Home Automation with Pimatic and Docker on my Synology

I have been playing around with home automation for a while but was never really happy with the solutions. FHEM might be a great software but feels like the 80ies and is quite complicated to configure. OpenHAB seems to be provide better graphical support but requires Java to run it. When I came across pimatic it seemed like the perfect solution. Modern NodeJS package management, great device support and a graphical user interface to define rules.

The setup is well described and quite easy. Only drawback was that pimatic is designed for the Raspberry Pi and I wanted to leverage my existing Synology Disk Station. Although Synology supports NodeJS you cannot run pimatic directly on it because of the build process. So I quickly decided that I want to run it as a docker container.

The process was not straight forward all the way so here is a quick step-by-step guide:

  • Place the pimatic config file on your Synology Disk Station and copy the path e.g. /volume1/docker/pimatic/
  • Make sure that the name of the config file is: config-json-pimatic.json
  • Open the docker application within the Synology Disk Station
  • Search for „petschni/pimatic“ and double-click so that the image is being downloaded
  • Connect to your DiskStation using SSH.
    • sudo su
    • docker ps
    • copy the image ID
  • Run the docker container with
    • docker run -it -p YOUR_PORT:PIMATIC_PORT -v /volume1/docker/pimatic/:/home/pimatic-app/configMount/ IMAGE_ID
  • The container will start, install pimatic and start pimatic.
  • Access pimatic @ http://SynologyIP:YOUR_PORT
  • If everything is working close the command line
  • Go back to the Synology UI
    • Stop the container
    • Mark the container and click „edit“
    • Now you can change the name, CPU priorities, enable auto-restart.
  • You are all set and you can start and stop the container now using the graphical Synology App (no need for the command line)

The pimatic docker image can be found here: https://hub.docker.com/r/petschni/pimatic/

Source Code @ https://github.com/petschni/pimatic

This is my first docker image so I am very much interested in feedback and suggestion to improve it!

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A fall weekend in Budapest

Budapest ViewAfter a summer without a real vacation it was just about time for a long weekend trip. Budapest was our choice – and not regretted.

There are plenty of nice accommodation options that only have one single room. The hard part is to decide for one. We stayed a Liszt Studios and would certainly recommend it. Even without visiting a single museum a long weekend is quite short to see the most important things. For the sightseeing part we mainly follow the walks described in the Michael Müller travel guide so I will focus on food & drink recommendations here 😉

Straßenbahn in BudapestReady for the 70ies and excellent food – then Menza is the right place. A good choice of local beers and burgers in a relaxed atmosphere can be found at Kiado Kocsma. For a fancy evening Jewish/Hungarian dinner with live piano music we recommend Spinoza. A place for a small breakfast, croissant and good coffee is Mai Mano Kavezo.

In addition to the usual worthwhile suspects (visiting a thermal bath, the great market hall, Fisherman’s Bastion…) almost all movies are shown in the original language – we had a splendid evening with the new James Bond.
Even with the current political situation Budapest is certainly worth a visit and convinces with its history, decent prices, a lively city and so much to do.

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Eine wahre Segelperle – der Schweriner See

Ankern vor Lieps auf dem Schweriner SeeNach drei schönen Törns auf der Ostsee sollte es dieses Jahr ein Pfingsten unter Segeln geben. Keine komplette Woche zu Chartern gestaltet sich ja meist etwas schwierig, aber auf dem Schweriner See wars ohne Pobleme möglich und so stand das Ziel schnell fest.

Schweriner SchlossGenerell finden sich recht wenige Törnberichte und Chartermöglichkeiten für den Schweriner See. Es scheint doch eher ein Revier zu sein, was von Eignern und Vereinen besegelt wird. Aber bei „Segelbootcharter Schwerin“ wurden wir mit einer Scandinavia 27 fündig und es gab auch gleich erste Ideen für einen möglichen Törnverlauf dazu.

Nach einer freundlichen und gründlichen Einweisung ging es am Freitag bei strahlendem Sonnenschein vom Schweriner Yacht Club (kein klassischer Hafen für eine Übernachtung – wir waren die einzige Yacht & Untiefe vor dem Hafen beachten) aus los. Nach einer Umrundung von Kaninchenwerder (verlockend zum Anlegen, was wir aber diesmal nicht gemacht haben) nahmen wir Kurs gen Norden um mit gelegtem Mast den Paulsdamm zu passieren. Bester Wind und SonnenscheinDie Nacht verbrachten wir am Anleger des Campingplatz Seedorf (ruhig, aber weder Wasser und Strom am Steg und mit 5€/Person dafür doch etwas teuer – aber auch hier waren die einzige Yacht über Nacht). Am nächsten Tag ging es ganz in den Norden zum dortigen Fischer mit eigenem An
leger (leider war der Imbiss nur bis 16.00 Uhr geöffnet.) Für die kommende Nacht stand Ankern vor der Insel Lieps an. Mit hochgezogenem Schwert konnten wir trotz der Größe der Scandinavia dicht vor/an der Insel festmachen – die letzten fünf fehlenden Meter ging es dann zu Fuß durchs Wasser.  Das Anlegerbier auf der unbewohnten Insel und die Idylle am Abend waren definitiv das Highlight des Törns. Am nächsten Tag ging es bei Sonnenschein pur aber etwas weniger Wind zurück in Richtung Schwerin – diesmal an den Gastanleger des Schweriner Segelvereins mit direktem Blick auf das Schloss (direkt am Steg war es nachts nicht so unruhig wie befürchtet und der Blick entschädigt sowie für alles / Strom gab es direkt am Anleger aber dafür kein Wasser). Am nächsten Tag war es dann nur noch ein kurzer Schlenker zurück in den Heimathafen

Ankern vor Lieps auf dem Schweriner SeeIn Erinnerung bleibt ein super schönes Segelrevier – insbesondere der weniger besegelte
Außensee und das Ankern vor Lieps lohnt sich. Die Scandinavia 27 fühlt sich tendenziell ein wenig zu groß für das Revier an, bietet dafür aber natürlich sehr viel Komfort (eine gute möglich Alternative wäre wohl ein 20er Jollenkreuzer). Vom Zeitraum waren drei volle Segeltage ideal – aber auch bei einem vierten oder fünften wird einem nicht langweilig.

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A true pearl – Sri Lanka

Three weeks time – where to spend them? Making up our mind… a place with sun during the European winter, beaches that are not crowded with people, culture to explore, different landscapes, rather small so you don’t spend day and night in coaches and lovely people. If you are looking for that Sri Lanka is just the perfect match.

Train ride from ColomboWe started our journey with a night in Colombo staying at the „white room“ (although the pictures look a bit more polished than it is, still a good place). While Colombo does not have a ton of attractions is still worth a short visit and also handy to buy the train ticket for the onward journey.


IMG_4567With one day in advance on a friday it was kind of difficult to get a train ticket but we finally managed and a great 4.5 hour train ride (starting quite hot but the sunset and landscape made up for it) brought us to Anuradhapura where we can definitely recommend Hotel Heladiv (in this case the pictures are much worse than the place actually is). The owners are very helpful and we actually got a free pickup and drop at the train/bus station. Although a hot adventure we can defintly recommend renting a bike near by the buddhist monuments.

DSCF0827A quick ride with one of the few A/C buses brought us to Sigiriya where we stayed a bit outside in the relaxing Kumbukgas Mankada Lodge – the outdoor shower is terrific! For the Sigiriya rock you definitely want to start early in the morning – and although overpriced for foreigners the view is marvellous. The nearby temple in Dambulla is in a cave, but requires a steep 200m walk.

DSCF0912Getting closer to the mountains a three hour bus ride brought us to Kandy  where we stay at the Pearl House with a balcony perfect for having an afternoon tea while overlooking the city. We also visited the tooth temple and after 1.5 hour we actually were to able to get a quick view of this famous Buddhist relic.

DSCF1022With just two days in advance it was impossible to get a train ticket to Nuwara Eliya but what worked was to buy the train ticket from Nuwara Eliya to Ella already. A bus ride with fascinating landscape but rather rough for your stomach brought us to Nuwara Eliya where we stayed in the simple but nice Redwood Inn. The tea plantations are worth a visit – but even more special if you are up for it is a dinner in the famous Hill Club, where the tea is server by the fire place.

DSCF1104Another fascination train ride (4 hours / 60km) brings you to Ella. It’s a traveler place as written in the books but the nature around it is worth a hike (Ella Rock) and the passion fruit mojito in the Cafe Chill is the best we had. The Ella Okreech Cottages (if you can take a room upstairs) are just far enough away from the street so that you don’t wake up in the morning but still close by.

It turned out that Ella is not a good place to continue traveling with public transportation and since we were heading right to the coast we rented a shared cab for that part of the way. (We did go to Galle first and then Tangalle – but you probably want to do it the other way around.)

DSCF1256We stayed just ten minutes away from Galle in Unawatuna and while this has become a very touristic place its a great bay and having dinner while the waves are touching your feet comes close to being in paradise. We stayed at the Thambapanni Retreat in an amazing room. Galle is also worth a visit for an afternoon – the old city is disturbingly quiet due to the fact that honking is not allowed!

DSCF1653For the last week we booked a little paradise in Tangalle – the Mangrove Beach Cabanas. A lovely beach with just a few people around – exactly the opposite of Unawatuna. As a day trip we visited Yala National Park. An evening trip to see the turtles coming to the beach is also really facsinating. Waking up with the waves and having a gin and tonic while watching the sun going down over the beach – it does not get much better.

DSCF1753For the last night we traveled all the way up to Negombo where we stayed at Palms Villa which is just a TukTuk ride away from the airport.

Knowing about each and every bus, detailed descriptions about the sights, always up-to-date and with just so much useful information the „Stefan Loose“ guide for Sri Lanka is our recommendation. (Overview of our route.)

To sum it up: Sri Lanka is definitely a place you want to visit.

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Bolivia – three weeks of sun

Early in the morning

Lamas in the morning

Planned for quite some time and finally realised: Julia’s and my trip to Bolivia. After over 24 hours of traveling we arrived in Santa Cruz in the middle of the night where we stayed with Julia’s former AFS host family. The next four days were filled with meeting the family, loads of great meat, pleasant temperatures, swimming in pools and an exciting carnival experience.

After these relaxing days we headed for  Sucre (2.800m). I have to admit I never thought that the difference in height could make such a difference. But that was soon forgotten due to the great place we stay – La Selenita comes pretty close to a paradise. Here is what we send the Rough Guide afterwards:

An amazing Bed & Breakfast is la Selenita, Mostajo 145. Four beautiful cabanas with private bathrooms in a garden that overlooks Sucre (called “Paradise“ in many reviews), delicious breakfast with homemade break and marmalade included.

Isla de Sol

Isla de Sol

Going along with that was a delicious dinner in La Taverne. After enjoying the beautiful spring weather we headed to Potosi (4067m) where we got to know more about Bolivia’s past and current mining and coin history. The next day we took the bus to Uyuni (stayed in the quite pleasant La Piedra Blanca Hostel) from where we started our three day Salary de Uyuni tour.
Picking the right tour company turned out to be quite a challenge and doing the research is rather depressing since there seems to be no tour company without a bad review.  We decided to go with Red Planet which is slighty more expensive (1200BS) but gives you detailed information upfront and keep their promises. And its definitely worth doing the trip – the nature is stunning and nothing like anything I have seen before. A highlight (and different from most other tour companies) was staying right next to the hot springs and enjoying them under a clear sky with lots of stars.

Island in the Salar de Uyuni

Island in the Salar de Uyuni

After three days in a jeep we made our way to La Paz with a 12 hour night bus ride which turned out to be quite bumpy in the first half. After having breakfast in La Paz we took the next bus to Copacabana to spend two relaxing days at the Lago Titicaca. Being well adjusted to the height the hike across the Isla de Sol Lovely was the perfect day program before we enjoyed a great trout and an equally great view at La Orilla. They also have rooms or you go straight for Las Olas.

La Paz

La Paz

The last four days were dedicated to La Paz and its surroundings. For best sandwiches in town and mojito for 20BS Sabor Cubano is THE choice. Another highlight not to be missed is cycling the former „death road“ where you start above 4000m freezing and within two hours arrive in a tropical environemt at 1000m. Besides the stunning scenery the bike ride itself is also worthwhile.

Three week of stunning nature, great people and relaxing went by way to quick. Bolivia is definitely worth a trip by its own.

Being helpful and accurate throughout our trip we can highly recommend The Rough Guide to Bolivia.



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