The tech world has been enamored with IoT (Internet of Things) devices for well over a decade now, and you can buy everything from refrigerators to flower pots with IoT capabilities. For that reason, many people tend to think of IoT and home automation as being synonymous. But the truth is that wireless home automation systems have existed for many decades, usually in the form of 433MHz radio-controlled relays. If you have such a system — which are still common today — Robin Hartley has designed a sonic screwdriver for controlling it.
In case you’ve been avoiding pop culture for the last 50 years, the sonic screwdriver is an iconic fictional tool from the Doctor Who universe. It was first used by the Second Doctor in the 1968 serial Fury from the Deep — a part of the fifth season that has, notably, been lost to time. Despite that, the sonic screwdriver eventually became an integral part of the show. And, as with all things related to Doctor Who, the fans have made it a symbol of the show. In the fiction, the sonic screwdriver is a multi-function tool that can do pretty much anything that the plot demands. Now you can make one to control your 433MHz radio smart home devices.
Hartley designed this sonic screwdriver to be 3D-printed, and it should work with any device that is made for control over 433MHz radio. That’s the most popular band for home automation, so there is plenty you can do with it. Inside the 3D-printed case is a custom PCB that Hartley designed. That has an ATtiny85 microcontroller, a 433MHz radio transmitter, an LED, and a button for control. It’s powered by a AA battery through a boost converter. You will need to know how to modulate the radio transmissions for your specific devices, but that’s a well-documented process. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to amaze your fellow Whovians with your working sonic screwdriver.