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Almost three years I published an article detailing how to remotely buzz yourself into an apartment building. In the time since, new technologies have made it even easier to interact with your home remotely. Below, I detail an updated remote door buzzer that works with mobile phones and even Apple Watches. Furthermore, the basic setup is extensible to lighting systems and any other action that can be controlled by a shell script.

Overview

The ultimate workflow is simple and is as follows:

  1. On your smartphone or Apple Watch, send a Yo to a custom-created recipient
  2. Your door buzzer will be activated

To achieve this, we’ll be using a custom-made circuit that electronically switches the door buzzer. To control the circuit remotely, we’ll be using a Raspberry Pi home server that will receive casually authenticated signals over the internet sent via the Yo app (https://dashboard.justyo.co/).

Required Gear

The following items will be used to create your phone-controlled door buzzer:

  • Raspberry Pi — Any Raspberry Pi model should work, but I’m using the Raspberry Pi Model B+. You’ll also need an SD card (micro SD in the case of the B+ model) with at least a few gigs of space, and all gear

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There is a new version of this tutorial available. Check it out here!

I could carry my keys to unlock my building door, but I’d rather not. I could buzz up to my apartment and my girlfriend could buzz me in if she’s around, but that’s obnoxious. It would be best if I could buzz up a short-code to my apartment (a Morse message of sorts) and have it automatically buzz me in. Fortunately, that can be done with Arduino.

The Buzzer Situation

My apartment building is equipped with a Aiphone VC-K intercom and door release system. The entire system runs on 12V DC power with low current, so it’s much safer to interact with than any devices attached to a wall outlet. A quick web search for the model yielded a wiring diagram, a screwdriver provided quick access to the terminals in the handset unit, and a multimeter allowed me to understand how it works:

Aiphone wiring diagram

I have access to the VC-K unit in my apartment; the VC-M is at the front door. Terminals 1 and 2 provide communication with the

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