Microbots/Prota - My Experience

I purchased the microbot push/prota bridge bundle from Amazon. I’ve seen some discussion in other threads and I thought I’d share my experience.

I’m using two microbots on an older pellet stove so I can control it when I’m not home. I have one to push the power button and one to push the button which controls the 5 heat levels.

They work well once set up. I use a virtual switch for one and a momentary button for the other which trigger the microbots via IFTTT.

The actual set up was a bit of a pain because the Prota app is not very user friendly and it’s extremely slow loading. Also, connecting to IFTTT has to be done using a computer because the process does not work through the app. I only figured this out from a reviewer on Amazon who had instructions in his review.

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Thanks for the review! I was gifted the starter set with three microbots, but haven’t set it up yet. I hope to try it next week. :sunglasses:

Agreed on the Prota app - still feels like a beta release that has never been run by a UX person. I’d still recommend it to anyone, with the caveat of “expect setup frustration.”

I have a Microbot Push to turn on my Keurig as part of my morning routine, another on my “dumb” thermostat that the apartment complex owners don’t want changed, and a third on the remote of my supposedly-smart Samsung Smart TV.

The last is my favorite. The TV is supposed to have SmartThings, but enough has been written about Samsung’s ridiculousness in releasing the Extend so I won’t belabor the point here. I have a Harmony Hub that I like, but the microphone is in the remote and requires a button press on the new TVs. Also, as Samsung keeps getting bribed to insert apps and throw off the sequence, I can’t use Harmony to get directly to things like Netflix, Prime, or Hulu. So, I used Alexa + IFTTT + Microbot to press the button on the remote for me, which is just in a project box in the entertainment center. I can say “Alexa, trigger Sammy” (for Samsung, couldn’t resist), then my Echo sends to IFTTT which triggers the Prota S hub to push the Microbot and hold it for 5 seconds, which is long enough to say things like “Netflix” or “HDMI4”.

Motivation for this rather roundabout solution: annoyance that my smart TV wasn’t that smart, and the wife vetoing my disassembly of the remote. Same combo of factors as the one on my Keurig, for that matter… I figured if I wasn’t disassembling the remote then I should keep it in good order, so I didn’t want anything that would damage it if I needed to take it out. Solution: cardboard + Command Strips to position the remote in place under the Microbot in a project enclosure, then using Sugru to attach the Microbot to the inside of the enclosure (NOT the remote). I’m sure there’s a better way, but this was pretty easy and I was driven more by annoyance at Samsung than any real need.

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Prior to the release of the recent harmony Red skill for Alexa, I had been considering something similar for volume control on the TV remote. A stand to hold the boat in place for the button pusher, but still able to be used as the regular remote.

Right now I think my first microbot application will be a button on a Black & Decker personal blender I have which is really hard for me to push. I chose it because the container is lightweight enough that I can get it on and off the blender and you drink right out of the container so there’s no pouring. But I still have a lot of trouble with the start button. I’ve been thinking about putting The microbot on a stand which could be moved away from the blender so I don’t have to worry about automation glitches. :sunglasses:

Will these work with IFTTT without the Prota hub?

No, if you don’t have Prota, then the push microbot can only be operated by its own app on a single Bluetooth phone. Prota is what gives you the Internet piece.

Thanks, buddy. :slight_smile:

I don’t know if you got around to setting these up, but the other advantage that’s not as obvious but you might find useful is that the Microbot Push has a capacitative button on the back to manually trigger it, so it can always be triggered manually (until the battery runs out).

That also means that a light touch on the Push can equate to a firm push by the motorised ‘finger’, which is useful for assisted presses.

Apparently the second generation ones will be stronger too as they’ve redone the mechanism

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Has anyone tried these Prota switches to trigger a standard toggle light-switch?

I’m thinking of using them for our gas fireplace. (Yes, yes … I know there are other ways I can do this with a dry contact switch. You come over and try to convince my wife that rewiring the fireplace is safe…) It has a standard toggle wall switch, so I assume I’d need 2 of the switches, one to turn the fireplace on (push toggle upward), and one to turn the fireplace off (push toggle downward) … correct?

Is anyone using them on a standard toggle switch for any particular project and can report how well they work? The way the base of this unit is depicted, I’m not sure how it would affix to the switch plate to push the right direction…

First check your local safety codes if you live in the US. In most places, it is illegal to add any remote control to a fireplace that can be operated out of sight, a distance typically defined as 20 feet. You’ll find that most of the nationally sold fireplace remotes have this distance limitation for this reason.

While you may know that you don’t intend to be at your office and turn on the fireplace at home, just the fact that you can will be a code violation, which in turn will typically void your homeowners insurance.

Plus there’s the fact that there are always a couple of reports every month in these forums of lightbulbs that come on unexpectedly or garage doors that open or things that run in the wrong mode… it doesn’t happen to everyone, and it doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen, so you need to take it into account. (I personally don’t put anything on SmartThings that wouldn’t be safe to run for 24 hours unattended.)

Most people who hook SmartThings into a fireplace use a relay which has a built-in safety timer. Unfortunately the microbots do not offer this.

On the other hand, If you don’t use SmartThings with the microbots and only pair them to a phone rather than the Prota bridge, then I think you probably would be within code in most places, because you would be limited to Bluetooth distance.

So you just want to do some research first.