Over the weekend I installed a Nest Hello Video Doorbell in a 1940’s house

Although my wife seems to think I’m a gadget freak, I really have been getting a tad concerned for my kids not knowing who’s at the door (solid door, can’t see who’s on the other side unless you’re 5 feet tall or higher).

Nest Hello WiFi Video Doorbell

We live in a neighborhood where the game Gunshot, Fireworks, Blown transformer was introduced a couple of years ago so the door’s generally locked.

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

The Nest Hello Video doorbell and a Lenovo Smart Display (or Google Home Hub) seemed like a potential solution so they could see that it’s a stranger knocking and just don’t answer.

Also seemed like a fun way to catch the people attempting to walk into unlocked houses – we get about once a month and catch a cat burglar (more on him later).

Also I wanted to be able to tell FedEx to just leave the package that I’m not going to hunt it down as it gets stuck in a loop, again, with their crazy faulty hold system.


First thing was to establish whether my doorbell transformer was capable of handling a Nest. I did not have a doorbell transformer, no, what I had was a 6-volt battery sitting in the slats in the basement on a little shelf someone had made out of 1970’s wood paneling. This is not listed as an acceptable Nest Hello Doorbell power supply.

Step closer to me sonny, for this is the tale of a large battery that used to power flashlights…

So I replaced my $3.99 battery from 2001 (when I’d last replaced it) with a power adapter I got off of Amazon. Seemed a bit pricey for a wall wart, but was what I could locate at the time.

Replacing my 6-volt technology involved taking the two alligator clips off of the 6-volt terminals and placing them onto the leads. I checked, old doorbell still worked although I no longer can have my doorbell ring if the power is off, which someone once in 2006 thought was cool.

Next came the removal of the button I got in 2014 when my 1980’s doorbell button broke. I held little belief that the Nest Hello doorbell was going to fit and I would be involved in yet another project, but it just did.

Nest Hello WiFi Video Doorbell plate, wires
Needs to be raised a few inches, but that’s for another day.

Screwed in the backplate, tied the two power leads with their probably asbestos casings to the back of the Nest and about two minutes later it was online and transmitting an image of the ground (I hadn’t mounted it in the bracket yet because I did not believe it was going to work.)

Realized at this point since I was skipping around due to cold medicine that I’d forgotten to modify my 1960’s doorbell with the nest doorbell transformer thing. Powered off the doorbell system and got about chipping paint off of the screwheads. I eventually gave up and grabbed pliers and just rotated the screws using them.

Door chimes from the 50s
Doorbell, chime, man I’m sad I don’t have a picture of the yellow plastic cover for this – it’s epic.

Nest Doorbell thingamabob installed, powered everything up, asked the kids to stay quiet and listen to see if the doorbell would ring, pressed the doorbell, heard screaming, no, just kids being loud, pressed doorbell again and was unable to hear whether it rang as once again they went nuts. I was told it indeed did ring.

I need to move the doorbell about 7 inches higher than where it’s at, but that’s a job for another day.


What you’ll notice right out of the bat is that the Nest Aware service you get a free trial with the Nest Hello does not work and gives you a cryptic message about awaiting verification. I’d gotten this doorbell fully aware I was planning on subscribing to a service that involved the doorbell streaming video constantly.

It’s actually not that much bandwidth as far as I can tell, seems to do pretty good on only streaming the changed data, but whatever…

I even went to buy the Nest Aware service thinking perhaps it was no longer included, but before I bought it I did a little checking around and evidently the message means the thing is up and running and in a while it’ll start working.

It started working at about 9 or 10 hours into operation. About two hours before the cat burglar showed up.

Nest Hello catches a cat burglar
At last we know what’s been happening…

What’s interesting about this service, to me at least, is the way in which the video is searchable. Easiest way to convey is to just show you so:

Warning: above video – I’ve got a cold, loud room, and little talent.


That’s about it. We’ve done a couple of runs talking to people, it works reasonably well with most of the failing appearing to be on the Smart Display side of where they think quiet and talking are.

Doesn’t appear to be as natural sounding as a phone call at the moment, but there’s not really a huge difference.


Do I have to pay for a subscription with Nest Hello?

No, but you lose some of the functionality. Without a subscription you’ve got screenshots and cool doorbell functionality, but the screenshots are within a 3 hour window which kind of defeats the gotcha.

Liked it? Take a second to support Pocketables on Patreon!

Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Google+ | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts