Amazon Smart Bulb

Csndice RGBWW Smart Bulb (box, front view)

We have a little log house (which we built ourselves and used to live in) which we let out as a holiday cottage.  It’s something that is (generally) fun to do and also pays a few of the bills, but one of the big mistakes we made when we put it together our large, wooden Lego kit was to put too many light switches in a single location (if you live in a house long enough, you’ll eventually remember what most of them do, but for short-term visitors it’s just plain confusing, even with little stick-on labels).  So one of the things we find happens quite often is that one (or two …or five) of the outside lights are left on all night (and might be left on all day too, if our guests head out in a hurry in the morning).  Long ago we changed out all of the bulbs for the little CFL corkscrew types to reduce the overall power usage and we thought we might get around to replacing them all with LEDs, if the prices ever come down.

To compound the mistake with the switches, we also bought almost all of the external lights with E17 size fittings (about half the size of a normal household bulb), not because we really wanted them, but because that was the only size the maker supplied the fittings in.  This latter issue came back to bite us when I decided I could fix the lights-left-on problem by replacing the CFLs not just with LED bulbs, but with “Smart” LED bulbs (Wow-weee!).

Nope!  No smart bulbs in E17 form-factor (at the time).  So I did what any other self-respecting ESP hacker would do and, when one of the CFLs died a noisy, sparky death one day; I chopped off its head, ripped out the charred remains of the inverter and replaced it with and ESP01S, a TRIAC and one of the brightest (and cheapest) E17 LED bulbs I could find.  I stuck my little FrankenShine monster (I admit, it wasn’t particularly pretty) into the fitting right outside our kitchen door, so that we could play with it and monitor it without inconveniencing any of our guests during the initial testing and burn-in period.

(FrankenESP) Photo of DIY E17 ESP01S light assembly

The FrankenShine in all of its glory …The ESP01S and other DC components are at the extreme R/H end of the board, with the opto-isolator to the left of the programming header.  The TRIAC is closest to the camera (slightly left of centre) with the PSU sitting over at the back.  You can just see the PROG/RUN mode jumper partially hidden by the big, black electrolytic.

I set up a TASMOTA rule to switch it on at dusk and off again a few hours later and coached my better half in how to communicate her wishes to the nice lady stuck inside that tiny, pinky-orangey UFO thingy that landed on the kitchen counter a couple of years ago (…and always say “Thank you”, because we want our grandchildren to grow up to be polite).  So, (her) “Hey Gewjull!  Turn on the kitchen door”.  (GH, pertly) “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to turn on the kitchen door”.  “Hey Gewjull, turn on the effin’ kitchen door!!”.  (GH, sullen) “Okay, turning on the effin’ kitchen door”.  “Thank you!”.  (GH, stilted and mechanically) “That makes me so ‘effin happy”.  Ah, another successful foray into the world of home subjugation.

For a while, everything went along swimmingly.  In fact we got so used to coming home at night and being able to see the keyhole that the transfer of FrankenShine to the cottage was delayed, several times.  Then one evening we came back to a dim, flickering welcome …uh-oh!  A power-cycle cured it, but only for about five minutes and then it was back to flickering again.  A PSU problem?  More likely a TRIAC issue.  Gottverdeckel!  I pulled Franky out and put the LED bulb back in the fitting (yup, works okay).  Unfortunately, as usual with these intermittent problems, Franky worked fine on the test bench, with not a flicker to be seen.  I went back outside and gave the light fitting a couple of dunts with the flat of my hand to test for loose connection, but no flickering or dimming was evident.  And so everything remained as it was for (quite) a while  …until I decided to replace the CFL in the worst offending cottage light fitting with an LED bulb, anyway (Franky or no Franky).  The light itself was identical to the test fitting next to our kitchen door, but was some four years older.  I opened it up and, lo and behold, it was an E26 holder assembly.  “Oh crikey!” said I (or maybe something similar), all of this mucking around and I could have just gone out and bought an E26 “smart” bulb and flashed it with TASMOTA.  At about the same time, the E17 bulb in the kitchen door fitting couldn’t contain its hilarity any longer and started flickering and dimming intermittently again (no Franky involved). “Oh double crikey!” (or words to that effect).

Anyway, suitable chastened with my unsuccessful techie adventure and unreliable memory, I went off to Amazon (Japan) and searched for an E26 bulb with a high output (lumens) and cool-white hue, suitable for an outside fitting.  Box (side-panel, specifications)What I finally decided on was a “Csndice” branded,  RGBWW bulb that had a 900lm stated output and an adjustable colour temperature between 2700 and 6500K.  In addition, it was tagged as being compatible with Google Home and Alexa, with “no hub required” (which is usually a pretty good indication that there’s an ESP variant in there and that it can be flashed with TASMOTA).  It wasn’t particularly cheap, but I can confirm that it is easily converted to TASMOTA (with the excellent Tuya-Convert) and seems to work reliably (my better-half has started to complain about the “Geriatric disco mode” of the colour sequencer test).

This particular bulb works with the Qualitel ALS08 setting from the TASMOTA templates repository.

Photo of CSNDICE smart bulbThe light (in WW mode) is very bright and easily equals that of the CFL.  It has the added bonus of being easily adjustable (from sliders on the TASMOTA main-menu page) if you prefer a particular hue of white output (from “cool” blue through to “warm” yellow).  If the fancy takes you, you can also fiddle with the RGB settings to have a particular colour and shade, instead of that boring old white.

To help you (well, okay, to help me) test out the functionality and reliability, I’ve put up a simple, command-line exerciser on GitHub.  You’ll need to change the variables (at the top of the file) to use your TASMOTA MQTT topic name (variable: BULB_ID) and your MQTT broker (server) IP-address or name (variable: MQTT_SERV).  After that, you can just run the program from the command line with no options or arguments (to turn the bulb on in white, neutral hue mode), or use one of the following options:-

  • -c — “C”ool white. Switches on the WW LEDs in the bulb with a blue hue.
  • -w — “W”arm white. Switches on the WW LEDs with a yellow hue.
  • -n — “N”eutral white. Switches on the WW LEDs with the hue set mid-way between cool and warm.
  • -o or -0 — Switches all LEDs (RGB and WW) off (that’s a zero, by the way).
  • -s — “S”equence. Turns on various colour mixes of RGB for 2 seconds before fading to the next colour (Control-C to quit).
  • -d — “D”ebug. Fairly quiet debug output.
  • -D — “D”EBUG. Very verbose debug output.
  • -h — “H”elp. Basically this command listing.

Now you too can have fun at the geriatric disco.