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Review of Sonoff B1 Smart RGB Light Bulb – Part 2: Sonoff-Tasmota Firmware

October 5th, 2017 1 comment

I’ve already reviewed Sonoff B1 light bulb using the stock firmware combined eWelink app for Android, and as promised in the first part of the review, I’ve also tested the ESP8285 based WiFi light bulb with Sonoff-Tasmota open source firmware, and report my findings in this new post.

Before we can play with the new firmware, we need to install it, and I’ve just explained how to upgrade Sonoff devices to Sonoff-Tasmota firmware either using some soldering skills and a USB to serial board, or some network configuration skills and perform an OTA update using ITEAD Studio/eWelink original firmware update mechanism.

So for this part of the review, I’ll assume we have just freshly update the light bulb with Sonoff-Tasmota using the binary images released by the developer. First, you’ll need to find the IP address of the light bulb with your router or tools like nmap or arp, and access the web interface in your web browser with for example http://192.168.0.108. You’ll probably want to setup a fixed IP address for easier access later on. By default the firmware is set to use Sonoff Basic, but we can go to Configuration->Configure Module, to change that to Sonoff B1, and click Save.

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This will reboot the light bulb with Sonoff B1 configuration, and you should be able to turn on the light bulb by adjusting the Color or Brightness sliders, or pressing the Toggle button.

It works with some lag, one or two seconds, just like on the eWelink app. What you don’t get in the current web interface is the ability to adjust RGB values, so only the white lights can be controlled easily. More on RGB control later. You’ll also lose timer and schedule ability from the web interface, because that’s more of a task for your home automation server using either MQTT or Domoticz whose options are available in the Configuration menu as shown below.

Configuration, MQTT, and Domoticz – Click to Enlarge

I won’t explain how to use those in details, as Karl’s has already written a tutorial using MQTT it with his home automation project with Sonoff-Tasmota (aka arendst’s firmware), and one my side, I have published instructions to setup MQTT and Domoticz with ESPurna open source firmware for a Sonoff POW switch.

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Other menus in the configuration include reset/backup/restore configuration, logging parameters, and other parameters such as Belkin Wemo or Hue Bridge emulation. If we go back the back to the main menu, we have some more buttons beside Toggle and Configuration such as access to the console, which you can use to monitor the output log, and send various commands, including ones to control the RGB lights. For example, I could set to the light to green with the command “Color 00FF000000”, since for Sonoff B1 they use hexadecimal values for Red, Green, Blue, Warm White, and Cold White. You can also use those commands over serial, MQTT, and a web API. For the latter the command

will set the color to red, and return:

Other options include Information with a complete overview of most parameters…

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Firmware Upgrade to do so either from an update server, or a local file, and Restart to reboot the device.

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Sonoff B1 with ITEAD Studio’s stock firmware and eWelink app is pretty much plug and play, and you can control multiple lights from one app, configuring the white and RGB lights, and setting timers and schedules, all right from your smartphone. The downsides are that it requires the Internet to communicate with the cloud service, the firmware and app are both fully closed source so you can’t add features or easily integrate it with your home automation system using standard protocols such as MQTT or a REST API. It does integrate with Amazon Alexa or Google Home however.

Going the open source firmware route is more a hack-flash-configure-get confused-setup-learn-and-play solution. Once you have overcome the steps to upgrade firmware to Sonoff-Tasmota, it’s not at all convenient to control your devices from the built-in web interface, especially if you have many. The firmware has really been designed to use with an home automation gateway like Domoticz, where you can manage with your lights or switches from a single web interface. So you’d have to setup your gateway, and you’ll likely get an Android app with it to do something like eWelink app, except you’ll have much more flexibility. You can get a bunch of lights to change colors in sync with your music (likely with a short delay), turn them on when motion and low light conditions are detected, or when specific persons are detected using face detection, etc.. The limit is only your imagination, and willingness to learn new skills.

I’d like to thank ITEAD Studio for sending a review sample. If you are interested, you can purchase the light bulb directly from them for $18 plus shipping. It can also be found on sites like Amazon US or Banggood.

Upgrading Sonoff Stock Firmware to Sonoff-Tasmota – USB to Serial, and OTA Update Methods

October 4th, 2017 7 comments

This post was initially supposed to be part 2 of Sonoff B1 light bulb review, where I would have explained how easy it was to use OTA mechanism to update to Sonoff-Tasmota open source firmware, and shortly show about its features and capabilities. However, it took me over 10 hours to make that work, mostly due to misunderstand in the documentation, and time spent to configure routers. I also failed the first time with Sonoff B1, so I used the serial console method, and instead managed to use SonOTA method with Sonoff POW switching from stock firmware to Sonoff-Tasmota without having to solder or tear down anything.

Updating software with a USB to Serial Board

Using a USB to serial board is the most common method to switch from stock firmware to open source firmware such as ESPurna or Sonoff-Tasmota in Sonoff devices or other ESP8266 based devices. It’s quite straightforward with Sonoff switches like Sonoff TH16.

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You just need to solder a 4-pin 2.54mm pitch header, connect the board, and use esptool to flash the image. One it’s done you can simply remove the wire, leave the header in place, and put the case back in place. But with Sonoff B1 light bulb, it’s quite as easy. First there are no through holes in the board, and you need to solder up to 6 wires on small solder pads.

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The GND, Tx, Rx, and 3.3V must be soldered and connected to the USB to serial board, while GPIO0 must be shorted to enter programming mode, so I also added two more wires for GPIO0, and an extra GND pin.

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Important warning: Never connect the serial board and AC/mains at the same time. Your equipment and life may be at risk.

Now we can download the latest version of the firmware, install esptool, connect the USB to serial board to your computer – which will also provide powered to the board -, and run esptool to flash the firmware:

That’s pretty straightforward, and the output should look as below if everything runs normally:

Most products on the market defaults to access point mode when they are first booted, but Sonoff-Tasmota’s developer have instead decided to provide pre-built image in client mode connecting to a default access point with SSID: indebuurt1 ; password: VnsqrtnrsddbrN. That’s a bit of a pain, as you need to configure another router with those credentials, before changing it to your home router. An alternative way is to build some source, and change the default AP settings, so the device can connect right away after flashing. Still, I’d wish an image that default to AP mode would be nice. It’s actually not a problem for most Sonoff devices, as you can switch to AP mode with the button (4 short presses), but Sonoff B1 does not have one.

Now imagine you have a dozen or more of Sonoff B1 light bulbs that need to be update to Sonoff-Tasmota. That would be a real pain to solder and unsolder the required wires for each bulbs. One solution is to create a jig with pogo pins for firmware update, as the one shown below specifically designed for AI Light. You just need to pop out the bulb, click the jig, flash over serial, remove the jib, refit the bulb, and you’re done.

I don’t know if one exists for Sonoff B1, but the jig above could certainly be customized to work with it.

SonOTA – Sonoff OTA Firmware Update Method

However, in an ideal world you’d prefer not to mess with the hardware at all. If only ITEAD Studio provided a way to upload custom firmware with their stock firmware that’d be ideal, but it’s not the case right now. Luckily, the OTA mechanism was reverse-engineered, and SonOTA is an (experimental) implementation that allow to flash alternative firmware to Sonoff devices without altering the hardware or needing special jigs.

The method on Sonoff-Tasmota wiki does not work on Sonoff B1 because there SSID is not advertised in pairing mode, but somebody in github had managed to update one light bulb using DNS spoofing. Since I used the first method with Sonoff B1, but only partially managed to make it work, I switched to Sonoff POW, and succesfully tested the DNS spoofing method.  Several items are required, so I’ve drawn a diagram showing how those interact.

  1. The Home Router is just the WiFi router you’d normally use to access the Internet
  2. The smartphone with eWelink is requirement to configure WiFI on the Sonoff device, and update it to the latest stock firmware version. It can also be used to easily check access points.
  3. The WiFi laptop runs SonOTA, and will act as ITEAD Studio firmware update server located at xx-disp.coolkit.cc (for example cn-disp.coolkit.cc, eu-disp.coolkit.cc, etc…)
  4. “Temporary” Router with DNS spoofing will make sure xx-disp.coolkit.cc redirect to your laptop/computer running SonOTA, so it takes over when Sonoff device tries to update the firmware. It still needs to be connected to the Internet.
  5. Sonoff device – The device we want to update

Potentially, you could combine the router, router with DNS spoofing, and WiFi laptop into one device, if you have a Debian based router, but I still separate all three in my case, since home router does not support DNS spoofing, and I failed to install SonOTA on the temporary router.

The very first step is to pair the Sonoff device with eWelink app, connect it to your home router, and update the firmware to the latest version, in my case 2.0.4.

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Now you can configure your temporary router to use DNS spoofing. I did not have any spare router with such feature, so I instead used VS-RK3399 board with Debian, and configured it as a router with hostapd, and isc-dhcp-server using those instructions. This part will heavily depend on your router, and whether you use Debian, or other Linux distributions. For reference, here are some of the main configuration files I used:

  • /etc/hostapd/hostapd.conf

  • /etc/network/interfaces

  • /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf

The next step was to configure DNS spoofing. I first went with dnsmasq, and I could successfully confirm it worked with dig, but for whatever reason Sonoff B1/POW would still connect the ITEAD server. Finally I tried with dnsspoof, and it worked OK.  Installation in Debian:

/etc/dnsspoof.conf configuration file to redirect traffic to ITEAD / eWelink update servers to my WiFi laptop:

You can run it as follows:

DNS spoofing took me the most time, as beside restarting service in the router itself, you have to restart the devices connected to it to reflects the changes. I also messed with /etc/hosts file in the router and laptop, but it should not be necessary, as the important is to fool the Sonoff device.

Let’s switch the WiFi laptop configuration. It should work with both Linux and Windows, but mine is running Ubuntu 16.04, so that’s what I used. Let’s create a working directory, get SonOTA code, and install all required libraries and tools.

Now we’re ready for the update. Launch SonOTA script in legacy and no provision modes:

This will first ask you to select the WiFi interface, and enter your SSID and password, and start probing for the Sonoff device:

Delete your Sonoff device in eWelink app, and restart pairing, this time connecting it to your temporary router with DNS spoofing enabled, and shortly after the SonOTA script should start to transfer the image to the device:


Now you should be able to use your smartphone or the laptop to connect to FinalStage access point, start a browser to access http://192.168.4.2. You should see the interface below, click on scan for Wifi network, and select the one you want to replace indebuurt1 SSID, in order to connect to your “home router”.

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Click on the button Save on the bottom of that page, and after a while you should be able to access Sonoff web interface into your home network

Output log of SonOTA.py script for that last step:

Success! Finally… Now you can configure Sonoff-Tasmota to use your actual device – in my case Sonoff POW – instead of Sonoff Basic. I’ll show a bit more about that while testing Sonoff B1 with Sonoff-Tasmota in an upcoming post. Whether you choose between the serial or OTA method will depend on the number of devices you have to update, and/or whether you prefer soldering or messing around with network settings. If you are after maximum efficiency for a large number of Sonoff B1 light bulbs, then a jig with pogo pins should be by far the fastest way to reflash them all.

Review of Sonoff RF Bridge, Sonoff 4ch Pro, and Sonoff POW with Sonoff-Tasmota Firmware

September 12th, 2017 No comments

Karl here. Today we are going to look at 2 new and one older Sonoff devices.

I spent very little time with the stock firmware on the device. I don’t like the fact that an Internet connection is needed, and I am not in control. As of the time of this writing I found the Ewelink was not configurable enough to meet my needs. There is one feature that is really nice that I could easily see keeping stock firmware. It is the Alexa Skill. It worked. I am also currently reviewing Vobot Smart Alarm Clock with Alexa integration and had no trouble controlling the Sonoff devices with Alexa. But unfortunately I am lazy and want everything automatic so I can’t keep it. With the RF bridge I was unable to trigger a light from a motion sensor. In comes Arendst ‘s Sonoff-Tasmota firmware  to the rescue. It gets better all the time. It is dead simple, and so configurable now. He continues to add features and devices.

RF Bridge

You may have seen my previous article building a 433toMQTTto433 bridge to use cheap 433mhz devices. I never did build a case for it, and it’s a little bit of an eyesore. When I found out about a nicely packaged one, I was excited to check it out. Like I stated previously, it didn’t work as I anticipated and was glad when I found out Arendst got one as well. He has a good wiki with on the github page and all the needed information to flash and configure so I won’t go into it. It flashed uneventfully. I was a little scared by the design that it was only going to be able to receive 16 individual codes and pass onto MQTT but that is not the case. It passes everything it receives. You can only send 16 different codes right now which need to be saved ahead of time. So after monitoring the MQTT server I ran into first hurdle. I was getting this example json value.

And actually I found after much frustration that “Data” is a nested json value. This took a while for me to figure out. After that it was relatively easy to parse in Home Assistant and move my automations over from the previous bridge.

and

From the previous article payload off is a made up value and is only used internally to turn the sensor off after a minute.

Just a couple gripes about the rf bridge which are superficial. There is a noticeable increased delay over the homemade bridge from the time it senses a trigger until the light comes on. It is only about half a second but a noticeable difference. And my wife pointed quickly that the led indicating it is on is very bright. I might remove it or install a varistor to tone it down. The receiver does not appear to be as good or might just be that it is in a case or my positioning. I am still able to cover my house but the trigger on my mailbox across the street doesn’t trigger. It was hit or miss on the old one but never triggers now.

FYI I am still running off the same batteries I initially installed in the 433mhz motion sensors over 6 months ago.

Sonoff 4ch Pro

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I also received the Sonoff 4ch Pro with 433mhz transmitter remote.

I tested it with stock Ewelink software and all tests done before worked. I quickly installed the alternative firmware from above, and again no loss in functionality. I was still able to pair and clear the 433 MHz remotes. It is weird that it does not indicate with a light that it is in pairing mode as of right now but when you press the button the light blinks when it is learned. The inching, self locking and interlock continued to work as well via switches. I can definitely see this being used for lighting, or if you needed to control multiple items in close proximity. Maybe simple access control. Possibilities are endless. On the product page, it shows wiring with motors as well which looks cool. If I find a unique or interesting project I will share.

The 4 button transmitter is very powerful. It transmits further than any of my other 433mhz devices.

Sonoff POW

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A buddy of mine gave me a Sonoff POW to play with. The Sonoff POW is very similar to the Sonoff Basic, but has the ability to measure power usage. I didn’t bother testing the stock software. I went straight to Arendst software. I didn’t have anything to measure power before and this is a welcome addition to my tools arsenal. I don’t need super accurate readings just a good idea what the draw is. I installed a light rated at 75w to test and got the results below. If a more accurate load is available you can calibrate the POW and instructions are in the Wiki.

OTA Firmware

Who wants to drag all their devices back to the PC and flash new firmware? I finally checked it out. It is really simple to do.

First uncomment BE_MINIMAL then export compiled Binary. After a while you will have a bin file in your sketch folder.

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After uploading comment BE_MINIMAL, upload again. The 2 steps procedure is because he is running out of space with all the features. He is trying to reduce the code down, and hopefully make this a single step in the future. If you have a web server there are instructions to automate this.

Conclusion

I would like to thank Itead Studio for sending the Sonoff RF Bridge, 4ch Pro and 4 button 433 MHz transmitter. They keep expanding their Sonoff line and make them hacker friendly. I would also like to thank Arendst for his tireless work on Sonoff-Tasmota firmware. If you are just looking to control your lights via Alexa, and don’t mind requiring the Internet to be available the stock firmware might work for you.

Sonoff Wireless Switches & Light Bulbs Now Work With Google Home

August 8th, 2017 No comments

ITEAD Studio Sonoff wireless switches can be controlled by voice commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Home, but so far, the latter was only possible by emulating Belkin Wemo switch in alternative open source firmwares such as ESPurna or Sonoff-Tasmota. For people who don’t want to update the firmware themselves, and instead prefer to use the stock firmware with eWelink mobile app, the manufacturer has now announced support for Google Home, on top of the already supported Amazon Alexa service.

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The instructions are explained in details in ITEAD’s blog post, but basically, you need to start Google Home app in your mobile, select your Google Home device, go to Home Control to add Devices, select Smart We Link, login to eWelink with your username/phone number and password, name the devices you want to control and you’re done.

You should now be able to control devices or rooms with voice commands such. For single port devices it’s easy:

OK Google, turn on the bedroom light.
Hey Google, turn off the bedroom light.

For switches with multiple sockets or switches you also need to add the name of the “gang”:

Hey Google, turn on dual switch light one.

You can set the color and dim your lights too:

Hey Google, turn on {light name}
Hey Google, turn {light name} green
Hey Google, set {light name} to 50%
OK Google, dim {light name}
Hey Google, brighten {light name}

If you have assigned devices to rooms, you can control a complete room, or all devices with one voice commands, for example:

OK Google, turn off all of the lights
Hey Google, turn on lights in living room

Some features are not supported, and it’s unclear whether they’ll ever be, such as setting timers, or adjusting the temperature threshold for SonoffTH10/TH16. Since I recently configured an Orange Pi Zero board with Google Assistant, I wanted to try, but Google Home app cannot detect my device. That’s normal as Google Assistant SDK release notes list this as an issue:

Account linking for third party services requires owning a Google Home and installing the Google Home application. This affects using services like Uber, or connecting to home automation devices like Hue.

That means you need an actual Google Home, and solutions like AIY Projects Voice Kit with Raspberry Pi 3 board won’t work, at least for now.

Sonoff G1 AC Powered Smart Power Switch Works Over 2G GSM/GPRS

July 22nd, 2017 1 comment

Today, I’ve searched for AC powered wireless switched similar to Sonoff devices, but with ESP32 instead in order to get WiFi and Bluetooth, since the latter is better to use with a battery powered buttons. I did find a DC powered board, but no AC powered ones yet. However, as I visited ITEAD website to check if they had anything of the sort, I discovered they had a new model called Sonoff G1, similar to Sonoff TH16, but instead of using WiFi, you can use 2G GSM/GPRS to control the switch remotely.

Sonoff G1 specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ST86 quad band GSM/GPRS module
  • GSM/GPRS connectivity
    • GSM850, EGSM900, DCS1800 and PCS1900 MHz support
    • GPRS multi-slot class 10, GPRS mobile station class B
    • 1.8V, 3V  SIM card slot
    • Transmit power: Class 4 (2W): GSM850, EGSM900; Class 1 (1W): DCS1800, PCS1900
  • Relay – Up to 16A (3000 Watts max)
  • Terminals – 6 terminals for mains and load’s ground, live and neutral signals. 90~250V AC (50/60Hz) input supported
  • Misc – LEDs for power and connection status, button for manual on/off
  • Standby Power Consumption – 1.0 mW
  • Dimensions – 114 x 52 x 32mm
  • Weight – 100 grams
  • Temperature range – Operating -40°C to +80°C, but recommended is 0 to 40°C… So go figure.

Such system could be useful if you need to control devices in remote locations, as long as you are in a zone not affected by 2G sunset like China and Europe.

You’ll need to open the device to insert your own SIM card, install the usual eWelink app, scan a QR code on the device to initialize it. Once this is done, you can turn it on/off, set timers, integrate it into scenes, and share it with other permitted users. Basically anything you can do with the WiFi model, including Amzon Alexa & (soon) Google Home support, but it adds checking the remaining balance. This is explained in more details in the Wiki and links there. There’s also Sonoff G2 model for mainland China with a built-in China Mobile SIM card. You’ll have to happy with using eWelink Android/iOS app, as that model is unlikely to hackable with a custom firmware.

ITEAD sells Sonoff G1 for $19.90 plus shipping.

Sonoff B1 is an $18 Hackable WiFi RGB LED E27 Light Bulb based on ESP8285 WiSoC

July 4th, 2017 6 comments

Earlier this year, I wrote about an ESP8266 based RGB LED “AI Light” lightbulb that was hacked to run ESPurna open source firmware. That’s all good, except some people tried to get one, and ended with a different hardware. So if you’d like something that’s more of a “sure thing”, ITEAD Studio has designed Sonoff B1 dimmable RGB LED E27 light bulb based on ESP8285 processor, and with a “4 pads” to allow for custom firmware flashing.

Sonoff B1 hardware specifications:

  • Typical Lumen Output – 600lm
  • Beam Angle – 120 degrees typ.
  • Color Temperature –  2800K-6500K & RGB full color
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n @ 2.4GHz
  • Power Supply – 90-260V AC 50/60Hz via E27 base
  • Power Consumption – Light off: 0.5W Max; rated power: 6W
  • Temperature Range – Operating: 0ºC~ 40ºC; storage: -20ºC~ 80ºC
  • Operating Humidity – 5%-90% RH

Sonoff B1 with stock firmware can be controlled using the usual eWelink Android / iOS app to turn the light on and off, define timers, select the color, and/or dim the light. The aopp also supports 4 scenes for resting, reading, partying and casual use that you can customize as you wish. The LED bulb is also compatible with Amazon Alexa, and Google Assistant services so you can use voice commands to control the light instead. Bear in mind that you may need to wait a little longer to get custom firmware working for it, unless you are willing to get your hands dirty. But this looks so similar to “AI Light”, that I’d expect a port not to be too difficult.

You can purchase Sonoff B1 light bulb for $18 + shipping on ITEAD Studio website.

Mini Review of Nextion Enhanced NX8048K070 7″ Display with Enclosure for HMI Applications

June 21st, 2017 3 comments

I reviewed some Nextion touchscreen a while ago. Those were 2.4″ and 5″ serial TFT displays with optional resistive touch support that could be used in standalone mode, or connected to an MCU board over UART to control external hardware. The user interface could be designed and emulated in Windows based Nextion Editor program before uploading it to the display via UART or micro SD card. ITEAD Studio has recently launched Nextion Enhanced NX8048K070 family of 7″ displays with resistive or capacitive touch panels, and support for GPIOs. The company sent me the capacitive model with enclosure for evaluation, so I’ll have a quick look at the hardware and Nextion Editor in this mini review.

Nextion Enhanced NX8048K070_011C Unboxing

I received it in a package from “ITEAD intelligent solutions” with basic description with

  • Model: NX8048L070_011C with enclosure
  • Outside dimensions : 275 x 170 x 50 mm (That’s the package dimensions)
  • Product size: 218 x 150 x 22.5 mm
  • Gross weight: 0.598kg

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The display comes with a UART cable, or small micro USB power board, and a wall mounting kit.

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If we check the other side of the display, we’ll find the UART connector on the left, a micro USB slot on the bottom right, and the GPIO connector that inconveniently requires a flat cable, so you’d have to make your own board to connect external hardware, or purchase the company’s $5 expansion board, which is not included in the kit by default. There’s also the almost-compulsory typo found on many devices made in China: “Human Mechine Interface”.

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The thickness is indeed 22 mm, but if you fully embed the display into a wall, the visible thickness will be 6 mm.

You may have to open the bottom cover, as you’ll need to add a battery in case you want to use the RTC function.

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Let’s have a look an the main IC while we have the case open:

I close the case back, and power the display via the micro USB power supply board, and a USB power adapter.

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It’s a simple demo with a background image, some text, a slider, and 4 different pages, which I’ll demonstrate below after doing some simple modifications.

Nextion Editor and NX8048K070 Demo Sample

Nextion Editor is a Windows program, but a while ago, I was told it also worked with Wine in Ubuntu. So I downloaded the latest version (v0.47), and while the installation started, it eventually failed in Ubuntu 16.04. So I reverted to using Windows 7 in VirtualBox. I also downloaded and extracted Enhanced_Nextion_5.0-7.0_Demo.zip found at the bottom of Wiki page, which I then opened from Nextion Editor.

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The user interface will allow you to add various items from the Toolbox including text, scrolling text, numbers, buttons, pictures, progress bars, gauges, check boxes, and so on. As with the previous version, you’ll also need to import and convert font with a fixed size. The demo already has four of those defined. You can also add and link several pages with 4 pages used in the demo, and the Attributes section is used to defined parameters for the selected item

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I just added text. It should have been easy, but I was very confused at the beginning, since nothing would show up when I clicked on “Text” in toolbox. I could change the attributes, but the text would not be displayed. I went back to check the old review, and I used “Add Component” menu in Nextion v0.30 at the time, but that menu does not exist anymore. Finally, I noticed the 800×480 display was not shown completely, on the text was located on the top left of the UI. I delete the dozen text items I had created, and added “CNXSoft was here!” at the end of the list. The user interface is not really intuitive, so I’d still recommend to read the user guide, even some of the parts are outdated, as it should help getting started, and they have examples with Arduino. To control GPIOs on the display, you’d need to use cfgpio code.  In case, you run into troubles because the documentation is not quite as good as expected, you can always try your luck in the forums.

You can click on Compile to check for errors in your user interface, and then Debug to launch the simulator.

This will allow you to test the UI as if it was running in the display itself. You can even send keyboard or MCU commands. Once you are happy with the results, click on Operation->Upload to Nextion to upload the UI to the display. I had some troubles getting the display work when I connected it through my serial debug board via USB hub (the display would blink), but the problem was solved by connecting it directly to the USB power from my computer. The upload still failed as the demo is configured for the 5.0″ board, and it correctly detected a 7.0″ board. The fix was easy, as I just had to select Device ID, and change NX8048K050_011 to NX8048K070_011.

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After that the upload could start with the Nextion display properly detected.

It took 6 minutes and 35 seconds to upload the ~4MB user interface to the display, so it’s not really fast. That mean if you have  ~32MB UI, it would take close to 50 minutes. In that case, it would be much faster load the UI from the micro SD card. In that case, you need to copy the .tft file found via Nextion->File->Open build folder.

Here’s a quick overview and demo.

Nextion Enhanced 7″ display can be purchased for $88 with resistive touch and $108 with capacitive touch.

$23 Sonoff 4CH Pro 4-Channels WiFi & RF Switch Ships in a DIN Rail Enclosure

June 14th, 2017 10 comments

ITEAD Studio’s Sonoff family is a collection of really useful and inexpensive home automation devices which have been featured multiple times on CNX Software with either to stock firmware and eWelink app, or open source firmware developed by the community. I’m using a Sonoff TH16 to control a water pump, a Sonoff Pow to monitor my office’s power consumption, and Karl used some Sonoff switches to control his lights at home. The company has now launched Sonoff 4CH Pro with 4 relays that can be controlled with buttons on the unit, WiFi, or RF remote controls, and comes in a DIN Rail enclosure.

Sonoff 4CH Pro switch specifications:

  • Connectivity – ESP8266 WiFi module and 433 MHz receiver
  • Relays – 4x HUIKE 230V/10A relays (max 2200W per relays) with NC and NO connection
  • Configuration –  K5 & S6 switch for mode selection; K6 switch for time selection (0.5 to 4s)
  • Misc – 4x user button to turn on/off the relays, 4x LED for relay status, 1x WiFi LED; unpopulated header to program ESP8266 module
  • Power Supply – 5 to 24VDC via power barrel or 90 to 250VAC via “push buttons” terminal block

The board comes pre-loaded with a default firmware working with eWelink app for Android and iOS. The company explain there are three modes of operation which can be controlled with K5, K6 and S6 switches for each relay:

  • Self-locking mode – Each relay can be turn on and off independently.
  • Interlock mode – Only one of the relay can be turned on at a given time. For example if R1 is on, and your press R2 to turn it on, R1 will automatically turn off
  • Inching mode – A button press on the unit, mobile app, or RF/WiFi remote control will turn on the relay for X seconds as defined by K6 “delay” switch. This could be useful for locking mechanisms.

You can select modes per relay, for example R1 and R2 set to self-locking mode, and R3 and R4 to interlock mode. The company also explains you can connect two AC or DC motors using two relays per motor with only one motor controllable at a given time.

The device also supports on/off timer, and works with Alexa and Nest. Eventually, there could be open source firmware for Sonoff 4CH Pro with projects like ESPurna or Sonoff-Tasmota, since the company included the header to update the firmware as the did in their previous models.

Sonoff 4CH Pro is not available right now, but is still listed for $22.90 on ITEAD Studio website, and you can register your email to get informed when the product launched. Note that the RF remote is not included, and if you need it you can purchase it for $4.50 plus shipping.