ioBroker wins: goodybe, Phoscon app

Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 5:00 AM UTC

A few days ago I decommissioned the Phoscon app to control all my Zigbee devices. The reason: it's buggy as hell. I only changed some bulbs and renamed existing bulbs in the same room - and suddenly the switches associated with the former bulbs started to go crazy and and switched sockets that never were a part of that former group/room. I also did not like the UI of the app at all.

Since I discovered the power of ioBroker, I moved everything to it, too. Wait - what? ioBroker is a piece of software that runs on almost everything, from RPi to a fat x86 PC. The benefit of ioBroker are it's numerous adapaters. These are plugins that "know" different kinds of devices and their specific endpoints.

The ioBroker Zigbee adapter now also supports the Conbee 2 USB stick that I use, but also the Texas Instruments Zigbee adapater cards.

There is also a mighty Javascript/Blockly plugin that enables you to program custom automations and combine devices that you will never find an app for to build it natively.

As I am an Apple Homekit user I also enjoy the Yahka plugin which allows me to expose all devices to Homekit. There is only one limitation when it comes to controls: RGB lights. The color and hue model of Homekit is not compatible with "simple" Zigbee RGB devices. It's possible to use converters (even custom converter scripts) but since I also have Philips Hue (which is basically a Zigbee gateway) I could manage to add e.g. the latest and cheap Lidl LED strip. This isn't a native Homekit device and so not exposed to it by Hue itself, but thanks to Homebridge which I also use, it's now also available. Homebridge basically adds the Philips Hue bridge and exposes non-Homekit devices separately - but this is a different story.

Lately I also added smart heater thermostats which work in the Homematic IP ecosystem. This is also a non-cloud system made in Germany and very reliable. There are tons of actors and sensors available for it. It comes with a separate gateway and an app to add and control devices. Thanks to a Homematic IP (hmip) adapter, I also was able to integrate those into my ioBroker structure and was able to expose them to Homekit using Yahka again. Custom Blockly scripts made it possible to switch off the heating whenever a window close to it is opened - the contact sensors are cheap Aqara sensors read by the Zigbee adapater.

Overall ioBroker is just another way to combine your different systems into a single ecosystem which allows versatile automations and programming, too. There are other platforms like HomeAssistant or OpenHAB which I also tried - but my favorite is the pure interface and the open possibilities (including a native Node-RED integration) of ioBroker.

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