04 April, 2021

DIY Home automation and security. I'm angry. Mostly at myself.

I have built up an automated home with some DIY security that helps keep the honest people honest. Pretty much nothing short of altering a violent dishonest persons state of being will keep them honest, but at least I will have a leg up in that regard. 

My first attempt at the DIY setup was by using an Iris by Lowes system, full protection on all access points, full camera coverage and integration with my personal assistant of choice.

And then as of February 2018 Lowes shut down the Iris cloud services effectively making my Iris by Lowes devices bricks... BUT Lowes had the decency to refund my investment in their system that they were turning off.

Since it worked with at least some of my existing hardware, and was supported and had seucity monitored by 2 of the most recognized and in theory reputable names in Home Security and Automation, I opted to invest in an ADT Smartthings Security hub and sensors, setting my home security on the paid ADT services and again, moving on to a different camera setup due to compatibility issues with my old cams.

Now here we are, April 2021, just a shave over 3 years after diving into ADT Smartthings, I get an email telling me that Samsung and ADT are turning off the cloud services for ADT Smarthings devices. 

Well that's a fine how do you do.

I was never truly impressed with ADT Smartthings to be honest with you. I mean initially it worked well, but within 6 months, I would get frequent errors on sensors where they would report a "loss of supervision" error, I would call Samsung Smartthings support, they would refer me to ADT and we would go in circles neither side wanting to take responsibility for, or support the product. 

This experience has convinced me of something vitally important. And that is local processing / services for my hub and devices is an absolute MUST. Cloud services can, and I am now seeing for the second time, will be cancelled at the whim of the vendor. The vendors can NOT be trusted. 

And while Samsung is offering refunds to customers, they are only giving refunds to customers whose equipment is still under warranty. 

I made my purchase decision based heavily on a long established experience with Samsung products. I have specifically sought out and purchased Samsung optical drives and memory when building PCs in the past, bought Samsung TVs, and every Smart phone I have owned after my HTC Inspire has been a Samsung. And now I feel abandoned, and betrayed by a company that I had an established relationship with. I have 3 smart phones that are up for replacement soon. I will likely not even consider Samsung as a replacement.

Now however, home automation and security wise that is, I am in a bit of a pickle.

I have got to come up with a solution, and have it working before ADT and Samsung kill my functioning system, and I am torn because nothing fully meets my requirements.

#1. Vendor independent. Whatever system I end up with MUST be able to keep doing what I need it to even if a vendor decides to turn their cloud services off. 
#2. Independent of internet. Aside from making external calls that is, there should be absolutely no requirement for the system to remain connected to the internet for it to function, so if a contractor down the road rams a backhoe through the cables / fibers that provid my internet service, I still stay working. It's happened.
#3. Open source. This is where I run into issues. There are open source automation suites out there, but getting them to run on what hardware to provide the needed radios to work with home automation protocols instead of WiFi isn't super straight forward. 

It would seem my options are either straight forward, or not so straight forward. 
#1. It hits all the marks except being open source, and that is Hubitat Elevation hub. They seem to have a good strong community, good support allegedly, and there are a large number of vendors for monitoring services that will make my insurance carrier happy.
#2. Any variety of home automation Linux distributions loaded onto a Rapsberry Pi and outfitted with Zwave and Zigbee dongles as there really is no room in a Pi for the radios for those functions.

So at this point, I am fairly undecided how to proceed. I know Hubitat is basically a drop in kind of thing that just works. Whereas with a Pi based approach, I will need to decide on a distribution, grab a Pi, housing, dongles etc... and cobble it together, and heaven only knows if I can get monitoring.

I have more research to do on this, but I must do it quickly.

This will get to be a lot more pressing should we end up back in office, as for now working remotely really doesn't make it super important. But I am just ticked off that they are doing this and forcing their customers off of their platform...

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