“Home Automation” sounds like something that belongs, well… in the home. But since we sometimes live in a van, I could not help but wonder: is there anything the Internet of Things could make easier?
I already had a Raspberry Pi creating a Wifi network in the van (another one of my Magic Spellbooks: inconspicuous Home-Assistant touchscreen kiosks living in a stylish book). Curious what else I might do with it, I began searching around and found the AutoPi project: an IoT platform built on Raspberry Pis and some custom hardware. I appreciate how they’ve built with open-source and open-hardware to create a complete solution for car owners.
I chose instead to work with the Home-Assistant platform. The AutoPi platform does have some nice consumer uses, but is geared more at fleet vehicles and commercial applications. On the other hand, I was already familiar with Home-Assistant and it seemed better suited for my needs.
My entire Van Home Assistant configuration is available open-source on Github.This is one of those posts where I can’t give very precise instructions to DIY. I hope that the source code gives you a good starting place for some of the features I describe below. If not, at least let it serve as inspiration 😉
Security & Dashcams
Having things stolen from the van could be devastating. When we travel and work from the road, we’re carrying our entire lives with us. Not to mention, it’s nice to have a dashcam recording in case of any accident or police interaction.
I started with a Raspberry Pi night vision camera (or this one for a Zero W). The easiest approach is to use Home Assistant’s built-in support for the Raspberry Pi camera. However, this only creates still images. This is good enough for checking in on the van via the Home Assistant UI, but doesn’t do much to prevent theft.
A better security solution is the popular motion open-source project, which can save all video or just detect periods of motion. The various options are quite exhaustive. Most importantly, it can run a script when motion is detected.
When we’re not around, the security camera motion detection becomes “active” and triggers a notification to my phone.In my post about the best uses Home Assistant, I described how we detect when we are at home or not.