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Track the comings and goings of WiFi clients on multiple Unifi APs and generate a diff between scans.

Project description

MQTT Unifi AP device tracker

I use Ubiquiti Unifi AP AC Pro devices for my home network Wifi. With unifi_tracker, Unifi APs can be used for WiFi device tracking and presence detection.

Generally, presence detection allows Home Assistant (HA) automations like turning down the heat, etc, when no one is home. My effort here is to substitute HA's Unifi Direct with an implementation that only relies on the MQTT integration device tracker functionality.

From looking at the HA github for the unifi_direct component, improvements seem to be stalled on separating Unifi specific functionality. Also, I'm never really comfortable with secrets.yaml having a password with essentially full access to my router and APs -- I prefer SSH key auth whenever possible.

These and other points motivated me to create a seperate Docker container service using MQTT to post AP client connects/disconnects. Much of the functionality to interact with the AP was inspired from the existing unifi_direct integration:

In short: I wanted another option to track WiFi clients, an MQTT option in which I have full control, seperate from HA components other than the MQTT service which I use extensively anyway.


The Python module unifi_tracker has the functionality to query each AP using SSH by remotely executing a Unifi utility mca-dump. Only SSH key auth is supported.

Python Package Index:

Example application: provides an example intended for use with HA. It's a simple service using unifi_tracker:

  1. Periodically return client info from all APs.
  2. Union all client MACs from all APs.
  3. Do a diff between the previous and current set of MAC addresses.
  4. Publish diff to MQTT (Mosquitto) for processing in HA using the MQTT service.

A few key notes:

MQTT messages are retained so HA can restart and pick up current presence state. The topic has the MAC address, and the payload is "home" or "not_home" (both configurable). Here is an example HA 2022.9 and above mqtt device tracker configuration:

    - name: "my_phone"
      state_topic: "device_tracker/unifi_tracker/xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx"

Starting with HA 2022.9, MQTT tracked devices are no longer defined under the device_tracker platform, and are now under mqtt. With this change, there is no longer a consider_home parameter that will work with MQTT. You now need to publish a payload of "not_home". Note that presence state will now be "unknown" until an associated MQTT message is published. This may need to be accounted for in any HA automations.

Consider using the --maxIdleTime option for to delay a change to "away", similar to the old behavior of consider_home.

If any one AP fails to return output from mca-dump, the entire diff will fail. Note that clients can roam, switching from one AP to another.

I only have a couple APs, but if you have many, the probability of failing to do a diff increases. I get 1 or 2 failures per hour from any of the my APs (it simply doesn't return any results -- no clue why).

I use multiprocessing.Pool to retrieve output in parallel from the APs.

There are 2 environment variables for MQTT credentials:


The Unifi AP SSH username (using SSH key auth) is also an environment variable:


In summary: drives the main processing and handles MQTT, handles SSH and client diff with APs.


Works fine generally, basically like the existing HA unifi_direct, and allows me to more freely innovate and be less dependent on another component for running HA for my home automation.



  • Update README and docstrings corresponding to changes in HA 2022.9.


  • Added options --homePayload (default is "home") and --awayPayload for MQTT message payload, corresponding to home and away presence. Starting with HA 2022.6, if you define your devices under HA's mqtt platform instead of device_tracker, you should use --awayPayload=not_home.


  • Missed updating module version in v0.0.3 release; now 0.0.4.


  • Option --sshTimeout to explicitly set SSH connect timeout in seconds (float).

  • Option --maxIdleTime to set AP client idle time threshold in seconds (int). Use --maxIdleTime to check the idletime field of sta_table and filter on clients that are below the given threshold. There are cases where I've seen a tracked client go out of range of the last connected AP yet still shows as connected for several minutes. I've been able to repro this case when a mobile phone goes out of range quickly (e.g. driving away in a car). If the mobile phone slowly goes out of range (e.g. walking away), it correctly shows as disconnected. Setting this threshold ensures the status changes in a more deterministic amount of time.


  • Option --usehostkeys to use existing default host keys file (e.g. ~/.ssh/known_hosts).


  • Initial release.

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