The Beginning

Adventures in home automation with Raspberry Pi, openHAB, a rooted Wink Hub, and Lowes Iris modules…

The idea of home automation has excited and inspired me for years, but X-10 never really hooked me.  As zigbee and z-wave began to gain traction, it felt like the technologies were too immature and incompatible to be worth investing my limited time.

Last year I took the easy way out and bought an Iris “Smart Kit” from Lowes.  The hub uses zigbee, and z-wave reasonably well (reference: PDF of Iris module radio types).  The kit included a handful of useful modules from both technologies:


  • Contact sensors
  • Motion sensor
  • Alarm keypad
  • Wall plug (doubles as range extender)
  • Iris Range Extender (zigbee and z-wave)
  • Keyfobs (alarm arm / disarm buttons; bought separately from the kit)


  • Thermostat
  • Iris Range Extender (zigbee and z-wave)

Unfortunately the automation rules are limited to a finite set of scripted options on the Iris website, and require a $10/month subscription, so in the end it really didn’t do much more than whet my appetite.

Last week I bought a Wink Hub second-hand.  The previous owner was following the guide over at Home Automation Hacking’s OpenWink project.  He couldn’t recall exactly where he left off, but the header is soldered onto the UART pins with a 3mm headphone jack in the case for easy access so I’m optimistic.  A new Raspberry Pi 2 is heading my way.  Within the next few weeks I aim to get the Pi set up with OpenWinkRPi (including openHAB) and have it talking with the Wink hub.  From there I’ll begin trying to migrate the various Iris devices over to the new network.

Here’s hoping it goes smoothly (and knowing that it won’t….)!