My first interests were triggered by the X10 following of which you can find a lot of information on the internet. This technology has many drawbacks, and I was hesitant to start using it. I researched on many others like S10, Zwave and ZigBee. Some are not widely used in EU only in the US. Some standards have very poor backing by manufacturers.
I think ZigBee could be a very good route, but I have been unable to find good local support here in Holland.
I finally stumbled across EIB which seemed to be a fast and professional solution. But I hesitated and found the components too expensive and complicated to install in my home.
Last year I made another try and it seemed wise to start small and simple. I bought some Klik Aan Klik Uit also called kaku modules from the Dutch Gamma. In order for me to communicate with the modules I also bought a module from rfxcom.
This module enables me to send commands on the network which are then transmitted through RF signals to the kaku devices.
All seemed well until I started programming for the kaku modules. They are awfull and I now know why they are cheap, they do not work very well and feel very brittle. The protocol is mostly undocumented but with the help from the people at rfxcom I was able to receive and send commands.
I found however that the devices and the remote controls are very unreliable. When programming the modules I noticed that the reliability is addressed by sending all the commands four times. This is of course a ridiculous strategy especially when the computer interface repeats all messages.
And my interest in the project soon faded…..
Later on I read of a new technology called EnOcean. And I must say it does seem to be very impressive, although programming the modules does present me with a few hurdles to take.
But what gets me excited:
- sensors and switches can be without wires, battery or power. (you can mount a switch on a window!)
- signal strength is limited but repeaters are possible (not quite the mesh network I was hoping for but good enough)
- many european manufacturers have jumped on the band wagon
- some modules also work without N connection (meaning easy to retrofit when electrical wiring is traditional)
But there are current drawbacks:
- acknowledge not yet implemented but planned for next release (including bidirectional messaging)
- documentation very poorly written
- very little resources on the internet ( the website http://www.tdc.co.uk is your best bet )
- devices are expensive
On the EnOcean site there were many components to choose from. But i found the following article on the Making Machines Talk website.
It was about the TCM 120 radio tranceiver for EnOcean. Click here for the datasheet.
And I found another module to connect this using TTL signals to ethernet:
I could use both to connect using network protocol. The Sollae board emulates a serial connection using socket communication. Perfect for the Job.
Both parts were easily bought in Holland from the www.antratek.nl website. I also purchased a 5v 1Ampere power source. At the local electronics store I found a simple case and some wiring to use with shrink tubing to make a good install.
The wiring schematics were very simple.
The Sollae TTL signals TXD connected to TCM 120 Pin 7 SER_RX and the TTL signal RXD to TCM 120 pin 8 SER_TX. This creates a crossover serial connection between the two.
And I connected the power source to both the Sollae, I used the RS232 connection where pin 1 is 5v and pin 4 is GND. And on the TCM 120 Pin 15 is 5v and Pin 16 is GND.
Then I measured out the Sollae board to fit nicely in an electronics box. I filed away the opening for power and ethernet connection. I glued some nuts to the base of the box and used small bolts to screw the Sollae board to the base. The TCM 120 did not have easy connection points. I decided to glue it to the bottom of the case. I made a hole for the antenna and presto.
Testing the hardware:
And now we need to configure the Sollae module in order for it to communicate properly.
If I remember correctly, when you connect the module for the first time, it gets a fixed IP address. You need to set your computer to the same subnet in order to communicate properly. I quickly setup to get an IP address from DHCP to that the device works correctly in my network.
Personally I am an avid Mac user. This presented me with a little problem. The eZmanager tools from Sollae need windows to run. I have a VirtualBox image with Windows XP for this occasion. I tried many times but the eZmanager told me the connection was not made. Very frustrating. I have one Windows 7 machine running as a server in my network so I decided to run the eZmanager tool there. And to my great surprise it worked immediately…
Ok so how to setup the module. There is the option to use a “Multi Mode”. This enables a maximum of three simultanious connections to the module. I selected this option:
And for the serial connection you need to enable TTL, and set Baudrate to 9600, Parity to NONE, Data Bits to 8, Stop Bit to 1 bit and Flow to NONE. The local Port is important, you need that for a connection:
And now we are almost ready to do some work!!
We need some devices to control. For this I decided to purchase a dimming device for lighting, something which can be installed out of sight, and a remote control for switching light and general testing purposes, and a window sensor.
I needed a dimming device which can operate in a house with traditional wiring. This means only Live and switching wire and not always a Neutral wire.
What I needed I found with Eltako. They have the FUD61NP-230V device. It can work with certain lamps without N connection.
I ordered the Eltako modules from the shop Batterielos because I could not easily find a Dutch distributor.
Eventually I ordered the following components:
- Eltako Wireless actuator universal dimmer switch FUD61NP-230V
- Eltako FTK Wireless Window/Door contact
- Eltako FMH4 Wireless mini hand-held 4 Kanal 43x43mm, 16mm high
And finally I am ready to start some programming!
Documentation and Tinkering