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Author Topic: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls  (Read 26448 times)

dhouston

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2016, 07:25:08 AM »

Thanks for the feedback. For many with physical limitations, using a PC (e.g. with a mouse) is easier than using a phone or tablet so it would be helpful if BlueStacks or some other app could handle everything. It could also help when reviewing new hardware.
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Tuicemen

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #31 on: March 31, 2016, 08:56:29 AM »

I had a few day at the off grid place so I took this up to see how well it may perform.
My Plan is to use it for control of my outdoor wood furnace which also has propane back up which can be set to light with propane(easy start)
The furnace is about 50 feet from the house many be 60 to the router.
Not being able to wire this up this time of year I decided to attach a simple plug to the input and plug it into the outlet at the furnace.
Doing so I was able to get the unit to connect and send it on/off commands being halfway to the house with my phone (this unit has no RF) but not from inside the home.
Since the Furnace is metal and the unit can't get wet it was inside the furnace control panel so I'm sure that was the issue.
I have plans to use a small plastic box and install it on the side of the control panel door with maybe an external antenna.

The next step I wanted to be sure of (before attaching it to the furnace) was my connection to it from the city.
I hadn't tested out side the lan prior.
I brought it back in and plugged it into a outlet next to the router and made sure it was connecting.
At this point I noticed a scrolling text in the info screen for the device.
It stated "this device has a update  available" beside it was a update button.
Wow! This device has upgradable firmware something I doubt the X10 Wi-Fi unit will have.
I attempted the update but got a splash screen stating the device couldn't be update from this location or something like that. ???

I returned to the city.Once back I attempted to connect to the switch and send a off/on command.
Nothing no notification that this was working or not B:(
The next day I decided to try again thinking maybe it was my phone and hadn't turned on the Wi-Fi ( I don't have a data plan).
Still failing I decided to try  my PC  (BlueStacks) success! :)% the icon changed state. of course this doesn't mean it actually changed state.
From the PC I attempted the firmware update which this time I got the spinning update icon. WOW was this going to work I thought.
However after several mins nothing. Restarting BlueStacks and checking the firmware version I noticed it hadn't changed, no biggy maybe that was a bug and it actually did take.
I turned off BlueStacks and tried my phone again this time it connected however it was still saying a firmware upgrade was available so I tried it from the phone after a few min the firmware # still hadn't changed however I noticed some extras in the App so it looks like the app got updated ??? I tried the firmware update once more and this time it took.
Not sure what is going on but everything from initially adding a device to upgrading firmware was taking several attempts. >*<

Since the updates the connection and control seems to work fine from my phone as well as the PC ( so maybe the bugs are worked out now ::) :'
Since the unit is at the off grid place I can't check to see if the install process will now work from a PC
Once I get this mounted on the furnace I'll post an update, however that may be a while as I have to go in for a knee operation (may be in mobile for a bit)
 >!




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dhouston

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #32 on: March 31, 2016, 11:06:15 AM »

Thanks for the feedback. I'm not surprised by the troubles you experienced - this is a bit of a leap for Itead Studios so it may take a bit of fumbling around before they find a bit of stability. They could certainly use someone with a better command of English to write the documentation. If you have time, you might offer a bit of feedback on their forum. And, I'm still hoping it can be made to operate under BlueStacks (or some other PC Android emulation).

I'm pleased to know you were able to do a field upgrade. As ZBasic also uses the ESP8266 built-in bootloader, it may probably will mean we can create our own firmware.

My Sonoff relay has RF but I overlooked the need to order their remote. I'll do that when next I get some PCBs made there. Once I have the remote, I'll try to suss out the protocol. If it's limited to just the two channels on the remote, it may be too limited to be of much use. But, if there are several channels (i.e. housecodes/unitcodes) it becomes both more useful and more marketable. If I get time I'll try to make that point on their forum. It's super simple to set up a PIC & RF transmitter...
https://www.laser.com/dhouston/RFTipsTricks.html
https://www.laser.com/dhouston/PIC-RX-TX.TXT

And, good luck on your surgery.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 12:27:35 PM by dhouston »
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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #33 on: March 31, 2016, 12:51:16 PM »

Itead has added (customizable) temperature/humidity sensing firmware to the Sonoff SV.
https://www.itead.cc/sonoff-th.html

And they continue to flesh-out their online documentation with reviews, teardowns, tutorials. I think they intend to be an HA contender.
https://www.itead.cc/blog/smart-home-reviews-collections

There's also an Indiegogo funding page so I'd expect them to be responsive to user feedback/suggestions as well as maintain the low-cost model.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sonoff-slampher-low-cost-smart-home-solution#/

There are a few things they need to change.
  • It requires your phone number to create an account.
  • Setup only works from a smartphone - not from a tablet or PC.
  • It requires connection to their remote server to control things.

If they don't change them and it is possible to change the firmware with ZBasic or Arduino (both of which can create ESP8266 firmware), I'm sure alternative firmware will soon appear.

As I only have dumbphones I don't know how this affects data or other usage. That might be another impetus for a change in approach. I need to check with Don Kinzer* who created the ZBasic compiler for the ESP8266 to see whether firmware can be downloaded via a WiFi link. If so, and Itead hasn't managed to block standard downloads, it will be a fairly simple matter to install alternate firmware.

*I first heard of Don Kinzer shortly after learning that Gandalf had left Middle Earth for the Blessed Realm... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beaverton,_Oregon I'm just sayin'.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 01:12:25 PM by dhouston »
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Tuicemen

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2016, 01:59:09 PM »

I'm pleased to know you were able to do a field upgrade. As ZBasic also uses the ESP8266 built-in bootloader, it may probably will mean we can create our own firmware.
yes this is promising
Quote
My Sonoff relay has RF but I overlooked the need to order their remote. I'll do that when next I get some PCBs made there. Once I have the remote, I'll try to suss out the protocol. If it's limited to just the two channels on the remote, it may be too limited to be of much use. But, if there are several channels (i.e. housecodes/unitcodes) it becomes both more useful and more marketable.
Since the RF is  removable and can be swapped out with one for other frequencies. My thinking was maybe a custom RF board could be created to handle X10 I never thought about modifying one that came with.
Quote
And, good luck on your surgery.
Thanks!
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dhouston

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2016, 02:08:18 PM »

Since the RF is  removable and can be swapped out with one for other frequencies. My thinking was maybe a custom RF board could be created to handle X10 I never thought about modifying one that came with.
I'll try to take a look at how easy it might be to swap RF receivers. If they're using an off-the-shelf model, it may be possible but there aren't many manufacturers supplying 310MHz.

OTOH, if we can change the protocol, we can easily convert most X10 transceivers and palmpads to 433.92MHz.
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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #36 on: March 31, 2016, 02:55:27 PM »

Having now looked at the teardown video, it's obvious we can change the RF receiver in the relay to 310MHz. However, I doubt the receiver shown can fit the light socket - I'd like to see a teardown of that. I would do my own teardown but I think my light socket is WiFi only (although it may have solderpads for the RF receiver).

I was not impressed with the narrator. What he refers to as a Programming Header is the TTL header which may or may not be usable to load new firmware. In any event, I think we would prefer a WiFi link for changing firmware. He would have been well served had he looked at the schematic rather than guess at the function of various components. (Maybe he also created their documentation.)

And, while I need to dig a bit deeper, it appears it is indeed possible to create our own firmware.
http://tech.scargill.net/general-update/
« Last Edit: March 31, 2016, 03:11:30 PM by dhouston »
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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #37 on: March 31, 2016, 03:50:55 PM »

I've heard back from Don Kinzer. While OTA (Over The Air) programming is possible, ZBasic does not support it.

I don't know whether Arduino can do it.

And, it appears there is no way to lock the ESP8266 to prevent firmware changes so I think, in principle, we can replace the 433.92MHz RF receivers with 310MHz versions and assign X10 addresses in the new firmware to allow Palmpad, etc. control in addition to WiFi. And, I think we can eliminate the phone number/remote server nonsense and create apps for phones, tablets, PCs and...  :)%

When I order their RF remote, I'll also order an RF capable light socket and do my own teardown.
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Tuicemen

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #38 on: March 31, 2016, 06:52:28 PM »

And, it appears there is no way to lock the ESP8266 to prevent firmware changes so I think, in principle, we can replace the 433.92MHz RF receivers with 310MHz versions and assign X10 addresses in the new firmware to allow Palmpad, etc. control in addition to WiFi. And, I think we can eliminate the phone number/remote server nonsense and create apps for phones, tablets, PCs and...  :)%

When I order their RF remote, I'll also order an RF capable light socket and do my own teardown.
That is good news. :)%
I look forward to reading results from the light socket teardown.
 >!
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dhouston

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #39 on: April 01, 2016, 05:51:49 AM »

Looking again at my light socket, it says RF on the label so I opened it up. Lo and behold, it has the same RF receiver board seen in the relay teardown. The PCB is very high quality when compared to the typical X10 hardware we are used to - I'll try to get some photos posted over the weekend.

But, I'm a little confused as it has 9 connections to the main board, far more than most receivers, and 3 chips onboard (8, 14 & 16 pins). One (Atmel 24C02) is a 2Kb (i.e. 256 byte) EEPROM but I am not sure about the others. I can read the label on one (SYN470R) but a web search was fruitless. The other appears blank. I need to find a schematic to try and understand things. In any event, changing it to 310MHz may be more difficult than I originally thought. There's a 6.7458MHz crystal which appears to be a fractional value of 433.92 - finding one with the correct value for 310 may be all that's needed but finding such a crystal may be difficult.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 06:32:28 AM by dhouston »
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dhouston

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #40 on: April 01, 2016, 08:50:43 AM »

The schematic is of no help. It has a block labelled 433Module with 6 connections but there's no schematic that I can find of the 433Module.
http://wiki.iteadstudio.com/images/e/e1/IM151116005-Slampher-View.pdf
Nevertheless I can make some educated WAGS.

The EEPROM is probably used to store the timer schedule - each device can have up to 8 timers.

Because the ESP8266 has to service the WiFi connection frequently, any applications using it must be written in a manner that allows frequent interruptions. This would really complicate 433MHz RF reception as you must be constantly listening for a code and once a code reception begins it requires near constant attention. I suspect one on the chips on the 433Module is an RF receiver (roughly analogous to the chip used in the CM15A RF receiver module).
http://www.spiriton.com.tw/download/ic/RX3310A_1.pdf

The other chip is probably a microcontroller that supervises the receiver, thus off-loading that task from the ESP8266.

Four connections (D0,D1,D2,D3) are used for an SPI data transfer link to the ESP8266.    

Now for the bad news.

I don't think there's any simple way to convert it to 310MHz. As expected, I could not find a crystal that might work.

While a smartphone with their app installed can connect to multiple devices (how many?) only one smartphone can connect to said devices. This may be the reason they require your phone number. The RF remote has similar limitations.

While the cloud is provided by Amazon Weather Service which is unlikely to disappear (a la X10's servers) I would still be leery of any remote storage. Should Itead go the way of X10, it's unlikely that Amazon would continue this little part of the cloud.

While it looks like a good fit for Tuicemen's furnace (especially if he can make a remote connection) I'm afraid, as currently constituted, it's just a little bit less than useless for HA in general. Hopefully, Itead will make changes that will make it more useful.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 09:13:33 AM by dhouston »
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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #41 on: April 01, 2016, 09:57:23 AM »

There's some contradictory statements in the sparse documentation and in the reviews of people who were sent prototypes for the purpose of writing reviews. I've been reading through the reviews and it appears that it is possible to share control with other smartphones. The owner (original setup) can share control by adding the phone number(s) allowed to share control of each device. While extremely cumbersome, since you have to add the phone numbers to each of the devices, it does allow for sharing control.

I still don't like the need for a phone number and the cloud.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 10:03:46 AM by dhouston »
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Tuicemen

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #42 on: April 01, 2016, 10:02:12 AM »

I still don't like the need for a phone number and the cloud.
Nor do I.
The experience with X10wti left me with a bad taste.
Others have experienced the same with multiple different companies.
Hopefully a alternate connection will be added as a option to the cloud route.
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dhouston

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #43 on: April 01, 2016, 10:23:32 AM »

The experience with X10wti left me with a bad taste.
Others have experienced the same with multiple different companies.
Hopefully a alternate connection will be added as a option to the cloud route.

If I can figure out how to add a review to their site I'll suggest...
  • Ditch the cloud
  • Ditch the phone numbers
  • Make apps that work on phones, tablets, PCs...
  • Supply 310MHz RF versions for N. America
  • Allow users to give a device an X10 address
  • Give the RF devices the ability to understand X10 RF
  • Allow control from existing X10-RF remotes
  • Offer WiFi/X10-RF switches & modules
  • [fill in the blank]
  • [fill in the blank]

On wall switches & modules - there are numerous companies offering 433MHz switches, etc. outside of N. America. While they cannot be cloned for N. America they can, along with existing N. American X10 switches/modules, serve as guides to what is needed. Giving new switches/modules RF & WiFi control eliminates the PLC noise problem. If Authinx would add WiFi to a CM15A, it would also cover existing switches/modules that are PLC only.

Itead is saying that most of their ESP8266 devices are customizable. Perhaps they and Authinx can get together on this. That would be better than Authinx manufacturing designs from X10 users here as they have offered to do. 

Going back several years, I added Preset Dims to the X10 RF protocol so I could send them from a Pronto Remote to which I had added a 310MHz RF transmitter. That could easily be added to new RF/WiFi switches/modules as well.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 02:58:57 PM by dhouston »
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dhouston

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Re: Universal ESP8266 based WiFi light/appliance controls
« Reply #44 on: April 01, 2016, 10:52:09 AM »

One of the existing reviews covers controlling a furnace (inside) and also has teardown photos of both the relay and light socket. I could have saved a bit of time had I read it earlier. And, I won't need to post photos.
http://www.chet.ie/?p=240

He also IDs the RF receiver module. Its programming header is also broken out so this should be highly customizable. I doubt there's a 310MHz version but I can design (a better for X10) one if needed.
http://www.icstation.com/rxc6-433mhz-superheterodyne-wireless-receiver-learning-code-arduinoavr-p-7516.html

And, in reading questions answered by Itead personel, I saw that they intend to release user programmable devices but here is yet another confirmation that the current products can be flashed with new firmware.
http://www.esp8266.nu/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=721&sid=9cebebcf60b9e5f40cd5aa43b5c18993
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 12:31:40 PM by dhouston »
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