Building a SmartHome from Scratch [Installing Colour-changing Smart Glass on Sliding Doors]

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Say hello to Yandao and Lengzai! 🐶👋🏻

One of the major touches of my apartment’s renovation is no doubt the Colour-changing Smart Glass Sliding Door installed in place of a standard toilet door. Some people refer to this magical piece of glass as a “Privacy Smart Glass” or “PDLC Glass”.

Oh, and you’ll also probably find it being used in places like high-end offices and hotels – rarely homes.

In my case, I installed this Smart Glass on a Raumplus S1200 sliding door frame + track, which was supplied by the amazing Ewins Group.

So, what does this Smart Glass thingy do?

Basically, it allows for a glass panel to be switched between transparent and opaque. It can be also use as a projection screen, if you wanted to do that…  🎥

Did you know that this glass door packs a hidden surprise? You will not believe what happens next…. *insert super cheesy clickbait sentence* 🤣

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Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier [Worth it or Not?]

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Creative X-Fi ® Sonic Carrier™ & Wireless Subwoofer

With a hefty price tag of  S$7999 (or about US$5800) excluding shipping and installation charges, the Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier probably has had many people being somewhat taken aback, exclaiming “WHAT!?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”. 😱

Giving the fact that the average market price for an off-the-shelf Home Sound System or a Home Theater System for a single soundbar cost plus sub-woofer (you know, that thingy which makes the “booms“) is roughly around S$2k, the Creative X-Fi Sonic Carrier would no doubt stick out like a sore thumb on the price point. 🔊

That’s like almost 4 times the price of an average locally purchased 4K “smart” TV. In my case, 15 times the price of my Xiaomi Smart TV 4A (55″) which I imported directly from the good ol’ land of China to Singapore. 💁🏻‍♀️📺

No, Singapore is not in China lah.

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Installing the August Smart Lock Pro in Singapore Apartments [HDB or Condo]

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Probably one of the few smart locks in the market that is actually compatible with a wide range of platforms 🔑

When you visit a Smart Home, the very first thing you’ll no doubt notice is the main door. Lo, and behold – a Smart Lock! The very first hint that this home might actually be smart in some ways.

It’s 2018, and even if you have no intention of converting your home to a Smart Home, I’m sure you’ve ever thought of better way to unlock your home without a key. That familiar memory of the few times when you’re lugging loads of groceries and your keys are in the depths of your pockets suddenly kicks in.

…or the time when you realize that you left your keys at your work desk and can’t get home for that nice, warm shower you deserve! 😱

Here’s how my August Smart Lock installation looks like from the outside of the apartment.

Wait, where exactly is the smart lock, again?

Isn’t this just the standard HDB door which comes with Mortise lock? And there seems to be a deadbolt lock installed above it?

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Totally Pimped Out 3-room HDB Smart Home [Overview]

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Woohoo! My first, ever, commissioned Feng Shui Drawing – modelled after the one Li Ka Shing has in his office, albeit a little more cartoonish…

Finally, I got to put aside some time to write an overview of my full-blown smart home. By a full-blown Smart Home, I literally mean everything top-down.. even the toilet bowls! (.. and not just one room or merely an area or space in the apartment).

Also, this is probably, the only 3-room HDB apartment you’ll find that is totally pimped-out with smart home devices at this point. Everything was designed from scratch, down to the electrical cabling and wall-hacking placements.

I’m still adding in stuff at various parts of the apartment, but there’re simply way too many people are asking about various components and features – so I figured why not start with the overview of what I have now! 😊

Here’s what this series of posts will be broken into;

✓ Smart Stuff: Gadgets, Devices, Fixtures & Setup
✓ Carpentry: You don’t need an ID if you know what you want.
✓ Internet & Security: Planning connectivity for a huge number of smart devices
✓ Taobao: Yes! Everything from small things like decorative pieces, to a 3-seater sofa, to even flooring for the entire house (..and a $6000 washing machine!?)

Ok, let’s get started, then:

Our mini collection of BE@RBRICKS posing atop 2 Google Home Max devices. Because, the “Mini” doesn’t sound good enough.

Let me say this first:

I bet you’ve never seen these many smart devices installed in a single HDB apartment before.

1. For Voice Control, Multi-room Audio, and basically, Assistance

8 Google Home devices in total, consisting of:
3 x Google Home, 3 x Google Home Mini, 2 x Google Home Max

This basically means the entire apartment is blanketed with Google Home devices, even in each washroom!

I mean, there’s absolutely a need for you to control your home while you’re doing your…. you know… right?

2. Every Switch is a Smart Switch

At last count, there are about 16 Smart Power Switches which we painstakingly got the electrician to re-wire to introduce a neutral wire. This was done so that every switch in the house would be remotely controllable via Z-wave.

It’s a mix of both single and double switches, all with tactile feedback so that when you press the button, you actually know it is being pressed. The models we actually used eventually was TKBHome‘s TZ36S and TZ37.

I’ll go into a bit more detail about the selection criteria for this part in a later post, too.

3. Sensors Overkill

Well, this wasn’t as overkill as the rest of the stuff above, but there’s a total of 12 sensors installed.

4 x Z-wave Motion (+ Temperature/Light/Movement) Sensors
1 x Water Sensor
4 x Door Open/Close Sensors
2 x Human Arrival Sensor Tags
1 x Smoke Sensor

The sensors came from a variety of vendors as we wanted to test out the feedback and response time from each device to determine which to get more of, but it seems the choice turned out pretty clear cut after a while…

The hub I eventually used was the Samsung SmartThings Hub v2. This hub supports Z-wave and Zigbee, and has a wide variety of integration points as well. Oh, and remember to get the UK-version, not the US one.

4. (Almost) Everything is Controllable via Mobile Phone & Voice

Almost all plug sockets, TV’s, water dispenser, aircon, heater, washing machine, robot vacuum, blinds, etc – everything is essentially able to be controlled via my mobile phone, or by voice.

I’ve actually intentionally provisioned a separate system for the door locking system of the house, for security reasons, but let’s discuss that in a later post.

..and all these are squeezed into a

67 sqm, 3-room HDB apartment

with all walls (legally-possible) torn down.

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