Home Assistant is connected to all of the smart devices in my house so having quick and easy access to it is important. This is why I decided to take a recent Fire HD 8 tablet purchase and mount it on my wall. This way not just my wife and me have access to it but guests that come over as well. Not only that but it is also nice to have access to the Home Assistant front-end without having to grab my phone.
- Some sort of Android tablet. I highly recommend Amazon Fire tablets since they are cheap and work perfectly.
- WallPanel Android App
- Home Assistant
Once you launch WallPanel you will need to configure the URL to point to your Home Assistant install. Once that is done go through all of the options and figure out what you want to setup. Here is a quick overview of what the different options are:
- You can enable the screensaver which will prevent Android from locking the screen and will instead display a black background with a white clock over it. This way you can prevent screen burn in. You can then use MQTT or the HTTP API, motion from the camera, or facial recognition to turn on the screen.
- Enabling MQTT/HTTP will let you be able to receive information from the device (such as battery usage and if the screen is on) as well as issue commands to the device. You could use this information to have a smart plug turn on/off charging to the tablet to prevent battery damage. Only the HTTP interface allows you to enable camera streaming (so you could use it in your security camera software or add a tile to your HA frontend).
I currently have my tablet setup so you have to click the screen to close the screensaver. I for a while had it hooked up to my living room motion sensor but decided against that later because the clock is really handy (and I also submitted a feature request to add weather information to the screensaver).
Now that is all done we need to move onto the next part!
Mounting the Tablet
In order to mount the tablet I purchased some tablet wall mounts off amazon:
I went ahead and measured my tablet and placed the mounts on the wall. Once everything was done it looked pretty good:
I placed it in an area that gets heavy foot traffic so it would be the most useful. It is also located in a good spot that makes it easy to pause shows when you get up from the couch (since I have my Chromecast added to Home Assistant). It has also made updating the thermostat before we go to bed much easier since it's on the way to the bedroom.
I think it ended up turning out pretty alright for how little money I spent on this project. I wasn't really using the tablet anyways and I wanted to find a purpose for it so I am glad I figured something out.
I was having some issues with the MQTT commands being much slower than the HTTP API which was a little annoying (things such as turning on the display or sending a voice command). I don't really know what was causing this. Switching to using the HTTP API was no big deal though and fixed the issue.
I know the battery in this device is eventually going to fail and possibly even thermally expand and crack the case. I think I will buy a smart outlet and setup an automation to turn on/off charging based on the charge % of the tablet. This way I am not keeping it at 100% charge all the time which will hurt the battery life in the long run. I have also thought about buying wall panels off Alibaba that don't have batteries just so I can avoid this issue.
The amount of features that WallPanel has for being free is pretty impressive. I am glad the app doesn't cost money though because I prefer to keep my tablet on a google account that I don't care about in-case the device is stolen. That way the user that steals the device doesn't have access to any of my information (such as emails and what not). I don't have any sort of pin setup for the lockscreen to keep the device easily accessible to anyone.
Anyways, I hope you liked the article. If you found this useful or have any input feel free to leave it below. I love to hear back from my readers.