Automating my video lighting with HomeControl + Stream Deck
I wrote previously about my video setup and mentioned that I had a couple of LED lights I used to improve the background lighting and eliminate shadows for my video. They’re pretty basic, but you can adjust the color with an included remote. I used it initially to set the color where I wanted it, and now just use it to turn the lights on and off individually. But I’ve always been slightly bothered that I didn’t have a way to control them all with the press of a single button from my Stream Deck.
I finally figured out a way, using the HomeControl Menu app for macOS and the meross Smart Power Strip.
Setting It Up
The first step was to get a HomeKit enabled power strip. I needed a power strip instead of a smart outlet because I had a single outlet available and four lights I wanted to control. I started with a simple search in Amazon and found this one:
It wasn’t exactly cheap, but it wasn’t super expensive either (about $50, but the 3 outlet version was only $30). It had decent reviews, so I decided to give it a shot.
Setting up the device was pretty straightforward. Once the device was plugged in, all I had to do was open the Home app and tap the Plus button in the upper-right to add an accessory.
I scanned the HomeKit QR code on the back of the power strip, and it was instantly added to the Home app. I could now turn the power on and off, but to automate the power strip from my Stream Deck I needed another piece of software: HomeControl Menu.
I first heard about HomeControl Menu from Jason Snell in a recent members episode of Upgrade where he talked about how he uses it to control his HomeKit-enabled lights. That then led me to this post on Six Colors about using the x-callback URL scheme support in HomeControl Menu to program URL actions on the Stream Deck, and that got me curious to see if I could program a URL action of my own that would allow me to turn all my LED lights on and off at once.
Here’s how I did it:
I realized that using x-callback URLs would be impossible as the spec only allows one URL at a time and I have 4 LED lights. That wouldn’t have been a problem if HomeControl could see the power strip itself to turn it on or off, but it couldn’t — it just showed me each individual outlet. So while it was easy to grab the URL for a single outlet from HomeControl, I wasn’t able to string them together in a single x-callback URL as I had hoped. Home Control does allow you to control scenes though, so I opened the Home app and created 2 very basic scenes:
- one where all 4 outlets on the power strip were turned on, and
- one where all 4 outlets on the power strip were turned off.
Next, I went into HomeControl Menu and got the automation URL for each scene. You can do this by going to Preferences → Customize Items… and right-clicking the item you want, then selecting Copy Automation URL.
Believe it or not, that’s all you have to do. You don’t need to understand a complicated URL scheme — you just need to copy the URL from Home Control and you’re set.
Next, I went into my Stream Deck software and created a new action for each scene, pasting the URL for the appropriate scene into the URL field.
It’s a pretty simple solution, but it does exactly what I want. Plus, I learned a home automation lesson about not making things needlessly complicated. Now I have Stream Deck buttons that allow me to turn all four of my LED background lights on or off with a single press.
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