New to IOT: A Few Questions about Mesh Networks


(Craig Bennett) #1

I’m still kinda new to actually using IOT devices. I was wondering what rules are there in it to make it work?

Like I’m wondering if all IOT devices extend the range by a little? How many devices can you go out before things stop working (like I know with WiFi mesh you don’t want to go over 4)? Does the hub only talk to 1 device at a time and does it matter with timing (I know in WiFi this is the case, and too many slow devices can start causing things to time out)? How easy is it to jam signal? When do I need a repeater? And so on

What got me really confused is some people are saying xyz product isn’t a repeater. But all the technical documents talk about zigbee and z-wave devices act as some AP in a mesh network (which in my mind extends the signal a little). And something that got me even more confused since there is no technical document saying 1 way or the other. I have both a Hue and SmartThings system. Hue using Zigbee, and I have Hue lights in my house. I’m confused if other zigbee devices will piggy back on the hue lights to act apart of the mesh network.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #2

Howdy,

Your Topic Subject Line is a little confusing, as “Rules” generally refer to Automations (i.e., stuff that should automatically happen on a schedule or when a door sensor opens or a motion sensor detects motion, etc.). SmartThings implements Rules as SmartApps such as Smart Lighting, or through 3rd Party add-ons like Smart Rules or WebCoRE.

You’re talking about networking…

These are covered in the FAQ Category; here’s a couple good starting points, and @JDRoberts probably knows a few more offhand:


(Craig Bennett) #3

I didn’t really think about if the word rule would be confusing. In other things like 3D printing, networks, and so on. The word rule tends to be used to say you shouldn’t do these things or go out of these. Otherwise problems might happen or the thing my not work all together.

Anyways, thanks for the links I will check them out.


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

Terminology is everything … especially in Topic Subjects, because that’s how Community Members decide what to read.

In particular, a platform like SmartThings has very specific terminology; though, honestly, they don’t use some terms consistently. Devices are also called “Things”. But drivers for Things are called “Device Handlers”, “Device Types” or “Device Type Handlers”.

“Capabilities” aren’t what SmartThings can do; they are claims made by Device Type Handlers which tell SmartApps what Attributes and Commands the Device has.

etc.


#5

@tgauchat has given you excellent resources already. :sunglasses: Reading those should answer most of your questions.

The one thing I would add as someone who worked as a network engineer is that all the official technical documents (from the zigbee alliance for zigbee and the Z wave alliance for Z wave, which are the certifying bodies for both) say that different devices will take different roles in the network. For example, battery-operated Devices don’t usually act as repeaters because it would use up too much battery life.

And smoke detectors, even if mains-powered, typically do not act as repeaters because they are considered priority devices: you don’t want one to delay announcing that smoke was detected because it’s busy passing on a message for a light switch somewhere.

In addition, individual manufacturers are given some flexibility under the protocol specification as to whether or not they will implement repeating. But it should say in the product specifications for each individual model whether it does or not. For example, the makers of the Sengled zigbee smart bulbs are unusual in that they have chosen not to have their lightbulbs repeat, even for each other. Their devices are still fully certified zigbee lightbulbs, but they do not act as repeaters.

So it’s just something you have to check for each model you buy. But most mains-powered devices will act as repeaters for the network they are part of.

Which brings us to Hue. The Hue bridge forms its own mini network–bulbs attached to the same Hue bridge repeat for each other, but not for your other zigbee devices. Again, details are covered in the links that @tgauchat already gave you.

Protocol Specification Resources

BTW, in network engineering, the “rules” you mentioned would be called the “network protocol specification,” and that is the term used by all three certifying bodies who define and maintain the ones that typically come up in a SmartThings context: the Zwave Alliance, the Zigbee Alliance, and the WiFi Alliance.

Within each specification there may be multiple “standards” which in turn identify different “profiles.” Zwave only has a single standard. Zigbee has many. SmartThings uses the “Zigbee Home Automation 1.2” profile.

Official Zwave Specification:

http://zwavepublic.com/specifications

Official Zigbee Specification:

http://www.zigbee.org/zigbee-for-developers/applicationstandards/zigbeehomeautomation/


#6

OK, with the super technical stuff out of the way, back to the practical…:wink:

In addition to the excellent resources that @tgauchat already gave you, you might also find the following thread of interest (this is a clickable link)


(Craig Bennett) #7

Thanks that would be useful.

Beyond trying to figure out if I will run into a problem today if I was to buy stuff for the other side of the house. I’m wondering how I can network a farm. My family is about to buy a farm, and we are talking about growing multi year crops on it. I think it would be nice to have IOT devices saying what needs water, security, and whatever else. My ultimate goal is to make things as hands off as possible. Even down to the point of having tractors and lawn equipment that run themselves giving you keep it up. That and sensors that can send drones out to see what’s going on security wise (it might even run off black bears because of the sound of the drones if they get too close to the house).

That away I can maximize my time with my family and be able to do other types of jobs.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #8

#9

There are many people using various kinds of sensor automation effectively on farms, but SmartThings is not a good match to this particular application for most people for a number of reasons. The most significant one is just reliability. The company says so themselves in their product usage guidelines:

Data accuracy and consistency from SmartThings sensors, including those provided by SmartThings directly, resold by SmartThings, or supported by SmartThings, is not guaranteed. Therefore, you should not rely on that data for any use that impacts health, safety, security, property or financial interests.
.
For example, because temperature readings may vary significantly from reading to reading on an individual device, between devices, or over time, those readings should not be used to control heating and cooling in environments where food spoilage, health risks, or damage to physical goods could occur.

There are a number of user groups for small family farms that discuss various kinds of appropriate technology (usually referred to as “AgTech,” not IoT in this context ), so your best bet is to seek out one of those. The agriculture agent in the area where you are considering purchasing a firearm will probably have a list of some, or you can search online.

There are many systems designed specifically for agriculture use and they would be both more cost-effective and more reliable. :sunglasses:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhicks/2016/12/31/take-a-look-at-how-technology-makes-smart-and-sustainble-farming/#2981cab73deb

But when you are looking at Ag tech, reliability has to be the top of the list for your requirements, and SmartThings just doesn’t yet deliver in that area. It also doesn’t scale well for multiple building applications, even outbuildings.


#10

And before getting too much deeper into things, you might want to take a look at the following topic:

Just sayin’… :wink:


(Craig Bennett) #11

Thanks for pointing that out.

My biggest thing was to figure out how the networking works for the house. And then apply that to some other system. I kinda figured Smartthings wouldn’t be powerful enough to handle a full farm. But by understanding the fundamentals on a home system would allow someone to upscale that when the time comes.

I have a few years before I have to seriously look into which devices to get for a farm.

I never heard of AgTech before. I will check that out


#12

Sort of yes, but mostly no. :sunglasses: Residential system features are driven by the need to be flexible (people come home at different times, in different moods, with different guests, etc.) and a visible wow factor. AgTech is about gathering tons and tons of data from very reliable systems and running it through predictive algorithms to create greater efficiencies and lower costs. It’s just a completely different kind of system with different goals and different equipment. Learning to play poker with your friends doesn’t prepare you for coaching an NFL team, beyond a very small overlap in strategic planning.

If you’re interested in AgTech, I’d start working with AgTech, maybe just a small greenhouse system. Then you’ll have something to scale up from. :rocket: