New Video: 25 Things You Can Do With Alexa

Turn on and off lights, check your calendar schedule for the day, check your text sms messeges, send texts, check smartphone notifications, turn on and off many devices from air conditioners of all types to heaters- as well as entertainment devices individually or as a group. Cool side projects included like the google home assistant api integration I did on my Alexa, as-well-as the netgear skill to reboot my router. This was only a small amount of my devices as I have 86 in my home. It can do so much more as my refridgerator and water heater are the… Read More

What is Smart Home & Home Automation? Hint: It’s a way-of-life on the brink of the “Technology Revolution.”

It’s not that Disney show from back in the 90s, it’s actually really a thing now. If you’ve ever heard the terms Smart Home, Connected Home, Home Automation- you’re getting warmer…   Smart Home is a collection (key word- "collection") of devices that communicate back and forth to each other, with one main controller-device actually being the hub.  Some homes have multiple hubs, and I really believe the goal of all tech-giants is to get the most integrations wrapped into their platforms (Alexa, Homekit, Smartthings/Samsung, Google Home).  It's some kind of pursuit of one system to solve-it-all...  We are falling… Read More

A Feature Film of The Smart Home Ninja’s Automated Home

  This weekend I shot a film covering the Philips Hue, Logitech Harmony, Amazon Echo and other aspects using Alexa and Google Home.  This was my first attempt to create a video using the Adobe Premiere Pro software and I am quite impressed.  With only a few hours of time and being very new to it, it was quite easy to pick-up with tutorials online.  If you have any questions about any of the products or features - feel free to comment!   So if you're somewhat advanced. This is how you can set this up and to make this… Read More

Logitech Harmony Made My Window A/C Smarter

Devices Required (Really all you need for this integration:  Logitech Harmony Hub (To make your window A/C remote controlled): This was a feature film of my home to showcase the amazing effects of the Logitech Harmony with my old Hampton Bay window a/c.  I noticed it came without a remote when I moved into my house.  At first glance, I realized that it might work with my Harmony hub.  To my surprise, it sure did!  I was stoked- because this made it to where I could set it to turn on at certain temperatures with my IFTTT integrations, as well… Read More

Do I need a Smart Home hub? Question Answered about the Smart Home Hub Benefits. My Answer Is SmartThings!

I was asked a question about whether to go with a Smart Home hub or to not go with a hub.  The responses were good, and I gave my input on what I believed.  I had one question though, that I really had to give some insight on- because you do not need to stick with one brand (if you get the right hub).  Here's one of the comments from the original question, and here's my answer: Smart Home Enthusaist (Question):  "I installed two tplink wall switches that don't use a hub. I got them because of the low startup… Read More

The Battle is On! Google, Apple, Amazon & Cortana…

It took a long time to finally narrow it down.  But the TL;DR- you're going to find it's hard to decide when weighing the pros and cons on these.  Basically you may enter and adopt smart home technology- but you should really check first on how you will control it and better yet - what you would like to control "with" your other devices in you Smart Home.  After working with hundreds of different products, wireless languages, technologies - it comes down to this...  Which one is going to be the one that sticks?  It's still similar to pulling hair… Read More

Why has Smart Home changed so much recently?

Smart home has actually been around for decades, and even nearly almost a half century! Why has it progressed so much? There's a lot of variables that come into play. Mobile devices, wireless technology and the exponential growth in API or software integrations has really gave it all a "kick-start." What do you think? What has been the octane in the Smart Home space in the recent years? How about pricing? Read More

Problems with IFTTT and Smart Home? Are you finding you are troubleshooting and having problems with your Echo? If you have Smarthings, Nest, Vera, Nexia, Harmony, Almond Hub & Wink- then you should read this

Are troubleshooting and having problems with your Echo?  Not understanding you? Not working correctly?  What about problems with IFTTT and Smart Home?  Are you finding you are troubleshooting all the time, having to setup everything again?  Having to reboot your router or individual devices or even restart your phone? Let's get something straight- If you have nearly any Hub or Ecosystem like these: Smarthings Nest VeraEdge & VeraLite Nexia Harmony Almond 2015 & Almond Plus Wink Then you should definitely read this.  Take with a grain of salt if you are highly-technical, a developer, or somebody that knows exactly what you… Read More

Voice Commands Not Working? Echo and Homekit Quirks.

More things to keep in mind- sequence of events and which platform to keep at the top when controlling your Smart Home.  I found this out the hard way. And I'm going to share this experience with everyone. If you're going to control your house with voice but also want to control it with a smartphone or remote control, then you want to make sure to reverse engineer your setup. You want to make sure that you work backwards to your main control. What I mean by this is- inside of my home automation system exists the end-of-the-chain device. Let's… Read More

The Ecobee WiFi thermostat

A must have for any Smart Home enthusiast!  Make sure to check out the Ecobee Sensor Two-Pack upgrade (see below) - so you can add more sensor monitoring to various zones within your home.  This item also works with Amazon Echo - featuring Alexa, the voice-controlled speaker that acts like a personal assistant for everyday things.  More to come on Alexa's capabilities, but a great combination for the Ecobee!  Also, check on rebates for your area.  Check with the manufacturer on availability and your power-provider, because you could be missing out on additional savings! Upgrade with two more sensors: Read More

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