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Raspberry Pi add-on board controls entire buildings

Aug 8, 2014 — by Eric Brown 18,373 views

UniPi is seeking Indiegogo funding for a Raspberry Pi add-on for building automation with analog and digital I/O, changeover relays, and 1-Wire interfaces.

The Raspberry Pi has found its way into many a home automation project, from lighting controls to automatic sprinkler systems, and is often used as a prototype for commercial systems. But is the modest RPi up for managing an entire building? No problem, says Czech startup UniPi, which is offering Indiegogo funding packages of 99 Euros ($133) and 109 Euros ($146) for its UniPi building automation add-on board.

UniPi board with Raspberry Pi on left
(click image to enlarge)

Plug the Raspberry Pi into the UniPi baseboard via the 26-pin expansion connector, and you can control an entire, presumably modest sized, building, says UniPi. The UniPi board can control lights, doors, curtains, sprinklers, and gates by reading signals from switches, alarms, and temperature and humidity sensors, says the company.

UniPi with (left) and without RPi
(click images to enlarge)

The UniPi Indiegogo campaign also offers a 12-Euro passive sensor hub with a free temperature sensor, as well as an 8-Euro package for a second waterproof temperature sensor. UniPi is about halfway to its 3,000 Euro goal with 14 days left to its Aug. 21 deadline.

UniPi angled view (left) and wired up
(click images to enlarge)

The UniPi supplies 14 opto-isolated digital inputs with LED signalization for reading 5-20V sensor signals. It also provides dual analog inputs and one analog output, both rated for 0-10 Volts. The board integrates a 12V power supply, as well as eight changeover relays that can switch at up to 5A @ 230V, thereby providing enough power for a whole building of sensor devices.

UniPi connections, labeled
(click image to enlarge)

The UniPi is further equipped with a single-channel 1-Wire interface that can connect hundreds of temperature and humidity sensors. The RPi’s second I2C port and UART are extended with 5V level converters and ESD protection, enabling the connection of other devices. A real-time clock (RTC) module keeps the device in synch despite power loss.

Closeup of changeover relays (left) and optional sensor hub (right)
(click images to enlarge)

The board is designed for the Raspberry Pi model B rev 2, but can be configured for the rev 1 model. There was no mention of possible compatibility with the new 40-pin Raspberry Pi Model B+.

The UniPi website offers tutorials on using C/Python libraries for developing UniPi applications on the Linux-based Raspberry Pi. Compatible libraries that are especially useful include Webiopi, for Python Internet of Things connectivity, as well as the WiringPi GPIO interface library and Adafruit libraries.

UniPi promotional video on YouTube

Summary of UniPi specs


Specifications listed for the UniPi include:

  • 14x (12+2) galvanically isolated digital inputs
  • 8x changeover relays via MCP23008 chip
  • 2x 0-10V analog inputs via MCP3422
  • 0-10V analog output via PWM on GPIO 18
  • RTC with battery backup
  • 1-Wire RJ45 connector and 1-Wire channel master (DS2482)
  • External I2C_0 RJ11 connector
  • UART RJ11 connector
  • P1 header connector
  • P5 header connector
  • Power connector (standard 2.1mm) and RPi power jumper
  • 12V power supply (only for use with UniPi)
  • Input configuration jumpers

Further information

The UniPi board is available on Indiegogo through Aug. 21 in a 99-Euro ($133) early-bird package and a standard 109-Euro ($146) package. There’s also a 12-Euro passive sensor hub with a free temperature sensor and an 8-Euro waterproof temperature sensor with cables and plug. More information may be found at the UniPi Indiegogo page and UniPi website.

(advertise here)

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5 responses to “Raspberry Pi add-on board controls entire buildings”

  1. George says:

    They need to provide a nice ladder logic programmer and PLC program with it.


  2. Andy Hibbins says:

    Reminds me a little of the 6502 dev boards at college in the 90’s but upgraded somewhat.

  3. Peter says:

    George, have a look at

    That might do the trick for you…

  4. Adam Skorpik says:

    Dear RPI friends,
    UniPi is funded! We have raised enough money to produce the first batch of UniPi boards and we have already prepared some stretch goals.
    For more, check out our project on IndieGoGo:

  5. kris cares says:

    hi can i use both raspberry pi software to switch on/off the relay and my old light swicthes (pusbuttons NO) to switch on/off and let rpi sensor the status of the relay?

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