Welcome – Planning the setup

postSo this is my new blog, where I hope to put in detail what I am about to do about this new obsession of me. Home automation, and the Internet of Things in general, seems to be the future and eventually we will have cheap web-connected stuff all over our houses. But until then, and for the fun of DYI, I will try to make a decent home automation system, and if you are interested you can find details on how to go on yourselves.

At the first steps I thought I’d go for a Raspberry Pi as a server and several Arduinos scattered around the house. The ideal system would be first of all cheap(and then wireless), and the cost of wireless Arduinos is pretty high. Until ESP8266 came out and it was revolutionary! For a couple of bucks you could get an arduino on steroids with Wi-Fi connectivity! I quickly ordered a few of them(still waiting for them to arrive), and I was about to make my RasPi B+ something more than a Kodi/torrentbox machine, when I saw the limitations. mainly in the RAM and CPU departments.

About that time RasPi 2 came out and seemed like a good option. I was about to order it when I searched a bit and I found something cheaper, and while slightly less powerful in terms of CPU power, it had several other features that seemed to be useful. The Banana Pi!

Now, there are a few models of that Banana out there, but even the first one seems more than capable for what I want it to do. It has a dual core ARMv7 CPU, 1GB RAM, SATA port and Gigabit ethernet! Basically it’s way better in all aspects than all Raspberry Pis apart from model 2, but two. One is that the support community is really small(nowhere near the RasPi community) and that the GPU is bad. Not bad really, but with bad drivers and so, for example, it performs worse than a RasPi B+ as a media center. But I don’t care at all for the GPU for what I want to do with it. As a matter of fact, there is an OS image(Bananian OS) that has just the basic that you need for a working system and you can start building on that with just the essentials. After installation it takes just 25MB of RAM, leaving everything else available for whatever you want to do with it.

So, enough chit chat, in the next posts you will find details on my progress, and since tutorials for the Banana Pi are rare, I’ll provide some information on how I setup the Bananian as well.