Using USB webcams with Home Assistant

four minutes reading time
  • How-To

In the past month I was thinking about ways to integrate USB webcams into Home Assistant again. The main reason was that this would give those devices a second life and enable one to benefit from low-cost video surveillance. There are a couple of options available like pygame or SimpleCV but I never finished something. With the Local File camera platform by Landrash and motion you could integrate a local USB webcam with a few very easy steps.

In this blog post I am using a Fedora 24 (will most likely work on other distributions too) installation with Home Assistant 0.22.1 on a Foxconn nT-330i with an old Logitech QuickCam Orbit AF and a Logitech HD Webcam C270. As a start only the Quickcam is used. No multi-camera setup for now.

Read on →

0.22: Pandora, BT Home Hub 5 and local file camera.

two minutes reading time
  • Release-Notes

It’s time for the 0.22 release. This was a pretty rough release cycle and we had to issue two hot fixes for our core improvements. But it seems now that all is good and a lot of people have reported that their installs are faster than ever and the occasional quirks no longer occur.

We are aware that our new web stack has caused issues installing Home Assistant on ARM-based platforms. This sadly includes the Raspberry Pi and Synology NAS systems. We’re working on getting to a better solution. For Raspberry Pi, the All-in-One installer will take care of everything for you. We’re working on updating our standalone Raspberry Pi installation guide.

There are two cool things that I want to highlight in this release. The first is Pandora support. This is based on the CLI player called pianobar. This means that your machine running Home Assistant can be connected to the speakers and provide your house with tunes.

Another cool addition is the local file camera. This seems very basic at first but will allow you to generate a graph with your favorite 3rd party graphing tool and display it on your Home Assistant dashboard. We’re looking forward to see what you can do with this!

Breaking change

  • The new Netatmo support caused us to change how Netatmo are configured. It’s now done via it’s own component.
    api_key: API_KEY
    secret_key: SECRET_KEY
    username: username
    password: password

Hotfix 0.22.1 - June 20

  • Insteon Hub lights will load again

Home Assistant at PyCon 2016

two minutes reading time
  • Video

It’s been already almost two weeks ago that a few of the Home Assistant developers headed towards Portland for PyCon 2016 - the conference about everything Python. We were there to learn all the nifty tricks to make our code better but most of all, to talk Home Automation.

Home Assistant developers Couple of Home Assistant devs. Left to right: Paulus (@balloob), Alex (@infamy), Ryan (@rmkraus).

On Monday I (Paulus) gave a presentation about Home Assistant to an audience of over 400 people! It was a bit scary at first but after a couple of minutes it went all great including some great questions afterwards. Slides can be found here and the talk is embedded right below:

One of the things that really impressed me was the amount of people that approached us to tell how they love Home Assistant, how it has replaced their previous solution, how they enjoyed contributing to Home Assistant and how helpful our community is. It makes me proud of Home Assistant and especially our community.

Read on →

0.21: Improved Web and support for EnOcean, LIRC and Osram Lightify

two minutes reading time
  • Release-Notes

It’s time for release 0.21 and it contains massive core improvements: replacement of our home grown HTTP stack with a standardized WSGI stack. This will improve performance, speed, security and make future development of advanced HTTP features a breeze.

This work was driven by the amazing Josh Wright. His knowledge, high standards and drive for security has helped improve Home Assistant a lot ever since he started helping out. Hip hip hurray for Josh!

Alright, time for the changes:

Breaking Changes

  • Our work in the WSGI stack is not fully done yet. We still have a minor issues where retrieving the error log in the about screen can raise an encoding error
  • The API used to incorrectly accept a JSON body with form-url-encoded headers. Our cURL examples on the website used to be wrong and have been updated.
  • Make sure your configuration.yaml file contains frontend: to serve the frontend

Hotfixes 0.21.1 and 0.21.2

We released two hotfixes to address some issues that couldn’t wait till the next release.

0.21.1 - June 12
  • Add eventlet to base requirements to resolve some installation issues (@balloob)
  • GTFS will filter out routes in the wrong direction (@imrehg)
  • Recover from rare error condition from LIRC (@partofthething)
  • Z-Wave autoheal will no longer raise exception (@balloob)
  • Alexa will now execute the script before making reply (@balloob)
  • Fix MJPEG camera streaming (@stjohnjohnson)
  • Fix frontend in older browsers (@balloob)
  • Fix history in more info dialog being cut off (@balloob)
0.21.2 - June 15
  • Fix input_select calling the set_option service again when changed (@persandstrom)
  • Fix more info dialog not being able to open on Safari (@balloob)
  • Add support for OPTIONS HTTP command to get CORS working (@JshWright)

Community Highlights

1 minute reading time
  • Community
  • Video

Our community is amazingly helpful and creative. If you haven’t been there yet, make sure to stop by our chat room and come hang out with us. In this blog post I want to highlight a few recent awesome projects and videos from the community.

SceneGen - cli for making scenes

SceneGen is a new command line utility developed by Andrew Cockburn that helps with creating scene configurations for Home Assistant. To use it, you put your house in the preferred state, run SceneGen and it will print the scene configuration for your current states.


Nick Touran has been working on integrating IR remotes with Home Assistant. He made it into a component which should be available in the next release which should arrive in a couple of days. In the meanwhile, he wrote up a blog post and has put out a video showing the new integration, very cool!

Ben from BRUH Automation has put out another great video how to get started tracking your location in Home Assistant using MQTT and OwnTracks.

Muhammed Kilic has created a video how to make your Home Assistant instance accessible from the internet using the free dynamic DNS service DuckDNS.

iBeacons: How to track things that can’t track themselves (part II)

eight minutes reading time
  • Device-Tracking
  • OwnTracks
  • iBeacons

This post is by Home Assistant contributor Greg Dowling.

In Part 1 I talked about using iBeacons to improve presence tracking. In part 2 I’ll talk about how to track things like keys that can’t track themselves by using iBeacons.

Tracking things using iBeacons

In the first part I mentioned that iBeacons just send out I’m here packets, and we used this to trigger an update when your phone came close to a fixed beacon.

But beacons don’t have to be fixed.

Your phone knows roughly where it is located (based on mobile phone masts, Wi-Fi networks or GPS). If your phone sees an I’m here message then it knows the beacon is close.

If your phone can remember (or tell a server) where it was when it last saw the iBeacon - then it knows where the beacon was. So the result of this is that you can track where an iBeacon was - even though the iBeacon doesn’t have any tracking technology itself.

So if you put an iBeacon on your keys or in your car - then you can track them.

Here are my keys - with a Estimote Nearable iBeacon stuck to them. Ugly but effective!

Read on →

Raspberry Pi all-in-one installer

Less than one minute reading time
  • Video

We are always hard at work at the virtual Home Assistant headquarters to make it easier for you to get started with Home Assistant. That’s why @jbags81 recently introduced the all-in-one installer. It allows you to get up and running with a complete Home Assistant setup by entering one line of code into your Raspberry Pi running Raspbian Jessie:

wget -Nnv && bash;

This feature wouldn’t be complete if it wasn’t accompanied by a new video by Ben from BRUH Automation. The video shows how to install Raspbian Jessie on your Raspberry Pi and use the new installation script to get a full Home Assistant system up and running.

0.20: Roku,, AWS, Twilio

two minutes reading time
  • Release-Notes

Tons of new supported things in 0.20.

Breaking changes

  • Asus WRT will now default to SSH with Telnet being an option
  platform: asuswrt
  protocol: telnet

Why we use web components and Polymer

three minutes reading time
  • Technology

I’ve been planning to write this post for a while now as we get questions like this a lot: “Why does Home Assistant use Polymer? Why not React, Redux and what not?”

It’s understandable, Polymer is quite the underdog in the world of web frameworks. A corporate backer does not guarantee popularity or an active community and this shows in the number of projects using Polymer.

Still, we use Polymer and it’s awesome. To explain why, I’ll be referencing the React workflow quite a bit, as they do a lot of things right, and show how it is done in Polymer.

Polymer gives us components for the web, just like React, but based on web standards: web components, CSS variables. These standards don’t have wide browser support yet but it’s being implemented by every major browser: It’s the future. For now they are being polyfilled and that works just fine but in the future the Home Assistant web app will be able to run native in the browsers == fast.

Read on →

Video: How To Configure Home Assistant

Less than one minute reading time
  • Video

Ben from BRUH Automation authors a lot of great video’s about how he is using Home Assistant and how you can get started with it too. The video below will walk you through how to configure Home Assistant. Enjoy!

Make sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel for more Home Assistant video’s.