Integrating SmartThings with SimpliSafe

Hey all -

New forum member who is considered purchasing both a SimpliSafe system for security and SmartThings system for home automation & control.

One of the use cases I would like to control is walking into the house and having the security system automatically disarm. I have an idea for how this could work, but I am not 100% sure if it is technically possible.

I was thinking I would purchase the SimpliSafe fob pictured below. This device allows you to arm & disarm your alarm.

Next, I would purchase a relay such as this (I believe this is what a lot of people are using for their garage hacks):

I was thinking if you were to crack the case on the security fob, you would be able to wire it to the relay to control it via SmartThings e.g. a SmartThings Presence Fob enters the house, the relay fires and simulates hitting the “home” button on the fob.

Is this possible? I am not an electronics specialist by any means, so I am not even sure if I understand correctly what a relay does.

Yes. I’ve hacked SimpliSafe extensively. Assuming the fob works properly it’s an easy hack. I did it (before ST) with a 433MhZ Chinese RF relay I paid $25 bucks for. Came with 2 key fobs and needs 12VDC power. I have an LED wired in the circuit that I can see through the window to confirm on/off state of the SS system.

If you haven’t purchased SS yet and can wait a while, Scout (see connected things section) looks interesting and uses ZigBee to communicate.

Thanks for the reply. Do you know if Scout will have active monitoring? That is one of the main advantages of SimpliSafe compared to a lot of the DIY Wireless security systems I have seen.

I did a brief look at their site and they said they would be offering cellular monitoring @10/month. You would also have to factor the cost for a cell SIM card but a data only pre-paid isn’t that expensive and the typical alarm transmission is 10 bytes long (contact I’d format - subscriber ID+Alarm type+checksum) and is sent twice with an acknowledge sent back so the whole transmit/receive imbed ramie is measured in seconds. The other issue I have with SS is they use Tmobile only for their cellular and I had to open the unit, disconnect the stubby antenna, wire it to a Wilson repeater, screw around with attenuating the signal so as to not blow up the wilson, and stick an antenna on a 20 foot mast on my roof to get a signal. The only upside is I have 5 bards on my Verizon cell phone where I had 3 at best before. SS also has POTS/telephone backup/failover. Again, I only did a cursory look at Scouts site but I’ll be going back and digging deeper. They also don’t specific if the monitoring is by a UL monitoring center which makes a difference to the insurance companies (although I suspect they do - its just not hat hard to get $$).

I need to backtrack a bit on my comment regarding cell carriers and the possibility of using a user supplied SIM card to select carriers. The prototype they are showing uses a Ublox Leon G-100 cellular radio so depending n what they do it may or may not avoid ate a user supplied SIM card and you would be locked ito whatever carrier they choose. SS uses TMobile becuase that’s who they got the best deal from. The G100 does have the capability to add a sim car (the pins are there on the board - Ublox has great docs on their site) but it’s nt clear if they LAN to implement that - the ESIN can be hardcoded on internal ROM. I’ve sent them a list of questions so I’ll report back when I get a response. One of my biggest issues with SS was that after I bought the system and discovered that I had virtually no Tmobile coverage, they sent me a AT&T radio but then took it back a month later telling me “it was only a test” which means they couldn’t cut a financially beneficial (to them) deal with AT&T. That’s a real issue for me although as I said, I ended up hacking the box and putting up a high-gain antenna to hit the Tmoble cell tower. Even with the amp and the mast, I still needed a 24db gain directional antenna to get a reliable connection. The other issue is ST integration. If you pair devices to Scout,how would ST see them? (And vice versa). If you could somehow configure one or the other as a secondary controller and have everything on a single network you conceptually gain interoperability and a whole lot of additional functionality.

Just for the record, I do eat my own dog food. After reading their blog and analyzing the components they’re using I went ahead a pre-ordered a system to replace my primary Simplisafe system. I really liked the RFID “keypad” idea (which also doubles as a door entry sensor), they are using top notch components for all the important stuff and it looks good too. And they’re geek hackers designing the thing themselves. SS farmed the whole thing out to a company in China that specializes in RF toys. They also are a generation or two behind the curve tech wise and take forever to introduce new products and features. I think it was over a year from when they announced smoke/fire until it finally shipped and on teardown, there’s just not that much inside. I’m paying Simplisafe $10 bucks a month for monitoring now and would have to upgrade to twice that to get SMS/text alerts and rudimentary smartphone control which is native with Scout. If Scout’s cell radio is “open”, I can get UL monitoring on my own for just $8/month but side by side feature/function comparison puts them way ahead, especially since its z-wave and not “dumb” RF.

It seems like everyone and their brother is entering the space in the last few months which is encouraging.

Solardave - thanks for all the info, it is very helpful for a noob like myself.

Let me check my understanding: with Scout, because it uses Z-Wave, I would be able to natively integrate with SmartThings so that when I enter the house, the alarm automatically shuts off?

I’m not sure and I don’t know that they have fully developed their strategy for how the software side would work. If I were to guess, then no - I would guess that they would allow for z-wave to trigger events if the system went into alarm, tamper, fault, fire, etc. such as turning on lights, turning off HVAC (in a fire/smoke scenario). I think it would be more along the lines of pushing z-wave commands out based in controller conditions like alarm/intrusion. Their on/off - arm/disarm is being promoted as RFID or NFC which would add some security, certainly more than a z-wave command but they’re playing the fine details cards close to the best and from whati can see, they are focused on the hardware side at this point in the dev cycle. At least, that’s the way I would do it - have a very secure method to arm/disarm and then have the system execute based on that s more likely the scenario might be come home, disarm and have your light turn on and HVAC system adjust the environment to a predetermined temp setting. But I really can’t find much detail onthe software side other hat it supports cellular notifications to a monitoring system has some method for pushing notifications out to phones and stuff, either text or SMS and suppoirts z-wave as a protocol but o what extent and how it would work, they’re fuzzy at best at this point. I’m still waiting for them to get back to me on a bunch of questions and suggestions but they have stated they are mostly heads down and off the grid finalizing the hardware and I’m sure the code. If you hit their site and go to the blog section and their facebook page you get about as much info as they have chosen to release so far. Looking at the pictures of the board, I was able to identify sme of the components and trace back the potential functionality but without speaking directly to them, its all conjecture on my part at this point. I am very interested in this product for a number of reasons so I am actively perusing information. <Alex/Andrew - you guys really should reach out to these guys and see if you can do something together>.

Have you hacked the antenna that connects to the sensors? I would like the boost the signal. Current my garage sensor is only setup to send text alerts because it doesn’t have a solid connection to the base station and I would like to be able to install sensors in an outbuilding.

I opened one of the sensors to see what their internal antenna is like and considered hack on antenna onto the sensor, but the base station probably makes more sense.

We’re almost at the end of 2014. I just purchased Simplisafe in early November and am pretty happy with it as a setup and forget type system. But as a software developer I am frustrated by the closed system and it’s limitations (mostly sensor range). I checked out Scout in it’s current form (it appears to be in-stock now) and although more open, it lacks a lot of the components that Simplisafe has. Also Simplisafe’s components are much cheaper than any other smart home/diy alarm system out there right now. A door sensor is only $15 vs other systems start at $40. I think I would go with something more open when there’s an open alternative version of everything Simplisafe already offers. It’s too bad Wink doesn’t integrate with any alarm systems yet…

So is there no plans to integrate simplisafe? That’s a little sad

This is up to SimpliSafe. If you read their community forums, they give the pre-canned “Were looking into things” response. Once ADT Pulse integrates with IFTTT, then pressure will really be on other alarm companies to step up their integration efforts. There is one thread on here where someone is trying to tap into SimpliSafe but he hasn’t had luck yet.

I’ve been hacking at their unnofficial RESTful API from a few github projects people have posted, but so far no luck. I don’t see Simplisafe opening up an API tho.

Here is the other thread about this: SimpliSafe Alarm Integration (cloud to cloud)

I started on an initial Groovy integration for SimpliSafe - details here: SimpliSafe Alarm Integration (cloud to cloud)