Will pay for a solution


(Bim) #1

I have 70 inputs showing whether a relay is on or off and then 70 outputs to turn the relay on or off.
Do you have an idea how to get Smartthings to work. These relays control lights and fans in an existing building. Would like to get the building to be controlled by Smartthings.
If you have an idea, please email me. I would pay $3000 for a workable solution – or more if it really worked.
bim.rowley@gmail.com


#2

Do you already have smartthings? It’s not typically chosen for commercial solutions, because it’s just not reliable enough yet. They have had at least one outage every month for the last 18 months, I believe, except for January. They also regularly push out updates which can take a system off-line for anywhere from a few minutes until a few hours and you cannot either postpone or delay these updates, which can be a problem for a commercial system. In addition, it is primarily a cloud-based system, which means the Internet has to be working at all times.

Before I ever bought SmartThings for myself, or knew anything about that particular product, I worked on commercial deployments for Automation for warehouses and Office buildings so I’m pretty familiar with typical requirements. I would go with a fully local system instead and keep it simple if all you have are fans and lights.

There is an official status page, although they only tend to post things there which affect pretty much all customers, and they don’t list outages due to platform updates:

https://status.smartthings.com

And you can see more on the first bug reports page in the community – created wiki:

http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Bug:_First_Reports

You might also read the company’s own product usage guidelines:

You can also search the forums for threads on stability and reliability.

If you already have SmartThings and you are comfortable with its level of reliability, I’m sure there will be someone who can help you. Are you looking for someone to physically install the devices as well as set up the rules? In that case it would help to know the geographic location.


( I hate Mondays) #3

Are those inputs and outputs TTL compatible? Because if they are not, you need a lot of dry contact sensors and a lot of relays… and a solution based on either Arduino or Raspberry PI to use as many GPIO you could - possibly two controllers to cover 140 GPIO pins…


#4

Normally in a commercial set up you’re going to have a lot of restrictions as far as what equipment you can use in order to meet code and insurance requirements. I don’t think you’re going to be able to do a raspberry pi or Arduino solution. GoControl/Linear and Leviton both have UL listed Relay control devices that might suit and will typically pass a code inspection. Elk might also be a possibility, a lot of warehouses use those. Obviously the cost is a lot higher than what you suggested, but if the OP has a $3000 set up budget, I’m assuming this is a commercial installation. But maybe I’m wrong.


(Dave Rowley) #5

The OP is my dad so I’ll try to provide a little more background since I have a little more experience with ST.

Yes the reliability and delays are a concern, however, the whole low-voltage wiring system works manually with the regular light switches, thermostats, etc. regardless of whether or not ST and/or the internet are working properly. The idea is to extend the management of the building for convenience purposes, but not to completely rely on it.

Yes this would probably require someone to come on site to connect the controllers. 2 of the 3 buildings (all church buildings) are in the Hartford, CT area, and one is in Brevard, NC.

Thanks for developing CoRE! I have roughly 70 “things” in my house and rely heavily on it. That’s also a big part of why I recommended ST to my dad and pointed his nose in this direction as a possible solution to his controller problem because of all of the awesome automation options that it provides.

I’m not sure about TTL, but yes, there are already a lot of relays currently installed. I live in South Carolina and don’t recall how the sensors are wired, but I believe there’s a way to currently read the status (on/off, open/closed, temperature) via voltage levels in the computer room where all of the wiring of the building terminates in and where the relays are installed. I have messed around with an Arduino Mega, a SmartThings shield, and ST_Anything from @ogiewon in the past and have been able to get several switches and sensors working and multiplexed properly in SmartThings. The biggest challenge from my perspective would be scaling that up to reading/controlling the 140 GPIO pins that you mentioned. I have never tried to use an ethernet shield on an Arduino, but that would probably be better than relying (and trying to source) multiple ST Zigbee shields. Ideally there could be an even more compact and elegant solution for two way communication between SmartThings > ethernet cable > intermediary controller > some kind of connector > building wiring box with relays.

I’m sure a FaceTime or Hangouts walkthrough of the wiring room could be arranged for anyone who is willing to consider helping with this project. My dad is the pastor of a church and formerly a civil engineer who built the first (14,000sqft) of the 3 buildings mentioned above 15 or so years ago and wired everything with the ability to control everything via low-voltage relays, but has been missing a decent application for the software/controller side of things.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #6

I recall specialized commercial add-on boards for high GPIO applications, but at the moment cannot find the right Google terms to land on one.

I also don’t recall if it was as high as 140.

It is possible that Nate @heythisisnate of Konnected.io would be interested in this project, as his architecture seems like it could fit … just based on a glance.


(Nate Clark) #7

Thanks for the ping @tgauchat, it does sound like something that Konnected would possibly be a solution for.

@bim.rowley @drowl87 I’ve developed a solution based on an ESP8266 wifi board that integrates seamlessly with SmartThings that is able to read the open/close status of a reed switch and/or control an open/close relay. Depending on the voltage requirements of the relays that you’re using, it may or may not work for the latter. Through my online store konnected.io I sell pre-packaged kits for wired alarm system installations, but the software is generic enough that it can be used for pretty much any type of open/close sensor and any type of on/off or momentary switch.

The limitation here is the ESP board itself. There are only 6 usable GPIO pins for sensors per board, so you’d need at least 24 boards to get 70 inputs and 70 outputs. However, they are cheap enough that it would fit well within your stated budget for the hardware.

If that sounds like an possible acceptable solution for you, feel free to message me directly on here or email me at help@konnected.io and we can discuss the details.


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

I’m fuzzy on the hardware compatibility, but via i2c and/or USB interfaces, I believe there are more efficient ways to handle the large number of GPIO channels than using multiple ESP MCU boards.

I found these two products with a quick Googling. Interfacing them effectively may be best with a more powerful MCU like an rPi; though I wouldn’t be surprised if that isn’t really necessary.


(Bim) #9

Terry, Dave, etc.
Thank you so much for trying to think with me.
However I think I already have something like the numato.com boards
installed and working that our computer controls to run the lighting and
fans. The HVAC is a little more complex with PLCs and our own program.
http://www.rs485.com/pat2424l.html from a man Ron Smith at a company RS485
for the working building.

The other two buildings have 430U and 450N boards from Sealevel Systems
http://www.sealevel.com/store/i-o/remote-i-o/usb-modbus-rtu/430u-usb-to-32-optically-isolated-inputs.html
http://www.sealevel.com/store/i-o/remote-i-o/usb-modbus-rtu/450u-usb-to-16-form-c-relay-outputs.html

These connect the computer [which we don’t have] to the real world inputs
and relays.

I have designed the buildings to be able to be controlled with either
switches in rooms or by computer using the computer controlled boards as a
three way switch. So without a computer it works fine with in room
switches.

I have attached a simple schematic of our method.

My problem is I can’t see how to integrate Smartthings into this system. I
would like to eliminate the computer and use a Smartthings device of
somekind if that is possible or use the computer if necessary but have the
Smartthings functionality.

Thanks,
Bim Rowley


(Bim) #10

I have attached a little better drawing. I have developed a printed
circuit board that simplifies all the wiring so we use it instead of punch
down blocks.


( I hate Mondays) #11

You still need some sort of “computer”. Regardless of the choice, either Arduino, Raspberry PI, an actual computer, etc. you will need some middle-man software that can communicate to a smart app installed in your ST account that can then generate and maintain the virtual devices you need to control/read. It’s not extremely complicated, but it’s not a Sunday walk either. I can help you with the software part (at no charge) and I am sure many others are able to help as well - for the hardware part I am too far from you :frowning: But I’d start with finding out the interface type - you mentioned analog inputs and relays for outputs - what kind of relays? And what voltage range on the analog inputs? A safe solution would involve the use of optocouplers to physically separate the “computer” from the electrical network. Many GPIO boards may already come equipped with optocouplers.


( I hate Mondays) #12

Here, something like this can be used to drive your lights from the raspberry PI:

http://www.14core.com/wiring-8-channel-optocoupler-relay-module/

Each board does 8 outputs (relays)


(Bim) #13

I am beginning to see how this could work with some simple middleman
software.
The computer would store and provide the discrete names for each relay –
Rm 1 Fan, etc. which we already have because the Sealevel boxes provide an
address for each input and output location.
All we need is to figure out how to have the computer communicate with the
Smartthings Hub making each relay address a Smartthings device.

Not that I understand what I am saying but I think it is much clearer and
closer than it was before.
All the scheduling, turning on at intervals, reading motion detectors and
what to do with that info should be able to be done through the Smartthings
eliminating programming.

Does this sound reasonable?
PS: We test whether the light is on or off using another 120VAC relay
across the load circuit that is closed when the light or fan is on
providing a dry contact for the Sealevel box to read. If closed the light
is on. If open the light is off.
We do not have any analog inputs at this time. They are all dry contact
open or closed for inputs. The outputs are computer operated form C relays
which are small but these provide sufficient 24VDC current to activate 10
or 20 amp power relays in a relay box next to the circuit breaker box.


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #14

Yup… it does sound reasonable, but it hinges a lot on how easy or difficult the Sealevel software is to use.

Let’s keep the discussion going; and perhaps I’ll PM you in a while.


(Bim) #15

Terry,
this is the Sealevel manual describing how to set things up. Their
software is online along with other information to make installation and
connecting to 3rd party software as easy as possible. They are a first
class company with high quality products. Their engineers are helpful on
the phone.
We have all the Sealevel boxes installed, and everything is wired and the
buildings are working using the three way switches in the rooms to turn
things on and off. Each room has a motion detector which can be used
during the day to turn lights on and off and at night for security. These
are all wired as inputs to the Sealevel boxes also.
I don’t know what the next step is.
Thanks,
Bim Rowley


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #16

Where are these attachments?


(Dave Rowley) #17

Here is the schematic. Link


(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #18

Thanks.

At this point, it looks like integration via the rather sophisticated existing hardware you have (Sealevel) is an efficient solution (but I cannot say whether or not it is the optimal solution).

If you have a tight budget, I recommend looking into the “free” offers presented in this thread (and/or those that leverage existing product designs like Konnected.io - that product line is very impressive!).

If you want further consulting from me; please reach out via Private Message. It will not be “free”. :wink: