Connect a Remote to a Virtual Device

Is it possible to connect a Secondary Z-Wave controller to a Virtual Device? I have a GE remote that I’m using, and I wanted to configure it to control a virtual device within SmartThings, I can then type the Virtual Device to my Hue light bulbs, and now i’ll have a remote to my Hue light bulbs.

Is that possible? How would I do it?

Good question! I will actually be getting an Aeon Minimote tomorrow and would like to use this to turn on and off my virtual night light switch. I’ll have to look into this and I’ll report back

I was thinking about trying to set one up, if I have time. I’ll let you know where I get with it.

@twack or @urman anyone any ideas on this?


Honestly, I’d be really shocked if something like this is possible. The problem is two-fold:

First, the remote is looking for a signal from the z-wave device when it tries to setup as a secondary controller. Just like when you pair a device with the ST hub, you need to do some sort of physical action on the device to tell it to try to pair with a controller. I suppose it would be theoretically possible for the hub to emulate a z-wave node device temporarily in order to set this signal, but I don’t know for 100% sure if this is possible.

Second, once you have this pairing setup, any commands being sent from the remote are going to be sent out as a controller trying to talk to a end device, not as a controller trying to talk to another controller. In otherwords, if the Hub is in it’s default ‘controller’ mode, it simply won’t listen to zwave broadcasts from another controller. And obviously it the Hub is in this hypothetical ‘end device’ mode theorized above, it wouldn’t be able to listen for activity from other devices on the network that are trying to talk to a controller.

So the Hub would either be acting like a end device, at which point it would be completely useless as there would be no communication from other devices, or it’s acting as a controller, in which case your remote can’t see/talk to that virtual device you tried to pair it with.

Possible theoretical solutions might be to have a hub with dual zwave radios… one is ‘controller mode’, one is ‘device’ mode. The problem here is I don’t know if one zwave radio can act as multiple virtual devices… so you might end up needing one radio for EACH virtual device. If that’s the case then it’s going to get expensive fast! Even adding one more zwave radio might be more expensive (given the software and hardware behind the scenes needed to support this) then just buying a cheap z-wave outlet, putting it somewhere that it will never get used and using it as a real world virtual device.

The other possibility is developing the firmware so that the hub switches rapidly between controller and (the hypothetical) device mode. But I really worry that there might be major communication issues with this idea.

@chrisb Yeah, I wasn’t sure if it was possible. I do know that hub listen and polls the different Z-wave devices though, so I was thinking it might be able to listen for z-wave commands from the secondary controller.

I guess the only way, is to set up a physical z-wave device, ( a receptacle or switch or the jasco pluggable outlets) and control that individual switch, and just use SmartThings to trigger actions based off of that.

Or are there Zigbee remotes that are available? I’ve seen a few, but I don’t know if anyone has them working or how well they work.

@chrisb is mostly right.

The Aeon Minimote and Panic button are able to pair to SmartThings as a device. There are some specific instructions to follow in the manual on how to pair it to a controller. They should type correctly. Then tie a SmartApp (which is built, not sure if available yet) to do things when the buttons are pushed or held. It’s pretty neat.

If you go back to the Connected Things main forum there is a topic called Z-Wave Controllers that has the example code for the minimote app. This should be able to control virtual switches, dimmers, garage doors, etc.

The code can be modified to do pretty much anything when a button is pressed or held

I used the Mode Button SmartApp I got from Duncan:

It allows you to assign several switches or lights to a single button press on the Aeon Minimote. You can also use a button to change modes. I use it to turn on/off the Hue lights in my bedroom and also to initiate Good Night mode that shuts off all the lights downstairs and outside.

Another possibility is to contact Twack, he has a Dim With Me virtual device type and a Dim With Me SmartApp that should allow you to assign the Minimote button press to control the virtual switch. I haven’t tried that since the Mode Button app works fine for my purposes.

1 Like

Hey all,

Are you already using the remote as a secondary controller for a light or switch? Maybe a better question is, are you already controlling a light or switch with both the GE remote and SmartThings?

If you are, just have the existing light be a master and then have your other lights/switches be the slaves with my dim with me app. So what ever the master is commanded to do by either controller, the others should follow along.

As I understand the OP’s request, you shouldn’t need the virtual device, only the app and you can get it here:


1 Like

I have found the Minimotes to work reliably. Besides using the app @huntb refers to above, I have also use an app that allows easy reporting of “I am OK/I am up”, “I need help” as well as light control for an elderly care scenario.

Tying additional, say, zigbee devices to a master z-wave device controlled by the GE remote sounds like a good solution unless you want to be able to control the zigbee devices separately. Thus, the desire for a virtual z-wave device to pair up with the GE remote and act as a virtual master to the zigbee slaves. My inclination now is to chalk up the GE remote to ST learning experience and get the minimote (still wish it had a few more buttons). If anyone gets the virtual device working or close, I’m happy to help test/refine.

So is there a way to tie a virtual device to a specific zwave address such that a secondary master can turn on and off and sense the present state of the virtual device ?

No. Virtual devices are only visible to a primary SmartThings hub and they are based on the cloud account. They are not visible to a secondary controller.

What’s the use case you are trying to solve?

Trying to trip a virtual device from my elk m1gold, and trip an elk event based on a virtual device changing.

Yeah, can’t be done. :disappointed_relieved:

What you can do is what we used to do when we had two networks in an area with no way for them to communicate, and that’s to create an actual physical event that can be perceived by the other network.

I’ve talked before about the one we set up where we started a remote control car in a box and had a motion sensor from the other network pick it up.

Later when we wanted to make that look more professional looking, we started a fan which would also trigger the motion sensor.

You can turn on a light from one system and pick that up with a light sensor on the other system.

You can actuate A lever on one system and pick that up with a contact sensor on the other.

You can generate a chime or siren on one system and pick it up with an acoustic sensor on the other.

It’s all the same idea. Create a physical change in the environment from one system and then detect that physical change with the other.

It’s A Rube Goldberg approach, but it works. :sunglasses:


The other option, of course, is to do whatever integration you need on the elk side to get it working with echo or IFTTT and use one of those as the “man in the middle.” There are a whole bunch of different ways to do that, but they all require more equipment and frequently a subscription. So to be honest the fan is easier. :sunglasses:

If you have the option to send email from your elk system (usually that requires the ELK M1XEP unit, but there are some other options as well), then you can use that with IFTTT, but with the potential lag. Use the Gmail integration, it offers more features.

On the elk side it can send a message to an IP address, tripped on an event.