Showing posts with label Automation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Automation. Show all posts

Rancilio Silvia Insteon Warmup Timer

I've been upgrading my Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. The PID temperature controller operating instructions recommend a 45 minute warmup period prior to pulling the first coffee shot. This allows the temperature of the group head below the boiler to stabilize, which reduces water heating during the shot, and allows for quicker intervals between shots for the water temperature to restabalize.

I run an Insteon based home automation network, so I decided to install an Insteon plug in on/off module that I had available.

Insteon On/Off Module

The completed installation

These timer modules look quite contemporary
You could also install a mechanical or standalone digital timer. In my case, I wrote a very simple program in my Universal Devices ISY-994i home automation controller to switch on the pre-heat function at 5am, and shut it off at 9am.

ISY 994i Program to shut the Rancilio Silvia Off at 9am Every Morning
If you look at the program folders - you'll note that I have a folder called "Home" - which only allows programs to run when the house is not in vacation mode. If we leave the house for an extended period, we'll set the house on vacation mode which runs automated lighting programs, and also prevents certain programs from running. In this case - the expresso machine will not pre-heat if we're not at home.

ISY 994i Program to shut the Rancilio Silvia On at 5:15am Every Morning

The automated shutoff program will also help prevent the machine from being left on all day, and potentially triggering the 165C overheat trip sensor when the boiler eventually runs out of water. This has happenned to me twice in about 10 years.


In use for two weeks now - it works great and I'm really happy with the upgrade. I make sure the machine is filled with water and the front panel power switch left in the on position at night, with a couple of coffee cups left on the warming tray. I also leave the portafilter in the group head to help keep the heat in the group head. In the morning, I come downstairs, and the boiler temperature has stabalized and the group head is hot and ready for making coffee.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. If you're interested, you can help support this site by using the following links to in the United States. My go-to place in Canada for Insteon automation components is


Workbench Task Lighting using Armacost LED Strip Lighting

It's been a busy summer - I haven't had much time for posting - so I figured I would get back into the game with a pretty simple one. I wrote earlier about my garage organization project using Ikea kitchen cabinets - full height wall cabinets, combined with upper wall cabinets above my table saw, mini fridge and mini freezer. You can check out that post here. 

Completed Installation - LED Strip Lights underneath wall cabinets, lighting work surface / freezer
The table saw and freezer make a pretty handy worktable when I'm not using the table saw. I thought I would add some task lighting over the table saw, and decided to try out Lee Valley Tools new LED strip lighting kits. They have all kinds of options - white or mulicoloured LEDs with various LED spacing for different intensities, and transformers of various capacities to match the current requirements of the installed LEDs. They also have some dimmers, switches to round out the installation. I made my lighting plan, decided to go with white LEDs with a one LED every 1/2 inch spacing (high intensity) and the appropriate transformer.

Power Supply Mounted in the Wall Cabinet - with all my tool chargers
The LED light strips are high quality - you can select between two different white colors - warm or natural white - and the light strips come with a 3M adhesive backing to apply directly to the application surface. I decided to go with the natural white in the garage, and the light is bright and clear - perfect for task lighting. Prior to application of the light strips, I used a bit of brake cleaner on a rag to clean off the melamine lower surface of the Ikea cabinets - just to ensure I would get good adhesion. This worked fine - 18 months following installation the LED strips haven't moved or delaminated.

The Lee Valley Kit comes with connectors to allow you to cut the strips to custom length
I decided to control the light strip 30W transformer with an Insteon switch for automation control, and installed the switch and a two plug outlet in a 4" junction box using a twin outlet cover plate. This way, I got 2 electrical outlets above the table saw. I mounted the transformer inside the Ikea cabinet on the plywood board I installed for all my cordless tool chargers.

Surface Mount Junction Box with Switch Adapter Cover Plate, Insteon Control Switch, and Power Outlet


The Lee Valley LED light kits are top quality, very versatile with many options. I have above average confidence that if I need to repair or modify this installation, I'll be able to get parts or components from Lee Valley in the future. The finished installation is neat and professional looking, the light quality is very good and suited for the application. All in all - very satisfied with this product.

Light thrown from completed installation.

Sources and Links

I hope you found this post useful. Feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I answer all questions. The Armacost lighting components were sources from Lee Valley Tools.


Wall Acne

I originally posted this on my home automation blog, but since it is more of a drywall / cable management issue I've copied it here to my general maintenance blog as well. This has been one of my pet peeves during the renovation of our last two homes - wall acne. I don't know how widespread this term is, but I use that to describe when you have a bundle of different switches, thermostats, and controls placed haphazardly in the same zone of the house, with no regard for esthetics. A few examples follow.:
Thermostat, 24V Legacy Automation Lighting Control with 8 Switches, Closet Switch. The light switches are aligned horizontally, the thermostat doesn't line up with anything.

Garage Door Controls - Door opener and Legacy 24V Lighting Control. Why doesn't the garage door opener line up either horizontally or vertically?

The problem with wall acne is that it takes time, skill and patience to correct it. In the thermostat example above, I set out to correct the misalignment. There are other posts in this blog which discuss my legacy automation controller and the 24V switches - these have been all changed out for Insteon Switchlinc switches, keypads and dimmers. In this case - I doubled up the wall switch box for the closet light switch to accommodate the Insteon Switchlinc Keypad. The thermostat was moved in line vertically above the light switch and Insteon Keypad, and the new air exchanger control was added above the thermostat.
Doubling up the closet light switch to accommodate the Insteon Keypad.

Thermostat moved to vertical alignment
The completed alignment, Insteon Keypad installed with closet light switch, thermostat and air exchanger controls aligned vertically. 
On to the garage switches. Besides the alignment, I was bothered by the surface run garage door opener wire, and the lack of a thermostat for my two 4000W wall heaters. Running the thermostat wire down through the wall, and incorporating the garage door opener control wires in the wall necessitated a few drywal cutouts to help with fishing the wire past a structural beam.

Aligning the controls with the light switch, and running the wires behind the drywall.

Finished product - Insteon Switchlinc Switch, Thermostat, and Garage Door Opener control all aligned vertically, with wires hidden. 
Maybe I'm a bit fussy about this, but I really don't think so. If some forethought is given to the various trades involved in house construction, and control wires are run behind the drywall during construction (such as the garage door control wires), then this should never be an issue in new construction. But I think the time spent solving the issue is well spent.