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Give your HC2 a new and better life!


RH_Dreambox

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My old faithful HC2 has been collecting dust and I haven't known what to do with it.
By sheer coincidence I saw that Home Assistant could be installed on an Intel's NUT computer, and if I remembered correctly there was an Intel motherboard in the HC2.
Said and done, I disassembled the motherboard and saw that it could be used for HA. The memory chip was only 1 Gb so I upgraded it to 4 Gb.

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/monthly_2022_01/Dockningsstation.png.0a18560d4d7aca4134b9fce9c56f96a8.png" />

From an old scrapped computer I picked out a 180 Gb Intel SSD drive. It was placed in a USB-docking station and via BelenaEtcher I flashed the "Home Assistant Generic x86-64" image to the SSD-disk.

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The SSD was connected to the motherboard with SATA cables (an old power cable was cut to the right length with a female connector at each end). Everything was assembled in a chassis that I designed and printed on the 3D printer.
The small circuit board of the Fibaro was removed and from the other components I reused only the On-Off button (slightly modified). A green LED in the front shows that the computer is turned on and a blue LED shows when the SSD drive is working.

 

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The computer was booted and via F2 I accessed the BIOS to make some settings. Via F9 in the BIOS I reset everything to the default settings. In the "Boot Drive Order" I changed so that the SSD drive boots first.
In the Boot menu it is also important to set "UEFI Boot" to "Enable", otherwise the computer will not boot.

Then I mounted the USB sticks for the protkoll that I wanted. These were Z-Wawe, ZigBee and RFXCOM (for all my 433 MHz devices).
After the first reboot, it takes about 3 minutes for the Home Assistant to initialize and finish. HA automatically found the devices I wanted and a lot of other things it found in the network like TV, Router, Weather etc.

 

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I can also mention that this solution is MUCH faster than HA on a Raspberry. A Raspberry Pi 3 B did the initialization job in 35 minutes which was now done in about 3 minutes!

This project has opened my eyes to real home automation. The huge range of integrations that HA offers makes it very easy to integrate everything I could want (and more) with a few keystrokes. HA has a fantastic interface where you can easily create your own layout that looks good in both PC, Tablet and Mobile.
Fibaro has unfortunately gone down the wrong track, the hardware is great, but the capabilities are not being utilized. Perhaps Fibaro's development is controlled by a dominant owner who doesn't allow the programmers to "cast off" and lift the HC3 to the heights we users expect.
So do not throw away your old HC2, give it a new and better life instead!

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old Intel® NUC Kit DCCP847DYE

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now 

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- local web server

- mqtt server

- PostgreSQL

- Influx

- Node-red

- ZigBee server (z2m)

- and finally Home Assistant Supervised ( core-2021.12.9 )

 

so, welcome to club :) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Topic Author
  • @budu

    No, HC3 is not based on any standard motherboard so there is no suitable HA software.
    In addition, there is only one USB port and you have no possibility to connect any SSD or to expand the memory capacity.
    But you can probably buy a cheap used HC2 from someone who upgraded to an HC3.


    I can promise you that you won't be disappointed.
    Every day I find new integrations and features in HA that you can only dream of in HC3. The documentation is amazing and there are lots of great tips to read about.
    Right now I am testing everything I want to integrate and in a few weeks I will definitely say goodbye to my "locked" HC3 "Game changer".

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    Great project!

     

    EDIT: I posted about power consumption and performance of this setup in 2022 and after rereading... I think I sounded way to pedantic - on the brink of arrogant. You're all clever people (Why? hehehe because you found this forum topic!). So I deleted everything except the first sentence. Which was, and still is, absolutely spot-on.

    Edited by petergebruers
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    nicely done!

     

    I am totally new to home automation and bought an hc3 3 months ago,and is is really a nice machine but i had a feeling i was missing out on something (everbody is praising HA).

    So i installed homebridge (i like the way homekit looks) on my mac mini m1 to use some functions of plex and my nest thermostate.

    But two days ago i installed Ha on the mac mini m1 and i have to figure out how everthing works but i have to i like what iam seeing.

    so now i have to figure out on what hardware i wil run this software, mac is drawing 10 W (idle) of power so i'am looking to reduce it and look for something els.

     

    But the Hc2 solution is really nice.

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    Hi. Since my HC3 is still on complaint, I bought a usb zwave key and a usd zigbee key, installed a Home Assistant on the ubuntu server and the fibaro head and smartiplantat already work as a sphere. I had to deal with it that way, as it is the heating season and Fibaro left me in the dark. After HC3 returns from the complaint, I will decide what to stay with.

    Edited by budu
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    • 5 months later...
  • Topic Author
  • A small update...

    Is this the right location for my HC3? No of course not, everyone should know that electronics should be sorted!
    Maybe I should put it on the shelf for unnecessary electronic gadgets, for now.

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    /monthly_2022_07/1649402648_HC3wastebasket.jpg.ffdeaeb0af0145d099ce9afa463ed611.jpg" />

     

    Well, the days of Fibaro are over for me. For some protocols the HC3 is a closed device which makes it quite meaningless for many, including me.
    About 6 months ago I started looking for a different and more open system and got interested in Home Assistant.
    After some testing with my rebuilt HC2, I realized that HA (Home Assistant) had everything I wanted and more.
    I have gradually moved my devices over to HA and it has gone surprisingly well.

     

    A while ago I bought a used DELL microcomputer (Optiplex 7040 8Gb RAM 180 Gb SSD), this to replace my old HC2.

    The Optiplex is insignificantly larger than an HC3 despite having more RAM and having a built-in SSD.
    It was a big performance boost over the HC2 so now I have a fast and very stable machine for my home automation.

     

    In HA I now run Z-wave, ZigBee, 433 MHz and much more which means I was able to shut down some external Raspberry whose only job was to deliver data to the HC3.
    Influx and Grafana used to run in a Raspberry, but these are now integrated into the HA.

    I will check in on the forum from time to time to see if anything happens that might pique my interest again, but, but....
     

    503389270_HC3vsDellOptiplex.jpg.f223e6641607e1eaf008b7f939a875d9.jpg

     

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    Well, nice what you are doing. Thumbs up for that.

     

    Not nice, the picture you post there. We get the message.

     

    Good bye ?

     

     

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    • 3 months later...

    @RH_Dreambox

    Hi. A very interesting article and one I'm considering replicating with my HC2.  But, in your 14 July 2022 post your photo shows a Dell Optiplex. Have you now migrated off HA on HC2 to HA on an Optiplex? If so, I'd be very interested to hear a) why? , b) what spec Optiplex you're using (CPU, flash, RAM, SSD etc.) and c) how have you installed HA - eg. HA on a VM (under which OS)   or just the HA Intel image install,   or what?

    This might give me a better idea of whether to repurpose my HC2 or go for an Optiplex and which install method to use.

     

    Many thanks,    Ian.

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  • Topic Author
  • Hi @IanBJ

    I could very well have continued to use my old HC2, but I found a cheap, used Dell Optiplex 7040 that wasn't that old. It had more RAM, came with a 120GB M.2 SSD drive (which I don't use) and space for a 2.5" SSD drive.
    So I moved my 180 Gb SSD from the HC2 to the younger and more powerful Dell Optiplex so suddenly I had a faster and more stable machine.

    Processor: INTEL CORE I3-6100 3.7 GHZ
    RAM: 8 GB DDR4
    SSD-disk: M.2 120 Gb

    The installation was very simple as I placed the SSD in a hard drive dock and flashed over the installation. I used the installation package "Generic x86-64"

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    If you don't have a hard drive dock, you can install via a USB stick. Instructions on how to do this are clearly described on the download page.

    I have now been running HA for 9 months and I am super-satisfied with the whole system. And if you need a special feature, there are hundreds of extensions and integrations ready to install. From a tablet on the hall wall (with custom-made layout) I control and monitor the whole house, so going back to my HC3 is now completely unthinkable!

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    • 10 months later...

    Hi @RH_Dreambox

    I came across your article. I have HC2 and out of nowhere it stopped working. They recommended replacing the CMOS battery. I changed here, but still fibaro HC2 does not want to start and even connect to the network even after restarting.

    Could you please give me some instructions on how to switch from HC2 to your solution? What exactly to do and change on the HC2 motherboard or use something completely different or…?

    Thank you for your response. I’m not very technically proficient in repairing electronics, but I’m still sad that everything in my house stopped working.

    And I would like to try to switch from HC2 to your solution according to the instructions.

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  • Topic Author
  • Hi @Jurio

    Your HC2 not booting up is probably due to problems with the components Fibaro has applied to the motherboard and the motherboard itself is probably fully usable if you want to test Home Assistant.
    If you want to test HomeAssistant, which I highly recommend, you can find an excellent installation guide here...

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    If you only have Z-wave devices, you will need a USB Z-wave controller, for example. "Aeotec Z-stick Gen5+". If you also intend to use ZigBee, you need a USB controller for this, eg. "Sonoff ZBDongle-E".
    And you also need a simple SSD disc to install programs and data on (128 Gb is big enough).
    Start by dismantling the HC2 and removing the Fibaro components as you see in my picture above.
    The easiest way is to flash the SSD in a docking device, but if you don't have one, you can install the software via a USB stick. How to do this is clearly described in the link above.

    The HC2 aluminium chassis cannot be used due to lack of space so you have to get another suitable box for the motherboard. If you have access to a 3D printer, you can make the box you see in my pictures. You can find the STL file here... 

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    But if you want to avoid all the hassle of rebuilding, you can get a better and more flexible solution by buying a second-hand Micro-computer such as. Dell OptiPlex 7040 or similar. It has plenty of RAM, a fast SSD drive and a fast processor that makes your HC2 look like a tired old Fiat 600.


    Just make sure that what you buy is a so-called thin client and not a large desktop PC. A Micro computer is about the same size as your HC2.

    With this solution, you follow HomeAssistant's installation guide and thus get a hyper-modern and fast home automation that has everything you could only dream of and that Fibaro can never offer you.

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    Hi @RH_Dreambox

     

    Thank you very much for your answer.

     

    And if I have actors from Fibar, for example, dimmers or relays for switching on the lights, will it work, please?

     

    I also have a microcomputer, so do you recommend that one?

     

    Thank you

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  • Topic Author
  • Hi @Jurio
    Yes, all devices that work in Fibaro's controls will work in HomeAssistant.
    It is very easy to create scenes (automations) in HomeAssistant, but it works a bit differently in HA. So when you start with HA, you should completely forget how it works in Fibaro :-)
    And if you already have a free microcomputer (thin client) then use it, because it probably has better performance than your old HC2 and is reade to use.
    Also look at YouTube, there are lots of videos on how to work with HomeAssistant.

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    On 14. 9. 2023 at 17:47, RH_Dreambox said:

    Ahoj@Jurio
    Áno, všetky zariadenia, ktoré fungujú v ovládacích prvkoch Fibaro, budú fungovať v HomeAssistant.
    V HomeAssistant je veľmi jednoduché vytvárať scény (automatizácie), ale v HA to funguje trochu inak. Takže keď začnete s HA, mali by ste úplne zabudnúť, ako to funguje vo Fibaro. :-)
    A ak už máte voľný mikropočítač (tenký klient), použite ho, pretože má pravdepodobne lepší výkon ako váš starý HC2 a je pripravený na použitie.
    Pozrite sa aj na YouTube, je tam veľa videí o tom, ako pracovať s HomeAssistantom.

    Hi @RH_Dreambox

    I installed the system as well as USB Zigbee + Z-Wave. However, it does not want to pair any fibaro z-wave devices (sensors and the like). I have restarted the system several times. Can you please advise where the problem might be?

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  • Topic Author
  • Hi @Jurio 
    It was nice that you have started your new and better automation life :-)
    If you want to add old devices to your new system, they must first be excluded before they can be included again. The exclusion can be done in HomeAssistant or in your old HC2. Do what is easiest for you.
    You can also do a factory reset on the devices so that they "forget" the old system. How to do a factory reset can be found in the devices' manuals.
    Newly purchased devices do not have this problem as they do not contain any network information.

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    • 4 months later...

    Hello All, I know it's a quite old topic but @RH_Dreambox do you still have the 3D files you used for your new box ?

    Thanks in advance,

     

    Regards.

     

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  • Topic Author
  • @Ju2

    Old post, but still relevant!

    Yes, they are still here... :-)

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