ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO-DevKit targets Amazon Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) development

Last summer, Espressif and Amazon jointly announced the ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO Alexa Connect Kit module providing out-of-box connectivity to ACK (Alexa Connect Kit) cloud services, support for features such as Alexa control, “Frustration-Free Setup” and Amazon Dash replenishment for connected devices. At the time, the module was still at the developer preview stage, and you had to create your own carrier board for the module. But now development has been easier with the companies launching ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO-DevKit compatible with Arduino Zero development board. ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO-DevKit specifications: Wireless module – Espressif Systems ESP32-PICO-V3-ZERO with ESP32-PICO-V3 System-in-Package (SiP) based on ESP32-V3 dual-core Xtensa LX6 WiFI and Bluetooth SoC, a 4 MB SPI flash, a crystal oscillator, filter capacitors, and an RF matching network. Expansion – Arduino Zero compatible pass-through headers Debugging – 1x micro-USB port Misc – Power & Status LEDs, Reset button, jumpers to route specific signals to the headers, DSN (Device Serial Number – See “I” below) Amazon Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) It’s a […]

Valetudo is a cloud-free web interface for robot vacuum cleaners

In my review of Kyvol Cybovac S31 LDS smart robot vacuum cleaner, I noted that app permissions meant both the map of your house and GPS coordinates may be sent to the cloud. But it was pointed out to me that earlier LDS robot vacuum cleaners from Roborock/Xiaomi were supported by Valetudo project that removes the need to connect to the cloud, and implements a mobile-friendly web interface as well as MQTT support for integration with Home Assistant or Node-RED. The project is not a custom firmware for the robots, and instead, the stock firmware is patched with Valetudo which developers describe as an “alternative App implementation + mock cloud which runs on the robot itself.” The good news is that you don’t necessarily need to teardown your vacuum cleaner to root it and install Valetudo, but it will depend on the model, and manufacturing date/firmware installed. The less good news is that the process can still be complicated, and […]

Cybovac S31 Review – A smart robot vacuum cleaner with visual SLAM support

I’ve been asked to review robot vacuum cleaners in the past but refused because they were quite basic with a simple vacuum function, obstacle detection, maybe a mopping function, and not much else. But Kyvol Cybovac S31 is different as it integrates a laser distance sensor (LDS) enabling visual SLAM to create a map of your house, and can be controlled with a mobile app for Android or iOS which ended up even more useful than I initially expected. S31 Smart Robot Vacuum Cleaner Unboxing The package was much bigger than I expected, mostly because the charging station also includes a dust bag where dust from the main unit is automatically vacuumed each time cleaning is complete. Key features of the system as shown above: LDS robot vacuum cleaner (main unit) 4 levels of suction power Cleaning modes – Auto, area, spot, edge Anti-drop and anti-collision features 2.4 GHz WiFi connectivity for mobile app and/or voice control Battery life – […]

DIY project creates Zigbee to Ethernet bridge with WT32-ETH01

We previously wrote about Ebyte E180-ZG120B-TB an inexpensive ($9.90) Zigbee 3.0 evaluation board based on Silabs EFR32MG1B Arm Cortex-M4 wireless MCU and the equally cheap ($7.78) WT32-ETH01 ESP32 Ethernet board. What do they have in common? Absolutely nothing! But GitHub user tube0013 decided to connect both boards over UART to create a Zigbee to Ethernet DIY coordinator/bridge running open-source firmware. The hardware also includes a Micro USB adapter for power, several 10cm jumper wires, and he/she also designed a 3D printed case. EZSP-Firmware is used for the Ebyte Zigbee 3.0 board, and ESPHome open-source home automation firmware for the ESP32 board. You’ll also need serial to IP code and ESPHome config. Note that flashing firmware to the Ebyte requires a programmer, and the developer used a J-link EDU Mini together with Silicon Labs’ Simplicity Commander. As mentioned above, a 3D printed case has also been designed, so everything is neatly packed together. The total cost assembled should be around $20. […]

Picovoice supports custom wake word, offline voice recognition on Raspberry Pi

ReSpeaker 4-mic array is a Raspberry Pi HAT with four microphones that can work with services such as Google Assistant or Amazon Echo. It was launched in 2017. So nothing new on the hardware front. What’s new is the expansion board is now supported by Picovoice that works much like other voice assistants except it allows people to create custom wake words and offline voice recognition. Picovoice is described as an end-to-end platform for building customized voice products with processing running entirely on-device. It is cross-platform, is said to be more resilient to noise and reverberation, and thanks to running offline, it offers low-latency and complies with HIPAA and GDPR privacy regulations. The platform is comprised of two main engines: Porcupine lightweight wake word engine that supports custom wake words trained through PicoVoice console. The engine can listen to multiple wake words and is cross-platform with support for Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Android, iOS, Linux (x86_64), macOS (x86_64), Windows (x86_64) Rhino […]

ODROID-N2+ based “Home Assistant Blue” announced as official hardware for Home Assistant

Home Assistant has announced “Home Assistant Blue” hardware with an enclosure designed by Hahn Werke housing Hardkernel ODROID-N2+ SBC, and software supported by BayLibre who helped upstreaming the code. The goal is to make Home Assistant Blue a fully open-source platform with long-life support. The device was officially announced during the Home Assistant Conference 2020 held a couple of days ago. Home Assistant Blue home automation gateway uses the 4GB DDR4 version of the Amlogic S922X SBC, ships with a 128GB eMMC flash module, and offers Gigabit Ethernet and four USB 3.0 ports. As I understand it, the gateway will run the latest Home Assistant Core 2020.12 that was announced at the conference with a new feature called Blueprints defined as “pre-created automation with user-settable options”, as well as new neural voices for Nabu Casa Cloud TTS (Text-to-Speech), the ability to temporarily disable devices, and more. The release was initially thought to be named Home Assistant 1.0.0, as the beta […]

Yeelight Smart LED Bulb M2 (Multicolor) Supports Google Home Seamless Setup

At the beginning of the year, I reviewed Yeelight Smart LED Bulb 1S with both the Yeelink Android app and Google Home app. The light bulb was one of the first to implement support for Google Home Local SDK which makes controlling the light bulb much faster but requires a Google Home compatible hardware platform such as Google Home Mini smart speaker. Using the light with Google Home app still required a Xiaomi account and go through some hoops, and that’s why Yeelight has now launched the Smart LED Bulb M2 (Multicolor) with support Google Home Seamless Setup. The Yeelight app is not needed anymore, and setup is easier with Google Home. All you need is a Google Assistant-enabled device like a Google Nest Mini or Google Nest Hub. Yeelight Smart LED Bulb M2 specifications: Bulb Interface – E26/E27 bulb Wattage – 8W Brightness – Up to 1000 lumens (equivalent to 90W incandescent light) Color Temperature – 1700-6500K Connectivity – […]

Black Friday 2020 International Deals and Coupons

Singles Day 2020 is now behind us, but just like every year, international Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and coupons are coming, and even already launched over one week before the actual events. And CNX Software will link to promotions from Chinese online websites that offer such deals with Aliexpress, Banggood, GearBest, GeekBuying, and others. Aliexpress Black Friday Fest will start on November 23, 12:00 AM PT, and last till November 27, 11:59 PM PT with up to 70% discounts. But you can also browse the website to find discounts, and add products to your cart before ordering during the event. There will also be $20 and $40 coupons for orders over $40 and $100 respectively, but conditions are unclear at this time. Banggood’s Crazy Friday event takes place during an even longer period between November 2nd and December 6th. There are special sitewide coupons for PayPal payments with $7 off for $70+ orders, and $12 off for $110+ […]