Application virtualization, IoT and Cloud Computing, Blog of Sacha Thomet


My Smart Home – Chapter 3-1: Smartacus – non tinker solution? Unboxing and putting into operation

Beside of Citrix and virtualization topics I had already Smart Home and IoT topics in the past here on this blog. You can find  posts about smart switches and bulbs or about a smart switch combined with the LaMetric smart watch.

Recent weeks I wrote about my smart mirror and about Home Assistant, both are projects which require advanced IT knowledge and are only interesting for people with according skills and time for a DYO project. REST and Python should not be unknown words … Often I was asked “Sacha can you please also build this for me?” I have a full-time job, I have a family, I’m active for the Citrix community and sometimes I work in my free time as a Scuba Diving Instructor. So, I’m pretty engaged and I cannot spend time to do this for others. But in my opinion, everyone should have the possibility make his home smart.

Some weeks ago, Smartacus has come to my attention. This complete solution is pretty similar like the Home Assistant which I blogged about last week, it combines different components to one place. Smartacus is a product by Energie 360° and is developed for the market in Switzerland.

Compared with Home Assistant is Smartacus a commercial product for End-users, which don’t have the time or skills for a DYI project. 

In December, I received my Smartacus Start package, in this post I write about the chosen components, the Unboxing and putting into operation.

Packages – the components

It’s possible to choose predefined packaged from Smartacus or to build an own individual set. Basically a  Smartacus-setup consists a central unit and one or more sensors and “actors”.

The central unit has connections to the local components and is connected to the “Smartacus-Cloud” in the Internet. But now I’m already way to technical, Smartacus is for End-users which won’t know too much about the tech.

If somebody don’t know what he need, it’s possible to talk with the Chatbot on the Smartacus web site. The Chatbot will help to choose what you need and fill up the shopping basket. A nice example how a Chatbot can help.

In reason, I don’t have a photovoltaic system and I’m living in a rented apartment I decided to start only with the radiator thermostat system and some added components.

This System would be definitely thrilling in an owned house with a photovoltaic installation.


I opened the package and immediately I remarked that Energie 360° and Smartacus are not boring people. Even I didn’t ordered the energy package, I received some personal energy for the time on which I install my Smartacus System. Some food and an energy drink …

I ordered the following components : 

  • Central Unit
  • 3x Radiator thermostat
  • 2x Door- / Window Sensor
  • 1x Smoke detector
  • 1 Multi Sensor
  • 1x flush-mounted switch relay
  • 1x Switch und measure plug

Putting in operation

Central unit

To put the central unit in operation is an easy thing, just plug in the Ethernet cable to the switch or router, plug in the power cable in – and the physical installation is done.

After the Smartacus central unit is online you can login to the portal and configure your setup, the system will guide you through all steps.

I was in doubt to have another central unit in my network, I have already one for my Philips Hue and one for my WirelessTags. I thought another new device which needs power… but this time I was positively surprised, it consumes 7 Watt on start-up and 4 Watt in normal operation.

Integration of Smart Devices

The integration of new devices is simple, on the portal the binding of a new device is handled in three steps. The action which has to be done on the device is explained on the portal.

Formerly I had already radiator thermostats from another manufacturer, but those I removed after I found out that already a slightly touch demolish the installation.

This new radiator thermostats supplied by Smartacus are manufactured by Danfoss and are from the quality perspective much better and stable. The installation can be done in a few minutes:

My interim conclusion at this point:

+ very easy installation
+ high quality components
– Limited number of components by Smartacus

My Smart Home – Chapter 2: Home Assistant

After my smart mirror project which was exciting, I can still only see the values of the integrated sensors on the mirror. The problem that I can’t control my smart devices from one place still exists.

The conglomeration of smart devices in my home is very various, I need to work with something which is open for almost everything imaginable.

On Facebook I saw a post of an acquaintance who adverted for Home Assistant ( Home Assistant is an open-source home automation platform running on Python 3. Track and control all devices at home and automate control. Perfect to run on a Raspberry Pi. (Home Assistant) is still in development but works already good. I’ve started with version 0.48 or so and now in December 2017 we are on 0.60.

First I started with on a Raspberry Pi 3, but then I’ve upgraded my Synology NAS and the new one is able to run Docker, so I moved my Home Assistant to a Container on my NAS.

I don’t write here now a post how to install and run Home Assistant, that you can find in Getting started on, the intention of this post is a short Intro for Home Assistant with some hints for the practise.

For there is also a mobile app, you can use the App if you are in the same network like your Home Assistant server or you have a VPN connection in this network. It’s also possible to expose the server to the internet, it contains all you need for that like duck dns and Let’s Encrypt. But I won’t do that for security consideration.

Devices and Components

Home Assistant has a very broad range of supported smart devices, I added the following devices to my system:

A short demo how that looks on my environment:


Before I used Home Assistant I automated some of my smart devices with IFTTT, with I can now do that “On Premises”.

I created the following “recipes” for my home automation:

  • If the IKEA lamp in my living room turns on, also turn on the lights in my vitrine (LED plugged in a MyStrom Smart Plug):
  • If my UniFi controller don’t see any Wifi Mac address of the mobile phones of my family members, the automation “Away-Mode” turns on. This procedure powers off some Smart Plugs, bring my Sonos Player to pause, and all Hue lights will be turned off.

In contrast to IFTTT it’s possible with to combine things almost indefinite. It’s possible to define so called Conditions.

Helpful hints

If you try Home Assistant and you starting to create and modify your *.yaml files, really use a text editor which show you invisible characters! Python is very fussy for syntax errors even when only an invisible character.

Make backup from your files before you modify it, this can help to avoid some frustration.

If you intend to add a MyStrom Smart Button, I found out that this doesn’t work currently if your Home Assistant Web GUI is protected with a password.


A big benefit of Home Assistant is that it’s an open system with a large developer community, there are many components integrated and it’s possible to integrate by your own.

The downside of Home Assistant is that’s currently not yet a solution for an Enduser without any IT skills. More and more it’s now configurable via Web GUI but without any IT knowledge it’s impossible to manage it.

+ Command centre for your Smart Home
+ Cheap
+ Interaction with your smart components is possible
+ many Components integrated
+ App for your mobile phone or tablet computer
+ – Open Source (Open to integrate other things, improve code vs Security)
– Not an End-user product
– Needs Maintenance

A short preview for my third Smart Home article, I will show you something which is also usable for End-Users without IT Knowledge. I know the readers of my blog are mostly IT Pro’s but I’m sure you have also friends who want to play the Smart Home game and have no clue how to start.

My Smart Home – Chapter 1: The Mirror

A colleague complained that he has a 22-inch screen which he doesn’t use anymore but he can’t sell it for a valuable price. So I said he can give me the screen for free and I would convert it to something cool, I had already an idea what I want to do with it …

My intention was to display some measurement data of my home which I collect with Netatmo or WirelessTag . Furthermore, I had the idea to supersede the paper wall calendar with a digital calendar. We use already Google calendar but my wife has the opinion that she need a calendar not only accessible with a computer or a mobile phone, there must be also something on the wall to get faster an overview about the upcoming events.

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall …

So I told my wife that I plan to install a monitor screen in our entrance area, honestly the enthusiasm was very limited. I found out that the WAF – the wife acceptance factor for a monitor screen in the apartment is pretty low. So I needed another idea, accidentally I saw the  MagicMirror² Project which is the solution for my Software Plattform and also the word “Mirror” solves the WAF-Problem.

So there is now no more a monitor screen, instead my project is a Mirror, a Smart Mirror to be precise. Behind the Mirror is a Raspberry Pi 2 located which is powered on 24/7, rather the power of the screen itself is controlled by a MyStrom Wifi Switch  in early morning a motion dedector turn the mirror on, at other hours in the day the screen can be activated with a push on a MyStrom Wifi Button. If the Mirror is powerless it looks like an ordinary mirror.

At the end this was how my prototype looks like:

It was a long journey and I invested a lot of hours until I was happy with the result of my project.

First I started to cover the screen with an acrylic glass laminated with a mirror foil. I was not satisfied with the result, I had inclusions of dust and air under the foil. Only the more expensive but high-grade real Spy-Glass from made me happy.

It was also difficult to decide which content should appear on the display.


Currenlty my configuration shows ths content:

Top left
– Date and Time
– Google calendar from my an my wife

Top right
– Weather forecast
– Hue Status
– Recent Calls (Fritzbox)

Bottom left
– Trello Task of our family

Bottom right
– Power meter of different Powerplugs (REST via MyStrom)
– battery state of charge of my EV

Bottom center
– Headlines of “Berner Zeitung” the local Newspapar (RSS)

Component List

  • 22″ Screen who has a Digital Input – Raspberry has only HDMI (I took an old one and removed the Case – on your own risk!)
  • Raspberry Pi & Power Supply
  • Spy Glass – I ordered on
  • Smart Plug (optional)- e.g. I have this one MyStrom Wifi Switch 
  • Smart (IoT) Button (optional) – e.g. I have this one MyStrom Wifi Button.
  • Motion Sensor – e.g I have one from WirelessTag  (optional)
  • Some pieces of wood from your local DYO Store

(As Tools I used a hot glue gun, a saw and some screwdriver )


The mirror definitely gives an added value, but it’s really only for DYO’er or Nerds … No Enduser-Friendly product. It also needs maintenance.
This is a device for consume information but you cannot interact with your devices. Maybe in Some years possible with a “Touchscreen-Mirror”.

+ Added value in a Smart Home
+ Cheap
+ – Open Source (Open to integrate other things, improve code vs Security)
– Not an End-user product
– Needs Maintenance
– Only shows information, no interaction with devices

IoT – ideology of technology | new MyStrom Smart Devices

Those who know me in person are aware that my life is not only controlled by Citrix technology, I’m also fascinated by Smart Home stuff and Internet of Things, IoT. Since years I use Philips Hue, Netatmo and other gadgets to make my life easier – or to solve problems which I won’t have without this Smart Home devices… Some of my neighbours believe that I have a girlfriend called “Alexa” and I’m very rude to her.

Anyway, I already wrote about the MyStrom Smart plugs in the article Control MyStrom smart plug by a trigger or Another LaMetric IoT script – power control .

The special thing about the MyStrom WiFi Switch is that they are only for Switzerland, we have here not the same wall sockets like they are common in Europe. For this reason in my point of view MyStrom is a niche product, even when it’s a very very good product.

Today I received a package from MyStrom with two very cool new products inside, the MyStrom Bulb and the MyStrom WiFi button. I have already similar products, for the Smart Bulb from Philips Hue and SengLed Boost. For the button I have currently an Amazon IoT button, which I have connected to IFTTT that I can trigger some things.

In this post I want to compare this new MyStrom devices to other existing devices on the market.

Comparison Smart Bulb:

myStrom WiFi Bulb

  • 39.- CHF (Color)
  • Color
  • E27

+ Has a HTTP Rest API
+ Show power consumption
+ great colors!
–  only 600 lm
– Bulb becomes pretty hot, 52,9°C after 30min test.

Philips Hue

  • 69.- CHF (Color)
  • 20.- CHF (White)
  • E27 and GU10 available (Update: Now also E14)

+ Use the ZigBee protocol
+ Up to 806 lm
– An additional device, called “Bridge” is required
– Colors not so saturated
– Range is limited, I was not able to have a Hue Bulb in my garage, why I added a SengLed Boost.
– Bulb becomes pretty hot, 62,5°C after 30min test.

SengLed Boost

  • 59.- CHF
  • E27

+ Works as an Wireless Wifi Repeater
–  only 470 lm

LED-Bulb E27 1000 lm White

  • 14.95 CHF (White)
  • Color also available  but not with 1000lm
  • Uses 12,4 Watt
  • Is compatible with Hue-Bridge after latest firmware and perhaps 3rd party Software

+ brightest and cheapest Bulb
– Bulb becomes pretty hot, on some parts 84,9°C after 30min test!


Conclusion: It really depends on your needs which Smart Bulb is the best for you, if you have already a Philips Hue ecosystems it makes no sense to Switch to MyStrom. But if you start on green field, you really have to consider to go for MyStrom. With MyStrom you have Bulbs, Plugs and Buttons from one brand. The MyStrom Bulbs are cheaper than Hue and for me very important every MyStrom device has his Webserver which allows you to toggle the power state. If you want o extend you Wifi Range, have a look to SengLED Boost Bulb, but wit this it’s not easy to toggle the light with something other than the existing app.

Comparison Smart Button:

MyStorm WiFi Button

  • 25.- CHF

+ Availible in Switzerland – for everyone (soon …)
+ Battery rechargeable
+ Native IFTTT compatible
+ 3 Push Patterns
+ Fast reaction time (< 2sec to toggle a Switch) Amazon IoT Button

  • 19.90$

– Only for Amazon Prime customers
– Battery not replaceable
– Reaction time pretty long
+ IFTTT with an “special setup” possible
+ 3 Push patterns

Hue Tap

  • 69.-

– need the Brigde
+ No need for battery
+ 3 buttons

Hue Dimmer Switch

  • 29.-

– need the Brigde (?)

Conclusion: For most “Home-automater” the MyStrom Wifi button will be the best choice, the way to configure an AWS IoT button is an “advanced expierience”. I don’t like that the Amazon IoT Button has a non replaceable/rechargeable battery inside. If you have already a large huge Philips Hue ecosystem maybe the Hue Tap / Dimmer Switch is the best for you.

Use Octoblu with Amazon Echo as trigger to start A/C on Tesla Model S

It need’s a bit courage as a non native english speaker and with my hard swiss accent it’s maybe awkward … but I’ve done it … my first webcast … you cannot win without a risk 🙂

Goal: Use Amazon echo to start the Air Condition of the Tesla Model S.

21.6.2016, Update to this post:

It’s not so difficult to use Alexa without IFTTT in Octoblu, I just created a flow to ask Alexa what’s the battery level and she tell me the remaining battery in percent:

Details about how to integrate Alexa in octoblu look at this:  Use Alexa to kick off automations with Octoblu

By the way: If you don’t have a Tesla but you like to buy one,use my referral Link and safe 1000.- !

Control MyStrom smart plug by a trigger (ifttt or octoblu)

mystromSome weeks ago I bought my first smart plug from MyStrom. If you are living  in Switzerland you have only a limited choice of smart plugs because of the non EU standard plug (T13).

MyStrom is pretty cool because it mets almost all my requirement, there is a possibility to measure to power consumption within two rates (day and night), it’s controllable with the mobile phone app and there is a nice web interface.

But one thing I miss, I cannot react to triggers and power of the smart plug on a defined event. Like already in an earlier post mentioned there is a REST API which allows to control the plug from the internal network. (See Another LaMetric IoT script – power control)

Last day’s I just found the API documentation which allows to control the MyStrom out of the cloud: 

So I have now all to connect this Thing to the Internet and react on a trigger.

Possibility 1: The everything imaginable way,
MyStrom and Octoblu

mystromlogo      +      ocoblu

If you are using Octoblu beta, which is currently available for everyone for free you can create very intelligent workflows to control your smart plug. You can react to twitter and power of or on depending what is twittered, you can power off your heater as soon a temperature is reached, you can stop charge as soon your device have a defined state of charge.

The Things you connect use with Octoblu are nearly infinite.


Octoblu is for advanced use, and to be honest I’m also on the learning phase! I do not describe here more details for this case. There are a lot of sample blueprints on .  Octoblu was acquired by Citrix in 2015.

Possibility 2: The easy way,
MyStrom and IFTTT

 mystromlogo      +      iftttlogo

This way is suitable for “Home use” and for people who only want to create a simple workflow where a trigger initiate for example a Power On or Power Of of the smart plug.

All what you need is a Control-Script on a Webserver with PHP on the Internet, and a IFTTT account.

How it works: The script is very simple, it just handle the  authentication process on the API, read the AuthToken out of the JSON answer and Push out the payload with the AuthToken. IFTTT just take the trigger and call the script with the username, passwort and the payload which you can build from the API

Example: I want to control my smart plug by twitter, if I twitter #lightsoff

Step 1:

Take this script and put it on your webserver:


V0.1 by Sacha Thomet,, 12-2015

This script can be used to control the MyStrom power outlet with IFTTT.
In IFTTT you need to take the MAKER component to make a web request.

The script must be called with 3 parameters:
- Your MyStrom username (email)
- Your MyStrom password
- the decided payload
 e.g. ../device/switch?on=true%id=64002D012305 to turn on your device with Mac 64002D012305

 Documentation of all API calls:
 Attention! You need to replace in your payload all "&" with a "%" !!



//create variables from parameter
$email = ($_GET&#91;"email"&#93;);
$password = ($_GET&#91;"password"&#93;);
$payload = ($_GET&#91;"payload"&#93;);

//myStrom host with the parameters to gather the AuthToken
$host = "$email&password=$password";
$filestring = file_get_contents($host); 

//format the AuthToken that only the token remain from the JSON Answer
$startpos = 0;
while($pos = strpos($filestring, "authToken", $startpos))
 $string = substr($filestring, $pos, strpos($filestring, "name", $pos + 1) - $pos); 

 //echo $string. " ";
 $newstring = str_replace("authToken","","$string");
 $newstring2 = str_replace('"',"",$newstring);
 $newstring3 = str_replace(":","","$newstring2");
 $authCode = str_replace(",","","$newstring3");

 echo " AuthCode is $authCode 
" ;

 $startpos = $pos + 1;

// Because & cannot submitted in a $_GET we subsitute it with a %
$correctpayload = str_replace("%","&","$payload");

echo "Full payload is: $correctpayload&authToken=$authCode";

$fullpayload = "$correctpayload&authToken=$authCode";
$payloadString = file_get_contents($fullpayload); 


Step 2:

Create a recipe on IFTTT, use Twitter as Trigger and Maker as Action. In maker you create your request:


e.g. the payload to turn of the device with Mac 64002D012325 is:

The result should be that:


You create 2 of those recipies, one to Power On and one to Power Off

Now you can twitter you defined hashtags to control your smart plug.

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