Not sure if this is the right forum… if not please advise.
So I have wall outlets that I can control… however some products also then need you to push an on/off button when power is supplied.
How does everyone do that? I don’t mind pulling out the soldering gun if needed… is there a chip of some sort I can just solder to the control board where the on/off button is and use that to start/stop it?
If the device accepts any kind of remote control commands, that’s usually the easiest. you may need a hardware “bridge” to send those commands. For example, Global Cache’s iTach wifi to IR bridge is popular for entertainment equipment.
If the device just needs a closed circuit, it’s fairly common to add a parallel relay to the power sequence (past the on/off button point). You have to be careful of safety issues, of course.
Some devices have optional actuator modules you can buy that replace the on/off button with something controllable.
Some devices like ceiling fan motors typically have a rather complex internal procedure for powering on and off, and if you just try to Hotwire those to a relay you’re likely to burn the motor out, sometimes literally!
So again, depends on the exact device.
P.S. you can also use a servo and build a mini robot that physically pushes the button which is way cool but not always practical. Or budget friendly. But fun. When I was a kid I made a Mr. potato head that could lock and unlock a slide bolt.
(I am quadriparetic with limited hand function, so I actually think about this stuff a lot. But these days like @obycode says below I mostly just look for stuff that comes prepped to automate.)
I’ve run into this problem with several devices and it is very frustrating. It seems that more and more new devices have a button that you have to hit to turn it on rather than just a physical switch that can be left in the on position. Here’s a cool hack someone did for their Keurig - http://hackaday.com/2013/11/12/wireless-keurig-hack/. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any general purpose way to handle these devices. So far my only solution is to take notice when buying new devices that I plan to automate.
You can use a push solenoid (e.g., http://www.amazon.com/7-9W-Push-Frame-Solenoid-Electromagnet/dp/B0056KNON4) to physically press the button.
I have used this setup to control the on/off button on a projector (couldn’t figure out the IR codes). I connected it to a 12V power brick controlled by a ZWave switch, and added a smartapp to turn on the ZWave switch for a couple of seconds to imitate a button press. However, you need to make sure that you cut off the current to the solenoid after a few seconds – otherwise, it will overheat and may cause a fire.
There are tiny robot fingers that you can buy from Amazon that are designed to just push a button. They have their own bridge which has an I IFTTT channel. I use these in my own home and they work well for me, but they are very expensive. About $40 for each microbot and another $80 for the bridge (which can support up to 40 Microbots). There are a couple of other people in the community using them as well for devices which just can’t be easily retrofitted in other ways, or where they don’t want to void the warranty.
So they won’t work for everyone, but they are a new alternative since this thread was started.
You can read about them in a recent thread on an old air conditioner here: