…I turn off my phone’s wifi while on-the-go to save battery, and I don’t want to have to turn wifi on each time I come home just to control my lights. Or maybe I’ve just left the house and forgotten to turn the lights out, but am not quite in wifi range anymore to control them from my phone. Whatever the reason, there’s no point in saddling the Hue service with this network limitation when the technology exists for an easy fix.
My last project already demonstrates that it is possible to control the Hue from outside the local network. However, it was only performing two very specific actions with the bulbs: changing color to red/green and blinking the lights a few times. For this project I set out for full control of the lights: changing their color, brightness, and saturation, as well as being able to blink the lights or switch them to ‘gradient mode’, where the light slowly cycles through its color spectrum. This is pretty much the extent of the Hue API, and I wanted to control it all from one simple app.
The architecture for this project is pretty much identical to the last project. The iOS app sends instructions to the Modulus Node server, which updates its Mongo database. Every few seconds, the local Node server, hosted on the same network as the bridge, pings the Modulus server, which queries the database and returns its contents. If the database has been updated since the local Node server last checked, it will parse those updated contents and send the appropriate update instructions to the Hue bridge. The Hue bridge then updates the lightbulbs.
As there wasn’t too much architectural innovation to figure out for this project, I decided to polish it a bit and streamline a few elements of the system. I stopped hosting the local Node server on my laptop, since I would have to restart the server each morning when i brought my laptop in. Instead, the server is now hosted on a BeagleBone Black, a pocket-sized microcomputer running the Angstrom Linux distribution. The BeagleBone is nice since it supports Node out of the box, but you could switch it out for a Raspberry Pi or Arduino and achieve the same result with a bit more legwork (node.js on Arduino likely requires a bit of hacking). To the BeagleBone I added a system daemon startup service that runs the service upon booting, which means the server can now run 24/7 with no human involvement.
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