Home automation systems are all well and good, so long as the person who built it all is around to drive it. Let’s face it, they’re quite often a complex web of interconnected systems, all tied to the specifics of one’s home — and someone less familiar with it all could get a little irritated if, on a chilly day, the interface to the boiler is via a Python script, and something won’t work. Just saying. Home Buttons by [Matej Planinšek] over on Hackaday.IO is a nicely polished project, which aims to take some of the hackiness out of such automation by providing a sleek front end to those automation routines, enabling anyone to rock on over and set one in action without hassle.

Internal PCB shown in the foreground, with the complete unit behind.The PCB is based around the ESP32-S2-mini which deals with WiFi connectivity and integration with Home Assistant using the usual MQTT protocol. We expect integration with other flavors of home automation would not be difficult to achieve. The center of the unit holds a simple E-Ink display, for that low-standby power. Specifically, the unit chosen is a Good Display GDEY029T94 2.9″ which this scribe can confirm is easy to interface and pretty cheap to purchase from the usual Chinese online vendors. This was matched up with six clicky Alps SKRB-series low-profile tact switches, which sit on either side of the display, and corresponds to a flexure-type affair on the 3D printed front casing. Neat and simple.

The PCB design was provided in Altium format, which you can find on the project GitHub page. This shows a straightforward design, with a few nice little details here and there. The internally mounted 186550 cell is reportedly good for at least a year of operation, but when time, it can be charged via USB. A Xysemi XB8608AF (PDF) protection chip provides appropriate limiting for the 186550 cell, shielding it from the perils of overcharging, discharging, and whatnot. Not that that is likely in this current setup. A Sensiron SHTC3 humidity and temperature sensor is also in there, hanging off the I2C bus, which makes sense for this application.

Home Automation hacks are plenty on these pages, like this scroll-wheel interface, for instance. If all this stuff is looking quite overbearingly complicated to get into, how about starting with a Pico W?