Rachel edited this page Sep 20, 2017 · 5 revisions

Adding an Arduino (Cactus Micro) to your Smart Home Network


We recently wrote up how you can turn your Raspberry Pi (or any other similar board) into a Smart Home Hub for all of your little internet-connected devices that can't handle TLS encryption.

Why not just use the Pi to read from all those sensors? Well, a Pi is a base price of $35, a WiFi dongle will cost you another $10, and honestly being the size of a business card is still kinda big to find a place for in your house. We also happen to be in the middle of an incredible technological revolution that's popping out cheap WiFi boards faster than they can arrive in your mailbox.

These little boards are usually less than 25% the size of a Pi and cost 1/3 of the price.

Once such board is the Cactus Micro.

At the size of two postage stamps and the price of $11, it's hard to believe that this little guy has 12 I/O pins, 5 of which are PWM capable, _and_ a built-in ESP8266 WiFi chip.

But there's a price for being cheap - the Cactus Micro (and many boards like it) is one of those internet-connected boards incapable of handling basic TLS encryption when sending data over the web. This is definitely a problem if you want to securely stream data about your home. This is where the Raspberry Pi comes in handy as a hub that accepts data and then handles all of the encryption before sending that data over the internet. The Cactus Micro is also much less user-friendly than the Pi!

This tutorial is going to go over how to connect devices like the Cactus Micro to a hub being run on something like the Raspberry Pi.

Project level: Beginner
Approximate time to complete: 1 hour
Satisfaction level when it works: 11 out of 10

In this step-by-step tutorial, you will:

  • read sensor data from the Cactus Micro
  • learn how to connect to and stream through the hub
  • learn how to troubleshoot the ESP8266 connection

Part 1: Equipment >>

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