Daily Archive: September 23, 2013

A Great Mix: Replacement of A Timer And Remote Control

After setting it up and using it, I realized that the device could easily replace places in the house where I have timers that turn lights on/off on a regular system. In short, I was able to take some lights that normally turn on around dusk, and off around midnight, and make them do that, PLUS function as motion sensor lights from midnight to 6 a.m. If I get up and walk in the kitchen, the lights in the loft turn on for 15 minutes, and then turn back off from midnight to 6 a.m. An added bonus!
The program flexibility is pretty well thought out. It’s a good balance between dummy-proof and customize-able. It took a couple minutes of experimentation on how the software worked, but once I did a program and tested it, functionality and usefulness was clear. I’m a bit of a home automation nerd-wannabe (I love my Nest Learning Thermostat T100577!!) but haven’t really wanted to dig deeply into wiring myself, coding or otherwise wasting a bunch of time on things that are somewhat fun but can be time consuming. By the way, I also love my Dropcam HD Wi-Fi Wireless Video Monitoring Camera. Together, these three devices really give me insight into what’s going on at home, and gives me ability to affect what’s going on at home.
There was only one point of confusion and one point of uncertainty with the kit. When I ordered it, I didn’t look closely and I thought this kit was for two separate controllers, one of them happening to also have a motion sensor. Actually, the motion sensor is its own device, without a plug through spot for a second device. The sensor can be configured to affect other plugs. Ok, misunderstanding corrected.
The second issue I had relates to the initial setup: The devices use a method many do these days: It makes it’s own ad-hoc wifi AP that you connect to with the phone during initial setup. Once you tell it which access point/wifi is yours, it stops that Ad Hoc, and just joins your network. The unit with the plug worked seamlessly. From the instructions to “do this with each device,” I attempted to do this with the motion sensor and faced some issues. An unplug, replug and app cycle later, it started working. I’m honestly not sure what I did wrong. The app prompted me for a firmware update which I did with no issues, and I continued on my way testing the on/off function and setting some rules for how I wanted it to act.
Now that the device is plugged in and working, it did work seamlessly for me from outside home and on regular 3G. The app does provide feedback when the plug has been turned on and turned off. I don’t really need a second plug for my use, but I am really interested to learn if the motion sensor can activate two plugs, or if they’re married and another motion sensor would be necessary.
I ended up with a couple other questions I haven’t been able to answer yet, and haven’t researched: Can multiple users utilize the units if I install the app on another phone? And– is there an account or something? If the power goes off or I have to reset one of the units, will they remember how I’ve used them or will it be setting things up from scratch again?
Overall, this kit adds some simple convenience to home automation that really hasn’t been there yet. It’s not just for geeks, and while it may not be “dummy proof” if you’re willing to be persistent and you really have a use for this kind of functionality, I think this kit is worth the time & money.