Three Easy & Cheap DIY Smart Home Projects

The Internets are exploding with chatter about the Internet of Things and how it’s helping to improve our homes. By now it’s clear that IoT connected tech is an inescapable part of our collective future, but many of the devices that will be standard household items are just now starting to become a part of our homes. If you’re ready to join the early adoption of smart home tech, we’ve run down a few items that might be worthy weekend projects.  

While there are a few great smart home platforms out there, like most IoT platforms, many of the devices are still a bit underwhelming (or overpriced) when it comes to actual performance.  There are still major privacy concerns being raised and a considerable amount of uncertainty about how open these platforms should be.

As the smart home connected device category as a whole is just starting to become ready for prime time mass consumption, DIY smart home projects are a great way to try this stuff out on a budget. From your living room to your bedroom and bathroom, these DIY gadgets can help enhance your home on your own terms.

DIY Philips Hue Lights

hue-lightsPhilips was an early leader in home automation, known for their range of Wi-Fi enabled Philips Hue light bulbs. But, beware sports fans, these smart bulbs are vulnerable to hacks!

Security concerns in this case might be a tad bit overblown.  Although a sudden and complete loss of light in the home could be a bit scary, it’s probably a bit naive to put all your lights on a single IoT system. We suspect we’re more likely to experience pranks from hackers from rival sporting teams who want to flood our homes with their colors.

Security concerns in this case might be a tad bit overblown. Keep in mind that a homemade system should be much less vulnerable to attack.

One way to secure yourself from hackable IoT is to make your own system. App engineer Ben Radler did just that.  When his roommate brought home a “spool of LED lights,” Ben decided to put them to good use and hack those lights with an Arduino board and a Node.js script. The result was a mesmerizing ceiling lights system that allows you to change lighting colors on your phone.

The user interface for the light system uses the Hailpixel color picker. Ben has programmed a backend with Node.js and to allow the LED lights to change color when you scroll through the color picker. You can use your laptop, tablet or smartphone to change and customize the lights in any way you want. And, as you can see in the video below, it’s quite an amazing sight to see. You can find all the details over at Ben’s blog and download the code via Ben’s Github page.



FOR MORE ON DIY LIGHTING: The Kytelabs blog has a great guide on making a smart light bulb from scratch. Use their instructions for building the bulb and combine it with Ben’s software to build the ultimate Philips Hue alternative. Send us a note if you get something up and running!

DIY Connected Thermostat


Google Nest is an expensive/luxury device that many of us can’t simply afford. But, that doesn’t mean we are not entitled to a comfortable climate. Meet the Climaduino, an Arduino-based DIY thermostat that you can build at almost half the price of a Nest.

Climaduino saves a lot of power (and cash) from going to waste

Instructables user bbustin has designed the Climaduino with temperature and humidity sensors to control a wall unit A/C system. The thermostat includes a humidity control system that activates the A/C when the temperature gets too hot, allowing Climaduino to save a lot of power (and cash) from going to waste.

To make the Climaduino Thermostat, you’ll need an Arduino Uno, an LCD display, DHT22 temperature and humidity sensor, along with a few other parts. And the Climaduino Controller uses a Raspberry Pi Model B with a USB WiFi adapter and a power brick for the power supply. You’ll be using a mobile-optimized web interface to control the thermostat settings.

Find the full list of materials and instructions here and send us some photos of your work if you give it a try.

DIY Smart Remote Control

smart-remoteA universal remote is a must have for any home with multiple entertainment devices. But the days of losing using those giant remote controls with huge buttons are over. Today, you can use your smartphone to control all the devices in your living room —  this project will show you how.

This brilliant project by Tony DiCola turns your smartphone into the ultimate remote control for your TV, Blu-ray player, Hi-Fi setup or basically anything your want.

You can use your smartphone to control the entire system from anywhere in the world.

All you need for this project is an Arduino Yún microcontroller, an infrared receiver, a USB power adapter and a couple of breadboards. After finishing setup, the controls can be accessed via a simple web interface that you can access through any web browser. The step-by-step instructions are available here.

The best part about the project is that if you learn someone’s messing with your entertainment system while you’re away, you can use your smartphone to control the entire system from anywhere in the world, foiling the media center shenanigans of your foes.



More Great Projects

Here are some more cool connected home projects we thought were worth a mention:



If you’re looking for a way to create an adorable Arduino powered mood lamp, this MakeUseOf project might be the best place to start. The guide is explained in simple steps to make it easy-to-understand, even for the beginners.



A humidifier can be quite useful, especially if you live in a particularly dry area. This brilliant DIY project will show you how to build a simple humidifier to keep you cool when things get hot. You can build it with a plastic bowl, a couple of sponges and a small fan. Also, if you live in a cold area, this DIY solar air heater project will be worth trying out.



Hot water heaters not only consume a lot of power but can also be very expensive to begin with. But no need to spend when you can DIY. Instructables user cnathan has created a great water heater using some old parts he found lying around at home. You can follow his instructions to build your own homemade water heater too.



If you’re not a morning person, this Arduino powered night light/sunrise alarm project will be perfect for you. It slowly wakes you up to the shine of lights that mimic sunrise instead of an annoying alarm clock sound. The Sunrise simulator is another similar project that uses light to wake you up in the morning.


As always, if you try any of these cool projects, come back and let us know or send some photos to our Facebook or Twitter.  Good luck and happy making! 

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