Sonoff Basic R3 – DIY Switch via HTTP POST of JSON

The latest firmware of the Sonoff BasicR3 Wifi Switch now allows the device to be controlled through the DIY mode built into its firmware (v3.6.0) without any re-flashing with Tasmota firmware or fooling about with jumpers. The only obvious limitation for some people is that the “eWeLink” app and DIY access cannot both be used together; the switch is either in DIY mode or app-control mode. This is not an issue for me as I have no requirement for remote control from outside my LAN and don’t intend to use the app at all. In any case it would not be hard to either use a general purpose HTTP “shortcuts” app (e.g. HTTP Shortcuts!) for control from a phone from my LAN, or to write/run my own web app of a Raspberry Pi. I begin to digress… the point of this post is to make some notes for myself in a way which someone else might find useful (and adding some extra helpful comments). Much of what follows can be found on the web, but there are some holes, and I didn’t find the documentation quick and easy in parts.

Getting into DIY Mode

The key is to get the device into what the Sonoff User Manual calls “Compatible Pairing Mode”. The push button is used in two stages, with long (5s) holds first to get the LED signalling “..-” and then a continuous rapid flashing.

The switch is now acting as a WiFi access point with SSID (name) of “ITEAD-{device_id}”, where device_id will be something like “100136da83”. Connect to this network and then visit to access a web page which allows you to enter your own WiFi SSID and password. After a short while, the Sonoff device will have closed its access point and connected to your local network. It is now in DIY mode, and will stay this way when its power supply is disconnected and reconnected. The LED will signal “..”. You can still use the eWeLink app to add the switch to its device list, but this cancels the DIY mode. Also: once in DIY mode, you cannot access, no matter how many times you force the device into making “ITEAD-{device_id}” available. The exception to this is if you power the switch up so it cannot connect to your local network. In which case, the device will eventually (20s) give up trying to connect and become eligible to be forced into Compatible Pairing Mode again.

Finding the Device on the Network

This is not as simple as it might be; it would have been neater if the web page reported its network name before disappearing. This is a bit messy.

Option 1 is to look at the client list in your router admin web interface. This is likely to require the “advanced” option. In my case, my modem-router does provide a client list, but rather confusingly the client name which is reported, and the MAC address have no obvious connection with the device_id revealed above. The client name is like “ESP_80DD76”, which is the standard way an ESP8266 (etc) chip reports its name, which takes the last 3 bytes of the MAC address prefixed by “ESP_”. If you can see something like this, you’ve found the IP address and can progress to the “Control the Switch” section, below, although you will have to trust that the default port is used (I see no reason why it would not be).

Option 2 is to use an mDNS browser. The essence of mDNS is a service which links device names to IP addresses and other info. MS Windows doesn’t seem to have an easy way to do this, but if you also run a Raspberry Pi it is not hard. Mac users can use Bonjour, there are Android Apps, and linux users (of course) can do as follows anyway. The service/tool for the Pi is Avahi. This should already be up and running, which can be confirmed using “service avahi-daemon status”. The mDNS browser requires the avahi-utils package, which was not on my Pi, but installed with “sudo apt-get install avahi-utils”. The simple command is not “avahi-browse –all –resolve”, which will reveal that the mDNS name is of the form “eWeLink_{device_id}.local”. The port entry will report which TCP port should be used to connect to the device, which should be the default of 8081. The txt entry reveals the device state if in DIY mode, or a base-64 string of gobbledy-gook if in eWeLink app mode.

Option 2a is an Android App. I tried one called Service Browser, but there are other mDNS browsers

Option 3 is to take advantage of the observation that the mDNS name is of the form “eWeLink_{device_id}.local”. This is fine so long as your method of controlling the switch can work with mDNS names, which Postman cannot (at present).

Caveat: there is no guarantee that your router will assign the same IP address. In my case, I operate a router which allows “address reservation”, so that several IoT devices I have get known IP addresses. Unless your router has this feature, beyond tinkering, you will have to resort to using mDNS-aware software. If writing your own in Python, it looks like the “zeroconf” package is suitable for dealing with mDNS names and not worrying about reliable IP addresses.

Control the Switch

I use Postman for manual testing, and Python for anything automated.

The documentation for interacting with the device is fairly good, and can be found at This includes info on how to perform an OTA (“over the air”) firmware update, control how the device behaves when its power is restored (allowing you to choose whether it starts up off, on, or in its previous state), and to change the WiFI SSID and password which the device connects to, but I’m content with the info, on, off, and pulse options.

Note that all messages to the device are HTTP (not HTTPS) POST operations, with a JSON body (payload). Although the documentation includes “deviceid” in the JSON, this is completely redundant and can be omitted.


Operation URL JSON Body
Info http://{{ip_addr}}:{{port}}/zeroconf/info
 "data": {}
On http://{{ip_addr}}:{{port}}/zeroconf/switch
  "data": { 
    "switch": "on" 
Off http://{{ip_addr}}:{{port}}/zeroconf/switch
  "data": { 
    "switch": "off" 
Pulse http://{{ip_addr}}:{{port}}/zeroconf/pulse
  "data": { 
    "pulse": "on", 
    "pulseWidth": 2000

Pulse changes the behaviour of “On” operations; if Pulse is on then an “On” operation will only last for pulseWidth milliseconds, after which the device will turn off again. The maximum duration is 1 hour. The JSON payload for Pulse can omit the “pulseWidth” to enable/disable the feature, but it is not possible to change the pulse duration by only specifying “pulseWidth”.

Safe Use of GPIO on ESP8266 NodeMCU Boards

It is well known that, unlike a Raspberry Pi or old-school Arduino, the ESP8266 has some quirks which make using the broken-out pins D0-D8 non-trivial. Google/Bing/etc will easily confirm this. I have, however found lots of long winded, unclear, and conflicting information. This post is my aide memoir, shared in case anyone else might find it useful. The hardware platform is “HW-628 V1.1”, from one of the many cheap Chinese sellers on Alibaba. I’m using the Arduino libraries with PlatformIO (within VSCode), but would expect the same results using the Arduino IDE.

My baseline assumption is that inputs and outputs will normally be used in “active low” mode, with INPUT_PULLUP used as the pinMode for inputs. There are two problems which will easily be found without care: 1) [as outputs] some pins are driven low on boot, usually with quite a few pulses, which will cause an active low relay to stutter; 2) [as inputs] holding some pins low will block the booting.

Tests for the effect of booting (and flashing) on output states were undertaken using a logic analyser (an Open Bench Logic Sniffer with OLS software) with a weak pull-up on the pin under test. I am using the D0-D8 notation as marked on the NodeMCU board. The Arduino library pin numbers differ, but the mapping is widely published.

The following pins were found to be OK to use without any restrictions, as inputs or outputs: D0, D1, D2, D5, D6, D7. The only caveat for my hardware is that D0 is connected to one of the on-board LEDs (active low).

The following CANNOT be used as outputs (with the exception of LED signalling*) since they are affected on boot (and when flashing): D3, D4, D8. D8 was found to hold a low value during flashing and during and slightly after the reset pulse. D3 and D4 showed a burst of pulses. You might get away with using D8 in its “TX2” UART alter ego since the flash/boot glitch wont make a valid data frame. [* – the NodeMCU Devkit board I have does have an LED on D4 = GPIO2 and this can be used for signalling from programmes].

D3, D4, and D8 can be used as inputs but only with some care:

  • D3 and D4 can be used as active low inputs only AFTER the boot sequence is completed. Push-switch inputs would be safe. Anything which would pull these pins low on boot will block it. D4 is connected to the on-board LED which is marked “COM” (and is active low).
  • D8 can be used as an active high input only AFTER the boot sequence. Push-switch inputs would be safe. I would use this last as I don’t like circuits to contain a mix of active low and active high inputs; logic should normally be consistent to reduce bug risk.
  • Since these GPIOs have output functions during boot and flashing, if there is a chance that a push switch input would be operated during those states, the switch should connect to ground or supply via a current limiting resistor.

An aside: when setting pins as outputs with pinMode, it is worth setting the output value to HIGH with digitalWrite() BEFORE changing the mode from its default as an input. Otherwise, assuming active low working again, you will be likely to see an output glitch due to a default low state pertaining when the pinMode() is applied.