Adding unofficial devices to Apple HomeKit with Homebridge.

I recently started delving into home automation and just general IoT. I wanted to start with being able to control lights with Apple Home. So like many of us, I looked at HomeKit compatible led strips and I thought that the official devices like the Hue start up kit for $80 was too expensive. I’d much rather spend $200 on devices that don’t properly support HomeKit and spend hours trying to make them work instead! Great plan so far.

In any case, thankfully there a lot of likeminded individual online that went down the same path. Enter Homebridge. Homebridge is a lightweight node.js server that has distribution packages for most popular operating systems. The fact that it’s lightweight means that you’re able to install it even on low power devices such as Rasperry Pi’s. In my case, I had an old windows tablet that hasn’t been used in years, so I’ve decided to install Ubuntu on it and then run Homebridge on it to connect all of my unofficial devices.

All of these directions are straight from the github repo for the linux installation of Homebridge, which you can find here. I’ll run through them in this short guide as well. Lets start by installing node.js if you haven’t already.

# setup repo
curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_14.x | sudo bash -

# install Node.js
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs gcc g++ make python net-tools

# test node is working
node -v

Now we’ll install Homebridge, which is just an NPM package.

sudo npm install -g --unsafe-perm homebridge homebridge-config-ui-x

Now lets start up the service with the following command.

sudo hb-service install --user homebridge

From here, you can access the webportal from any other machine on your network. All you need to do is figure out what the IP address for the Homebridge machine is. http://<ip address of your server>:8581. Default credentials are admin/admin

Once signed up, you should be greeted with the dashboard that looks similar to this.

Open up your Home app on your iOS device and scan the QR code to add Homebridge as a device and you’re done!

Now the fun part. You’ll have to research which devices are compatible with Homebridge and if they are it’s as easy as downloading a plugin for Homebridge.