DIY IoT Central – Home Assistant / InfluxDB / Grafana

Get started with Home Assistant, InfluxDB and Grafana.

Laying the Foundation

Create several directories to persist configurations, logs & data

You’ll most likely use different directory names – keep in mind that you have to update the docker-compose.yaml too
/share/Container/home-assistant Home Assistant configuration
/share/Container/influxdb InfluxDB Data & Config
/share/Container/grafana/log Grafana Logs
/share/Container/grafana/data Grafana Data

Basic configuration

InfluxDB Generate the default config for InfluxDB

docker run --rm influxdb:1.2-alpine influxd config > influxdb.conf

Now move the influxdb.conf to your config directory (in my case /share/Container/influxdb)

Home Assistant If no configuration is found, Home Assistant will create a basic configuration itself after the container has started.


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OSX: Use a GUI (X11) app in Docker


First install socat via brew:

If you don’t have brew installed, just follow these instructions.

Next is XQuartz. Download the DMG from and install it.



Start socat:

Now start XQuartz. Go to Preferences and enable “Allow connections from network clients”:


XQuarts Setting Menu

Quartz Settings

Now find the ip address of our VM. Open virtualbox and go to the settings of your VM. Click to the “Network” Tab.

Screenshot 2016-02-18 21.56.24In my example, the interface we’re looking for is “vboxnet2“.

Lookup the ip by executing “ifconfig vboxnet2” in the terminal.
Screenshot 2016-02-18 21.57.48

Now we’re ready to start Firefox inside of a docker container 🙂

This will download a minimal image (~200MB) and start Firefox


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The best for last: A complete Docker-RPi-RTL-SDR ADSB/ACARS Solution


After my last two blogposts [1][2], many of you asked “Why Docker on a Raspberry?” if you can install all the software directly (“There are so much tutorials“). Yeah, that’s right – but think how much work you have to invest to get the following setup running:


  • Raspberry Pi 2 & 2 RTL-SDR Sticks
    • Nr 1 is monitoring ADSB via dump1090
    • Nr 2 is monitoring ACARS on 2 frequencies via acarsdec
  • FR24FEED ( is taking the data from dump1090 and feeds it to FR24
  • FlightAirMap (PHP/MySQL) is taking the data from acarsdec and dump1090 to generate a comprehensive statistic and live map of your received data.
  • A Mysql server for storing the Data behind FlightAirMap

You need five services which you have to install/compile, to configure, to link and to manage.

But there is a much more convenient solution: docker-compose and one (!) configuration file 🙂

FlightAirMap & dump1090 Screenshots






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RPI + Docker + ACARS: Receive “Aircraft SMS”

After the fantastic feedback i got for my blog post about ADSB reception with RTL-SDR (and Docker), the next point in my list is ACARS.

The basics: What is ACARS?

ACARS is short for Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, a digital data link between an aircraft and a ground station and/or satellite.

ACARS Terminal
ACARS Terminal

The on-board avionic computer system (aircraft) consists of the ACARS Management Unit (ACARS MU) and a Control Display Unit (CDU) for sending and receiving digital information messages from the ground-based stations.

Ground equipment is made up of a network of radio transceivers managed by a central site computer called AFEPS (Arinc Front End Processor System), which handles and routes messages. Generally, ground ACARS units are either government agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration, an airline operations headquarters, or, for small airlines or general aviation, a third-party subscription service. Usually government agencies are responsible for clearances, while airline operations handle gate assignments, maintenance, and passenger needs. (Wikipedia)


This is a message send by the CFD (Central Fault Display) of an aircraft 😉


Or something like this


You’re now interested how to receive such messages with minimal Hardware? You have your Raspberry Pi 2 ready? Docker installed? RTL-SDR attached? Then read on.

If not, start with my earlier blog posts to get the basics:


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Docker on a Raspberry – Q&A

Soon after i published my last blogpost (Raspberry Pi + Docker + RTL-SDR) i received a bunch of feedback, questions and critic.

“Why not just compile the applications directly?” – “I may be missing the point here but why bother with Docker on the Pi?” – “It does nothing to help the Dump1090 program at all.”

So I’d like to adress some of the points in this post and explain my motivation for using Docker.


Let’s start right away with the most controversial question: Why Docker on a Pi?

Well, because it’s possible 🙂 About two weeks ago i stumbled over a blog post from the guys at Hypriot. They not only managed to install Docker on a Raspberry, they also packaged a nice and easy to use SD-Card image which i used for my first experiments. I already have some substantial background in terms of Docker as we’re using this in larger scale in our company. The concept of Containers and Images is a nice fit if you want to build an orchestrated and reproducible toolchain for you RTL-SDR – Build your Image, upload it to the docker hub – the next time you’re reinstalling your Pi (or installing a new one) you just have to run one command and the exact same version, incl. all the dependencies will be downloaded from the hub and ready to use in minutes. So no problems with outdated Howtos, updated libraries, missing git repositories etc.


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Raspberry Pi + Docker + RTL-SDR

In the last days, i tinkered with different things: I installed Docker onto a Raspberry Pi 2, built several docker images [1][2] and got myself two new RTL-SDR-Sticks.

Today, I’ll bring all these Projects together and show you how to build a virtual aircraft radar (screenshot) – so fasten your seatbelt 😉

DUMP1090 Screenshot

I’m ready – tell me what I need

  • You’ll need a Raspberry Pi 2  – yes, 2! – Of course, you can go with a Pi 1 – but to be honest, this thingy has just not enough ram and only one core so it’s not really suitable for docker. But hey, if you like the pain – go on 😉
  • The Pi has to be prepared to run Docker – You can use the guide from my blog post if you need help
  • And of course you need a RTL-SDR Stick – so if you ever watched DVB-T on your Laptop, the chances are good that you already have a suitable Receiver. Some people over at Reddit compiled a nice list of sticks which are suitable for our little experiment. Oh, and an Antenna would be awesome 😉

List completed? All points checked? Great, let’s go on!


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Install RabbitMQ on Dokku

In a previous post, i explained how to package RabbitMQ and several plugins in a Docker Container, so this will be a followup which shows you how to deploy and configure the RabbitMQ Container on a dokku host.

This Post will not explain how to install Dokku itself – so i assume you have a Dokku environment configured and ready.

Prepare your deployment

The following Dockerfile uses the official RabbitMQ Container and extending it by activating the management and the MQTT plugin. If you don’t need MQTT the you can delete the line  RUN rabbitmq-plugins enable --offline rabbitmq_mqtt .

Now create a new directory containing the Dockerfile with the above contents and initialize a git repository.

Then add your dokku server via  git remote add dokku

DO NOT PUSH(!) your changes now, you have to do some configuration first!


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Optimise your Dockerfile

While i am building images for Docker on a Raspberry Pi, I searched for a way to keep my Images as small as possible because of the limited amount of disk space and also because of my $&#@ internet connection at home (really a pain in the $#@ if you want to push bigger images to the docker hub).

Let’s start with the base image for all of my sdr tools. This image derives from resins’s Debian Jessie Image and contains the basic “toolchain” for building/compiling rtl-sdr applications.

So, that’s the original Dockerfile were using to build my Baseimage (sysrun/rpi-rtl-sdr-base):

This Dockerfile gives us a container size of ~307MB.

Optimise the process

We don’t need the package cache (downloaded packages) to be integrated in our container. So adding a apt-get clean after our install will save us some space. The apt-get update is populating the /var/lib/apt/lists/ with stuff we also don’t need after the build. So just remove them

This saves us 22MB – in this case not much. But depending on the packages you install, it could be more.

If you’re doing this for a base container, keep in mind that you have to run apt-get update to repopulate your apt cache. If you miss this step, your apt-get install calls will fail! Also clean up again after you installed the new packages.

The final Dockerfile

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Docker on a Raspberry Pi

The guys at Hypriot did an awesome job to bring Docker to the Raspberry Pi world.

If you want to give it a try, you have two options

Option 1: Prebuilt images

Thats the best option if you want to have a full-fledged docker environment with optimized settings and hassle free installation.

Just download the image from this page and “burn” it to a sd-card. Plug the card in your RPi and enjoy.

Read more about this solution in their Blog: Get your all-in-one Docker playground now: HypriotOS reloaded!

Option 2: Debian Package

This option is the way you should go if you don’t have a spare sd-card around.

You can download a .dep file from this page and install it via dpkg -i package_name.deb

I tried this option on my current Jessie installation and encountered one problem: All docker command had to be issued via sudo. Thats because the docker.sock is only accessible for the root user. I didn’t follow up on this as i am going with option one 🙂


Quick test run? Here we go

After you have installed either the image version or the dep, you should be good to go for a first test.

Log in to your pi and kick of the following command:

docker run -d -p 8080:80 hypriot/rpi-busybox-httpd

Docker is now downloading the webserver image from the docker registry and start the container.

Now start your web browser and open http://<your-pi-ip>:8080

hyprion test docker images


Wait, there is one more thing

They also build an awesome hardware stack called “The Pi Tower” which consists of 4 Raspberry Pi 2 stacked on top of a 5-Port-Switch.

(c) 2015 hypriot
Pi Tower – (c) 2015 hypriot

Read more about this at their blog: Let Docker Swarm all over your Raspberry Pi Cluster



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Installing WordPress on Dokku

To get WP up and running you have to prepare several things. This guide is based on a Dokku installation on a DigitalOcean Dropplet; for me the most convenient way to get a Dokku platform running.

Prepare your dokku environment

To make sure everything is on place, you should prepare your dokku environment.

1. Add your app

Create a app with the  dokku apps:create <appname> where appname is the sub domain of your dokku server.

2. Add a Database

I’ll use the official mariadb plugin for firing up a mysql database.

First add a new database by executing the following command  dokku mariadb:create .

Choose whatever you want for the databasename.

After firing the command, you should see a output like this:

Please note the line

  DSN: mysql://mariadb:[email protected]:3306/my_wp_database 

we will need this information later to configure the WordPress database!

Now connect your database to your app. This step makes sure your app has access to the db.

dokku mariadb:link my_wp_database yourappname


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