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Improve openHAB Rules response time

By default, openHAB only starts 5 threads to deal with execution of Rules. That's not a lot, and if all threads are busy, rules have to wait until a slot is free. This results in slow Rule response time.

This can be improved.

 

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openHAB: Turn display on and off for a Video ChromeCast

After figuring out if a ChromeCast is currently used, it was time to fix a long-standing problem. At home we don't have TVs, just "dumb" displays, and stream content using ChromeCasts. However a video ChromeCast never really turns off, but keeps the display running, using a "Backdrop" app. This app keeps showing pictures on the display when the ChromeCast is not used otherwise, effectively preventing any powersafe mode.

That's both annoying (who wants to have pictures shown in the living room or working room all night), and consumes energy. It's also intentional by Google. So far we had to turn the display on and off manually, which is inconvenient.

 

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openHAB: detect if a ChromeCast is currently used or idle

We have a couple of Audio and Video ChromeCasts in use. For an upcoming project I need to figure out if any of them is currently used. That is different for the Audio and the Video devices: the Audio just goes idle=ON, the Video devices however load the "Backdrop" app and show pictures when idling. Google for whatever reason does not want the attached monitor to go in powersafe mode. So much for saving energy ...

All of the action needs between a few milliseconds and 2-3 seconds once you start/stop using the ChromeCast.

A previous blog post explains how I add the ChromeCast devices. And I have monitoring in place.

 

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Deutscher Wetterdienst notifications in openHAB and Telegram

The "Deutscher Wetterdienst" DWD (German Weather Service) provices a service which sends out alarms for upcoming events, like heavy rain, storm, blizzard, strong winds ect. This service is only available for Germany. And it has a binding for openHAB. Time to integrate this, activate a number of regions I'm interested in, and send notifications to our mobile phones.

At this point I'm really happy that I deploy my openHAB with Ansible, I can use the Template module and loop over the Items, Things and Rules.

The Binding can "track" multiple regions, so called Cell IDs. I'm interested in 4 different Cells (the list is available here), your mileage might vary. For each reagion there can be multiple messages - and although every single example I found only assumes there is only one message (warningCount=1), I already had a situation where a Cell had two warnings. That information likely goes missing if you set warningCount to 1. Given how much configuration overhead it is when you add more channels, I can understand why most examples stay at "1" for warningCount. Doubling the number doubles the number of Items (12 -> 24). However since I deploy everything in a template, that's not a problem here.

I started this with a generous warningCount=5 - and in my templates I just loop from 1 to 5, and over every Cell, and generate all the necessary Things and Rules for every channel.

Ok, the details:

 

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Monitor additional details in Telegraf with the "Exec" input filter

After installing Telegraf and hooking up everything into InfluxDB, I was missing the status of my backups. Every system here creates encrypted backups every night, and stores them on a central NAS, and off-site. But I want to know statistics about the backups, and see if something is not working.

I'm using Restic for the backups (will blog about this another time). However Telegraf does not support Restic directly, I need a few workarounds. This blog post however is not directly about monitoring the backups, but about how to write your own plugin for Telegraf.

 

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Install Telegraf using Ansible

I have an InfluxDB up and running in my network, and decided to monitor all (well, all possible - the QNAP seems to be a problem) devices. That's quite easy to do by installing Telegraf as a server agent, and add some configuration. Everything is deployed using Ansible, so I can re-use the same Playbook for many devices.

 

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openHAB and Telegram Bot

openHAB 2 comes with a Telegram binding which allows to run a Telgram Bot. This bot can both send messages to users and groups, and can receive commands and respond to them. That's useful: your home automation system can send all kind of details to your mobile phone.

For this to make it work it needs a couple things:

First of all a mobile phone with the Telegram app on it. You can either have the bot message you directly, but this only works for one person. Or you create a group, and have the bot send the messages to the group instead. Find out about the group ID here.

Then you need to create a Telegram Bot. Instructions are available here.

And everything needs to be hooked up in openHAB.

 

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Monitor ChromeCast status in openHAB

I really like to monitor things, to catch issues early on. In our home we have a couple ChromeCasts, both Audio and Video. They are all connected to the openHAB system, Once in a while they stop working, and need to be restarted (unplugged and plugged in again). Unfortunately you usually only find that out when you want to stream something, and wonder why either the ChromeCast does not show up in the device list, or does show up but does not accept the media.

Therefore I decided to monitor the devices in openHAB.

 

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openHAB and HP printer

Recent openHAB versions come with a new HP Printer Binding, which is a big improvement over the more general IPP Binding for printers.

The new binding reads the data from two files which are provided by the printer:

  • http://<printer>/DevMgmt/ProductUsageDyn.xml
  • http://<printer>/DevMgmt/ProductStatusDyn.xml

Let's install that ...

 

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raspi-config automated

While I installed the Raspberry Pi with the Raspbee board on it, I had to modify the settings for the serial device. That's done using the raspi-config tool on Raspbian.

However since I'm into automation, I don't want to start "raspi-config" manually, but had to figure out how to do that in an automated way.

 

 

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