6 open hardware home improvement projects

6 hardware projects for upgrading your home

Unlock your door with your fingerprint, get an alert when mail arrives, and more with these fun projects.

6 open hardware projects for upgrading your home
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Thomas Hawk on Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0. Modified by Opensource.com

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Every day, hobbyists and tinkerers are pushing the boundaries of what we can do with low-cost microcontrollers and mini-computers like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. That trend doesn't stop when it comes to IoT and home automation. In this article, I'll round up six projects from Adafruit Industries that use open source hardware and software to improve home life (or at the very least, make more it fun).

Open your front door with a fingerprint sensor

What better place to start with home upgrades than at the front door? This Arduino-based project lets you lock and unlock your door using a $50 fingerprint sensor. Not at home? You can open it from anywhere in the world with the new Adafruit IO API.

Full instructions

Get an alert when mail arrives


Image courtesy of AdaFruit.

Mail time! This project uses a small solar panel, an Adafruit Flora board, and a basic magnet switch to send you an alert when your mailbox is opened. With a little extra work, you can even light up your mailbox inside and out with LEDs.

Full instructions

Control your lights from anywhere


Image courtesy of AdaFruit.

Some of the best home automation projects are also the simplest. This Arduino-based project lets you switch lights on and off without leaving the couch, bed, or wherever else you might be.

Full instructions

Get news, weather, and more with a smart mirror

Sci-fi no longer! It's easier (and cheaper) than ever to make your very own smart mirror. All you need is an Android tablet, two-way mirror plastic, and some basic craft items to get started. This beginner-friendly project can display the date and time, weather, reminders, news headlines, and more. The best part? You can modify the Android app or develop your own to show whatever else you might want.

Full instructions

Keep tabs on your plants and get alerts when it's time to water


Image courtesy of AdaFruit.

I wrote about some of my favorite Arduino-based smart garden projects back in March, but this one is great because it's simple and easy. A soil moisture and temperature sensor feeds data to an Arduino, which then uses an attached WiFi chip to send data and alerts via email or SMS when it's time to water.

Full instructions

Install an internet-enabled toilet light

We live in exciting times. Is this project practical? Absolutely not. But it will definitely keep you and your houseguests entertained. You can connect the ESP8266 microcontroller to services like IFTTT or Zapier to have the LED change colors or turn on and off based on a variety of triggers. Want to know if your favorite sports team wins? Have it project the team colors! Waiting on an important email? Have the light flash every time a new one comes through! The possibilities are endless.

Full instructions

Do you have an IoT or home automation project you're proud of? We want to hear about it! Send us an article proposal at Opensource.com/story.

About the author

Alex Sanchez - I'm the social media, email marketing, and syndication specialist for Opensource.com. Outside the office, you'll find me running, trying out new recipes, dominating in Sid Meier's Civilization, or catching up on my favorite movies, TV shows, and podcasts.