I just posted another ISY-994 HOWTO on the HOWTOs page. This one covers a technique to pseudo-disable the response to a motion sensor when the sensor is set up as a scene controller thus allowing for instant response to motion coupled with programmatic control over timeout and the ability to disable the motion response.
With the advent of Java 1.7.51 and up, Java applets are now required to contain a manifest file. Those that don’t are now not allowed to run unless you make a security exception for the applet. UDI has released newer firmware (4.1.2) that includes a manifest file and meets the new requirements. The ISY-99 series is not receiving firmware updates after firmware 3.3.10 as it has run out of room for the larger code in the newer firmwares. If you have decided not to upgrade to the ISY-994 series controllers, you will need to work around the new Java requirements and add an exception for your ISY-99i. Here is how to make that exception.
Open System Preferences and double click the Java icon.
In the Java preferences, click the security tab.
Click “Edit Site List”
Click “Add” and enter the URL for your ISY.
Acknowledge the warning that this poses a security risk by clicking “Continue”
Click “OK” then “OK” and close the Java preferences window.
Open the Windows Control Panel
Double click the Java control panel applet.
Click the Security tab
Click the “Edit Site List…” button.
Click the “Add” button and enter the URL for your ISY-99i series controller.
Click “OK” and close the Windows Control Panel”
This should get you back up and running until you can upgrade to an ISY-994 and the newer firmware.
ISY user and UDI forum member, IO_Guy, has put together a nice little program called ISYLink. ISYLink grew out of the needs of myself and other ISY users and all of the current features are the direct result of feature requests made on the UDI forums. This little utility program can be run on Windows or on MAC OS X/Linux using mono. ISYLink subscribes to the ISY and monitors selected devices/scenes/variable and updates ISY variables or devices when any change. This allows us to capture the on-level of a dimmer or the current temperature or set point of a thermostat and make decisions based on those values or restore devices to previously stored values. In addition, ISYLink will write current date and time information into ISY variables which allows us to design programs that operate during the same time frame every year without needing to update the program every year. These are all capabilities that the ISY has been sorely lacking and have been asked for many times over the years on the UDI forums. UDI is currently working on a new series of firmwares for the ISY that will resolve many of these issues within the ISY but it will still be some time before the new ISY firmware (5.x series) becomes available. While already under development, UDI is saying that it will be the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015 before 5.x goes into beta. ISYLink provides a very usable solution today and should continue to work even after 5.x becomes available. ISYLink weighs in at a whopping 36Kb and does not make a noticeable difference in the CPU load on a RaspberryPi nevermind a full Windows system. Once installed, ISYLink is configured via a web console on port 8087 (by default). All settings are written to a small config.xml file stored in the same location that ISYLink is run from.
ISYLink, and many other valuable link programs, can be downloaded from IO_Guy’s site: The Automation Shack. If you find ISYLink or any of the other link programs of value, please consider making a donation to IO_Guy. All of these programs have so far been provided free of charge. Support for these programs can be found both on the Automation Shack website and on the UDI Forums in the Automation Shack subsection.
Please take a minute to stop by and say thank you to IO_Guy for providing the elegant little solution to a big problem in the ISY world.
Universal Devices has just announced that as of June 1st, 2014, the ISY-99i series home automation controllers will no longer be supported and some functions will cease to operate due to “System Changes”. The firmware for the 99 series was frozen some months ago and UDI has been offering a reasonably priced upgrade for owners of the 99 series to upgrade to the 994 series. I retired my 99 well over a year ago when I upgraded to the 994 series controller. The ISY99i was a rock solid performer in the home automation world and it’s 994 series successor is more than living up to the 99i’s excellent reputation. Lets all bid a fond farewell to the ISY99i.
Interested in learning more about the ISY series controllers and about what they can do for you? Visit the Universal Devices site.
Over the last few weeks, Universal Devices has released some updated beta versions of their series 4.X firmware for the ISY-994. These updates have given the ISY much improved control over a much wider range of Z-Wave devices. Update 4.2.1 included new firmware not only for the ISY but also a firmware update for the Z-Wave dongle inside the ISY. The Z-Wave update seems to have improved the routing and healing capabilities which results in overall better performance and range. Unfortunately, the Z-Wave update does require that you either remove all of your enrolled Z-Wave devices or transfer them to a secondary controller before installing the update. In my case, I had purchased a GE Z-Wave remote to be the secondary controller but it arrived DOA. As a result, I opted to remove all of my Z-Wave gadgets and rebuild from scratch after the update. In the end, it wasn’t that bad a project and I suspect resulted in a more reliable Z-Wave mesh in the end since all of the the route tables got a fresh start. Since the 4.2.2 update, I have been able to enroll all of my Z-Wave devices and get them working with the ISY. This had allowed me to finally shut down my “temporary” Nexia account that I was using to manage one Schlage lock set. The Everspring Multisensor (featured a few posts below) is now enrolled and providing temperature and humidity updates every 5 minutes. I plan on moving this device to the master bathroom and using the humidity sensor to determine how long to keep the exhaust fan running rather than the just the basic 10 minute timer that I have now. The team at UDI has been hard at work adding support for various devices and fixing minor issues that users have uncovered along the way. I expect there will be a few more beta versions before we see an official 4.2.x release. After that, we will be on to the series 5.X firmwares. It sounds like lots of good things are coming with that. Stay tuned!
I finally received the 10′ SMA-SMA cable that I ordered from Ebay a few weeks ago. This has allowed me to relocate ISY’s external antenna to the center of my basement ceiling away from the concrete walls. Since moving the antenna, I have been able to link all remaining Z-Wave devices that previously would not link and the overall performance of my Z-Wave network has greatly improved. All of my devices report status changes near instantly much like my Insteon equipment. I still have one lockset, a Schlage BE469, that needs it’s firmware updated before I can join it to the network. I may attempt that tonight or over the weekend. From there, my next step will be to add more environmental sensors to the network to help monitor and control HVAC tasks. All in all, the ISY994/IR Pro from Universal Devices Inc. has proven to be an awesome home automation controller. With the addition of Z-Wave, it is gaining a lot of additional capabilities.
Universal Devices Inc (UDI) has released their ZWave beta into the wild and there are lots of folks out there kicking the tires to see how it works. Unlike the alpha, the beta ZWave dongle is actually a daughter board that goes inside the ISY box instead of a dongle at the far end of a 10′ cable. While this is a cleaner looking installation, it is somewhat less flexible when it comes to antenna placement. Speaking of the antenna, the beta board has a u.Fl connector for an external antenna and the firmware has an option to switch between the surface mounted on-board antenna to the external. I opted for the external antenna knowing that the location of my ISY in the corner of my basement was sub-optimal for RF coverage. With the alpha I was able to hang the dongle/antenna from the ceiling of the basement in the center of the room which provided reasonable coverage for the first floor. Even with the external antenna, with the ISY stuck up against a concrete wall in the corner, the coverage has suffered. UDI has sent me an early copy of the next firmware that has improved reliability with the devices that I can reach. I have been told that there will be additional support coming for repeaters and improved routing before this firmware is released. In the mean time, I have ordered a 10′ coaxial cable to go between the ISY box and the external antenna. This should allow me to position the antenna in the same location where I had the alpha antenna/dongle. I suspect once that is in place, I will be able to link my remaining ZWave devices.
I have to say that over the years, I have worked as a alpha/beta tester for many different products and companies, none has been as much fun as working with UDI on the ISY.
I became a supporter of a Kickstarter project for the very first time with the Ubi. The Ubi is an android based, voice operated personal assistant. Ubi, short for Ubiquitous Computer, is always listening and when it hears it’s trigger phrase “OK Ubi” it will wake up and take verbal commands. Currently there is a limited number of things that Ubi can do such as: get weather conditions and forecast, get the time, send emails and text messages or, most importantly, issue http GET commands. This last capability allows me to integrate the Ubi with my home automation system. Right now I can ask Ubi to turn on or off the TV in the master bedroom, turn off all lights in the house and lock the doors, put the house into “panic” mode with many lights on in case of emergency. As the Ubi’s capabilities grow, I will be further integrating it into the home. Ubi has onboard sensors for temperature, humidity, light level and sound level. Once I have access to these sensors, I will be able to integrate them into my occupancy detection routines and make decisions about HVAC operations and exhaust fan operations. With multiple Ubi’s installed, they could be used as intercoms or speaker phones in any room in the house. We should be able to do quick searches for information completely hands free. Imagine looking up a recepie while working in the kitchen or asking “How many teaspoons in a quarter cup?”. The possibilities are endless.
UDI has announced that their ZWave effort is now moving into the beta stage. Alpha testers will be receiving new beta hardware and firmware over the next week or two. The new hardware is an internal board rather than an external dongle like the alpha hardware. I’m hopeful that this doesn’t limit the ISY ZWave effective range too much. UDI has also stated that there will be an optional external antenna and that the connector for such is included on the new board and only needs to be enabled in firmware. I am becoming more and more excited every day waiting for the new board and firmware to arrive. I am hopeful that this will allow me to finish integrating my ZWave lock sets into my security programs. This should also allow me to eliminate the Nexia bridge and associated monthly fee. More to come, hopefully soon…
Over the last few months, I have been playing with Zwave for my home automation projects. For the most part, the ISY from Universal Devices has been handling all of my Zwave devices just fine with one notable exception: My Schlage BE469 Deadbolt lockset. There are varying theories as to why this particular lockset doesn’t work yet with the ISY but no rock solid reason or solution. One of the theories says that the lockset requires a firmware update. That update is can only be done if you have the Nexia Bridge from Schlage or by sending the lockset back to Schlage to be updated. I decided to pick up a Nexia Bridge off eBay and see what I could do with it.
The Nexia Bridge is a small network connected box that bridges the local Zwave network to Schlage’s mynexia.com website. Once configured, all aspects of your Zwave network are managed via this website. Much like AT&T’s Microcell device, you have no direct access to the bridge itself.
My Bridge arrived in the mail today and I ran home and picked it up at lunchtime. I spent about a half hour at work this afternoon figuring out how to register the device and get it online. It turns out that the device had been previously used and needed a factory reset before I could get it to register. Once I figured that out, the registration was quick and simple. One downside is that there is a $8.99 monthly fee (after the first month) to use the Nexia service. I’m used to being able to buy once use forever with the rest of my equipment. I hate monthly extortion fees. In this case however, I don’ think it will be a problem as once I get the lockset firmware updated, I hope to not need the bridge again for a while. I think I can do what I need with it then cancel the account before the first months charge. At least, that is my plan.
Tonight, I will get the bridge set up on the home network and enroll the lockset. Then, I will figure out how to update the firmware in the lock and start some testing. I will follow up once I make some progress.
Last week I installed updates on my Archlinux based PogoPlug. After the updates and a system restart, I was no longer able to access the PogoPlug. After doing a bunch of research, I discovered that the system daemons are now started by systemd rather than via the old init scripts. One of my daemons is not very happy with systemd and is hanging on startup. Since the PogoPlug has no serial console connection, I had no way to monitor the startup and see what was going on. I eventually figured out what the issue was and since the entire file system is on a usb flash drive, I was able to mount that drive on my Ubuntu box, look at the logs files and remove the offending daemon. This was such a hassle mostly because I had no way to interact with the system while it was booting/booted without ssh. This failure left my home automation systems partially crippled as the PogoPlug was responsible for connecting my CAI Web Control board to the ISY HA System and was also acting as my central syslog and FTP server for all of my systems. Without the CAI board connected, the ISY has no visibility to temperatures in several locations in the house and my laundry monitoring setup was tied to the CAI’s digital inputs so no notifications were being generated when the washer or dryer cycles completed. My security cams were looking to the PogoPlug for FTP services when they need to save images and all of my logs were inaccessible.
For the last few months, I’ve been reading about this little single board computer called the RaspberryPi. It’s a 700Mhz Arm11 based computer with built in Ethernet, HDMI, audio, USB, composite video, camera interface and GPIO all for $35. After this fiasco with the Pogoplug, I decided it was time to upgrade to something with at least a console and since the R.Pi also has audio, video and digital I/O, it made sense to take the place of the PogoPlug. I can make use of the digital IO for my laundry monitoring and some additional sensors for the security system and offload that from the CAI board. With the ability to access the GPIO with Python, I should be able to add some intelligence to the system as well.
I bought the R.Pi, a 32Gb ultra high speed SD card and a GPIO breakout board called the PiFace. The R.Pi can run a number of linux distributions and a build of Android as well. I chose Raspian, a Debian variant, built especially for the R.Pi. After downloading the Raspian image and writing it out to the SD card, I spent an afternoon configuring the R.Pi and replacing the PogoPlug. I have spent the last few days working out some small issues with the services running on the R.Pi. Things like log file rotation and getting the middleman software for my CAI Web Control board running caused a little grief but, all in all it has been a pretty easy transition.
My next step will be to learn enough Python to get the GPIO stuff working in a way that will allow my to make use of it to integrate with the ISY home automation and security systems. Looks like lots of fun to come!
Last Thursday was the first SVTR club meeting of 2013. I joined up for the year and got my VASA Trail Access Decal. TADs are red this year. Now I need to get my truck to the shop and get it all fixed up and legal so I can pull the Rhino and trailer to the trails. I’m looking forward to spending more time on the trails this year. I didn’t get out near enough last season.
For anyone planning on signing up for the year, keep in mind that VASA raised the TAD fee to $30 this year up from $25 last year.
I received the replacement Zwave dongle from UDI last week and have successfully enrolled two out of three Schlage lock sets. Looks like there will need to be firmware updates for both the ISY and the remaining lock set before the third one will enroll. The two working locks allow me to remotely secure or unsecure the lock and to be notified when the lock is operated manually or when a access code is used. I have been able to program the two locks to secure themselves at night and when we are leaving the house. Once I get support for the remaining lock, I will start ordering the lock sets for the remaining doors. I also added a few more Triggerlincs to let the system know when certain doors are opened or closed. Now I just need to work that new information into the security and camera routines.
A little after a week into my testing with Zwave on the ISY, the Zwave radio dongle died. There have been a few reports of failures due to over voltage but in my case it looks like the dongle just decided to quit. I had been waiting for some new Schlage lock sets to test with the ISY and they finally arrived right after the dongle quit. UDI is sending out a replacement but it won’t be till late next week before I can resume playing with the new toys. In the meantime, I picked up a Schlage re-key kit from Amazon and have re-keyed all of the new lock sets to match my existing non electronic lock sets. I never realized just how simple a pin and tumbler lock really is. I have already planned out how I want to code for the new locks. It will be nice to be able to push one button in the bedroom and know all of the doors are locked without having to patrol the perimeter before bed each night.