Lock YouTube

Inspired by my own LockU2 utility and Useless Box, I came up with a simple and stupid, yet effective, openHAB rule to prevent my kids from watching YouTube when they are not allowed to do so. So first requirement was ability to turn this lock on or off – just added a new switch item for this, and added it to a sitemap.

The rule makes use of the LGTV binding as well as HarmonyHub binding. Without any of these, I don’t think it would be possible to pull off.

Here goes:

rule "Lock YouTube"
    Item LGTV_Application changed to "youtube.leanback.v4" or
    Item LGTV_Application changed to "youtube.leanback.kids.v4"
    if (Lock_YouTube.state == ON)

rule "Enable Lock YouTube"
    Item Lock_YouTube changed to ON
    if (HarmonyHub_CurrentActivity.state == "Watch TV" &&
        (LGTV_Application.state == "youtube.leanback.v4" || LGTV_Application.state == "youtube.leanback.kids.v4"))

This YouTube blocker won’t actually block the YouTube app on the television, but will instead immediately quit the app once it’s launched. If YouType (or YouTube Kids) is already running when activating the lock, it will also quit the app. Update: Changed to use LGTV binding for quitting YouTube – old method commented out.

I almost couldn’t wait for the premiere which was last Saturday morning. I also have a rule in place for generating notifications when the lock has been triggered. After explicitly instructing my son that YouTube was not allowed that morning, only five minutes later I received the first notification that an attempt was made. After that four more identical notifications. Then a final notification that YouTube Kids had also been attempted. Success.

Playing with openHAB binding for Danfoss Air unit

In summer 2019 we had heat recovery ventilation installed in our house: A Danfoss Air A2 unit with a CCM module connected to our existing Danfoss Link CC Controller. The integration here is pretty useless: The Danfoss Link app can’t do anything other than read outdoor temperature and set vacation mode. Even the Link CC is crippled, compared to the Air Dial – for example it’s not possible to read relative humidity, thus completely impossible to check if the system is running as it should.

A few days after installation I added a WeMo Insight integrated with openHAB, so at least I have logged power consumption data since then. Then in November I finally couldn’t resist installing a network cable to the CCM unit as I saw it having an Ethernet port.

I was able to run the Danfoss HRV PC-Tool and finally read some more data like relative humidity. Naturally, next thing on my mind was reverse engineering of the protocol used. I didn’t have to do much research until I found this openHAB Community thread. Reading through the thread ended with the good news that someone already did all the work and even created an openHAB binding.


Installing the alpha version of the binding couldn’t be any easier and it worked out of the box without any problems. I linked almost all channels and started seeing and logging useful information like operating mode, fan speeds, boost, humidity, temperatures and remaining filter life.

Next, I could start adding rules to actively monitor how the system was operating. I started getting notifications on my phone when boost was activated to get a feeling about when that usually happens. I could also start making humidity graphs, which got me suspicious about these measurements. Comparing with my Netatmo data from four different indoor stations in the house, the Air unit’s measurements are consistently 5-10 % higher. This of course impacts how the system operates, as humidity is likely the only parameter used for calculating fan speed in “demand” mode.

Energy savings

Next revelation came when I found that some of the channels were writable, like operating mode, manual fan speed and boost. Now this turned into something really useful!

The one thing even the Danfoss Link app can do is set vacation mode when away from the house. This will set the HPV to manual fan speed level 1 which consumes about 9 W. So I figured that this could be automated and also used on weekdays some time after everyone has left the house. I used existing presence logic for that (from Unifi access point), but also decided to add CO2 level as parameter for safety. During the night our phones will also go to sleep at some point, so some additional logic is needed.

Trying to perform humidity/demand calculations like the unit itself does would be cool, but also somewhat more complicated than what I had in mind to begin with. Also, it would require me to integrate some new humidity sensors as I don’t want to rely on Netatmo for this, since data is only refreshed every 10 minutes and also Internet-dependent and Netatmo service-dependent. In other words, untrustworthy. But as safety mechanism for presence-flaws and not needing fast reaction, CO2 measurements could be used.

Nest smoke alarm

I also have a couple of Nest smoke alarms which are integrated in openHAB as I haven’t migrated to Google. So why not use them and trigger boost if smoke is detected?


So here we go. First, I have a rule that will trigger an Android notification when boost is activated. This includes relative humidity from the Air unit as well as from four different rooms in the house, and includes previous values 20 minutes ago. The rule is too ugly to post, and probably too specific to share anyway, so let’s skip it and go directly to the power-saving rule:

rule "Danfoss control"
    Item Anyone_Home changed to ON or
    Item SkynetStationIndoor_Max_CO2 changed or
    Item HomeLeft30MinutesAgo received command OFF
    var hasChanged = Anyone_Home.changedSince(now.minusMinutes(29))
    if (Anyone_Home.state == OFF
        && !hasChanged
        &amp;&amp; (SkynetStationIndoor_Max_CO2.state as Number).intValue < 500
        &amp;&amp; DanfossHRV_Main_Mode.state == "DEMAND")
    else if ((Anyone_Home.state == ON || (SkynetStationIndoor_Max_CO2.state as Number).intValue >= 700)
        &amp;&amp; DanfossHRV_Main_Mode.state != "DEMAND")

SkynetStationIndoor_Max_CO2 is a group with function “MAX” being linked from my four different Netatmo CO2 items. HomeLeft30Minutes ago is a manually created item based on the Expire Binding:

Switch HomeLeft30MinutesAgo { expire="30m,command=OFF" }

Updated from presence.rules:

rule "Anyone home timer start"
    Item Anyone_Home changed to OFF

rule "Anyone home timer cancel"
    Item Anyone_Home changed to ON

So this first rule will, in a pretty simple way, just switch to lowest step 30 minutes after everyone left the home and CO2 levels are all below 500. This is a conservative way to take control only when assuming no humidity will be generated. Weakest point is that humidity is not considered at all, so for example when drying clothes indoor, rule might trigger anyway.

Next, the smoke alarm rule (still untested):

rule "Danfoss boost on smoke alarm with oven running"
    Item NestProtectFamilyRoom_SmokeAlarmState changed from "OK" or
    Item NestProtectHall_SmokeAlarmState changed from "OK"
    if (Oven_Status.state != "Off")

And last, the filter notification:

rule "Danfoss filter monitoring"
    Item DanfossHRV_Service_RemainingFilterLife changed
    if (DanfossHRV_Service_RemainingFilterLife.state < 10)
        var body = String::format("Remaining filter life: %d %%", (DanfossHRV_Service_RemainingFilterLife.state as Number).intValue)
        // Use some service to push notification, I use Pushbullet.

Of course also added a sitemap section to have some app control, since Danfoss doesn’t provide this (in Danish, but you probably get the idea):

openHAB sitemap

Thanks to pravussum for the binding, which can be found here:


Update: Officially integrated into openHAB 2.5.5!

Problem with openHAB UniFi Binding

After upgrading UniFi Controller to version 5.12.35 last week, the openHAB binding started having problems with the Online channel. Going from OFF to ON is still detected correctly, but not the other way around. I’m still not sure if this is a problem in the binding, the controller or in my configuration. Only thing I know for sure is that after upgrading the controller image in Docker and the access point firmware at the same time, binding stopped detected our phones disconnecting from the access point.

openHAB is version 2.5.1. I have asked in the openHAB forums, but is still waiting for feedback.

In the meantime I’ve created a work-around using rules. Problem is that once client goes offline, it seems to be excluded from the list fetched by the binding, and channel stops receiving updates. For LastSeen it makes sense, but Online should be updated to OFF, when client is no longer listed. So I used LastSeen to mimic this desired logic in my rule:

var Timer timerUniFiJacob = null

rule "UniFi work-around Jacob"
    Item UniFi_OnePlus5_LastSeen changed
    if (Jacob_Home.state == OFF)

    if (timerUniFiJacob === null)
        timerUniFiJacob = createTimer(now.plusSeconds(180), [ |

This rule simply restarts a 3 minute timer on each LastSeen update. When client goes offline, these updates will stop and after three minutes, item Jacob_Home will be set to OFF.

Luxaflex PowerView roller blinds

In 2018 my girlfriend and I decided to invest in new roller blinds for our living room. We needed to cover six windows right next to each other. Luxaflex offered some appealing designs like Duette and Twist. At the time PowerView motorization wasn’t available for Duette, so we settled with Twist. That sums up the introduction and cosmetic part of this review, so let’s move on to the technical part as this is a technical blog. ūüôā

Electrical installation

First challenge was the electrical installation, since the blinds are powered by 18 V DC. Had it been 230 V AC (like Somfy), I could have powered them from a nearby ceiling mount, but this requirement had to be planned carefully. I didn’t want to settle with batteries, as I would have to recharge six blinds something like three times per year. I’m pretty sure this would annoy me more than I would appreciate the motorization. Only option for me was to bore holes in the ceiling and supply power from here.

But that triggered next challenge: Where to place the power supplies? It would have to be somewhere reachable and somewhere near 230 V. As preparation I created a new power socket at the attic. However, ultimately I decided to pull 15 meter 2.5 mm¬≤ cable over the ceiling to each pair of motors (so motors to the right, left, right, left, right and left) with individual conductors for each motor. All cables end where I have my electrical installation in another part of the house. Official requirement per motor is 1 A/18 V. This is really to be on the safe side and I decided to go a bit lower than that, so settled with a single Mean Well DR-100-15 for supplying all motors instead of two (after performing some tests and measuring the load) – that’s ~5.4 A.

Installation looks like this:

Luxaflex Twist blinds electrical installation. The lose ends are the antennas.

This year we extended our house, and I of course made sure that we would have 2.5 mm¬≤ cables with three conductors inside the wall – for each window. This way I’m in full control, and in the future I will be able to easily replace by 230 V motors if needed. The power supply was upgraded to a Mean Well HDR-150-15 which is now supplying all blinds, including three new roller blinds in the extended part of the house (~8 A in total):

Luxaflex blinds electrical installation.

Quick summary: 18 V is troublesome – separate cables needed from all locations to a power supply. 230 V would have been the better choice for easy installation and less cables.

DC connectors

Now next problem. Standard DC 5.5 x 2.1 mm connectors are used. But the motor doesn’t have an internal connector. Instead it has a small piece of cable (~30 cm) with a male connector on it. So keep that in mind, because that connector needs to be hidden somewhere, and it may have to be able to go through bored holes in the ceiling etc. instead of just the cable itself (which would require a smaller hole).

I had to buy as bunch of these female panel mount connectors to be able to fit them and the male connector inside the housing for built-in mounting in the wall:

RF quality

Since PowerView is wireless, we need to look into the RF implementation/performance. The implementation is proprietary, so no integration possible through ZigBee or Z-Wave. Only Hunter Douglas remotes and Hub can be used. The Pebble remote I bought with the six original blinds performs quite poorly. It litterally needs line-of-sight in order to get transmissions through. If I’m behind a corner in the living room (same room) and want to operate all six blinds at the same time, one or two of the last ones won’t get the signal. So performance is similar to IR.

Luckily the Hunter Douglas Hub (Gen 2) has better range. I initially placed it in my server room, not far from the living room, but still two rooms away. Often one random blind would not receive the command, so I had to move the Hub closer. I first moved it into the same room very close to the blinds. That improved the setup significantly, so most times all blinds would react as they should. However, I was told by support that there’s no feedback from the motors, they just receive 3-5 RF impulses and that’s it. So on rare occations, I can still experience one of the blinds not being in the correct position. This year I moved the Hub on the other side of a wall, and range is still acceptable, but not completely reliable. That’s not quite good enough in my opinion for a product in this price range.

Worst part is that communication is one-way. Not only does it hurt reliability, but also synchronization. If the Pebble remotes are used to operate the blinds directly, the Hub will not be informed, and as a result the state is out of sync. This makes it impossible to create home automation rules based on blind state, or at least it will not work in conjunction with the Pebble remotes.

Hardware summary

A small recap before we move on to the fun part – the software:

  • Voltage: 18 V DC – annoying, but not a showstopper for me.
  • DC connectors not integrated – annoying, but I was able to hide them with some effort.
  • RF proprietary protocol – bad.
  • RF range/reliability – bad, and no work-arounds for this.

Software support

Now the fun part and the reason why I went for Hunter Douglas PowerView back in 2018: I knew that it was supported by Logitech Harmony and also by openHAB. Hunter Douglas also made a nice app to configure and control the blinds through the Hub on local network.


The app works pretty decent. It’s not without issues, but overall it does its job. Initially it is used to configure the Hub, i.e. add the blinds, so they can be controlled. It can also be used to create automations like “open blinds 10 minutes before sunset on weekdays”. For most common scenarios, where conditions are not needed, this is sufficient. Automations live on the Hub, so there are no external dependencies. However, if you want blinds to open at sunset or 6:30, whichever comes last, you will have to use home automation like openHAB or interface directly with the API yourself.


The openHAB binding works like a charm. It let’s you control/monitor each blind as well as trigger scenes. That’s really everything you need. Configuration is easy with discovery and easy adding of blinds as things.

Logitech Harmony

This integration worked out of the box. The Hunter Douglas Hub was simply added in the Harmony app and after that it was easy to add scenes to hardware buttons on my Harmony Elite remote control as well as include a scene in my Movie activity. This means that all blinds will close when starting the movie activity, and two buttons on the remote are dedicated to trigger open/close scenes.

Scenes can be configured to include any blinds in any individual positions. The downside of using scenes is that the motors are operating at slow speed when triggered from a scene (as opposed to direct commands). This is probably implemented this way because the motors are noisy, so when using automation, it wouldn’t be very discrete. However, I would have preferred this to be configurable, and also that the motors were less noisy.


Overall I’m pretty happy with my setup and I have come to enjoy the automation part more and more, especially as we now have nine motorized blinds in the house. Automations based on sunrise/sunset offsets are really nice and convenient. Most of the time we don’t manually control the blinds anymore, as the automation already did what was needed when it was needed.

RF (lack of) reliability is probably the worst part (apart from the installation) since there is no way to fix it. I wonder how it compares to Somfy.

Things to do with your network-connected Denon/Marantz receiver

This post will focus on the things you can do with your network-connected Denon/Marantz receiver. I bought my Denon AVR-3808 in 2007, so it’s actually my very first IoT device. Unfortunately my receiver doesn’t support the newer HTTP/XML-based protocol or streaming services, but the old telnet-based AVR protocol still gives a lot of opportunities.

So without further ado, a walk-through of options I know of…

App control
Denon doesn’t support the AVR protocol in their app, so third party apps are the only options for me. If you have a newer receiver you won’t have that problem. I’ve been using AVR-Remote for Denon/Marantz for years. It’s a bit old, but still works.

Control with Yatse
Another use within Android is volume control and more within Yatse. Yatse is a full-featured Kodi remote control app and much more. If you have a Kodi media center and an Android device, you should definately give Yatse a chance. And if you use Yatse and own a Denon/Marantz receiver, you should try the Denon/Marantz plugin. Please note that this is a shameless recommendation, since I’m the developer of this plugin.

Control with Tasker
Into automation and using Tasker? Yet another use within Android. Use Denon/Marantz plugin to automate interaction with your receiver. Yes, this is the same plugin as mentioned in previous chapter. Example usages:

  • Mute receiver when phone rings.
  • Use as clockradio: Turn on receiver on radio at 6:00 in the morning.
  • Turn off the receiver when leaving home.
  • Well, whatever you can think of.

Staying with automation, integrate your receiver into your home automation when using openHAB. I’m not using this binding myself, since it constantly occupies the only connection available for the AVR, so it would block all other usages. If you have a newer receiver, you won’t have that problem. Instead, I can integrate through the Logitech Harmony binding.

Linux shell script
I wrote this small script years ago and scheduled it to to be run by cron daemon on my server at midnight. Purpose was to save energy in case I’d forgotten to turn off my receiver. It demonstrates how to send a simple command from a shell script, but other than that it’s obsoleted today by openHAB rules or similar.

# Written by Jacob Laursen , 2009-2011.
# This script turns off a Denon receiver if none of the listed
# hosts to be checked are up and running.
# Options:
# --force : Skip host checking, just turn it off.

HOST_CHECK=`echo {"ps3","smarttv"}`

standby ()
                sleep 2
                echo -n -e "PWSTANDBY\r"
                sleep 2
        } | telnet >/dev/null 2>&1 $HOST_DENON

if [ "$1" == "--force" ]; then
        if [ $? == 0 ]; then
                echo "Power turned off"
                echo "Already turned off"


for host in ${HOST_CHECK}
        ping >/dev/null -c 1 $host

        if [ $? == 0 ]; then

if [ $host_up == 0 ]; then

Logitech Media Server/Squeezebox plugin
For controlling volume from my Squeezebox Receiver I’m using DenonSerial v0.1.42 extension by Peter Watkins. I’m not sure where to find it today, as it’s quite old – but still working nicely. An alternative might be DenonAvpControl, but I haven’t tried that.

The purpose of this extension is to set fixed volume to 100% on the Squeezebox Receiver and instead control volume on the Denon receiver. Using this extension should work no matter how you control your Squeezebox Receiver. However, the app (or whatever) must support sending volume commands even for players with fixed volume configured. The Android app Squeeze Ctrl supports this. The ancient, but still excellent, Squeeze Commander does not.

Controlling IKEA Trådfri bulbs with Philips Hue bridge

I wanted to be able to control a specific lamp with my Logitech Harmony remote, so I did bit of research. I wanted to join the Philips Hue ecosystem, but haven’t been able to find the bulbs I need so far. For this specific lamp I needed an E27 bulb with 1,000 lumen and preferable a CRI higher than 90. Otherwise I would compromise the quality of the light just for playing around. If I was to going to play, I should at least be able to maintain what I already had.

I found out Philips Hue as well as IKEA Tr√•dfri actually implements the same standard: Zigbee Light Link (ZLL), and should be able to work together. Well, at least since recently. From what I learned, IKEA seriously fucked up in their first versions which supported only Zigbee Home Automation (ZHA) instead of ZLL. And at the other end, Philips removed support for ZLL to ZHA fallback. So, now I needed a pretty recent bulb, or a firmware update of the bulb with an IKEA Tr√•dfri gateway I wasn’t planning on buying.

I bought the following to get started:

Adding the bulb
I followed this guide to pair the IKEA bulb with the Hue bridge. My bulb was from batch 1746 (printed on the box close to the barcode) and is firmware version 1.2.214 which is good enough (should be at least 1.2.x). I had to retry the pairing process a few times, probably because I didn’t turn the bulb on/off fast enough (six times) when trying to reset it. But finally it showed up in the Hue app, and I was able to turn it on/off as well as dim it. Excellent!

Philips Hue Bridge 2.1
The bridge was super easy to configure and just works. I haven’t played with API’s etc. yet, but can enjoy the big Philips Hue ecosystem and endless integration possibilities. I see absolutely no reason to start building a system based on the relatively new IKEA gateway when you only need the slightly more expensive Hue bridge to use everything developed for the Hue system.

First thing after being able to control the bulb with the Hue app and the Dimmer switch was to set up my Harmony remote. This turned out to be difficult because of bugs in the Logitech Harmony software. I already had Hue set up for a Hue emulator running on openHAB, so I removed this. After doing so, the Harmony app kept detecting the Hue bridge without being able to pair with it, even when disconnecting both openHAB and the Hue bridge from the network. The trick/work-around was to search for a Hunter Douglas PowerView Hub. Cancel the search, then try again to search for the Hue bridge. After this I was able to pair with it. The same problem occurred after changing IP address of the Hue bridge. Having two bridges is not supported and you can’t even configure the right one if you actually have two – so one of them must go offline before configuring Harmony. Great work, Logitech.

Anyway, after setting it up, it was very easy to configure the “Watch TV” activity to dim the bulb down using the pre-configured Nightlight scene. However, this immediately turned out to be a problem: If the bulb is already off when turning on the TV, it should stay off. It seems that even simple rules like this requires more sophisticated methods.

In openHAB 2.2 it was very easy to get the Philips Hue binding working, and the first project was already defined: Dim the bulb to 30% when turning on the TV and the current dim value is higher than 30%. First thought was to use the Hue emulator in Hue, so the Harmony would control this and then build the logic in openHAB from there. However, I decided to simplify this while at the same time decoupling the logic from the Harmony remote and make it generic. By using the Samsung binding for my TV (alternatively a network binding would suffice), I could create an item-based rule like this:

rule "TV"
    Item TV_is_on changed from OFF to ON
    if (DimmableLight1_Brightness.state > 30)

Power consumption

  • Philips Hue Bridge 2.1: 1.7 W
  • IKEA Tr√•dfri E27 1000 lumen LED bulb: 13.0 W (on)
  • IKEA Tr√•dfri E27 1000 lumen LED bulb: 0.3 W (off)

Philips is planning on supporting Zigbee 3.0 in the bridges in first quarter of 2018. This will be backwards compatible with ZLL, so IKEA bulbs should continue to work, since they now got the ZLL implementation right with the latest firmware.