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Raspberry Pi HomeKit Hub Setup: A Step-by-Step Guide

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The Raspberry Pi HomeKit Hub can be set up as an affordable, DIY, HomeKit-compatible smart home hub. It connects to your home network, then wirelessly connects to Apple HomeKit-enabled devices.

If you are interested in (or are already using) the Raspberry Pi as a home automation system, you can set up the Pi as a home hub with HomeBridge. This open-source application lets you turn a Raspberry Pi into a wireless home bridge for Siri and your Apple devices.

But, how do you do it?

First, You’ll Need A Raspberry Pi.

The first thing you will need for this setup is a Raspberry Pi. These (relatively) cheap, credit-card-sized computers have become popular in the world of DIY home automation.

They pack a lot of power into a small package, making them helpful in running all kinds of projects. While they aren’t cheap, you can buy a Raspberry Pi on Amazon for a fairly reasonable price. A keyboard, mouse, and monitor are also necessary for this setup. While it is possible to use SSH, using the proper tools

Which Raspberry Pi Do I Need?

Several Raspberry Pi options are available, and any of them will work for this application. However, I would recommend the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B here.

This board has a faster processor and more RAM than the Pi 3, which works well for this setup. Plus, the price makes it a good deal. The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B can keep up with multiple HomeKit devices. Of course, if you want to splurge, the Pi 4 Model B+ is 20% faster and has double the RAM.

  • A cooling case that includes a heatsink and fan. This one is super cheap and just suitable for the job.
  • Memory card or USB stick. Any memory stick will do as long as it has enough capacity for the software you need (more on that later).

How to Control Apple Homekit Devices With a Raspberry Pi

Step 1 – Download And Install The Raspberry Pi Imager

The first thing that you will need to do is download and install the free Raspberry Pi imager software available at https://www.raspberrypi.com/software/

After it has been downloaded to your computer, install it.

Step 2 – Connect The Pi To Your Computer

Connect your Pi to your computer that you installed the imager on using a USB cable.

Step 3 – Install Homebridge On Your Pi

HomeBridge is an open-source application that turns your Raspberry Pi into a wireless home bridge. Thanks to the imager software, this is super easy.

Start by plugging in your USB stick or memory card to the Pi, and then go over to your computer and open up the imager software you downloaded in step one.

Click through the prompts in the following order:

  1. Click “Choose OS.”
  2. Click “Other Specific Purpose OS.”
  3. Click “Homebridge.”

Your computer will now be downloading the Homebridge install file.

You will be prompted to select your boot media (the USB stick or memory card you plugged into the PI). On this message, click “Yes.”

Wait a few minutes for it to install to your PI.

Step 4 – Open Up The Pi’s Local URL To Run Homebridge

At this point, the Pi should have the Homebridge software and be connected to your Wifi network.

Open a web browser and go to the address:

http://homebridge.local:8581

You will be presented with a login screen where at this point, you will just need to use the default login, which is:

  • User – admin
  • Password – admin

I recommend that once you are logged in for the first time, change your password in the Homebridge app. You can do this by clicking the 3 vertical dots icon on the screen’s top right-hand side and choosing the change user accounts option. Then click the “Edit” button.

Step 5 – Connect It To Your Homekit Setup

Connecting to your current Homekit setup is very simple. Get your iPhone or iPad and open the Homekit app. Click the plus sign in the upper right-hand corner and choose “Add accessory.”

You will be prompted to use your camera to scan the code on your screen to add the Homebridge.

Homekit and Homebridge are now connected, which means that anything added to Homebridge will now be available on Homekit.

Step 6 – Homebridge Config And Installing Plugins

At this point, you are ready to add Homekit devices to Homebridge by using plugins.

The easiest way to get these plugins is to Google the specific device you want to add and find the plugin.

Simply click the “Plugins” menu option, search for the plugin you want to install and click “install.”

You will need a plugin for each device you add, so this part may be a bit tedious to set up in the beginning (depending on how many devices you are working with).

During the plugin installation, you will also need to set up the specific settings for each plugin. This will include:

  • Giving it a unique name. For example, if you are installing a front door security camera, you may want to name it “Front Door Cam.”
  • Type of device.
  • Automation settings.
  • Etc – each plugin is different. Luckily, most of these settings configuration forms are self-explanatory or have a lot of information on what exactly you need to do for each setting.

Every time you add a new plugin, click the “Restart” button near the top right of the screen.

Why Are Raspberry Pi’s Good For HomeKit?

These devices are excellent for this application for a couple of main reasons:

  • Relatively cheap – If you are on a budget for this project (and who isn’t), these devices will be the most affordable option.
  • Lightweight – These small and light devices make them easy to place around your home.
  • Low-powered – Because these devices are relatively inexpensive, you can power them with a standard USB or a 5V wall adapter. This means you don’t need access to a wall outlet or power strip to run these devices.
  • Setup is a breeze – These devices are easy to set up and use. If you know how to use a computer and are connected to your network, you can set up the Pi in just a few minutes.

What Can You Do With A Raspberry Pi Homekit Hub?

There are a lot of different devices and tasks (called “scenes”) that you can perform with these devices.

Control A Thermostat

A simple Raspberry Pi is perfect for (relatively) essential thermostat control. You can remotely control your thermostat from anywhere using one of the many available plugins.

Monitor Your Home With A Security Camera

These small, cheap Raspberry Pi cameras work great as security cameras. Even better, you can use two and connect them to a Raspberry Pi and have them stream video to the same screen. That way you can see both areas at the same time.

Use A Smart Plug

You can use a smart plug to turn on and off a lamp, a fan, an appliance, or anything else that has a standard outlet. These devices work great with Insteon, Zwave, and Lutron devices.

Use A Smart Switch

Smart switches allow you to control anything that has a standard light switch. These work great with Lutron devices. You can control them remotely or with Siri.

Open A Garage Door

You can connect almost any smart opener to this device and have your garage door open or close with the touch of a button. These are also great for situations where you may not have a traditional garage door opener but still want the ability to open and close your garage door.

Control Smart Door Locks

You can use a Raspberry Pi to control your smart locks. These locks use Bluetooth to connect with your phone. The Raspberry Pi uses this connection to control the lock.

Control Smart Lights

You can use a Raspberry Pi to control a wide variety of smart lights. This includes Lutron, Philips Hue, Sylvania Smart+, and many other smart lights. You can even use color-changing lights with this setup.

Conclusion

As you can see, setting up a Raspberry Pi 3 as a Homebridge hub is a great way to turn your home into a smart home. It does require some setup; however, once that is set up, you can control these devices from anywhere you have internet access.

I hope that you found this guide helpful. Please share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ if you do. You can also comment below if you have any questions.