rasperry pi

Smart Home with Rasperry Pi – Rationalizing Raspberry

Joseph Blog, New Tech 0 Comments

Raspberry Pi is a micro PC with a size of a credit card. This single-board computer has nourished the thoughts / imagination of the public, bringing with it a boom in inventive approaches to computing. Embedded systems and technologies in today’s date plays a crucial role in everyone’s life. The electronics have evolved from manual to semi-automatic and now to smart automated products that once programmed can work on their own.

The Raspberry Pi is definitely slower than a today’s computing devices but is still a complete Linux computer and can provide all the expected abilities that implies, at a low-power consumption level.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is the latest version of the product suite and it comes with an open source license. Enclosed in the Raspberry Pi’s board is a 64bit operating system, 1.2GHz processing speed, Bluetooth, and a wireless LAN.  The Raspberry Pi 3 is unique in itself with attributes and functions that make it fit to continue the tradition of the Raspberries before it.

The main attributes and benefits of using the Raspberry Pi are:

  • Concise: it’s small and super portable.
  • Soundless: it’s quiet. You don’t have to worry about noise at all.
  • Integration: it can be integrated with almost everything and thus anyone can learn and explore more about hardware and software integration.
  • Fast: it’s faster with a 1.2GHz processing speed combined with a 64bit operating system, this is definitely a redefinition of the Raspberry genealogy
  • Wireless: This is one feature that clearly separates the Pi 3 from other series before it. Connectivity was one of the major concerns impeding the momentum of adoption and can be called as the major milestone of the Raspberry Pi 3.

Here is a detailed specification of the Raspberry Pi 3:

Parameters Description
SoC Broadcom BCM2837
CPU 4x ARM Cortex-A53, 1.2GHz
GPU Broadcom VideoCore IV
RAM 1GB LPDDR2
Networking 10/100 Ethernet, 2.4GHz 802.11n wireless
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4 Classic, Bluetooth Low Energy
Storage MicroSD
GPIO 40-pin header, populated
Ports HDMI, 3.5mm analogue audio-video jack, 4xUSB, 2.0 Ethernet, Camera Serial Interface (CSI), Display Serial Interface (DSI)

The list of applications and ideas originating from this little computer, ranges from household things to heavy industrial machinery. There’s no end to the applicable use cases in business, technology and personal lives. These use cases are provisioned by the following key inclusions on the Broadcom chip of the Raspberry Pi 3:

  1. Antenna: The antenna being inbuilt, connected and soldered directly to the board resolves the problem of wanting to fix an external antenna thereby expanding the board needlessly. The antenna would be capable of picking up wireless LAN, and Bluetooth signals no matter how far regardless of the obstacles in front.
  2. Wireless Radio: This is barely visible on the board since, its small and its markings can be seen properly only through a microscope or magnifying glass. The Broadcom chip provides wireless LAN and Bluetooth Classic radio support and its only unused feature is a disconnected FM radio receiver.
  3. SoC: This is one of the unique and exclusive features of the Raspberry Pi 3. The Broadcom system-on-chip (SoC) includes 4 high-performance ARM Cortex-A53 processing cores running at 1.2GHz with 32kb level 1 and 512kb level 2 cache memory, a VideoCore IV graphics processor, and is connected to a 1GB LPDDR2 memory module on the rear of the board.
  4. GPIO: One of the common feature of all the Raspberry, the Pi 3 features the same 40-pin general-purpose input-output (GPIO) header.
  5. USB CHIP: Nothing beyond the imagined and preexisting here. 10/100 Ethernet connectivity and four USB channels to the board. The SMSC chip links to the SoC via as a single USB channel, acting as a USB-to-Ethernet adaptor and USB hub.
    The following are some of the industry wherein applicable Raspberry Pi projects have already been successful.

The following are some of the industry wherein applicable Raspberry Pi projects have already been successful.

  1. Home Automation: It is something that your home does for you that makes living there more enjoyable or productive.
  2. Industrial automation: Automation in the industry is very critical. Instead of following manual processes, when taking a step further with automated control – by connecting the systems and controlling over the Internet, it gives greater control for the employer/manager and monitoring since you can monitor not only from the company’s premise but from anywhere. This facilitates productivity and ensures tasks/people can be monitored simultaneously.
  3. Vehicle tracking system: Vehicles can be tracked by using GPS. This will give vehicles exact location on owner or registered mobiles. This can be used as customized theft trackers. Security system Burglar alarm, break detectors fitted in the house or shops can be connected to the Internet. This will give a high priority alert to owners and nearby police stations.
  4. Emergency SOS beacon system: In case of emergency a simple system implemented in the vehicle, which on crash will automatically broadcast its location and SOS message to the nearby police station and hospital. The nearest hospital can respond to that message and help will be provided in time.
  5. Industrial safety system: As the SOS beacon, industries can implement it with a small system that will notify the fire brigade in case of fire.

DIY Integrations with Raspberry Pi

The following discusses a few interesting projects which can be practically followed step by step to create your first Raspberry project.

  1. Security camera: You can build a security camera and even program it to meet your exact requirements. A YouTuber explains how you can use the Raspberry Pi to set up a DIY security camera that keeps an eye on your property, even without lights. For this project, you’ll need a Raspberry Pi, the official Pi camera accessory, as well as the free MotionPie software that lets you access your new device through any web browser. This tutorial includes features which you generally find on the leading industry security cams with features such as motion detection, image uploads, FTP support etc.
  2. Smart lights: One of the other interesting projects uses this portable minicomputer to switch lights on and off remotely by Willq44 at Instructables. Through this project, you would not get all the functionalities as from a matured system like Philips Hue, but you do get to learn key integrations between hardware and software. Further to this project, you can expand the capabilities based on your imagination. This project works with the combination of Raspberry Pi, power outlets (remotely controlled) and software which can be controlled over the web so you can work on any applicable platforms (Laptops, tablets, phone or any other smart device which can connect to the internet). This is not particularly a complex project, but some soldering and cutting are required along the way.
  3. A door that recognizes your face: Currently Windows Hello can recognize your facial features and let you access your account on the laptop. Using Microsoft Windows IOT Core as the software platform along with Raspberry Pi you can create a smart door which would work the same way. The instructions to set up can be found in this guide posted to Hackster.io. To accomplish the project the key ingredients are Raspberry pi or MinnowBoard MAX and Microsoft Windows 10 IoT Core application platform.

Key considerations

There are a couple of bottlenecks which generally people face while designing their own products or advance systems. Some of them includes:

  1. Response time: The systems may have a delay or might not respond to minute changes, which may timeout the operation. To make the application highly responsive the design should be tweaked with this in mind and gradually response can be made better.
  2. Swiftness: Processing time of the request depends on multiple factors and thus design should focus on the hardware configurations and clean software code. The processing time during each phase of any project can be controlled.
  3. Power: Controlling power is one of the most crucial considerations. Designing systems which consume low power is preferred. For connectivity to the internet and other devices usage of Ethernet port and Raspberry Pi’s network stack can be used.

How could I get started?

The Raspberry Pi isn’t just a great platform for building an IOT project but, it’s also a super platform for learning about the integrations between hardware and software. There are lots of tutorials and projects available which will show step by step approaches for developing a raspberry based developments across smart home automation. The following links would help you kick start messing around with programing and the hardware peripherals on raspberry Pi.

  • http://diyhacking.com/diy-projects/raspberry-pi-projects/
  • https://learn.adafruit.com/category/raspberry-pi
  • http://www.instructables.com/id/Raspberry-Pi-Projects/
  • http://www.raspberrypi-spy.co.uk/category/tutorials-help/

Security Challenges

Since most of the Raspberry projects are independent projects created by beginners and less experienced people, many systems are poorly designed and implemented using multiple technologies and products having a complex configuration. This introduces new challenges from a security perspective. Some of them includes:

  1. Unauthorized access to the customized application and interfaces
  2. Network attacks such as Man in the Middle attacks (MITM), spoofing etc.
  3. Malicious traffic from internet compromising privacy and security of the communications over internet originating from your device

The following security controls are recommended at minimum for Raspberry projects implementing smart home capabilities:

  1. Implement layered security protections to defend IoT assets:
    • Firewall – restricting ports and services
    • Intrusion Detection System – blocking all the malicious traffic
    • File Integrity Monitoring – identifying unauthorized changes in the file system and device
  2. Implement an authentication/authorization mechanism for the device
  3. Log all the key events to identify unwanted changes and access to the device
  4. Do not log sensitive information (personal information in the device).

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