Space Improvement Proposal: Let’s make VHS Safer & Smarter

The Problem:

There have been several instances over the last few months where the space wasn’t closed down correctly for the night. Although our closing checklist is short and sweet, there have been some oversights. I can understand being tired after working hard on all these awesome projects and missing to verify a thing or two; whatever the reasons might be, we want our beloved space to be safe and closing the space correctly is an important part of it.

The proposed solution:

The closing checklist can be broken down into four simple parts:

  1. Ensure that the rear sliding door and the side door are locked
  2. Ensure that all four light switches are off
  3. Turn the heat down
  4. Lock the front door behind you

The solution:
The solution that I am proposing involves having contact sensors on all doors, having smart locks and IoT switches. Together with the magic of home assistant we can have a nice shiny red “shutdown” button by the front door which will turn off all lights and lock the doors and a bright green indicator by the front door indicating that the closing check list is verified i.e all doors are locked and lights are off and the person closing is cleared to leave and lock the front door behind them.

Apart from the doors being locked and the thermostat being turned down, with this system we’ll be able to put high fire risk equipment like soldering irons, hot air stations and 3d printers on smart plugs which will be automatically turn off when the “shutdown” button is pressed.


  1. Use Ikea Parasoll sensors to know if the doors are closed.

    • Why these:
      1. They are cheap (12.99 each, we need three)
      2. They are reliable (I have been using their new series of motion sensors for a good part of the year with zero down time)
      3. They use AAA (rechargeable if we install) batteries instead of the CR2032 coin kind.

    -Link: PARASOLL door/window sensor, smart/white - IKEA CA

  2. Use August/ Yale lock for the side door.

    • Why these:
      1. Known brands. Open to alternatives
  3. TP Link Kasa HS200 smart switches

  4. Smart plugs:

  5. Smart thermostat. Ecobee/ Nest.

  6. Other knick knacks:

    1. A pi or a basic computer to run home assistant- we have them at the space. The last I saw we have a RPi 2B.
    2. Zigbee USB stick for the contact sensors to talk to home assistant.

Objectives of making the space smarter:

  1. To make the closing process easier and more reliable
  2. Making the place safer by ensuring the above as well as by being able to automatically power down high fire risk equipment.

What this is NOT:
By no means are we trying to collect data or share it with anybody. In fact the system does not need to be connected to the internet at all to ensure this. It can operate on its own vLAN which can be firewalled off from the internet unless we need to install updates.

The system doesn’t intend tracking anybody or tracking to hold people accountable. In simple words, from all that matters, it is going to be a simple shutdown button which will perform a series of things to make it easier for the person closing the space.

Anticipated Challenges:

  1. The rear, wood shop door is sliding and bolts from the inside. Using contact sensors is easy but not a lock. I am thinking with correctly places contact sensors, we can verify that the door is closed and bolted.

  2. Smart switches require a ground wire in the electrical box. It is common in newer buildings, I am not sure if we have it.

I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on this as I work over the next few days refining this idea based on the input I receive.


I believe someone might have started on door sensors already. Maybe @JohnC?

1 Like

Indeed. We touched base on slack in #hackspace-improvements and he shared insights on that.


Awesome, thanks for helping to make VHS safer and smarter!


I support this, there is an open source security system that can be wired to doors and window sensors that connects to smarthome, using an esp32 GitHub - konnected-io/konnected-security: Konnected connects wired sensors and switches to SmartThings, Home Assistant, Hubitat and OpenHAB

I have extra wired magnetic switches that are designed to be placed the frame of doors, that security system follows VHS’s privacy policy.


I like this idea. It’s pretty easy to not realize that somebody opened the rear or side door if you aren’t using it yourself.