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What I learned Automating Blinds

zenix

Member
NeverDie said:
Are you operating yours standalone or is it also controlled through your home automation system?  If the latter, how is it interfaced to your home automation?
 
All Serena and Thriathlon shade models can be added to the Caseta system, http://www.casetawireless.com, if you get the -PRO hub model.
 
All Triathlon and Sivoia QS Wireless shades and blinds can be part of RadioRA 2 system. Wired Sivoia QS shades and blinds (wired here means control, not power) can be part of HomeWorks QS system.
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
There was a recent kickstarter for a retrofit blinds tilter:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIP8vx3OScY
 
However, they haven't shipped yet.  A recent post on their kickstarter update says their motor noise will be 45 db measured at a distance of 3 feet.  I'm not sure how noisy the somfy retrofit is--it looks like an older, legacy design (?).
 
We have over 20 blinds (we're not married to them, but they came with the house), so time spent manually tilting them every day does add up to a small chore.
 
After reading the prices above in this thread, I think I'm trending towards a tilt-only solution.  80-20 rule.  However, interfacing to them might be a challenge.  As noted earlier in the thread, wireless RTS appears to be short range.  Also, it sounds like I might  not get accurate status (?) without rs485, which the tilt-only doesn't appear to have. I would need to dig deeper, but for those reasons  I'm having doubts about whether the somfy tilt-only retrofit is for me.  
 
I think I'll wait.  I believe there's a good chance some flavor or derivative of Zigbee will take root and become popular within the next year or two, and perhaps it will sleep using only a microamp or so like the Lutron Triathlon above, leading to similar battery life.  Meanwhile, I look forward to following Ano's thread as it develops. 
 

ano

Senior Member
NeverDie said:
 Meanwhile, I look forward to following Ano's thread as it develops. 
I haven't forgotten but we are in a waiting period for the moment.  We gave 2 good quotes on the blinds and are waiting for a third. The holdup is the drapery which requires them to come back. I did buy they drapery rod myself because i wasn't sure these places could get these, but I haven't installed it yet. All three dealers said THEY want to install the drapery rod when the drapes are installed. The complex part seems to be getting a price for the drapery. Its 12 ft. wide and 10 ft. high, so big and expensive.
 

zenix

Member
ano said:
I did buy they drapery rod myself because i wasn't sure these places could get these, but I haven't installed it yet.
 
You mentioned that you got Glydea 35e - that's not actually a rod, but more like a track, is that right?
 
Have you by any chance seen Qmotion motorized drapery rods? They look like actual rods, but unfortunately I couldn't find a dealer who has one to take a look at, and I wasn't ready to buy it without seeing one in action first.
 
http://qmotionshades.com/products/62-motorized-drapery-rods/247-drapery-rods
 

ano

Senior Member
Yes track. The wife would have liked the rod instead, but we are doing the cornise instead. I'm not sure what I like better. I wonder how costs compare?
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
Of possible interested to those with  or contemplating wireless RTS Somfy: someone reverse engineered Somfy's design so that he could control his Somfy blinds directly using RF from an Arduino/Pi. His findings indicate Somfy communicates using 433Mhz OOK combined with an obfuscation algorithm.  So, anyone wanting to automate their blinds that way can leverage very inexpensive tx and rx hardware.  All the key details, including a de-obfuscation algorithm:
https://pushstack.wordpress.com/somfy-rts-protocol/
 

ntlord

New Member
So, I figured I'd add my own 2 cents here too, since I just went through this too.
 
I looked at Somfy, HunterDouglas, and Lutron. Ultimately, I chose HunterDouglas because, in my case, it was the cheapest.
 
HunterDouglas has two options: 120VAC and Battery, I chose battery because it is a lot cheaper and because I didn't want to have to open up all of my walls.
 
If you get the mobile device control for HunterDouglas (Platinum Control Gateway) it can be integrated into HA solutions. The Gateway, as I understand it, can do both RS-232 and Telnet (I use telnet).
 
Ultimately, for me I wanted to integrate the shades with a RadioRa2 system, specifically with a Lutron Grafik EYE QS. It was pretty straightforward,I wrote a python script that runs on a Raspberry PI, which does the trick. It monitors RadioRa2 button presses, and then sends the appropriate command to the HD blinds to open them. I'd be happy to share it with everyone, once I work out all the kinks (so far its been running for about 3 weeks without any issues)
 
The one drawback with HD blinds is that the mobile device control, as far as I can tell, cannot stop the blinds as they going up/down. In other words, you can tell the blinds to completely open, completely close, or move to a particular position. What you can't do, is while the blinds are opening, get them to stop. This sucks, and I wish I could find a way to make it work. Unfortunately, API information is scant from hunter douglas. 
 
 
 

zenix

Member
ntlord said:
If you get the mobile device control for HunterDouglas (Platinum Control Gateway) it can be integrated into HA solutions. The Gateway, as I understand it, can do both RS-232 and Telnet (I use telnet).
 
I have seen the "Platinum App Bridge", pictured here on the third page of that PDF, is that the one you got? Small black box with light strip, has only ethernet connection - no RS-232, and while most of the time it seems to work OK, every once in a while it starts dropping connections - every five minutes or so. As a result, two way integration with it isn't completely reliable.
 
http://www.hunterdouglas.com/assets/pdf/PlatinumAppSoftwareGuide.pdf
 

ano

Senior Member
ntlord said:
The one drawback with HD blinds is that the mobile device control, as far as I can tell, cannot stop the blinds as they going up/down. In other words, you can tell the blinds to completely open, completely close, or move to a particular position. What you can't do, is while the blinds are opening, get them to stop. This sucks, and I wish I could find a way to make it work. Unfortunately, API information is scant from hunter douglas. 
 
You might want to check out this: http://www.autelis.com/shade-control-for-lutron-sivoia-qs.html
I have the Somfy version (which is $100 cheaper) and it allows stopping the blinds anywhere or at three preset levels.  I will connect the blinds to my Omni Pro II which can do this as well, but it adds timers and a web interface which can be handy.  I can also connect the blind interface to my panel "virtually" so it doesn't need to be placed next to the panel. Probably nothing you can't do with a Raspberry PI, but MUCH easier.
 

Deane Johnson

Active Member
The Hunter Douglas PowerRise with Platinum App is about to become a thing of the past.  On July 1, Hunter will have available their new PowerView which is all new from the ground up.  It is built from the beginning for extended two-way remote control.  When you access it from your smartphone, it will show you visually the position the shade is in no matter how the shade got in that position.
 
The have solved the sync issues with battery operation.  When you operate a group of shades with PowerView, they all move in synchronization.  That's long been an issue with battery operated shades.  
 
No more IR.  It's RF only, and will have it's own local hub which will include RS-232 control.  There are 6 channels available instead of the current 4.  Programmable scenes are included.  Remotes remember the last channel(s) selected.  
 
Instead of the current tier pricing based on shade width, the PowerView  surcharge will be one price, and lower by about $100 MSRP than the current PowerRise according to Hunter.
 
There is no backwards compatibility with PowerRise other than power source (battery, wall cube, etc.).
 
The current PowerRise will continue to also be available until spring of 2016, after that, it's no longer available.
 
These are just some of the highlights I got yesterday from the Hunter exec in charge of the project when I had a chance to operate various versions of the shades.
 
That "certified motorization installer" thingy is going away.  There will be no restrictions on who can install and program these.  
 

NeverDie

Senior Member
Deane Johnson said:
The Hunter Douglas PowerRise with Platinum App is about to become a thing of the past.  On July 1, Hunter will have available their new PowerView which is all new from the ground up.  It is built from the beginning for extended two-way remote control.  When you access it from your smartphone, it will show you visually the position the shade is in no matter how the shade got in that position.
 
The have solved the sync issues with battery operation.  When you operate a group of shades with PowerView, they all move in synchronization.  That's long been an issue with battery operated shades.  
 
No more IR.  It's RF only, and will have it's own local hub which will include RS-232 control.  There are 6 channels available instead of the current 4.  Programmable scenes are included.  Remotes remember the last channel(s) selected.  
 
Instead of the current tier pricing based on shade width, the PowerView  surcharge will be one price, and lower by about $100 MSRP than the current PowerRise according to Hunter.
 
There is no backwards compatibility with PowerRise other than power source (battery, wall cube, etc.).
 
The current PowerRise will continue to also be available until spring of 2016, after that, it's no longer available.
 
These are just some of the highlights I got yesterday from the Hunter exec in charge of the project when I had a chance to operate various versions of the shades.
 
That "certified motorization installer" thingy is going away.  There will be no restrictions on who can install and program these.  
Thank you for the excellent write-up.  Will their RF be proprietary and unique to them, or will they be building on a known "standard"  such as Bluetooth, Zigbee, Thread, Wi-Fi, z-wave, etc.?
 
Also, any change or improvements  in the motors they use to do the lifting/tiltng?  Are they quieter/noisier or faster/slower?  For comparison, just recently I noticed Rollertrol claims "At an average 38 db, our RollerTrol™ motors are among the quietest motors in the industry. Many other tubular motor brands are much noisier." (http://rollertrol.com/).
 
Any other changes in the mechanics, such as maybe the use of ball bearings instead of plastic sleeves?  Motorized systems could be made quieter and more energy efficient (important if battery operated) if the entire system was optimized to reduce friction instead of being purely a bolt-on.
 

wkearney99

Senior Member
Deane Johnson said:
There are 6 channels available instead of the current 4.  Programmable scenes are included.  Remotes remember the last channel(s) selected.  
 
That "certified motorization installer" thingy is going away.  There will be no restrictions on who can install and program these.  
 
How many devices per channel?  What's the range?  How many RF devices can connect to a network gateway?
 
Install, I get.... but "program"?  What's involved in programming them?  Is this akin to other RF devices where you pair or otherwise sync them with a gateway?  Or is there an installer-only, or cloud-account-only method involved?
 

Deane Johnson

Active Member
NeverDie, I don't know the answers to any of those questions other than the first one.  The RF will be proprietary and will not be compatible with the old HD remotes.
 
In terms of construction, remember Hunter has a significant line of varying shade products to make the system work with.  Many of the other brands only do roller shades, and sometimes honeycombs.  Those are pretty simple to design to assemble.  The Hunter motorization has to control not only those products, but also Duolites, Silhouettes, Pirouettes, etc.  Some things roll up, some things pull up, others have to roll up,tilt vanes, open romans to see through, etc.  I think having to have such a broad range of operational ability and at the same time lower the selling price might offer some unique challenges that the roller shades only lines don't face.
 

Deane Johnson

Active Member
wkearney99 said:
How many devices per channel?  What's the range?  How many RF devices can connect to a network gateway?
 
Install, I get.... but "program"?  What's involved in programming them?  Is this akin to other RF devices where you pair or otherwise sync them with a gateway?  Or is there an installer-only, or cloud-account-only method involved?
 
I don't know the answers to most of those questions.  Remember, I only saw it yesterday and go what I did verbally.  There is no information out yet.
 
I think it would be accurate to say there is no installer-only or cloud-account-only method of programming involved.  I believe anyone can do it.
 
Remember, Hunter is after the mass market and seeks to design things that way.  Someone in the organization apparently tried to convince them that certain things should be "certified installer only" and that didn't work out well at all.  My understanding is that the installers had no interest in becoming "certified".  Most, if not nearly all, are not technical.  They mount shades on the window.  I believe Hunter decided this product had to be made easy for anyone to do.
 
There are apps available to anyone to use in the setup, and programming can be done from the hand held remote.  I suspect one might need a smart device to program the hub.  The hub, btw, looks just like the old Platinum hub.
 
Please keep in mind, I only had a short time to look at the system, chat with Hunter people and learn what I did.  I've posted about everything I learned.
 
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