Use Mini PC / Minix (Neo Z83-4) for Home Assistant - what extra hardware for Zigbee and IOs?

For the GPIO why not a NodeMCU esp32 and ESPHome? It would be standalone (wifi) independent of your Mini PC. These things are cheap, have a ton of I/O and work really well.

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Thank you Steve for the suggestions, interesting! I will for sure look into that.

So far I had the approach to have several hard-wired IOs available via a (USB) board to the Mimix+Win10+HA set-up, this to be able to connect several existing (wired) home alarm contacts to the system.

Similarly, I have various existing 1-wire temp sensors of my floor heating system of my house which I also like to connect to the Minix (via a 1-wire board).

ESPHome is fantastic for wifi sensors but if you have a spare pi lying around you can’t beat this for hardwired:

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I have 3 door sensors, 1 window, and 3 motion sensors from my home alarm connected to a NodeMCU, works great for that.

For the zigbee Stick i use this one: Its preflashed for zigbee2mqtt, has an external antenna and since it comes from amazon, no 4 weeks waiting time for it. I cant tell you how good it performs with many devices in a big space, since Im doing every smarthome thing as hobby and live in a shared apartement with only my room for sensors and so on as test subjects, so i cant automate anything here. I have atm an ikea tradfri remote and a tradfri wireless power socket. But so far Im happy with it.

For the server, I personally recommend using linux as base instead of windows, and installing it either using normal docker setup or supervised install, what im using. My server is an old office pc from late 2006 and can handle win10, but on linux it runs wayyyyy better. I dont like virtual machines for small server applications and i think its waste of processessing power. Tbh, i dont like windows too. There are plenty linux distros out there, form beginner friendlier ones like ubuntu (for server use i would recommend an lts version) to advanced linux users (like manjaro linux, based on arch linux, 1 command and you upgrade to the newest version, i use it for my server) or linux pro distros like arch linux itself or gentoo linux (you basically install anything by hand on a terminal, you can customize every aspect of the os).
For the sensors, I would recommend an esp8266 with esphome, so you can basically even when home assistant is down read the sensors and have less wires to your servers. Or use an arduino and print every sensor value in the serial monitor and have a program on your server, that reads the serial monitor and publishes the values to mqtt or a database, from wich home assistant can read it. For that you have to code yourself, for the esphome solution you pretty much only describe, what the firmware has to do.

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The Atom is fast enough for HA. As many says you are better of with a lean Linux as basis OS as it hardly uses resources. To run Supervised this should be a Debian to be future proof. Or you can install a more user friendly Ubuntu flavour and the install HA in a VM like you planned for Windows. And then it is a Home Assistant OS based Home Assistant you will install

Do not use the PC for I/O. You will hate all the long wireing. I was there years ago. Hopeless. An ESP8266 D1 mini cost a few dollars. And you can place as many as you want exactly the place where you need it. And then either use ESPHome or Tasmota or a self made simple thing. And you link it all together with MQTT. The Mosquitto server is a few clicks in Home Assistant and it is installed as an AddOn. If you are not familiar with MQTT then it is one of the most simple thing to setup and to understand. Soon you will have them everywhere. And since they only cost a few dollars, and are the size of a matchbox, there lots a fun hours putting them everywhere and you can invest in a slow pace the next years and have fun with the process.

Zigbee stick. Zigbee is more stable if the base dongle has a good range. Do not go for the cheap dongle. Add a few dollars and get one with a better antenna. The same dongle with antenna has 2-3 times better range so your Zigbee network will be a 2-3 hops mesh. Or the Conbee II which has fantastic range even with its small antenna.

tenn0, Kenneth, many thanks for the good suggestions above. Very useful and it appreciated.

Fully agree that a Linux OS platform for a HA set-up is ideal. I do however have the Minix Neo+WIN10 set-up here catching dust already for some time, so I thought let’s use it to install HA (in a VM environment).
Ideally I should buy a Linux based platfrom/NUC to build it all up properly from scratch. Although a Rasp Pi has some great features, is low cost and is a low power comsumer, I really do not like the idea that it boots from a SD card (which has a higher failure rate than a SSD). For that reason in principle no Rasp Pi for me.
Will the Minix Neo (1.44 GHz Intel Atom x5-Z8300 Quad-Core)+WIN10+VM likely will perform sufficiently well with HA? Or should I just skip that option and go for a Linux set-up.

Regarding the (hard-wired) IOs, I fully agree you do not want all kinds of wires running to your HA platform. I do have however existing wiring in my house from various alarm contracts in doors and windows which are totally invisible (fully integrated in the wood work / walls) and various existing 1-wire lines coming from several temp measurement points of my (floor) hearing system in the house.
If you would have a Rasp Pi, you could connect those wires directly to the Pi.

Ideally I would like to get those existing wires connected to IO boards which can either communicated via UTP/my home network or USB to the HA platform. Thus not via wifi or Zigbee. These boards can than be installed at the place in the house where the cable ends are now (basement).


  • Debian + Home Assistant Supervised (which is Docker + Home Assistant in a container)

as opposed to this:

  • Windows 10 + Virtual Machine + Home Assistant OS (which is a hypervisor + Docker + Home Assistant in a container)

It’s why I originally asked that you let us know how well Win10+VM+HAOS works. What was unspoken is that’s a lot of layers for the chosen platform and the resulting performance might be unsatisfactory.

Have you considered an arduino ?

Pulling cables is a PITA but you can’t beat it for reliability.


If you’re not using the Minix for anything else anyhow, why not just ditch the Windows install on there and replace it with Linux? You will be much better off in the long run. You don’t have to stick with Windows just because Windows is what’s currently installed on there.

Great stuff Tom, looking good!! I see it is connected to Rasp Pi. Is the breakout panel for the ca 30 cables also supporting 1-wire temp sensing?

I want my existing hard-wired sensors also connected directly (wired) to my new HA platform. That’s the reason I am looking for suitable IO boards (incl 1 for 1-wire technology) which can interface either via LAN/UTP or USB to the new HA platform I intend to assemble. Then it will be for those sensors again a kind of ‘hard-wired’ connection; instead on trusting on wifi or Zigbee.

Two raspis, there’s one next to it. Yes flyte’s mqtt to gpio app supports 1-wire.

Old and out of date post (I use both raspis as gpio to mqtt bridges now and run HA on a Chinese mini PC):

OK, great! Good to know. Those breakout panels, where those customer built - did you design those yourself?

Yes I did, details in the topic.

OK, great. I’ll have a look.

Did you ever have an issue with a crashing SD card (and it had to be replaced)?

I understand that the new Pi 4 can have practically the whole OS on a separately connected SSD instead of the SD card (reducing significantly that crashing issue).

For my purpose (incl hardwiring sensors and the 1-wire interface), it would probably be the easiest to go for a Pi 4, buy a separate SSD for it too and a Zigbee USB dongle with external antenna (for any Zigbee elements I will likely buy later)

A related post on the topic:

Or should I go for a real HDD?

Never when running Home Assistant on the pi and never with those gpio to mqtt bridges (considerably less writes with them). Both have been faultless for the last 20 months.

SD card wearing out is a real issue on Raspberry Pi

An SSD wearing out? No! That other thread is a bit inaccurate. An SSD can break for so many other reasons. So can a harddrive. I have seen at least 4 crashed HDDs in my life in my own home. I am still waiting for my first SSD crash.
As long as your SSD is much bigger than needed the wear leveling will let it run much longer than the bearings of a HDD will last.

OK, thanks - good to know. Do you operate a large portion of the Rasp Pi OS on a SSD, or only the database elements? For sure I would not have it all on The SD card plugged in the Pi.