Thank goodness for the hackers

Philips Hue lights

I’m now a owner of the Philips Hue lights after my mistake buying cheaper Hue lights from eBay (which turned out to be the American versions) and finally converting all the lighting pendulums to standard B22 bayonets from CFL BLT 4 Pins.

I bought the Zigbee bridge from ebay too and been buying the bulbs one by one. But then I decided to buy a starter kit, as it was more cost effective and I could sell the spare zigbee bridge if not needed. Everything was fine till I couldn’t control the new lights. After a look around the web, it become clear the bulbs were locked to the zigbee bridge which it came with.

I won’t lie I was peed! I took to Twitter to tell Philips what I felt…

Locked internet of things devices, deeply worries me! Philips say they do it for security reasons but frankly thats balls.

After the steam had stopped pouring out my head and I put the bulbs back in the box to send back tomorrow. I looked around and found people talking about a app called Lampstealer. It seemed to factory reset the bulbs so the old bridge could discover it like normal.

The problem… It ran on Windows and OSX only.  Of course the hackers got us covered!

When you buy two Philips Hue light start kits, you have the problem that the lights are already paired with the bridge in each starter pack. When you search you will find a lot of people whining about how unfair this is and people talking about the “Lampstealer” OSX app that Philips released to fix it. I tried using the lamp stealer app but it would never find my bridge. I could also not use QuickHue which supposedly supported the lamp stealer function because it was compiled for OSX 10.8 and I still run 10.7.x. And compiling it from source with xcode didn’t work, likely due missing libraries and other mistakes I made since I’m not too familiar with Xcode.

I found out that the solution was really really simple, and requires no OSX, java or advanced rocket science. Place a bulb of the second starter kit into a socket within 30cm of the bridge from the first starterpack. Telnet to port 30000 of the bridge and type:


The light should blink a few times to acknowledge the hostile takeover.

I did it and now I’m sitting pretty with 7 Philips Hues all tied to the zigbee bridge I bought from eBay. Everything is now working correctly and I’m looking forward to playing with the geofencing and ifttt controls. I just need to sort out my lampshades now…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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