Cheap Sonoff-lookalike BASICs – Erm – NO. Aubess – YES.

Cheap knock-off Sonof BASIC?

No doubt I’m not the only one, despite being a long-term Sonoff BASIC user, who’s noticed that AliExpress and Temu have what look like cheap Sonoff knock-offs running as low on Temu as €2.00 on special offer and not much more on AlieExpress. Good deal?

Well, for the sake of it I bought two different kinds – all look the same externally – just like a Sonoff BASIC (well, almost).

They do indeed look like unbranded sonoff BASICS on the outside – and the good news is that both kinds I bought are based on ESP8285 – so at least in theory – they should be able to Tasmotize if you’re not keen on running them on the cloud-based SMARTLIFE APP – I’m even less keen now than I was last week having had some WiFi dropouts recently which of course immediately rendered Alexa and my Google Home Hub useless.


Anyway with Tasmota you don’t have to worry about any clouds – all local. But therein lies the rub: one of my three units uses an ESP module, vertically mounted – and what looks like an extremely basic main supply. But the worse part is, it has no PCB pin markings and no holes/pads to program up the ESP module. The other units are identical to each other and have the ESP mounted on the underside and do have some breakout pads – no holes, but again no markings – so figuring out how to connect to gnd, 3v, rx, tx, gnd and GPIO0 looks at first glance like it is probably not worth the hassle.

(Update after a few days off to solve my broadband issues). These are fine if you don’t mind cloud control of basic on-off – but for example: I thought I’d use these in a pair of bathroom lights (same switch) and have the lights under normal control but turn off after a while (timeout) as both my wife and I regularly forget to turn them off. SIMPLES – just set a timeout and have them default to ON on powerup. So they light the lamps when you switch them on and after say 15 mins turn off – but NO – there’s no timeout and no ability to default to on. Even using a Smartlife SCENE you can’t do it – SO unless I can figure out a simple way to Tasmotise these which I just did- it was going to be the BIN for them. Such functionality and beyond is bog-standard in Tasmota. Simply set them to default after power cycling to ON – and instigate the timeout of your choice. If only these companies weren’t so intent on trapping you into using Smartlife… at least Sonoff make the pins accessible on the board for Tasmota etc. flashing.

Later: I’ve done it for you… That photo top right above – starting on the right and moving left – the round pads – ground, nothing, GPIO0 (ground when powering up to program), RX on your FTDI ,TX on your FTDI, VCC. For Tasmota configuration – GPIO12 is relay, GPIO5 is the button (that’s NOTHING like Sonoff BASIC which uses GPIO0 for button AND programming) and GPIO1 LED (so you get the blue light for comms AND to indicate the relay is on). You have to wonder why they’d use a comms GPIO pin when there are plenty of GPIOs available to do the job. I could not figure out how to get to another pin for a temperature chip – so we’re just looking at a basic Tasmota relay output only- but that’ll do me – I can set this board to default to power up and to time-out after say 15 minutes all in Tasmota – which means where I have a wall switch that’s impossible to get to – I’ll use the wall switch for on/off but hide one of these boards where each of my two bathroom lights are.. and have the lights time-out after 15 minutes (bathroom – keep forgetting to turn the lights out) and all for under €2 each on special.

For my uses: command POWERONSTATE 1 to ensure the device is ON when powered up – and PULSETIME 1000 for 15 minutes (+ mandatory 100 offset)

And the last of these three – the one which has the ESP8255 module – not as hard as it looked to solder: only GPIO0 was tricky (programming) – a gold circle on the module as against one of it’s connectors..

On this final board, again GPIO12 = relay – but the LED (LEDi) is on GPIO4 (and VERY bright blue). The button is on GPIO13. You’d never think Sonoff did this all years ago, setting the standard – though to be honest unless you want to re-program – I prefer the button NOT to be usable for programming – that could always lead to accidents happening.

Subtle lighting? Erm, no.

cheap AliExpress ESP-based controller

But in general, how hard can it be to have a single standard for which GPIOs to use for a straight-forward power switch?

8285 module

Red power, green gnd, blue rx, yellow tx, and that purple circle is the programming pin GPIO0

So basically all you have to do is ensure the device is ESPxx based and there will be a way – and for clarify – November 2023 – no – Tuya-convert does NOT work with these devices otherwise I’d not have gone through all this. I had to prove that one way or another that I could get them running offline – and I wanted the timing features you just don’t get on cheap Tuya devices but which aer common in Tasmota. It would have been easier just to spend a little extra and buy previous-model Sonoff BASICS which have the pins clearly marked and a spare GPIO pin (GPIO2) for anything extra you may care to add like a DS18B20.

So then, I bought a cheap AliExpress Aubess DIY Smart Switch – 16A, Zigbee 3.0 – no part number anywhere – which is annoying.

Aubess power controller

I connected the Aubess to the mains and long-pressed the button on the underside until a blue light started flashing and… could this be my first spot of luck for the day?


I went to my Zigbee2MQTT web page and told it to accept devices. Sure enough this Tuya unit is recognised.

Short-pressing the button on the underside of the unit turns on the relay (and a blue light again on the underside). I renamed the unit from it’s unfriendly long Zigbee ID to “aubess-1”.

The button can be set to toggle, state or momentary and the unit has the choice to powerup off, on or last state. That”s pretty much it and it’s all I’d expect from a dirt cheap controller.

One caviat – the two connectors S1 and S2 – for replacing a real switch – I found when messing about with a wire across them (don’t do this at home) that quickly repeated sequential presses put the Aubess unit back into pairing mode… why when you have a pairing button underneath? I sometimes wonder about designers.

Back to my bathroom now, I wish I’d bought two of these Aubess units when the Temu sales were on. As I have this unit running under Zigbee2MQTT, it is easy to add the functionality I need (not stand-alone but then not cloud-dependent either).


5 thoughts on “Cheap Sonoff-lookalike BASICs – Erm – NO. Aubess – YES.

  1. Aliexpress knockoffs….

    Ikea is Rolling out more and more Zigbee stuff, most Lively in partnership with Tuya, also Lidl is doing the same. If you deploy all over the house, think home assistant and component which are safe from reliable sources. Maybe start looking at matter / thread (too late for you).

    Why home assistant? To avoid being dependent on the cloud If you internet is cut off.

    1. Interesting you say that – for a while I was using Ikea and Lidl stuff but at least here in Spain, Lidl stores seem to have lost interest in much of that – and the Ikea controllers I used didn’t have as much as the option to power up in the previous state so I binned mine. I don’t use Home Asistant – don’t like it personally and am much happier in Node-Red Dashboard – I always ensure Tuya Zigbee will run on Zigbee2MQTT (hence MQTT controllable from Node-Red) – most Aqara sensors will work with Zigbee2MQTT – I’d rather not use Smartlife if possible. I haven’t yet succceeded in getting Tuya and Node-Red collaborating – can’t get past the project setup. A long time ago when Tuya-convert worked I was a lot happier.

      Matter – I have my first devices already running on Matter but none of the miriad of ESP8266-based devices will go near Matter – and the Google Home/Matter hookup is far from perfect – Alexa seems OK with it but Alexa audio recognition isn’t as good as Google IMHO. “Hey Google – Living Room ON”. No problem. “Alexa, Living Room ON” works half the time, other times I get “I’m sorry, I don’t understand” or “Living Room can’t do that”. I’ve sworn more at Alexa than at our cats.

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