The Dream that is a Smart Home

Google Home Speaker

Like many others who are also above average technically interested, we have for a long time wanted to take a bigger step to make our home smart. Not “hey google, play Christmas songs on Spotify” smart, but more “H.A.L from 2001: A Space Odessey” smart (minus the evil of course). This has long been a dream, and a lot of the various purchases that we’ve done recently have been made with a vision of eventually getting our home smart. However, it is a jungle of different systems. Different platforms, manufacturers and protocols, and all this is something we want to connect together, in one system. A system that solves several tasks for us.

If we start there. What do we want to get out of a Smart Home and what does it mean for us?

Why we should make the house smart


The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Smart Home is that it should make things in the home easier. Today, Google Home or Alexa Echo and other smart speakers are strongly associated with making your home smart. And that is true to a certain extent. The Google home app has routines you can create, which you can connect with other applications and products, which make things in the house smart. On the other hand, voice control of your light sources, or starting music and TV with voice control itself is not very “smart”. It’s just another type of remote control. Instead of pressing a button on the wall, or a remote control in your hand, you turn on the light in the ceiling with the help of your voice.

What instead makes the house smart is if the lights know what you are doing and even understand when to turn them on or off. Based on a time of day, an event or something else that happens, a command executes. For example; you come home from work, there is no one else home, your favorite music starts playing on the speakers at high volume, the front door unlocks. Lights all around the house turns on and the coffee maker starts brewing. Alternatively,  if there is someone else at home, instead the light in the hallway starts flashing blue, which indicates that dad has now come home. Now that is a smart home.


Today you can buy an alarm system from one of the major home alarm providers. Many of them also delivers a type of “smart home solution” included in their packages. There is nothing wrong with them, and in many cases it is advisable to go for a system, provided by an alarm manufacturer. You get a base connected directly to a security center, and if the alarm goes off, there is nothing you need to do other than let the security guard take care of a potential burglar!

However, this is very expensive in the long run. There is a monthly cost (a subscription) which means that the total cost can quickly become very large. In addition, this ties you to the system that that home alarm provider provides.

With your own monitoring system, you can integrate most of the components that an alarm company delivers. Everything from water leakage sensor, fire alarm, door and window sensor and especially cameras and motion sensors. With a system you have chosen and have full control over, you can also use this in the various automations that you want to have set up in your home.

Energy saving

It is no secret that it can potentially be expensive to start a project where you want to make the house as smart as possible. When you look at all the lamps, TVs, PCs, etc. that are powered on for an unnecessarily long time and draw power, it can save you a lot of money by making sure that everything that is not used is turned off at all times. It is also good for the environment. Light bulbs are the simplest to have full control over. By having an evening / night routine, you can ensure that everything is turned off when you go to bed. With the help of smart connectors, smart heaters and computers applications, you can ensure that even more products in your home is turned off so that energy consumption goes down as much as possible. With some products you will be able to get an overview of how much power each product uses. This is something that makes you aware of what is on, and it results in you actually turning it off when not in use.

Sensible AND fun

It not only makes sense to make the house smart, but it is also simply fun. There are several fun routines and automations you can set up. It is very important that the lights in the bathroom flash to the music when you play rock while showering! You want that the lights in the kitchen start flashing green whenever the ISS circles your house!

Some automations are fun, some are important and some can save houses and families. It is to make life as a family with children easier. With the help of technology, make everyday life more efficient.

Where are we now?

As mentioned earlier, some purchases we’ve already done, has been with a vision of getting the house smart.


Google Home

We now have a total of 4 google home speakers. They are primarily used today to control music, but we also have some smart lights from Yeelight that connects to the Google Home app. In the Google Home app, some routines have been set up.  Such as turning off the TV in the living room half an hour before the children go to bed, and reminding the children that they should go and brush their teeth. We also have some Google Chromecasts, and a Samsung smart TV that we can control by voice. We run Google Home in English despite the fact that it works well in Norwegian. But there are some functions that still do not work in Norwegian, plus it is only positive that the children actually have to speak and learn English.



We have some smart light bulbs and have chosen Yeelight mainly because of the price. They have not disappointed us so far, they work exactly as expected. We have tested others, including Philips Hue, but when the price of Yeelight is so much lower, we see no reason to go for any other than Yeelight.


We have the home network ready. With Unifi’s network system, you have all the possibilities needed to be able to set up your own VLANs for your smart home. You can set up your own dedicated wireless network only for your smart products. Then easily separate 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz to ensure easy connection with the products that need that possibility.

3D Printer

This is not a smart product per se. What it makes possible, on the other hand, is to be able to make several DYI projects, such as automatic blinds, or homemade nanoleafs to name a few. Just being able to print attachments to a Google Home Mini is something that justifies the purchase of a 3D printer for a smart home project. Or don’t you agree?!

We also have some more products. Some Mill ovens, Elko light switch and some D-Link cameras. We will replace some of the things, but some things we are very happy with, and want to use further. We have tried to stick to Wi-Fi controlled products where possible. The choices we have made are with a vision to connect everything in to one platform. Instead of as today where what is connected through the Google Home app, everything should eventually be connected in Home Assistant instead.

How will we do this?

There are several products we want to buy, and we have already selected some products. Everything should work in Home Assistant, and after a long time of preparation and a project set up in (which we often use in cases like this) we know what we want to invest in.

Cloud vs Local

We want to be able to manage our house locally. By that I mean that we should not have to be connected to the internet all the time. When we want to turn on a light, we do not want the signal to go to another server in another country, and then sent back to us and then finally turn on the light. I don’t mention this for the sake of security. Not even to ensure that we do not share too much of ourselves with Google or others (which we already do). It is simply to avoid being dependent on the internet. Should the internet go down in the house, then the routines for our smart home will not go down. Responsiveness when pressing a button is also a factor here. Going locally is generally faster, than going through the cloud.

Some of the things we own today, such as the Mill ovens, require contact with Mill’s server to work. The Yeelight lamps, on the other hand, we can control locally once we have connected them together in Home Assistant.

Communication protocol

It is deliberately chosen Wi-Fi where possible. It’s simple, it usually works without problems, and it’s not particularly expensive. Where it is not possible to choose a product with Wi-Fi, for example with door sensors and the like, we will go for Zigbee. Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth all have their problems, and there is no protocol that is the optimal protocol without any flaws. With Home Assistant, however, you get the opportunity to set up your own MQTT Broker. This makes it possible to use MQTT which goes over TCP / IP. That is over our network (and Wi-Fi). We have come to the conclusion that this is what we want to focus on. Although it can be tricky to set up, but once it is in place, it seems to work without any major problems.

Conbee 2 dongel is a product that turns a PC into a Zigbee gateway. With this addition, you get the opportunity to connect all Wi-Fi smart home products, as well as all Zigbee products to one common platform, Home Assistant.

Where do we want to go?

There are a number of things that we need to purchase and set up.

Raspberry Pi (Or a Home Assistant Blue?)

To be able to install Home Assistant, and have a platform where everything is connected. Recently, Home Assistant released their own hardware, Blue. This comes with Home Assistant installed.


We will continue to get more Yeelight where it makes sense. We will also install Shellys in several switches. What is extremely important is that it is easy for all family members, both big and small, but also for guests to be able to turn on and off the lights. If everything is to be controlled with a remote control of some kind, it then goes against its purpose. Shelly does not change existing switches, but instead makes them smarter.


With the Unifi network, the choice is easy when it comes to choosing surveillance cameras as this is also available in the same series. Cameras that are connects only locally, and do not send out any signals using their own VLAN and firewall rules.


It was long planned to go for an August lock, but a Danalock is more adapted for the Nordic market, and we will most likely go for this one instead.


There is a lot you can achieve with the help of motion sensors, door and window sensors but also temperature sensors and moisture meters etc. Automations and routines that can be controlled based on which door is open, whether you walk past a motion sensor or what temperature it is in the room.

Cleaning and maintenance

With the help of robots of various kinds, one can definitely make everyday life more efficient. Having a robotic vacuum cleaner means that no dust collects under the beds and it is generally cleaner in the house at all times. With a robotic lawnmower, you get a nicer lawn.


Some things can’t be bought. Or, there are a product that solves your issue, but it costs so much that it pays to make it yourself. Considering that the latest soldering experiment was at school 20 years ago, this is something that will be exciting to get into. Stay tuned to see how it goes!


There are many who have a dream to make the house really smart. The way you envision how the future is. Not just to make your voice a glorified remote control, but I mean really smart. The house should almost read our mind and to do what we ask, before we ask for it. This is something that is possible to achieve with automations and routines, all gathered in one platform, instead of several. Instead of having 10 different apps on your phone that all control different systems, you can have one app that controls everything. This is possible with Home Assistant.

Stay tuned to see how we implement Home assistant in our house, and what different routines and automations we create.

If you have any thoughts about choosing products, or your own routines you want to share, we want to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment below.

Are you going to buy a 3D printer?

Printing a dragon

Today you can get a 3D printer for the price of a pair of shoes, and the relatively low price means that average Joe can get this “toy”.

For most people, it is an interest / hobby, which for some also develops into a business. There are more and more people selling models online, and more people printing to order.

Do you have a good idea and have an invention you want to develop? Well then you can actually print the first prototype from your office!

We bought our first 3D printer a couple of months ago, and if there is one thing we have experienced after the first few months, it is that this is extremely fun! That said, it can potentially take a lot of time and also bring out a lot of frustration. After a lot of testing and fine-tuning (and wasting a lot of plastic), you can finally be left with a great little figure with nice details, which is very rewarding.

We want to share our experience as beginners in this hobby, and what resources we used to get as good prints as possible in the end.

A good choice for us

There are several printers for beginners. After carefully researching to find out which one to go for, after reading several different tests and watching several different youtube videos, we ended up with a Creality Ender 3 v2.

Creality Ender 3 v2 Product photo

There were several reasons why we went for this model. First and foremost, it is a very good printer, and you get your money’s worth. If you look at the size it can print, as well as the quality of the prints, Ender 3 v2 is at the top in its price range. The main reason, however, is that it is popular. Not the v2 model itself, as it was relatively new when we bought it, but Ender 3 and Ender 3 pro are very popular models. This means that there are a lot of articles and guides on these printers. There is not much that separates the models, so if there is something you wonder about or something you do not get, then it is usually someone who has been in exactly the same situation themselves.

And you are guaranteed to have questions about many things when you enter the 3D printer world. There are many things that can go wrong and you face several challenges. Everything from firmware and slicer issues, to bed leveling and nozzle clog.

When you start your research to buy a 3D printer, there are several popular websites and youtubers you visit depending on which printer you have gone for, of course. One site you often visit is All3DP.

When it comes to choosing a printer, they have a very good guide with questions you should ask yourself before buying a 3D printer.

Should you buy a 3D printer

As with much else, the question is, is this something you use so little, that it may be more reasonable to pay for the service for each time you use it, or is it something you need to be able to produce yourself?

For us, the answer was yes, we want to use this so much that we must be able to produce ourselves. The option of having someone print for us for a sum each time had eventually become very expensive. Especially now after we’ve had it for a while, and we see how much we have actually printed …

What type of 3D printer should you buy?

In short, there are primarily 2 types of 3D printers (for home use). FDM printers and Resin printers. The FDM printer uses filament, plastic on a roll, as it melts, and builds a model out of it. Resin printer uses a liquid, resin, which it cures with the help of UV light.

Which type you should choose depends on what it is you intend to print. We wanted one that had many posibilities, but primarily for miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons. Actually, it would have made more sense for us to go for a resin printer, which is better on miniatures than FDM. It is easier to get small details with a resin printer.

However, there are a couple of reasons why we still opted out of a resin printer

  • Resin printers are usually more expensive than FDM
  • There is a lot of mess when printing with a resin printer, and more maintenance between each print.
  • The print size is usually much smaller for the same price range as an FDM printer.


Where should you buy your 3D printer?

There are many places to buy 3D printers today, depending on where you live. The question is whether you want to buy it locally, and get the guarantees and sales conditions that it entails, or whether you want to import one yourself. Most often from China and Banggood or Aliexpress. We are avid consumers on Aliexpress but we bought our printer at the local photo shop. It costs a little more, but we get Norwegian terms of sales, such as a 5-year warranty, and a shorter delivery time.

Now that you have thought about whether you really need to own your own printer, what type of printer you should buy and where to buy it, then the question is; which model should you go for?

Here all3dp shows up again and gives you an updated guide that we looked at, and which made it easy for us to make the decision that Ender 3 v2 was best for us.

So you now own a 3D printer. What now?

We have had our home now for about 2 months. And it has gone in one, every day. At thingiverse, there are extremely many different models, and it is very fun to surf around to find the next thing you want to print. We started with some toys for the kids. It went in a mobile holder that is shaped like dogs and cats, an articulated unicorn and small figures they themselves wanted.

After that, it has primarily been miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons. There are several monsters, different trees and of course the characters of the games that have been printed. We can soon boast an impressive collection of miniatures!

This is something that is very fun for the children to be able to paint afterwards as well.

We received the printer with a somewhat terrified joy. It was an assembly work ahead of us of a kind we have not faced before. With long experience from building a PC, however, this was not very different. There are some screws and some cables to be pulled, so in total it took about an hour before it was assembled.

It comes with a user manual that was perfectly ok to follow, but to make things easier for us, we found a video that shows how to assemble it. In the video, he went through several things that are good to hear for someone who has not been into 3D printing before. What is important in relation to which screws should be tightened extra hard, how to most easily assemble the different parts, and also, what the different parts are called.

If it’s an Ender 3 v2 you go for I would recommend this video that helped us with the assembly.

Problems can always be solved


There is something about 3D printing that is definitely comparable to building a PC. It is a modular hobby. It is extremely rewarding when you look at a print being made, and you see that you have made a good print. Because this is something that you should be very clear about, going into this: Good print is not guaranteed every time. There is a lot that can go wrong with a print. And with that said, it is always possible to improve your printer with a few upgrades. During the months we have had our printer, we have encountered several different problems, but managed to solve them all.

The most common problem is to get the build plate level, ie bed leveling. We quickly realized this was the most important thing of all. This is where the vast majority of problems arise. If you do not have a build plate that is level, it is guaranteed that your print will fail in one way or another. There are countless guides on how to get your build plate level. The installation guide also addresses this.

After printing constantly for a few weeks, the nozzle was sealed with plastic. It just stopped coming out filament when we printed. After heating the nozzle to 240 degrees, and pushing the included needle up into the nozzle, we got all the plastic out again. Problem solved!

The latest now is that the extruder, the part that carries the filament to the printhead, has started to act funny. It’s choppy and will not squeeze out filament at a steady pace. Here we have ordered new parts from Aliexpress which will hopefully solve the problem. And that’s exactly it, there are many different parts and upgrades you can buy to solve your problems. We have already bought some …



It is a fact that the printer itself can become an expensive toy when you buy it. But with spare parts, upgrades and not the least filament, the total sum for the printer is starting to go up. These upgrades are the ones we have chosen to do so far:



The first thing we bought were new springs for the printer. After screwing the wheels under the build plate as much as we could, the nozzle was still against the build plate, and was scratching against the plate. After reading that the first thing to upgrade were the springs, it was something we bought. With the new springs in place, the build plate became too high, and we had to raise the z-axis endstop. This was a simple adjustment.



The next thing we wanted to invest in was a BLtouch. This is a jungle in itself as there are different BLtouch’s and many different guides, when it comes to firmware, and mainboard. Both different versions of BLtouch but also different manufacturers. We went for Creality’s own version. Installing it was again something we had not done before. We followed Creality’s own guide however, which made it very easy.

With a BLtouch installed, the firmware had to be upgraded as well. This is very easy on an Ender 3 v2, where you only need to download the new firmware on the memory card and start the printer.

BLtouch box


On its way from China is now a set of Capricorn Bowden tubing. Which we hope will, along with a new nozzle, and then cleaning the hot end, make it less likely for clogged nozzles in the future. With this tubing, the filament will move better to the nozzle and the hot end, so this is something we will receive in a few days and look forward to installing.

These are the upgrades we have purchased. So far. There are of course several things you can invest in. It is possible we will buy an upgrade to the extruder eventually, but beyond that we are probably happy with how this printer has developed.



3D printers have become real cheap and really simple. It is a hobby that satisfies a creative need at a high technical level. We decided to invest in a budget printer, an Ender 3 v2, to start with 3D printing as a hobby. We went to great lengths when we bought our 3D printer and have learned everything from how to assemble it, and what is important to think about during assembly, to how to fine-tune by upgrading parts.

If you have any questions or want to share your experience about which printer you have bought, comment below.