Not everyone is willing to shell out their hard earned cash on the next latest and greatest smart device. That said, not everyone is willing to mod their devices with microelectronics to transform them into custom smart devices but Ben from Ben's Electrical Escapades over at YouTube absolutely is. Using our favorite SBC, the Raspberry Pi, he’s transformed his regular washing machine into a smart washing machine.
What makes this washing machine so smart? After Ben got ahold of it, the machine got a few new cool features including the ability to detect when a load of laundry is actively being washed and whether or not anyone has accessed the washer to dry the load. If it’s done washing and no one has opened the door after a set amount of time, the washing machine uses the Pi to notify Ben with a text.
There are two sensors at play to help determine when the washing machine is in use and when it was last accessed. A vibration sensor is used to determine when the machine is active. Ben suggests this could also be used to help determine how much power the washing machine is drawing. A door sensor is used to determine when the washing machine was last opened.
In this project, Ben is using a Raspberry Pi 3B+ but you could get away with something bigger like a Pi 4 or Raspberry Pi 5 but even a smaller board like a Raspberry Pi Zero 2 W would work just as well. The vibration sensor is mounted on top of the washing machine while the door sensor is mounted to the outer edge of the door. Both of these are wired to the Pi’s GPIO pins.
According to Ben, the main code used in this project is Python. He’s using a few other tools including MQTT (a lightweight message protocol) and Zigbee (a low-power wireless communication system). The Viper API is used to send messages for notification. Ben provides a complete breakdown of how this setup works over at his YouTube channel. You can follow along exactly or make changes along the way to suit your hardware and software preferences.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.
Ash Hill is a Freelance News and Features Writer at Tom's Hardware US. She manages the Pi projects of the month and much of our daily Raspberry Pi reporting.