Cheap iBeacon

I’d like to enhance my presence detection with some iBeacons. I currently use wi-fi and owntracks for detection of home and away. I’d like to add iBeacons to improve owntracks detection.

Are there any ibeacons for sale on aliexpress or banggood / gearbest etc that are cheap. I was surprised how expensive they were when i tried to find some online.


The best “beacon” I have found is my Xiaomi Mi Band 2. The upside of this vs a beacon is that the battery lasts about a month, can be recharged and since it’s on my wrist its always on me. Oh, and it is about 20 bucks.

I think raspberry pi zero w can be used as an ibeacon too

I’m wondering if one of these can be used.

Core51822 $2.80 USD

CORE51822 BLE4.0 Bluetooth 2.4 GHz Wireless Module NRF51822 Communication Board RF Controller 2-3.6V to Clipboard

Looks to be a hassle to program.

There is also this module, it has two switches which i think can be programmed and setup using only am app on your phone, but I’m not 100% sure. I’m not sure if the cheaper first chip can do the same of you short two of the pins.

~ $5 USD

NRF51822 2V-3.3V Bluetooth 4.0 Wireless Module For iBeacon Base Station Intelligent Control System Beacon BLE Module 4MA W/ Case to Clipboard

I’m very Interested in how you’ve implemented this into HASS, care to share?

I’m using an HM-10 module which is really cheap, and can be programmed to become an iBeacon. You just need to add a case and power supply.
Just be aware that there are many clones available which may or may not work as expected.

I’m also interessed, on how this works, have a mi band 2

I use the HappyBubbles Presence Server for deciding where I am. Proximity information is being fed by a Node-Red pipeline running on a couple of Raspberry Pi W Zero’s placed throughout the house which all execute a continuous BLE-Scan for the MAC of my Mi Band.

With this, my house can know:

  • whether I am at home or not
  • In which room I am

For “home/away” detection I actually use something else, I currently use this setup for the room-tracking functionality.

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Thanks - that sounds good enough that for me to do home/away I’ll defo check it out!

Now just need to find some sort of keychain for the Mi Band (i already wear a watch) Maybe form some ThermoMorph Moldable Plastic around it…

I use these from gimbal,

5 bucks each, polished with a web interface and phone app, no possible wanky clones.

Already set up to use as a keychain.


What’s the range on these? I’d like to set up with my phone and OwnTracks, and my concern is whether the range is short enough. I’d like to be able to discriminate room-by-room, not just “at home”. Will they work for that? Price seems hard to beat.

The range on the gimbals is variable. You can adjust the transmit power by setting up profiles on the gimbal website(the default profile is some gimbal specific thing, but you can also apply profiles to act as a pure Bluetooth beacon)

In my tests with the tx power, i was able to keep the range from about a foot at lowest tx power, and 20-ish feet in an apartment with the fuller tx power settings. So with some trial and error for your space I think you can dial in that setting to keep signals contained within rooms.

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That sounds perfect. Thanks!

Another question: how long are the batteries lasting for you? They say 2-3 weeks in ibeacon mode on the website, is it really that short?

It depends on the power output, but in general I was getting 2-3 months since I didn’t need to have a strong transmission signal for my setup.

Personally not used this solution myself, I have all the parts just not got round to it. If you look at part 9 of these instructions he goes over tracking his dog but this could be applied to humans etc. Plus lots of other sensors you could potentially make with long battery life:


You can use a ESP32 with ESPhome software. Very cheap.

I bought a few of these but I can’t get my head around setting one up to advertise its UUID. Only the Gimbal Manager app will detect it which is of little use as I’d like to trigger an automation when the beacon is detected by the phone. Could you share how you implemented yours within hassio?

Solved it, in case anybody is trying to do the same thing here’s the instructions on how to set up a $5 Gimbal beacon as an iBeacon:

You can then set up a zone within hassio to determine whether you’re within the range of the beacon and trigger automations with it (in my case open the garage door).