Has anyone used smart power strips in their setups?

TorturedSoul

Member of the Month: May 2009, Oct 2010, Sept 2017
I've thought briefly about this after leaving my (short) previous reply. For "smart, connected" stuff, I would also require open standards - none of that "must use someone's closed-source app to control devices" stuff. And no (outside) server involvement, either. We should be able to control ALL of these things from within a terminal window and/or simple "web" interface (like we do our routers). If I feel that I need a backup, I should be the only person who gets to choose where that backup is located and who controls it. As far as that goes - and assuming I trust you - I should be able to have my schedule backup (and control of same) hosted by you, or you, or YOU if I want to, and decide whether to invite you to have your data hosted on mine. F*ck the cloud, and f*ck businesses (and servers, etc.) that are subject to even more interference/control than the ones in my own country are.

That'd be a good first couple of steps.

But I still wouldn't trust any of it as far as I could comfortably spit a dead rat. The only thing that isn't subject to outside control is a thing that cannot be accessed from outside. And I would be wholly unsurprised to learn that half the electronic devices devices that contain any electronics exported from the PRC have some sort of "phone home" capability. Yes, even toasters :rolleyes: . Possibly other countries, too, of course - but that one's hackers were scaring the USSR back when it still existed, and nothing like this ever gets better unless someone manages to beat it into submission.
 

DrewT

Active Member
@TorturedSoul Thanks for the followup! I honestly appreciate the added detail and think all your points are justified.

I would also require open standards
Absolutely. Profit incentives can taint the true value of solutions, especially technology solutions, in ways that are hard to quantify. I'm a firm believer that open source is our first and best shot at optimizing technology that works best for all of us. For this reason, not only am I using existing open source firmware for this project, I will be publishing any changes I make to the public as well.

We should be able to control ALL of these things from within a terminal window and/or simple "web" interface (like we do our routers).
Absolutely! This is one of the primary goals of this project. I require anything I make to operate in an air-gapped environment. I design to minimize external dependencies and that means the power strip should maintain ALL of its original functionality without any need to connect to the internet. Networked integration would be an opt-in feature and would require you to physically enter your network credentials to enable it.

As someone who is interested in doing projects like this, what is a good way for me to be transparent about these features in a way that is obvious?

Thanks again!
 

Elvin

Banned Troll
Agreed. I would gladly build one of these things but it would cost 3-4x including time and materials, and that's small batch manufacture. The design isn't horrible, but it could be improved for relatively little cost. If people were willing to pay for better gear, it would exist. Sadly, it's either cheap imports or very expensive stuff produced domestically (search digital loggers pro switch). There is very little in between.
Since normal power strips with surge protectors sell for under $5 one can't blame the manufactures of these smart strips for forgoing improvements, even ones that wouldn't cost much, in an attempt to not price themselves outside what the majority of consumers are willing to pay.
 

CannaBytes

New Member
I absolutely agree with this. For that very reason I'm planning to wipe the factory firmware and load something that does not require an internet connection. The idea is to minimize external dependencies and make cloud integration an opt-in feature. Unless you manually turn on cloud integration, the device will never connect to the internet or upload and kind of data.

You got far more technical know-how than I do. Not using cloud or internet or uploading data sounds great, if you can know what to do to set that up. Hopefully in the future electronics will have a self-data and opt-in-upload-data option, but that won't happen until people start making noise and pushing back against all the data mining. For now I'll just avoid smart technology as much as possible, but it sounds like you can do some fancy and secure stuff with it.
 

DrewT

Active Member
it sounds like you can do some fancy and secure stuff with it

I wouldn't go that far. I'm not a security guy so I'm not in a position to tell anyone what I'm doing is secure. What I can say about my approach is:
  1. It completely erases and permanently replaces the software installed by the manufacturer. Installing whatever app came with the device will simply not work and you must log into and setup the smart device yourself directly (not connected to internet unless you explicitly do that)

  2. The software I'm using was developed as open source by dozens of programmers more skilled than I. The software is reviewed and tested by a variety of people with different programming styles and objectives. Nobody is getting paid (open source) and the group developing the software usually does not know each other. For this reason I believe the incentives for malicious or sneaky programming in the first place is very low.

  3. The software I end up sticking with will also be published to the open source community (if i make alterations). This means you or anyone else can go read every line of code if they wanted to verify no unexpected communications have been baked in.

  4. Before I call this done, I'll be running my test device through a network sniffer and believe me... if there are any unexpected outgoing connections it would be big news for anyone using the software (potentially hundreds of thousands of savvy DIY'ers).
Thanks for bringing up the security part of this. It's a major concern, possibly the greatest, and we should never take for granted what we plug in has our best intentions in mind.
 

Elvin

Banned Troll
I wouldn't go that far. I'm not a security guy so I'm not in a position to tell anyone what I'm doing is secure. What I can say about my approach is:
  1. It completely erases and permanently replaces the software installed by the manufacturer. Installing whatever app came with the device will simply not work and you must log into and setup the smart device yourself directly (not connected to internet unless you explicitly do that)

  2. The software I'm using was developed as open source by dozens of programmers more skilled than I. The software is reviewed and tested by a variety of people with different programming styles and objectives. Nobody is getting paid (open source) and the group developing the software usually does not know each other. For this reason I believe the incentives for malicious or sneaky programming in the first place is very low.

  3. The software I end up sticking with will also be published to the open source community (if i make alterations). This means you or anyone else can go read every line of code if they wanted to verify no unexpected communications have been baked in.

  4. Before I call this done, I'll be running my test device through a network sniffer and believe me... if there are any unexpected outgoing connections it would be big news for anyone using the software (potentially hundreds of thousands of savvy DIY'ers).
Thanks for bringing up the security part of this. It's a major concern, possibly the greatest, and we should never take for granted what we plug in has our best intentions in mind.
These strips are nice but what I'm more interested in is where the software eventually ends up. The ability to connect remotely seems to be a big concern currently, but soon the worries about government monitoring will just the normal worries of normal businesses. Security for other nefarious players will likely be part of the package or be available as an add-on.
What I foresee is a complete integrated package of "smart" systems controlled and monitored by a single touchscreen, but that's in the future and this is where it starts. I wish you luck.
 

DrewT

Active Member
Update: Things went pretty smooth! I've got a hacked 4-outlet smart power strip running Tasmota with no obvious issues yet! Heck, even the timers are working on the first go. I'm pretty surprised actually (knocks on wood).

Step 1 - Hook up the FTDI firmware flasher and flash over Tasmota with a few custom configs (device name, AP broadcast name). First, you need to short GPIO-0 to GND during inital power up without TX/RX conneted. Once the mcu is in flash mode (no lights blinking), connect serial. Remember TX on the flasher goes to RX on the ESP8285.

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Step 2 - Find the new network being broadcast from the power strip. I configured it to be unprotected during initial setup to expedite setup. Connect to it and it should automatically direct you to the setup page (captive).

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Step 3 - OPTIONAL - connected it to my wifi for debugging if necessary

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Step 4 - Configure GPIOs to map to actual pin-out for the power strip. Notice I'm connected to a local network... no app or external service required to make any of this work. It's air-gapped.

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Step 5 - Tested working good, even the timer functions.
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Time will tell how reliable this combination is. I'll finish configuring it and then test it for the next week or so. After I've put it through its paces I'll let ya'll know how it fared. Thanks again for all your ideas and feedback!
 

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dakotamoon

Well-Known Member
I avoid "smart" anything! We are surrounded by wireless signals, and as the research is now showing, Wireless signals are "BAD" for humans. I had a smart phone, and couldn't wait to get rid of it, I now have a flip phone which is nowhere near as smart as me, and I'm okay with that. The Interntet of Things, will have us swimming in a toxic soup of wireless poison. I only put things in my tent that have wires. That way I have one less thing trying to poison me and my plants.
 
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