TJ Huddleston from with Maker Spaces, Home Automation Favorites and the Litter Robot – HGG595

This week I am joined by TJ Huddleston from We kick off the conversation by delving into the intricacies of TJ’s background, gaining valuable insights into the technological landscape that has shaped his journey. We look at the dynamic realm of Maker Spaces, exploring the symbiotic relationship between innovation and community through entities like Friends of the Library. Stepping into the realm of home automation, TJ shares his technical prowess in optimizing household tasks, highlighting experiences with advanced technologies such as the Litter Robot. Get ready for a preview of TJ’s upcoming venture—automating the intricacies of home watering systems. Thanks for listening!

Full show notes, transcriptions (available on request), audio and video at

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Litter-Robot 4

RAIN SEER Zigbee Sprinkler Timer WiFi Water Timer

Show Segments

  • Tech gadgets and products with guests TJ from Home Tech FM.[0:00]
    • Jim Collison welcomes TJ Huddleston to Home Gadget Geeks.
  • Home automation and technology with a focus on personal experience and industry insights.[1:55]
    • TJ is from western Ohio and got interested in technology during the Windows ME days.
    • TJ fixed computers in high school and college, but didn’t know what they wanted to do with technology until later.
    • TJ moved to Orlando, Florida for a summer camp job and later decided to move to Ohio due to heat and humidity.
    • TJ started their own home automation company and shares their experiences as a professional integrator and DIY enthusiast.
    • TJs stories are influenced by their personal use of technology in their home and business, providing valuable insights for listeners.
  • Home automation equipment preferences and limitations.[7:03]
    • Jim Collison and Speaker 2 discuss their experiences with home automation equipment, with Jim highlighting the best and worst products he’s worked with (Ring cameras and Lutron lighting controls, respectively).
    • TJnames Lutron as their go-to gold standard for smart lighting controls and shades, while also praising Sonos speakers for their reliability despite networking issues.
    • TJ prefers on-site storage for home security cameras, citing flexibility and cost savings.
    • TJhas transitioned from using ubiquity cameras to hardwired cameras, citing limitations and convenience features.
  • Home automation challenges and solutions.[11:47]
    • Jim Collison and Speaker 2 discuss home automation and security cameras, with Jim sharing his experience of getting complicated and giving up, while Speaker 2 mentions that wireless cameras can be a good option for those who want to keep an eye on things without the hassle of wiring.
    • TJ discusses the challenges of starting a home automation business, mentioning the importance of having a local solution and the limitations of relying on cloud-based systems.
    • TJ shows enthusiasm for the new Homie Pro hub, which offers a range of wireless standards and a cleaner interface, but is more expensive than other options.
  • Home automation and makerspaces in a library.[17:15]
    • Jim Collison and a guest discuss the Homie Pro, a home automation hub with wireless standards and RGB lighting, which Gavin approved.
    • The guest mentions that Homie has been around for about six months and has mostly positive reviews.
    • TJ is on the board for the Friends of the Library for Delaware County and is actively involved in raising money for the local Makerspace.
    • TJ joined the Friends of the Library and became the technology chair to help with the Makerspace initiative.
    • TJ discusses the new makerspace in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, which includes 3D printers, laser engravers, and other equipment for creative projects.
    • The makerspace has been open for six months and is popular, with training classes booked up a month in advance.
  • 3D printing and library resources.[24:09]
    • Brian discovers library’s Friends of the Library group through networking event.
    • TJ has experience with 3D printing and ran a print farm, selling items on Etsy.
    • TJ mentions printing custom accessories for a Milwaukee packout, including extension cords and levels.
  • Makerspaces in libraries and their resources.[27:31]
    • New business owner saves money on signage and decor for store opening by using library resources and makerspace equipment.
    • Jim Collison shares a story about a library in Omaha that built its own dedicated Makerspace, which was previously located in a Borders Bookstore that had closed.
    • TJ suggests checking the local library’s website or doing a Google search for “Makerspace” and the county or city name to find out if there are any nearby Makerspaces.
  • 3D printing quality and library resources.[31:11]
    • Library 3D printers typically include calibration and pre-print preparation, saving time and effort for users.
    • TJ mentions that high-end 3D printers have better quality and are more reliable, making them worth the investment.
    • TJ also notes that some 3D printers are designed to be user-friendly and easy to use, with features like auto-leveling and good quality life improvements.
  • 3D printing, automation, and cat litter.[34:46]
    • Jim Collison and Speaker 2 discuss 3D printing and automation, with Speaker 2 sharing their experience with ordering 3D printed parts online and their recent purchase of an automated litter box for their cat.
    • TJ praises the Litter Robot, stating that it’s worth the investment despite being expensive, and their cat has no problem using it.
    • TJ purchased the Litter-Robot 4 because it has an auto-emptying feature and is reliable, despite their cat being hesitant at first.
    • The speaker uses the app to monitor the litter box and has set up an automation to notify them when the cat uses the restroom.
    • The speaker has heard negative reviews about other automated litter boxes, but they are satisfied with the Litter-Robot 4 so far.
  • A smart litter box and cat health monitoring.[40:27]
    • Cat owners discuss using smart litter boxes to monitor cats’ health, including detecting kidney issues.
    • TJ expresses satisfaction with their purchase, but concerns about longevity.
  • Home automation and favorite products.[43:52]
    • Jim Collison is considering buying a robot vacuum cleaner but chickens out due to the effort required to move it across carpet.
    • TJ buys tech products throughout the year and has a self-imposed ban on making purchases starting in November to avoid ruining Christmas gifts.
    • TJ mentioned their favorite home automation product is the Zooz Zen 30 double switch, which allows for dimming and fan control with a physical button at the bottom.
    • TJ also discussed how they use single switches for ceiling fans in their older home due to the thin walls, which made it difficult to install double switches.
    • TJ has installed smart home devices in their 1200 square foot single-story ranch, including light switches, garage door opener, and security cameras.
    • TJ has replaced ubiquity outdoor cameras with rebranded Chinese cameras with Starlight sensors for better low-light performance.
  • Home automation and smart devices.[50:53]
    • Jim Collison and Speaker 2 discuss the use of Z-wave switches for home automation, with Speaker 2 sharing their experience of swapping out cameras for Z-wave switches due to animal activity in their yard.
    • TJ explains that they have Z-wave switches for lighting and fans in their bathroom, with the top portion of the switch controlling the light and the bottom portion controlling the exhaust fan.
    • Jim Collison is interested in smart appliances, such as preheating the oven with a smart app, for convenience and time-saving.
    • TJ is not interested in smart appliances, finding them unnecessary and lacking in benefits.
  • Home automation projects, including garage door automation and gardening.[55:11]
    • Jim Collison mentions an automation he set up to shut his garage door at night, which he found helpful until the pandemic broke the habit.
    • TJ shares pictures of their camera upgrade, showing the difference between the old and new cameras.
    • TJ is looking forward to automating their garden’s watering system with ZigBee controlled smart valves.
    • TJ is considering using a spigot functionality for their garden automation instead of building a sprinkler system.
  • Gardening, lawn care, and automation.[59:41]
    • Jim Collison and Speaker 2 discuss the possibility of starting a garden, with Speaker 2 expressing hesitation due to lack of time and resources.
    • Jim Collison suggests investing in a raised garden bed or timers for irrigation, while Speaker 2 mentions the need to determine the layout of the garden once a privacy fence is installed.
    • Jim Collison is considering purchasing a robot lawnmower, but is hesitant due to the cost and complexity of the device.
    • TJ is not interested in automating their lawn mowing, as they enjoy the process and find it therapeutic.
  • Lawn care technology and home automation.[1:04:36]
    • TJ is hesitant to spend $2,500 on a lawnmower, citing concerns about reliability and the need to move objects out of the way.
    • TJ and Jim Collison discuss the robot vacuum’s tendency to crash into objects and the need to monitor its movements.
    • Brian in the Phoenix area notes a shift from lawns to gravel or zero-scaping in yards.
    • Jim Collison suggests having all three hosts on a show to discuss each other and homage.
  • Home technology and podcasting with TJ.[1:08:42]
    • TJ discusses their podcasting experiences and guests, including Josh Fowler and TJ Hooker.
    • Jim Collison invites Speaker 2 to join their Discord group and encourages listeners to subscribe to their podcast and leave messages at Home Gadget
    • Jim Collison is taking a break from his podcast for the holidays and will return on January 4 with an interview with the CMO of, a monitoring solution for parents to keep their kids safe online.
    • Jim mentions the challenges of scheduling interviews with industry experts, particularly the difficulty of finding a time that works for both parties.

More from Chat GPT

The HomeTech Podcast is a podcast that covers news, opinions, insights, and advice on all things Smart Home. It is co-hosted by Home Automation Pros Gavin Campbell, TJ Huddleston, & Seth Johnson ¹. The podcast has been running for several years and has over 300 episodes ⁵. The hosts discuss a wide range of topics, including home automation, smart home devices, home security, and more. They also frequently have guests on the show to share their expertise and insights ¹. The podcast is available on various platforms, including Apple Podcasts ⁵, TuneIn ², and iHeart ³.

Source: Conversation with Bing, 12/23/2023
(1) Podcast.
(2) ‎ on Apple Podcasts.
(3) | Listen to Podcasts On Demand Free | TuneIn.
(4) | iHeart.
(5) – Podnews.

Here are some popular episodes of the HomeTech Podcast:

  1. Episode 463 – Pretty Good for a Dying Industry: Gavin Campbell, TJ Huddleston, & Seth Johnson discuss Ubiquity’s new product, Apple’s updated AppleTV app, and more ¹.
  2. Episode 462 – The Building Blocks of Matter with Daniel Moneta: Daniel Moneta, who works on Product and Marketing Strategy at Samsung Smart Things, joins the hosts to talk about Matter ¹.
  3. Episode 461 – The New Matter Slapper (with AI): Gavin Campbell, TJ Huddleston, & Seth Johnson discuss Inovelli’s new fan canopy control, IKEA’s new sensors, and more ¹.

The HomeTech Podcast has over 300 episodes, so there are many more to choose from! You can listen to the podcast on various platforms, including Apple Podcasts ⁴, TuneIn ², and iHeart ³.

Is there anything else I can help you with?

Source: Conversation with Bing, 12/23/2023
(1) Podcast.
(2) ‎ on Apple Podcasts.
(3) | Listen to Podcasts On Demand Free | TuneIn.
(4) 15 Best Home Automation Podcasts You Must Follow in 2023 – Feedspot Blog.

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