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Programming Fixes for Simple Everyday Problems


Aayush Arya

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We are a Control4 dealer and recently figured out solutions to two small issues that I know a lot of dealers face when setting up lighting controls at projects. Just thought I would share my solutions with you guys, for feedback as well as to help anyone who might be searching for these solutions.

ALL OFF / RESUME ALL

We typically set up a configurable keypad at every room’s entrance with a double height button at the top for two lighting scenes (single and double tap), two single height buttons below that to toggle the AC and ceiling fan respectively, and a double height button at the bottom that turns everything off (AC, fan, lights, media and shades). As an aside, one nuance here is that the AC button is multifunctional: it uses blue, white and yellow colours to indicate the current temperature setting (low, medium and high respectively), green to denote ideal temperature and fan mode settings, and red to indicate that it is turned off. Double tapping the AC button always switches it to the ideal settings.

I wanted to change the “Lights On” button at the top to a “Resume All” button that would always restore the AC, fan, lights and shades to their last active state (when you pressed the “All Off” button). This was simple enough, using the Snapshot driver and a variable (let me know if you need details). However, if all the lights were already turned off when you last left the room and you pressed that button when you came back in, none of the lights would come on. This is how I fixed that.

We programmed it so that when you single click that button, it resumes the saved snapshot and then checks to see if the “All Lights Off” scene is active. If it is, it then it checks to see whether the shades are drawn. If they are, it turns on a preconfigured lighting scene. If the shades aren’t closed, it checks to see if it is night time; if yes, it turns on the lighting scene anyway. Alternatively, if there is a light sensor inside the room, we can use it to trigger the lighting scene. The point is to turn on some lights if the room is dark when you enter, so that it does not seem to the unsuspecting user that the button does not work.

As a bonus add-on, if you tap on the button a second time (either immediately or at any time after that), it turns on the preconfigured lighting scene if the “All Lights Off” scene is active, without checking for light levels inside the room. If you double tap it at any time, it activates the preconfigured lighting scene without even checking for the “All Lights Off” scene (which basically serves as an override).

At its most fundamental level, this keypad now just works: when you leave the room, tap on “All Off” to turn everything off and when you come back in, tap on “Resume All” to resume everything. Our clients love this implementation!

RELIABLE BATHROOM PRESENCE SENSING

We are all familiar with the flail-your-arms-about-to-turn-on-the-lights gesture when on the John, because the motion sensor’s timeout is not long enough to account for our cellphone addiction. We figured out a simple solution to this: we put a contact sensor on the door and a motion sensor inside the toilet, and made the latter dependent on the former.

The motion sensor is activated for thirty seconds when the contact sensor is open and the light is turned on if motion is detected and the sensor disabled. It is next activated only after the contact sensor has closed once, opened and then closed again. If it detects no motion for five seconds after that, the lights are turned off and the sensor disabled, until the next time the contact sensor opens.

This completely eliminates the issues of (a) the lights turning off while someone is occupying the bathroom; and (b) the lights taking ten minutes to turn off after the bathroom is vacated. The only issue is that where you could have achieved automated lighting in the bathroom for under $10 with a simple PIR sensor, it takes $400 to do it in a way that makes it 100% reliable, which is a price almost no client is willing to pay for this convenience.

As a proof of concept, however, it works perfectly.

 

The point of giving these two examples is to hopefully spark an interesting discussion about the various ways the rest of you have found to make your home automation setups just that little bit smarter. Please chime in with your ideas.

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Sounds neat...

In my house, we use white, light blue and dark blue for the air conditions toggle of different temperatures (rather than your yellow) and red for heating.

We use 2 motion sensors (one right at the door and the other aligned on the toilet and bath) for bathroom entry and exit (similar to your door contact).

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24 minutes ago, South Africa C4 user said:

Sounds neat...

In my house, we use white, light blue and dark blue for the air conditions toggle of different temperatures (rather than your yellow) and red for heating.

We use 2 motion sensors (one right at the door and the other aligned on the toilet and bath) for bathroom entry and exit (similar to your door contact).

Do you use the Nyce sensors?

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