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How to get a Raspberry Pi to take over your Robot House

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Behold: The RaZberry is a daughter board which snaps onto a Raspberry Pi, turning it into a Z-Wave controller capable of integrating, and controlling, a home automation network though a web, or JSON, interface.

We all love the Raspberry Pi, don't we? It could have been built for home automation, offering low power consumption and enough processing power to handle the most complex of residential instructions, and the RaZBerry provides the connectivity it lacks in a very simple package. The hardware is a dream, and the provided software comprehensive if incomplete: if only the documentation were ready for prime time this would be enough to make Z-Wave the only home automation choice for the discerning geek.

The daughter board

It even fits inside most cases, including this one

There is competition: Zigbee would like to provide that functionality and has the advantage of being an IEEE standard (802.15.4), but while Zigbee devices from the same manufacturer will talk (and mesh) happily together the protocol stops short of mandating the interoperability demanded by the Z-Wave standard. Z-Wave has a greater presence in the US, where home automation is better established, but it's pushing into Europe and innovations like the RaZberry will only help.

Setting up the RaZberry is disarmingly easy. Just slot the board onto the GPIO pins and download the Z-Way application using the syntax suggested on the single page of documentation. Once rebooted the Pi will kick off a Z-Way web server allowing integration and control of existing Z-Wave devices as well as getting them to communicate with each other.

We didn't have an existing network, but Z-Wave Europe was kind enough to lend us a mains-controlling switch and a keyfob with which we could control it, all via the Raspberry Pi.

A list if devices

We only had two devices, but there are lots of options for grouping them if you have more

Z-Wave requires that devices are "included" before they can managed, a process which proved trivial with the mains switch. From the Network interface one just selects "(Re)Include Device" and presses the only button on the switch (the same button operates as a physical override). The Z-Way software integrates the device and immediately the lights are turning on and off with a click of the mouse.

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