LittleBits Hue Lighting Controller


LittleBits Hue Controller Demo Loop

Animated GIF showing me using the LittleBits Hue Controller to cycle the brightness and color of my lights

In case it wasn’t clear from my recent cameo on some RadioShack fliers, I’ve been having a bunch of fun with LittleBits‘, more sophisticated modules recently. A few months ago, I posted a project showing how to use the CloudBit to connect your umbrella stand to the internet. This latest project leverages the LittleBits Arduino Bit, a small linux computer (like a BeagleBone, Raspberry Pi, or UDOO), and the Philips Hue Hub to easily control the state, brightness, and color of your Hue lightbulbs via a tactile interface.

Here’s a quick video showing this project in action:

This project is open source hardware and software. Read on to learn how to make it, and to learn more about how it works!

How it works…

The system architecture of the LittleBits Hue Lighting Controller is pretty simple, but I put a lot of thought into making the system robust, fast, and easy-to-setup. I’ve actually been using this controller daily for the last several months, but I completely rewrote most of the code in preparation for sharing it here – most notably, I built an automated setup routine, added serial device auto-connect logic, and made the system more robust against hardware state changes (like suddenly unplugging the controller from the attached linux computer).

Here’s a diagram that explains how the system is setup:

LittleBits Hue Controller Block Diagram

The system is comprised of the control panel, a linux machine, and the Hue hub/bulbs

There are really only three components to the system – the control pad, the linux machine, and the Philips Hue network. When you press buttons or turn the dial on the control pad it sends serial commands to a script that’s running on the linux machine. The script interprets the commands and talks to the Hue hub over the local network to instruct it to change the lights. When you’re setting up the system, you’ll use a automatic setup mode that I’ve included in the Python software. The script handles configuring the linux machine to automatically launch the listening service on boot, it creates the secure connection with the Hue hub, and it allows you to select which lights on your Hue network you’d like to control with the control pad. The Python script also automatically identifies the right serial device and will automatically handle reconnecting the serial interface on USB disconnection events. You don’t have to know anything about configuring Linux serial devices to make this software work – it’s all automatic. It will even work on systems that have multiple USB serial devices attached (even multiple Arduino Leonardo boards – the LittleBits module identifies itself as an Arduino Leonardo).

Make it!

Ready to make one for yourself? You need to gather materials, get everything assembled, wire it all up, and program the Arduino and the Linux machine. The GitHub ReadMe for this project has all the deatiled instructions that you should need. You’ll want to visit the GitHub page directly too, so you can download the source code and 3D designs! The detailed ReadMe instructions are embedded below:

[remote-markdown refresh=”60″][/remote-markdown]

Supporting Code and Designs

The LittleBits Hue Controller is released as entirely open source hardware and software. All materials are distributed under the GNU General Public (Open-Source) License. Please Attribute and Share-Alike. All files are hosted on GitHub.

GNU GPL LicenseOpen Source HardwareGet it on GitHubDownload from Thingiverse


  1. Pingback: LittleBits Hue Lighting Controller - Arduino collector blog

  2. Pingback: LittleBits Hue lighting controller - RLabs

  3. This is pretty cool. Thank you for sharing. Will give it a try. Happy Holidays!

  4. This is really awesome, thanks for explaining it so simply that even a beginner like me can do it! I can’t wait to try this.

  5. Pingback: Control your Philips Hue lighting with this DIY controller | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

  6. sir,we have a ditinct project based on wireless comm. with zigbee+arduino.
    can you please help us

  7. I’m confused maybe I’m hopeless but I wanted to do this with my 11 yo son so be patient please; I don’t understand what you want in the first step “Program the Arduino Bit” how does that fit into this step??? “Obtain and Setup the Server Script”.

  8. I really like your arduino tutorial videos, and I don’t know if this is the right place to ask but please help me with edof camera interfacing with arduino. I took out 5mp camera from nokia x2-00, it had an extremely small code/partno on it (that needed a powerful magnifier): 1953 KOLD 1073. I could not find a ds for this part, but I found ds of VX6953CB whose structure is almost exactly similar. Its a 100-page ds with so many registers, I am confused.

    All I need is a simple video feed to pc(of any bad res if 5mp not possible with uno, black-white will do) or atleast picture capture. VX6953CB has SDA, SCL pins.

  9. Hi Jeremy! We would like to feature this project on our site If you are interested, kindly drop me a message on my business e-mail: [email protected]. I’ll be looking forward to your response! Thanks.

  10. Hi,

    I have Arduino Yun, should ne also possible to do this. Can you give some direction? How difficult this would be? And best way to start?



  11. What an awesome project ! I was working on something similar but I gave up, but now seeing in action, I’m gonna continue my project ! thanks !

  12. Pingback: Arduino with Jeremy Blum | MAKE A DAY

  13. Ohh My god! your projects really cool! I really like this! Really..
    thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!

  14. Thanks for awesome article, i realy like this project. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Very nice. It’d be fun to see if you could spin this off in to a home automation control hub or something. Add a Nest thermostat and you’re half way there with AC and lights.

  16. This is a great home automation project! But i recommend the home automation project with Arduino Uno and the ethernet shield to control lights and stuff in your room or house. You can find a simplified home automation project at ( ) It’s a pretty good tutorial and the code is included!

  17. This is a great automation project!I also want to make a try.Really cool.

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