What project to start with?

Hi all, I am an absolute beginner with OH. What would be an easy project… using an inexpensive device to play with - to learn how OH works?


For free, network binding. You can setup items, sitemaps and rules for functions based upon ip items(mobile phones) being on and off the network.

Indeed, you can do a ton without any hardware at all.

  • Network Health to see when devices are online or offline
  • Weather to get information about the weather and weather forecast
  • Astro to get times and events for astronomical events like sunrise and sunset
  • Mqttitude to geolocate and track your phone
  • SystemInfo to get data about the system OH is running on (CPU temp, etc)
  • Virtual/Proxy Items that don’t really connect to anything which you can use to experiment with defining your automation behaviors (e.g. you can have a Switch to represent a light but not have it actually attached to anything).
  • The Exec binding and executeCommandLine bindings to run external commands and scripts
  • The HTTP binding to get data from websites (hint, look at the examples for Wunderground and Yahoo for how to parse and extract data)

With all of this you can become very comfortable with OH without spending a dime on hardware.

If you really want to start with hardware, look around your house and decide on something you want to automate. For me I started with home automation with a remote garage door opener (the remotes that went with the opener stopped working and the opener was too old to get one aftermarket) and I started OH with two zwave outlets to put on a timer. I was a new father and have these boxes over the outlets so those old school timers wouldn’t fit. Enter OH.

One thing I like to stress though, is look for something that you should do, not something you can do. Whatever you automate should be as easy or easier to use and control than the non-automated way. And the automation should be intuitive and easy to use by family and guests to the house.

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Awesome. Thanks guys. I got OH installed on my Raspberry Pi last night. Looking for to trying one of your suggestions!


mo automation mo problems! That is very true and sound advice for a beginner. It should probably be on the home page. I break the most shit when I’m doing things for the sake of doing them. I usually have a pretty solid backup plan though.

Although, once you become more comfortable the really cool stuff happens when you automate just because you can. If you have young kids it’s hilarious when they stumble across something you’ve automated and forgot to mention.

My tip: Properly document your config files!! A few months ago I started adding a change log to the start of all my rule files. Also, don’t automate while under the influence of alcohol (or drugs if that’s what you’re into). I can’t tell you how many times a change I made while drunk ended up causing a problem and what’s worst is I had no memory of making the change.

I use git and actually fill in the change message to track my changes. It may be a little more work to get at the messages, but you can instantly back out changes. And since I have a git server setup it is my backup scheme as well.

That’s an awesome idea!! I don’t really understand the git process but I just asked a co-worker and it sounds like it’s exactly what I need to keep things straight. I’m going to look into this. The change log in the rule files helped but it’s very limiting. Plus the files are larger than they need to be. Rich, you’re a very helpful person! Thanks

I’ll leave this right here.