Status Indicator Light

There has been a lot of interest in the creation of an indicator, in particular for the status of the Smart Home Monitor. In my case, I kept triggering the door sensor from the garage since my presence monitor sometimes took longer to respond than my walk from my car to my door. After my house called my wife to let her know that an intruder was in the house, I decided that I really should be checking on the status of the alarm prior to opening the door.

Keypads have been suggested, and are a very good idea in that other people that come over to stay could use the pad to disarm the alarm, but I’m on something of a budget (my wife doesn’t understand my semi-obsession), and I haven’t been able to find anything for less than $40 to $50.

What I’m looking for here is simply a light that would be lit while the system is armed, and off when it’s disarmed.

I could also use a Hue or Cree light for this purpose, but the form factor just isn’t right, and I don’t want to pump the money into running a full LED lightbulb, when a single small LED is all I need.

After reading up on the need for this LED indicator device, and this one, and this one, it looks like there is still a need that hasn’t been met.

There has been a string of articles on the use of a salvaged CREE bulb Zigbee board- using the Zigbee module out of the connected Cree bulbs, I’m thinking that I can build something out that is cheap and effective,

Step One- buy a bulb:

Step Two- set up CREE bulb in ST. Connection to the system was really easy: screw bulb into base, set hub to search for new device, turn on light. Once it was connected, I turned off the light at the switch, unscrewed the bulb, and replaced the CFL that was originally there.

Step Three- Break into bulb (part of this step is to explain to my wife that destroying a brand new and very expensive light bulb is all part of the plan). I found this to be somewhat difficult- there isn’t exactly a method that is recommended by CREE… I used a screwdriver at the top of the plastic dome and pryed the halves apart, working my way down to the metal ring at the base. The base eventually split, releasing all of the goodies inside. (lightbulb pinata?)

The Zigbee board is pretty easy to find, but it’s soldered to the vertical board with four pins. I wanted those four pins intact, since I was planning to attach the power source to two of them, and the LED/resistor assembly to another.

I am a Biomechanical Engineer- really, I am out of my depth with most of this stuff, so this has been a lot of fun learning about soldering, desoldering, and the rest. I tried to use a desolder suction device, but it wasn’t effective due to how close the pins were. I then tried using desoldering braid, but the solder down in the holes wouldn’t come out.

So I took the mechanical engineering route, and cut the perpendicular board in half along the line of the four pins.

A little dremel work, and we get cleaned up pins (needed a steromicroscope for this).

Next up is the LED, resistor, power source, and enclosure.


wow, this is hugely impressive and way out of my league. I wish you luck and I’m excited to see the finished product – not that i could have any hope of replicating.

Adding to my previous post: I see a decent amount of opportunity for paying for software based on some hard work people do here, but things like this make me think there are also opportunities for people to build out some hardware. Maybe that’ll come in time as some of these custom solutions are so needed, and many of us are not capable of doing some of the building required. Of course I’m not suggesting you should go into mass production, but some people may have no problem building out & selling some limited numbers for their forum-friends. Hardware that comes to mind: interior mounts w/ chargers for phone/tablet displays, disarm status indicators, mountable push buttons (that actually work and don’t cost $200).

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Just FYI, a 4W LED light bulb, even if left running 24/7 will cost you a whooping 52 cents per month (assuming 18 cents per kWh electricity rate) :wink:

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To tell the truth, I had never run the numbers…

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Ok, so here’s the rest of it.

I used a cheap plastic enclosure for the device- this will make things easier for me to mount the LED.

I popped for a more expensive LED than the standard kind- this one came with some mounting hardware which I thought would be useful for the project.

Total cost for enclosure and LED: ~$5

I picked up a plug-in power source, with the idea that I could convert over to a battery at a future point. I picked one of these up from a local place for $3, and they threw in a terminal block.

The supply should have been the 3.3v needed by the Zigbee chip, but I was getting a little more…

After reading a little about using LEDs, I found that a resistor should be used in series, and that the resistor value should be calculated based on the input voltage, LED drive voltage, and the LED current. The resistor is to prevent a overcurrent runaway that may damage the LED. Using a online calculator, I determined that I needed a 47ohm resistor.

This is not a 47 ohm resistor. I have also learned the difference between a 47 ohm and a 47k ohm resistor. It turns out that I didn’t have a 47 ohm resistor, and that the closest that I could get on hand was 68 ohms. Since this was pretty close, I wasn’t too worried about the current drop causing the LED to be too dim.

I connected the Zigbee chip to the power source: Pin 1 (closest to center of chip) is negative, Pin 2 is positive, Pin 3 is the pulse modulation that controls dimming, and won’t be used, Pin 4 is the on/off output. The LED will bridge Pin 4 to negative.

At this point my wife asked if this was going to cause the house to burn down.

I added a short extension for the power source, until I can get around to including a CR123a or double AAA battery holder. I’m not sure if the 3v vs 3.3v is going to make a difference to the Zigbee chip- we’ll see when I add it later.

…and mounted in temporary spot until I can add the battery.

I just realized this morning that I could have replaced this with the Iris Plug for a grand total of $28 plus shipping if I ordered it from the Chelsea NY Lowes…


I’ve worked this into a Rule from Rule Machine, but I can’t find where Rule Machine talks directly to SHM- the best I can do is tie it to my Modes- On for Away, Off for Home. Since my routines are changing both SHM and Modes, this is pretty good for my presence sensors, but not so effective if I manually change SHM.

I’m always amazed by DIY projects people put out and occasionally I do it myself, but in this particular case, wouldn’t it be easier to just install a Z-Wave plug-in switch like this:

… and a cheap LED night light like this? :slight_smile:

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Different people have different preferences. Some people like the really tiny indicator light so it’s not so obvious to strangers or even guests. :sunglasses:

If you don’t mind, or even want, a really obvious plug in indicator, Homeseer has a $69 zwave nightlight that can be changed to one of 8 light colors that works well with SmartThings. It also has motion, light, and temperature sensors built in. There’s a community-created device handler for it.

But I mostly just put this here for people who are attracted by the thread title but were looking for a plug-and-play solution.

I think the OP’s project will be much more attractive to many people who want a much less obtrusive indicator. :sunglasses:

Homeseer also makes a zwave wall switch with a row of tiny LEDs which can be individually set to different colors.


2021 Update

My new favorite if you’re OK with something that sits on a shelf or table instead of wallmount:

It’s a small tower table lamp, intended as a nightlight, with RGBW options. it has a press button on top for manual control. or you can control it with a voice assistant or through a smart phone integration. No custom code needed. And right now it’s on sale for $31. :sunglasses:

Also available in the UK.

This is from Meross, it’s well engineered with good safety features. And also works with HomeKit.

We have two of these and really like them for notifications. :sunglasses:

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Sure, do things the easy way!

Yeah, I thought about that last night. When I started this a week ago, I had been only looking at all-in-one devices like the one from Homeseer, which was really expensive. It didn’t matter to me if it was plug-in or battery powered.

Now I’m seeing that I could have solved it in two parts for roughly the same price as my home-built parts. For the experience way outside of my comfort zone, this was still worthwhile.

Now, if I can get a battery pack to work with the parts it might still be worth it to have a completely wireless indicator light.

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I think the main reason the homeseer one is more expensive is because of the sensors included. If you were to add temperature, motion, and light sensors to yours, the costs would add up as well. But a lot of use cases would only need the indicator, not the sensors.

And I do think there are going to be people who want a more subtle, smaller indicator, like your project has. Not everyone wants to pull into the garage and have every guest say “what’s that light?” Especially households with teenagers. :wink:

So again, different things work for different people.

Here’s a proof of concept. Took me about a minute to put together using an old Intermatic Z-Wave dimmer and an LED night light. :wink:

P.S. I measured power consumption and it’s 1.8 Watt with LED turned on and 1.2 Watt with LED off, meaning that it will cost 24 cents a month even if it’s turned on 24/7. :slight_smile:

Sure there is other easy way to get this to work but one huge benefit you didn’t mention is that you can use battery instead of the 110v adapter and place this pretty much anywhere.
I disassembled the Phillips lux bulb last month and going to use the board for my garden valve both running on battery.


Ongoing update:

It’s not the most elegant design, but it works as a proof-of-concept that the Cree Zigbee chip can be run off of batteries.

…and now my wife would like me to get my “gizmos” out of her kitchen. Of course, I have enough parts to make a second version with another bulb…

edit- note to self: don’t take this on an airplane

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Just want to make sure I understand this correctly - could you set this so action “A” makes it light blue, action “B” makes it light red, etc.? If so then this is just what I’ve been looking for!

Yes, You can change the color by command, but you’re limited to the eight colors that it has as its presets.

The Homeseer is also a good device and includes a motion sensor as well as an indicator light, so it just depends on what you’re specifically looking for. But if all you want is a color changing indicator, the Leeo will be cheaper and has more color options. :sunglasses:

Ok a couple follow up questions. I use IFTT for other things but don’t currently use it with SmartThings - would there a long lag time for the light to be triggered? Also if it’s a noise sensor of sorts, could it sense a doorbell? Not sure how familiar you are with the product, but any information you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

IFTTT lag varies from house to house. At my house, it’s a pretty consistent eight seconds, which is good enough for most things, but might not work for everyone. You just have to try it and see.

If you need a light for a doorbell indicator, you could just go with a regular hue light if you already have a Hue bridge or again, the Homeseer Device. At our house we have a Hue light strip next to my housemate’s television and it will blink blue if I tell echo to do that or press a logitech pop button, so that’s our emergency signal. (He doesn’t check his texts if he’s playing video games.) so there are several options depending on exactly what you need. :sunglasses:

If I may jump in here quickly, I’m also interest in a colour changing indicator light…need the most basic, cheapest option…even the standalone wifi light colour light bulbs at ~$50CAD seem overpriced for my use case. @JDRoberts is the Leeo the cheapest option for colour changing lights you know of?

It depends on what you’re looking for.

1. Cheapest color bulb for now:$25

Xioami’s “yeelight” brand has a $25 Wi-Fi RGB colorchanging WiFi bulb available in both a 110 V and a 220 V model. It looks very nice, but like a lot of Xiaomi products it tends to disconnect from the network about once a week. And of course it’s Wi-Fi, so I hesitate to recommend WiFi bulbs since many Wi-Fi routers can only handle 30 devices, and others can only handle 100, and if you have everything in your house on one Wi-Fi network you can run out pretty fast once you start using addresses for bulbs.

But it does have an IFTTT channel (yeelight) and it does have native echo integration, and if you want something cheap and you’re OK with it glitching once a week, it’s definitely something to consider.

They also make a Bluetooth bulb and a zigbee bulb which doesn’t work with SmartThings or Hue, so read the product descriptions carefully as the Wi-Fi Bulb is the one that will be easiest to integrate.

this guy, Adam Lobo, does really good in depth reviews from a consumer standpoint. ( he doesn’t discuss technical specs) here’s the one he did for Hue versus LIFX versus yeelight. It’s interesting.

If Ikea comes out with the color bulb in their Tradfri line, that could change things again.

But of course this is a bulb, which means you need a lamp and an outlet for it.

And again, I am listing this here for people who are looking for a budget option, but the engineering on this is not great.

2. USB LED: $29.95

If you just want a tiny indicator that changes colors and you already have a laptop connected to the Internet which is running 24/7, then it’s worth looking at the “blink one.”

This has a lot of limitations because it has to be cabled to that laptop. They give you a program that runs on the laptop to manage it, and they do have an IFTTT channel.

But the need to be plugged into a laptop limits where you can use it. Even if you stick a 4 foot cord on it and taped LED on the wall, there still has to be that laptop that it is tethered to. Some people are in love with this thing, but it has limited uses compared to the other devices.

3. Homeseer Wall Switch with Indicator Lights. $55

Lights can be all set to the same color or set individually. Zwave. Small Discounts available on multipacks.



4. Homeseer Multisensor: $69.95

Although it’s the most expensive, if you can use the “multi” part of this indicator, you get a lot of value out of it. It has a temperature sensor, a motion sensor, and a weird kind of lux sensor that you probably won’t use. It’s a plug-in device. Certified Z wave, so it’s also going to act as a Z wave repeater. And since it’s Z wave, it will work with any zwave controller, you’re not dependent on the company staying in business.

So I do like this, and if you were also planning to use a motion sensor in you use case, this is really nice.

So as always, different things work for different people.

And again, Ikea might upend all of this if they come out with an RGB bulb and an RGB LED strip in the next few months.

5. Meross Table Lamp $42, but often on sale for $34

This is a Wi-Fi color changing small table lamp that has a manufacturer provided integration with smartthings and is very easy to set up and use. Price lists at around $42, but it’s often on sale at Amazon for about $34. We have several of these at our house and really like them. available for both the US and the UK. One of the best things about them is that you can just tap the top to turn it off or change colors which can be useful if you’re using it for a signal notification like the laundry is done. You can also use it as a regular white table lamp and then have it change color for the notifications.