Home Automation – Fun With The House Part 6

Things were running well since the upgrades, it was pretty stable and doing what it should.

Time to move the Raspberry Pi off the coffee table where it had been sitting 🙂 I shut it down, moved it a little to somewhere not so obvious and re-started it.

It all seemed to start well, looking at the dashboard showed things to look pretty normal, apart from the fact that I had no control over the lights etc (again)! There were no errors in the system logs. After an hour or two of head-scratching, I realised I had seen this effect before – the ZigBee dongle signal was being interfered with.

ZigBee runs on the same frequency as 2.4Ghz WiFi does – they have to share it but WiFi is the stronger of the two signals, when I moved the setup earlier, it was now closer to my WiFi setup, only by about a foot but closer than it was. I then tried putting the dongle on the floor (its on a USB extender cable) and it all started working again – that proved the interference theory.

I moved the whole lot upstairs, it needs an ethernet connection to the network, not WiFi so its limited to where I can put it. The result was – no signal again, some bulbs worked but not all.  Back downstairs with it, this time on the opposite side of the TV stack, it was about 5 feet away from the WiFi box and seemed to be a lot happier now, all devices were back working.

Conclusion – ZigBee is extremely sensitive to interference and may need trying in several places to find the best option. This may be the reason why the smart-home support forums have a lot of posts like “some of my bulbs have stopped working…..” and “I can’t turn the heating on anymore….” – it could possibly be that the place the ZigBee hub is placed in is only allowing a weak signal out.

All good fun, not 😉

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