iBlinds - Home Automation For Your Window Blinds (Z-Wave)


#1

New Kickstarter Project - iBlinds - Home Automation For Your Window Blinds (Z-Wave)


BLINDS // Who is winning the race?
Feedback on New Smart Retrofit Blind Motorization
Z-Wave blinds called iBlinds
(Pre-Subcategory creation) Deals/Sales/Coupons/Pricing
iBlinds Indigogo Campaign
(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Far too optimistic “Estimated Delivery Date” (Dec 2015!?) is a huge red flag :warning:. Danger!

The high price ($79/unit) is actually encouragingly realistic, on the other hand… But a very big challenge from a marketing standpoint, I think.

But design looks good, and good choice to go with Z-Wave.


(Kyle ) #3

the video and kickstarter page for this show SMARTTHINGS controlling it already (or atleast it appears too - could be fake) so does anyone on the community know of a device type that had been made for it . . or which community member is behind it ?

cheers kyle


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #4

Ummm… it is, quite likely fake simulated.

But @JDRoberts probably knows off the top of his head if there is a standard Z-Wave Cluster spec Command Class for rotating blinds:

The Command Classes are:
COMMAND_CLASS_BASIC_WINDOW_COVERING 0x50 80
COMMAND_CLASS_MTP_WINDOW_COVERING 0x51 81

MTP = Multi position, I think, as opposed to just open/close?

Some vendors might also spoof it by using a multi-level switch (dimmer) or multi-position motor command class, as mentioned in “old” Z-Wave specs…


An existing standard is the easiest way for iBlinds to make it cross-platform, of course.

I’m a little concerned that the video’s only show 90* of rotation … I require 180*, as I point my slats up or down for light control and privacy reasons.

And SmartThings “secret” (?) reference: :secret: :see_no_evil:


(Kyle ) #5

Yeah im also in the same boat with that one, i was hoping for a little more in regards to closing them fully one way or the other . . . hmmm im intrigued as im very very eager to get all my venetian horizontal blinds automated by the end of the year and i have been waiting out forever for COMFEE to make progress.


#6

This is a trick question, right? :wink: (zwave doesn’t have clusters.)

There are a bunch of certified devices sold for that purpose. They’re mostly use multi level motor control commands. So not quite the same as a dimmer, but similar.

That said, I don’t know of any doing blind control, just roller shades. Blind control tends to jam.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #7

Updated my post (above) to say “Command Classes”, and, indeed, there are at least 2 Command Classes for Window Coverings (0x50, 0x51), plus motor control / dimming … if I read the docs correctly.


#8

Could be, I never used them. I don’t think there’s a device class, though. In any case, most current devices are using multi level motor control.


#9

Hi All, Thanks for the feedback and good questions about the product.

I’m the inventor of the iBlinds device. The device is truly working using the Z-wave protocol we are using the ZM5202 module. We spent time and made sure we had this working before we brought it to Kickstarter. To ensure compatibility the device pairs with the Z-Wave network as a LED Dimmer / Light Dimmer. I then created a Custom Device Type starting with the dimmer as the template for us SmartThings users. If you notice in the video when I show the VeraEdge controller it displays the light bulb icon.

Hoping our campaign is successful so we can get Z-Wave certified and also further explore the Window Covering Class. I’m not sure if the earlier versions of Z-Wave (3x and 4x series) controllers have the Window Covering Class, so decided it best to go with the dimmer for 100% compatibility. That way I could take advantage of the value slider to control the angel of the blinds.

The new prototype shown at the end of the video and in the testing section on Kickstarter now rotates a full 180 degrees and responds to any angle in between. Finally you are correct the prototypes (our first Z-Wave version) shown in the rest of the video are only 90 degrees (on/off or Open/Close)

Hope this helps answer some of the questions. Please let me know if you have others!

Thanks,
Eric


#10

I also forgot to mention. If you have any ideas or thoughts that we can use to make our device better please shoot them our way. I’d love to hear them.

Currently in the works.

Configuration or Initialization routine:

To make sure that:
0 on the value slider = fully closed down
50 on the value slider = fully open
99 on the value slider = fully closed up

Our plan initially was to have users install with the slats in the fully open position. We quickly noticed that all blinds are not created equally and we didn’t get consistent results across the different manufactures. So now we are working on an initialization/configuration routine that will find the max closed down and max closed up based on motor current spike. Also going to use motor current spike to help us build in a fail-safe feature, just in case the blinds get jammed or something prohibits movement for too long of a time period. The device will stop the motor and send some type of error notification.

To accomplish the config on SmartThings will be easy, we are going to add a button to the custom device type to allow the user to send a configuration command that will fire off the config routine. Thinking we will have to implement some type of manual method. Maybe a 5 second tug on a pull string attached to the device for all the other Z-Wave controllers that don’t allow access for us to build custom device types. The pull string will however allow a user to have a method of manual control if the so desire. It will also be handy if the controller requires an internet connection and it is down.

Battery:
We are also finalizing the selection of our rechargeable battery. When performing our testing with a 72" x 72" blind, the current battery had trouble providing enough power to the motor to apply proper torque to smoothly rotate the blinds. Smaller the 48", 36" and 24" blinds we tested had no problems running off of the 3.7v Lithium Ion. Looking at using a 5-6v battery. Powering the device directly with a 5v 2A usb charger operated the motor just fine.

Solar:
Finally working on our custom solar panel and a clean way to mount it. We’ve successly tested charging circuit with some off the shelf 6v 2w solar panels. However we want to design something that is slim and clean and also make sure we nail down our battery selection first.

Thanks again for your time.
Eric


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #11

Thanks for the responses… I figured it was likely Dimmer control. Good choice.

Non-technical question: Why the unrealistic, highly optimistic, naive estimated delivery dates (< 6 months)? I know that’s a loaded question, but it’s based on my observations of dozens of Kickstarter and IndieGogo campaigns. There is no longer any excuse to underestimate the complexity of bringing hardware to production, except to “over-entice” backers… (imho).

Much more ethical to under-promise and over-deliver, even if a long delivery time frame discourages potential backers.


#12

Very good question. I too thought this may be a little optimistic, but I am very hopeful we can meet this deadline.

Two things lead me to believe this:
We have put in a lot of work upfront and are continuing to work now while we are on kickstarter to test and refine our product.

I had to outsource my Z-Wave development since I don’t have access to the expensive proprietary Sigma Designs developer kit. However in doing so it allowed me partner with a team member that had extensive Z-wave experience (recently work on a project for Westinghouse called the Nucli , a Z-Wave Door Lock on steroids http://www.cepro.com/article/westinghouse_security_launches_with_home_automation_hub_built_into_crazy-sm/).

His connections allowed me to team up with a gentlemen who has worked directly on many electronic hardware projects with a manufacture that can deliver a complete turnkey solution ( PCB Fab, PCB Sourcing, PCB Assembly & Testing )in addition to sourcing and assembly and testing the other device parts. All for a fair price.

Hopefully I’m not being naive, but I truly think we are in good shape to ship in December.

Thanks again,
Eric


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #13

Sincerely: Good luck with your campaign and production efforts. :four_leaf_clover:

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this product in retail after the bugs are worked out. I also must firmly advise anyone who is thinking of being a Backer to do so only if the Delivery Date is of no importance to them.

I believe you are unnecessarily setting yourself up for negative reputation impact and effort writing multiple apologies and delay explanations, but Kickstarter is “Caveat Backer”. … “Hoping [you’re] not being naive”, ironically, fits the definition of being naive.

Nothing personal… I’m only offering my fellow Community members and smart home gadget consumers my warnings of pre-purchase risks and I just need to “let it go” for now.

It will be easy, polite, and preferable for me to apologize and be super impressed in January when you succeed, than boast of my prescience if you’re late.


#14

Thanks! I truly appreciate your feedback!


(Keith Croshaw) #15

Good luck! Perhaps after I’m doing all of my blinds myself using my own boards and servos and it doesn’t work and there’s wires everywhere I’ll order one to test it out. :smiley:

Tough sell surrounded by nerds here, but if it does well it’ll be awesome for normal humans.


#16

@keithcroshaw Thanks!!! I’m sure you will be successful.

My first solution was with the futaba S3003 and S3010 servos, moteino (arduino clone with a RFM69 transceiver built in.) I then later created a ST custom device type (spun up an API on the raspberry pi gateway) . I still have it running in the man cave controlling the window blind. It’s been rock solid!

Let me know if you run into any stumblling blocks I’ll be happy to share what I learned.

thanks,
eric


#17

There are a lot of challenges with motorizing blinds, which is why most companies have gone for roller or cellular shades instead.

First, of course, is the problem of different materials, everything from bamboo to steel. Getting the pull right without jamming or damaging the blinds is tricky for a universal controller.

Even more important, though, is product safety. Blind cords can kill kids or pets, and motorized blinds with cords significantly raise the risk.

I’m all in favor of a product that provides zwave control for window coverings. But the liability issues for selling a product to control motorized corded shades would concern me a lot.

My personal feeling is that doing the engineering for the safety issues alone make the December date extremely optimistic.

On the other hand, if you initially limited the product to control of a specific line of economy cordless shades, you might hit the sweet spot for the kind of people who buy SmartThings or Vera.

http://www.blinds.com/control/product/productID,97658

FWIW


(Joepnj) #18

I think I heard early in the video that the device is designed only for 2" blinds… I am guessing that size is a limiting factor for any device designed for 1" blinds (which happens to be what I have in every window in my home).

I’ve been looking for this product for some time… but for 1" BLINDS…

Oh well… keep waiting…

Thanks


(Dave N) #19

I’m certainly willing to jump in on this but it really hinges on the solar panel charger option.
I have 5 blinds we open and close all the time but I don’t want to be trying to access and change batteries all the time and there is no A/C nearby.
What’s the skinny on this option? Planned? Price?


(Keith Croshaw) #20

I tried to keep a very low power micro controller with no servo attached to a decent sized battery pack with built in solar panel. My verdict was that unless you’ve got the brightest window in the world it’s not going to work.