“A picture is worth a thousand words." …I know, an over used phrase, but it’s useful to this post.

What I am talking about is the relative value of taking the time to create a map or diagram of your network environment including attached devices and services. At the very least, doing so can help bring clarity, and perhaps a new perspective, to the understanding locked in your head.

For me, this has helped:

  • Turn nebulous conversations into concrete discussions. Friends & family get it now.
  • Develop a more complete “big picture” perspective to spot relationships across devices, trace back performance issues, and identify places to improve.
  • Expansion and capacity planning

My diagram is below along with notes I’ve included for later reference. This was done using the Draw.io plugin* for Nextcloud. So in my case, I guess this is an instance of the chicken coming before the egg :-)


Diagram notes:

  • Cameras: - Driveway cam from 2017@1080p. Much better options avail. today. At some point will upgrade. May convert to POE

  • WIFI:

    • Network isolation/VLAN - pending setup for now, equip upgrades helpful/necessary
    • Printer - Office wireless printer not included …it’s not worthy
    • Smart Bulbs - Generally prefer to control via switch but 2 use cases where these offer additonal options:
      1. Office exterior lights go to a triple combination switch, bulbs only option to get online
      2. Kid nightstand lights - adds color and dimming functionality to otherwise simple lamps
    • Shelly Relay Switches - Turns any existing dumb switch/outlet into a wifi enabled one….the 1PM model has power monitoring too. …this is the way…
  • Zwave: - Not many devices. Peformance a bit sluggish. The Schlage lock is great, will eventually get more. Ecolink motion sensors are ugly but reliable and the battery lasts forever. Aeotec Trisensors? In high traffic areas the batteries only last (for me?) 4-7 days which clearly is not viable. Have shied away from their other products as result. Their stuff looks nice but price/performance doesn’t seem to pencil out

  • Zigbee: - Snappy response times, WIFI interference can be an issue if you don’t assign channels. SmartThings multipurpose sensors have been great, batteries avg 5-6months…but all future manufacturing will be done by Aeotec & not samsung…time for alternatives for future sensors?

  • SmartThings Hub: Not in a hurry to migrate off just yet, eventually yes, but biggish project to replace/replicate functionality…

  • Blutooth: - Excluded from diagram for now b/c mostly just used for ephemeral point-to-point connections (echo => soundbar, headphones => media device, etc…). Maybe include at some point if beacon tracking is explored…

*Since it helps to take an incremental approach to big tasks, simply drawing out your device inventory can be a great way to get started.