I can’t be the only one who thinks Philips Hue is an extremely expensive way to fix being too lazy to turn off the lights from your sofa. Or is it? The integration it has to other home automation products is second to none, and it’s ease of use brings even none technical users into the world of IOT.
However, there are a lot of us who are slightly technical and can put in a bit more effort to save a bit of money.
The first thing I did when I realised I wanted Philips Hue bulbs and couldn’t bring myself to spend that money, was type in “Philips Hue Alternative” and up came EasyBulb. EasyBulb is just a rebrand of a Chinese light system also known as LimitelessLed and other less known names. However being in the UK it was the first that popped up and the price difference was hard to ignore. So I got 6 bulbs!
It worked amazingly well for something so cheap and questionable security/app design aside, I was pretty happy.
Then I got an Echo, followed by a Google Home and I wanted more. There is obviously no integration with these bulbs to those devices, so I needed to find a hack.
Unlike the Hue system, EasyBulb works with UDP commands which makes it fairly simple to DIY a solution.
1) Find your IP
2) Research and eventually realise it’s on port 8899
3) Spend a very long time figuring out what groups are what commands
4) Jump for joy when your node script turns your lights on
However, hooking up to the Echo and Home would require a bit more work, and more than I could bring myself to do on my own. I then found Ha-Bridge which is an interesting open source project.
It essentially mimics/emulates a Philips Hue bridge so that the Echo and Google Home can see and control other none supported devices. Although its well documented to work on something lightweight like a Raspberry Pi, I installed it on my Windows ‘Server’ and away I went.
The installation of the Ha-Bridge is pretty simple, just follow the readme on github. However I thought I would document how I hooked it up to my bulbs.
It was actually the LimitelessLed documentation that got me started (after I reaslied they were essentially the same bulbs)
I found about a 3rd of the way down the Hexedecimal commands I needed for each group along with what I needed to send after.
I found my IP address on my sever — 192.168.1.45 and put together the UDP command I needed. For all of the groups to turn on, you would need 0x42 and on would be 0x42. I took the IP and the port, along with the documentation saying I needed to send 0x00 and 0x55 after the desired command, and came up with.
Turn on — udp://192.168.1.45:8899/0x420055
I started up Ha-Bridge, went to ‘Manual Add’, entered a name and put the URL in the ‘On URL’ field. Nice and simple
After clicking Add, I went to my Echo application on my phone, clicked on Smart Devices, searched, and found ‘All Lights’!
Finally, a simple test of saying ‘Alexa, turn on All Lights’ turned on all my EasyBulb lights. Very cool.
Obviously putting the ‘Off’ command in the settings allows you to say that too, then setting up each individual group in Ha-Bridge gives you more control. I was even surprised to find that the Google Home found the ‘All Lights’ too!
Dimming and colour changing would be a seperate post entirely, however for now, its safe to say I am pretty happy… well, I was. But then I just got Philips Hue lights. Much more simple.