This is interesting– I think of limited use up to now– but interesting…
One of the problems with home control– is making a nice web interface that is also powerful.
One of my readers brought my attention to http://www.blynk.cc/– I put the link in as that spelling makes it a little hard to find otherwise.
Now if you look at their site– they show a really nice mobile dashboard– and that IS achievable… but I think there’s a way to go before it is of OVERALL use.
So– you get the APP for free (well, for now) and you select gadgets like on off buttons, graphs, gauges, LEDs etc. a REALLY nice selection of the type that NETIO should have done but wasted the opportunity to do so such that many of us have moved away from that package. So it’s easy to make a nice page full of buttons and lights.
The next easy bit– take an Arduino or an ESP8266 using the Arduino-ESP development environment and drop in a program with nothing more than a code…. and a connection to your WIFI– and BOBS YOUR UNCLE– you have an app on the phone and you can turn things on and off or PWM or read the state of analog inputs.
It sounds like NIRVANA. There is even a set of NODE-RED nodes to let you intervene.
But there’s a catch.
One page per “application”– and switching applications involves disconnecting from one and connecting to the other (2 button presses as well as moving across to another application). Also, turn off the power to the end gadget and back on– it does not remember it’s original state– and the phone app can’t tell the state. You could write a little code on your ESP so that when an output is turned on– you store it in EPROM… yes, but then after power down and up– you restore the state of the output and…. as far as I can tell there’s no way to restore that state to the button on the phone!! Worse– if you give the app to your WIFE– the apps don’t yet stay in sync.
So– like me you could say … hey– I’ll ignore their ESP code– use my own and have Node-Red talk to multiple gadgets on one page– YES that’s doable and in front of me I have 2 buttons turning 2 different gadgets on– with Node-Red in charge. You can even put a copy of their central server on a PI so you’re not relying on a third party… BUT there is still no way to tell a bunch of phones what state your gadgets are in when they turn on.
So– what we’re seeing here is a clever idea not yet fully implemented– what IS good– is the visual aspect. The buttons and gauges etc are lovely.
What I would like to see is THIS kind of interface– all done on the phone– but when you edit the button– a field you can fill insome MQTT– of course that’s not what BLYNK want to do I guess but I wish some smart person would do just that– MQTT out to control something– MQTT in to determine dynamically the state of the button. I really do not like buttons that change colour for ON without actually checking at the other end to see what’s happened…. reminds me of the old one-way X10 days when you sent a control signal over the mains to turn something on– without any idea at all if it had actually worked.
Still– worth looking at– they are responding to requests and suggestions so now’s as good a time as any to shape this somethat promising solution…
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