Home Automation

MQTT to Zabbix Gateway


For a while now I’ve been wanting to try and monitor home automation parameters by using Zabbix. I already use it to monitor, graph and alert on servers and services at work and at home, so it was a logical extension to use it for home automation. I hope to deploy TinyTX sensors around the house, and by using my mqtt-rfm12b gateway I *should* be able monitor and alert on their battery voltages when things start to run a bit low. Firstly though, something is required to push the data from MQTT to Zabbix.

The first thing that you’ll need is a working Zabbix instance. This is somewhat outside the scope of this blog post, and the documentation is fairly good. You’ll need a host configured, so add one and give it a name, or alternatively use localhost that I think Zabbix comes preconfigured with.

Clone my mqtt-zabbix repository, and you’ll find a XML Zabbix template that can be imported into your Zabbix install (import via Configuration -> Templates). It won’t do anything drastic other than 10 or so Zabbix keys.

Once the import is completed, Configuration -> Templates will contain a template called “Template App MQTT”. This has the 10 items, all of which can be edited to suit. The important part is the “Key” – which must match what you put in the keys.csv later on. Simply put, when Zabbix receives data with a specific key, it gets stored against the item with that key defined. It’s not terribly complicated :-)

If you’re happy with Zabbix and the template import, follow the mqtt-zabbix README to get the rest of it installed. It’s really just a glorified script with some init scripts. Put all the files in the right places, edit keys.csv to match between your MQTT topic and your Zabbix key name, and start the application.

mqtt-zabbix subscribes to the root wildcard topic at /# so possibly isn’t very efficient on systems with massive amounts of traffic, but for home use it’s quite sufficient. I may change this method of working at a later date. In the meantime, the moment something arrives at your topic it will be forwarded on to Zabbix. A log of the event will also be found at  /var/log/mqtt-zabbix.log and it will tell you if the key was successfully inserted or not.

To view your data in Zabbix, click on the host, click on Latest Data, and it should be listed under – Other -. You can then choose the graph option on the right, or you can edit your own custom graphs and include the MQTT items.

Automated Kitchen Lighting


Recently I decided to make some changes to the kitchen. It started off with a strip of warm white LEDs, and I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”. I’ve now lost count of the number of guests asking how it works :-)

There’s a variety of components at play here. Firstly, there’s a Raspberry Pi, followed up by a simple IRF530 MOSFET, a PNP transistor to pull it low, a PIR sensor, and a strip of LEDs.


It’s a a PIR sensor from Seeedstudio that I bought on a whim a while back. It handily runs off of 5v, and returns a 3.3v TTL compatible signal upon detection of movement.

On the Raspberry Pi, I have my own Python app, mqtt-gpio-trigger, running. It continuously monitors pins that are defined in the config file, and in the event of a change of state of any of them it will publish a message to a predefined topic, with the pin number as the final component of the topic, and the message contains the state of the PIN. Simply subscribe to that topic to watch whatever pin on the Raspberry Pi.


A strip of warm white LED lights are attached to pin 18 of the Raspberry Pi, via the IRF530 MOSFET. There’s a bog standard NPN transistor to help saturate the gate of the MOSFET, and it’s pin 18 as that’s the only pin on the Raspberry Pi that does hardware PWM. Using any of the other pins subjects you to vagaries of the CPU.

Controlling pin 18 is mqtt-pwm-lights, another one of my scripts. It simply sits and runs, and subscribes to yet another MQTT topic. When it receives a message with a value between 0 and 512, it fades the lights to that value. Due to the NPN transistor it’s inverted, so 512 is off, and 0 is on. A minor annoyance, but the home automation controller handles that.

In the middle

Producing the show is a small script that isn’t public. All it does is listen for MQTT events and reply with canned MQTT messages in return. It’s a stopgap measure until I find a better home automation controller. The main role of the script at the moment is to listen to events from the PIR, start a timer when triggered, and publish a lighting level request. When the timer expires, the lighting level returns to normal (ie, off)

So that’s it. Ambient automated lighting for the kitchen, and worktop lighting, all rolled into one.

OWFS Server on The Raspberry Pi


Quick and simple this one is. I have a DS9490R (internally it’s a DS1490F) one-wire bus master attached to my Raspberry Pi. 4 DS18B20 temperature sensors are hanging off the bus, and I’d like to access them from the home automation server.

On the Raspberry Pi, or the server/device that’s hosting the 1-Wire bus:

apt-get install owserver ow-shell
modprobe ds1wm
echo “ds1wm” >> /etc/modules

Edit /etc/owfs.conf such that the following parameters are entered. I’d advise commenting out the rest (at least, the rest of the server: directives)

! server: server = localhost:4304
server: usb = all
server: w1
server: port =

Restart the 1-Wire server

/etc/init.d/owserver restart

All being well, the following command should output a listing of all the devices on the bus.

owdir -s localhost:4304 /

On the remote server, simply use the following command to read the data.

owread -s kitchenpi.vpn.glasgownet.com:4304 /28.DDBF1D030000/temperature

MQTT GPIO Monitoring


My little Raspberry Pi seems to be growing arms and legs.

The other day I hooked up a simple PIR to it. I can’t remember where I got it, but it runs off 5v, consumes a low enough amount of milliAmps to be directly connected to the Raspberry Pi 5v supply, and outputs a TTL compatible 3.3v signal. Bonus!

I wanted to be able to signal to my MQTT broker when motion was detected, so it was time to start monitoring the GPIO pins. I wrote up this short app using the framework I’d made for MQTT-Republisher earlier. MQTT-GPIO-Trigger will accept a list of GPIO pins that you wish to watch, and will cycle through them all and fire off MQTT messages on any state change.

It uses the standard Linux sysfs interface to read the pin states, and if it detects the WiringPi library on the system it will use Gordons gpio command to export the pins to the system.

MQTT Republishing Itch


So, I had an itch. A variety of data coming in from a variety of sources, all over different protocols and methods, with different names, heirarchies, and paths. For a while I’d been pushing the data into MySQL, but this seemed a bit of a hack, and it still didn’t really cure the problem as it was more of a historical record than an attempt at mapping between the source and the destination, as it were.

I’d been fiddling with MQTT for a while, and had started publishing data over it via my personal broker. And then I read Roberts post over at http://blog.hekkers.net/2012/09/18/mqtt-about-dumb-sensors-topics-and-clean-code/ about republishing it in a logical way.

So simple! So, I wrote a republisher. It’s very simple, and it scratches my itch (and hopefully Roberts too). Data comes in via whatever naming scheme or topic you like, and it gets republished in whatever fashion you want. The map is maintained in map.csv, and items are separated by commas. The MQTT spec doesn’t reserve any characters for the topic name, so I’ve used a comma out of CSV convenience.

The code is over at https://github.com/kylegordon/mqtt-republisher

Go to Top