The Summer Begins

We’re back in Spain (Galera) for the summer, time to upgrade my home control setup to the latest ESP-GO and Tasmota versions not to mention some Node-Red and other updates and improvements. More on all of that later, but first things first – new toys on the way soon include the new upgraded Sonoffs from Itead.

I understand the upgraded Sonoffs will surface in May and I have a couple on the way, meanwhile a heads-up. The casing of these (still) low-cost mains control devices looks to be improved at last – with a new smoother, more rounded finish. There is a new “DIY” API which promises to do away with the need to re-flash the devices for custom home control.. and more.  As pointed out by reader “Smithy” the new Sonoff is claimed to be “MQTT-enabled” – more on that when I get samples…

Apparently MQTT-enabled Sonoff

Sonoff R3

If you’re not familiar with Sonoff, they are Alexa-compatible mains control units.  Below you see the inside of one of my R3 units after a switch replacement – here in sunny Spain I didn’t have an exact match bit this will do. I put Tasmota on this device as I often do. At the time of this update (August 20, 2019) I’m still working on getting the LED indicators right but that’s just a matter of following the Tasmota docs.. the actual BASICR3 is working a treat.

Sonoff R3 inside

First of my summer toys is a Bluetooth keyboard called an “Anne Pro 2” courtesy of Banggood. This is a compact (i.e. no room for cursor keys or separate numeric keypad) keyboard, USB rechargeable, substantial and very pretty. I’m no longer a DropBox user thanks to new device number restrictions on free accounts and the realisation that I could do a better job with my Synology NAS drive and a VPN. Having moved from the UK to Spain for the summer once again I was faced with lugging my computer and bulky NAS (Network Addressable Storage)  box over here or arranging remote access. With limited room in the car for the drive over here, I chose the latter.

So here, courtesy of a combination of mobile phone, PC, remote (UK) NAS and SnapSeed for Android, are some photos to start the ball rolling.  I have no idea why the box shows a white keyboard as mine is black, but here it is…Anne Pro 2 Bluetooth keyboard

You get the (USB-C-charged Bluetooth keyboard complete with USB lead, key removal device, instruction sheet and pretty-coloured replacement keys… (possibly useful to replace WASD keys for gaming). I recommend NOT losing the instructions if you get one of these.Anne Pro 2 Bluetooth keyboard

I should say straight away that the lack of separate keypad and cursor keys takes this one right out of the replacement PC keyboard market, however, for mobile use its a different matter. This keyboard looks like it will take a beating, it lights up a TREAT (internal rechargeable battery of course) with a range of backlight options from single colour, through static multi-colour to fading and more. Bearing in mind the lack of separate numeric pad etc., this is the essential part of a full size keyboard but using a lot less desk space (handy when you are out and about and don’t have a desk).

Anne Pro 2 Bluetooth keyboard

And there it is, all lit up on my desk and ready to go. I plugged it into the USB C lead last night and left it to get a good charge and so now it is itching to go. Unlike my AUKEY backlit keyboard which has just enough light for the top halves of the keys, hence leaving much of the info in the dark, this one does the backlighting properly as you can see.

The name of the keyboard (Anne Pro) is strange, I’ll grant you and reminds me of my first and only trip to Tokyo, Japan where I was delighted to see a number of car designs I’d never heard of before – including a Nissan “Sheila”.

You can access the cursor keys using one of several “special function” keys and of course, the numeric and other keys on the top row double up as F1-12.

Links for those interested in finding out more:

Obins Anne Pro 2 60% NKRO Bluetooth 4.0 Type-C RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard —

More Mechanical Keyboards —

That’s it for now – the underside of the box has the correct keyboard colour and some basic info in Chinese and English…

Anne Pro 2 Bluetooth keyboard


7 thoughts on “The Summer Begins

  1. nice addition to a best selling product, but… BUT… it’s always the same product… while other competitors succeed to put 2 relays WITH power monitoring on both in half a sonoff basic size, itead increases even more its box size… and the only addition is just an http api… no REAL new products, only little improvements on a well established lot of old ones, maintaining the same price, which is good, of course…

    most of the innovation today is done by Shelly, but they cost twice as much as the equivalent sonoff devices in half the size of a sonoff, usually… this has just been announced

    1. You mentioned the most important thing – the Shelly is WAY more expensive than the Sonoff – if all you want to do is turn a light or even a heater on and off, why spend 20 Euros on a Shelly 2.5 when you can spend under 5 Euros on a Sonoff. Even Shelly One is just shy of 10 Euros.

      1. indeed, that’s not their use case… but for me, i used a 2 relay shelly which fitted perfectly in my 503 wall mount box, nothing viewable from outside, immediately working for my already functioning up/down blinds, then easily connected to wifi… an sonoff dual would have been a “diy” solution with lots of cons, 1st of them it’s HUGE, and no power consumption monitoring… shelly uses power monitoring to detect when my blinds are full open/close, and automatically turn power off… 0 programming/hacking, 0 ugly stuff on the wall…

        shelly and sonoffs have different uses, most similar, but each with its pros and cons, and the price is the smaller of their problems, as i just explained… sure, i’ll never mass deploy a setup of shelly for everything, just because their expensive, indeed… but i’ll never do the same using sonoffs just because they’re cheap, as they need more “cure” and hacking and are just too big for many uses…

  2. It’s a pity, that Sonoff provides only REST API for their new gadgets, so to connect them using MQTT I’ll still need alternative firmware.

    1. Well, that’s no big deal for people like us using MQTT. I sometimes use Tasmota but recently I’ve been using my own ESP-GO more frequently – no longer do you need Alexa compatibility if using Node-Red thanks to the Amazon Echo node.. lovely and works a treat.

      1. If you load up the front page of Iteads website there’s 5 images displayed at the top of the page. The first image of the 5 showing the Sonoff Basicr3 shows an “MQTT Enabled” logo

  3. Cor it’s not cheap (£59.05 with discount), you could get an Android mini PC for that!

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