Showing posts with label Insteon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Insteon. Show all posts

Converting Insteon 6 Button Keypads to 8 Button Keypads, and using the LED Color Change Kits

As part of my current Insteon project, I've been working on a few simple programs and sensor upgrades to automate some of my routine process. Life is busy with two kids....

There are two doors that we routinely use to exit, alarm and lock up the house, the front door and the garage door. At these two locations, I wanted to install and upgrade two keypads to 8 button configuration, then use the LED buttons to relay some simple information and status from the ISY-994i controller.

Converting the Insteon Keypad is relatively easy, and a keypad already installed does not need to be powered down to perform the conversion.

Remove the four small silver screws to remove the plastic switch button frame. Once removed, it exposes the microswitches and LEDs in the Keypad Module.
 The Insteon 8 button conversion kit:
The 8 Button Kit includes a new button frame, complete with standard labelled scene buttons. I also ordered a set of blank white buttons (thinking ahead to using a labeller to do some simple custom labels)

With button change kits, lens color change kits, switchlinc LED light pipe conversions, I've started to collect a good amount of small Insteon bits. A Plano fishing tackle organizer is perfect to keep everything organized and at hand. 
 The Insteon Color Change Kit:
The replacement lenses have grooves on one face that allow them to sit flush in the button frame. The left yellow lens is installed correctly and sits flush. The right red button is upside down, and protrudes about 1/2 mm from the button frame. The lenses need to be installe properly in order for the button covers to fit correctly. 

I decided to try various colors for various functions. 

Once the button caps are installed, they hide the color lenses underneath. 

Both 8 button frames prepared for installation at the two keypads. 

One keypad was already installed, so the upgrade was performed with it on the wall. 
In order to make your life a bit easier working with the very small phillips head screws that hold the button plate down to the Insteon switch, snap a magnet onto your screwdriver shaft. This small button magnet is a rare earth magnet that I purchased in a package from a tool retailer - Lee Valley Tools. It's super strong, and really useful here.

Rare earth magnet helps hold small screws on tip of screwdriver.

Upgrade installed. Ready for labels.
Once the frame is installed, it is simple to convert the switch from 6 button mode to 8 button mode. If you're using an ISY-994i, simply delete the keypad first from your configuration. If you're not using a central controller, you'll have to manually unlink it from any scenes. Then, power off the device using the air gap for 10 seconds. Then, holding down the A and H scene buttons (top left, bottom right), close the air gap and restart the keypad. Release the buttons once it beeps and the LEDs come on. They keypad is now in 8 button mode, and ready to be re-added to your Insteon network - by adding the unit using your ISY or by manually linking to other devices.
Upgrade installed, with all buttons toggled on. When on, you can see the color come through the white button.
Once my two keypads were installed, I experimented a bit with the LED backlight levels. I settled on running these two keypads with an off backlight level of 0, to reduce confusion with activated controls. My plan for the two red buttons are to display general alarms on one, and specifically water leak sensing on the other. The yellow buttons will be used to indicate ISY faults or notices, such as low battery levels in wireless devices. The other yellow button will indicate when a deadbolt lock is unlocked (handy information - I can run to the back of the house and check the locks in that case). The blue light will indicate rain in the forecast using the climate module. The green button will be my "Vacation" program control. The top right white button will be my "all lights off" control - handy for locking up the house and leaving. And the left top button will be the connected load control.
Keypad with LED backlight level 1
Keypad with LED backlight level 0. The yellow and blue buttons arre "ON"

Installing the Insteon Micro On/Off Relay Module for Controlling Light Fixture

Recently I started automating the lights in the closets in our house, starting with those the most used on the main level. I quickly discovered that the light switches for most of the closets in the house have only a switch wire running to the switch box (14/2) and no line feed wire or neutral. You can get a special Insteon dimmer for 2 wire applications (no neutral), but it's more expensive that the standard controls, and not suitable for flourescent fixtures (which I have). 

So, I ordered up 6 of the Insteon Micro On/Off Relays, to get around this issue. The micro relays have two sense wires, that allow you to control the module using a standard electrical switch, and can be configured for several modes to accommodate momentary switches, latching switches, or double pole momentary switches. 

Standard north american 110V light switches are single pole latching, and standard north american 3-Way light switches are double pole latching. Latching just means that the switch connection stays connected once you take your hand off the switch. So from the documentation, I figured that the latching wiring diagram shown below would be suitable for my application. 

Insteon Micro On/Off Relay Module, with the Latching Wiring Diagram
Whenever I set up an Insteon module for installation, I normally label the application with a Brother P-Touch labeller, then take a photo with my phone. When it comes time to add the device to my network using the ISY-994i, I can quickly bring up the Insteon address and the application to correctly add the device manually with the ISY commands.
When using standard north american light switches as the control switch (latching), the purple sense wire is not used, so I roll it up and tie wrap it into a loop to keep it out of the way. Only the yellow sense wire is used. 

Connections are simple. For my application, I required pigtails for line, neutral, and load. I used 14 guage stranded wire for the line and neutral wires for additional flexibility in placing the module back into the electrical box.
The Micro On/Off module is a nice small size, and fits quite well in an octagonal box. It's much more convenient than the older On/Off modules which were just about the same size as the Insteon switchlinc modules.
The Micro On/Off Relay wired up and ready to stuff back into the electrical box. I used a bit of yellow tape to mark the cable coming back from the light switch box to indicate which wire to connect to the sense wire. The sense wire seems a bit fragile - I connected this last and was careful not to put too much stress on the wire. 

Here's the module rearranged in the electrical box. The flourescent light frame will cover the opening once installed. 
I typically label these sensors with a Brother P-Touch labeller prior to installation, and label the battery with the installation date. A quick photo with my phone and I have a record of the configuration, including the Insteon address on the sticker on the circuit board. This way, when it comes time to link up the sensor with my ISY-994i, I simply bring up the photo in my phone screen to recall the Insteon address for adding the device manually.
Insteon Door Open / Close Sensor ready for installation on the closet bifold doors. 
Once the module is installed, it worked perfectly without any additional configuration. It ships prepared for operation with latching switches on the yellow sense wire. What is nice is that regardless of which state the Micro On/Off Module is left at, one tap of the connected switch (up or down), will change the state again on the Micro On/Off module. So - you don't have to flick the manual light switch off and then on again to control the light. The next switch of the light controls the module, regardless of which state the module is in, or which state the switch is in.

Overall I'm impressed with this device. Very nice. Good small size. Simple installation (depending on how much time it takes to remove your light fixture to get behind it to the electrical box), and good functionality with the sense wire input for hooking up to a standard light switch for control.

UPDATE - ONE MONTH FOLLOWING INSTALLATION - This feature - linking the Insteon Open / Close module to the closet lighting control - Micro On/Off or Switchlinc On/Off - is another one of my favourite Insteon features. Open the closet door - light comes on. Close the door - light goes out. Even during the day with a good amount of background light this feature is quite appreciated.


Installing the Insteon Hidden Door Sensor - Automatically Controlling Utility Room Lights when the Door is Opened

Quite often I have an armload of stuff when I'm going downstairs to the utility room in my basement - tools, material, whatever. I recently changed the standard doorknob to a lever passage set - makes it quite a bit easier to get the door open, now I've installed the Insteon Wireless Hidden Door Sensor to automatically switch the lights on whenever the door is opened.

Insteon Wireless Hidden Door Sensor
This is a slick little device - 3/4" in diameter, battery powered with a standard AAA battery, and a small plunger switch to detect when the door is open or closed.

You need a 3/4 hole drilled in the hinge side of the jamb - about 3" deep. A spade bit works well for this. 

Once you have the Sensor linked in to your automation network, you are ready to install it in the hole with the screw to hold it in place.
Switchlinc On/Off Relay to control the utility room lights
When I originally linked and programmed the Hidden Door Sensor, I decided against creating a scene because I only wanted the lights to switch on when the door was opened, and remain on even with the door closed. So I created a short program in my ISY-994i controller - whenever the door is opened, it switches on the light. When the door is closed, there is no action taken. The delay with having the program perform this control was about 1 to 2 seconds - quite noticeable and a bit annoying. I received a good suggestion from Eric in the comments below, and changed the hidden door sensor mode to "Two Nodes" in the ISY options menu for the hidden door sensor as follows:

That gives you one node in the ISY for the door opening, and a separate node in the ISY for the door closing. I linked the door open node as a controller for the Switchlinc relay. It works perfectly - only turning the light on when the door is opened, with an almost instantaneous response, much quicker than the ISY program control. Many thanks to Eric for the suggestion.


Installing the Insteon Wireless Open/Close Sensor on Bifold Doors

The pantry in our new house has bifold doors. When I renovated the pantry and added cabinet modules and drawers, I also added LED strip lighting all around the perimeter of the door opening. The LED lighting is a dramatic upgrade - it's really bright, white, and it illuminates all the shelves in the pantry.

I wanted to add automatic control of the LED strip lighting. I decided to use the Insteon Wireless Open/Close Sensor as my Insteon scene controller, and a standard 2477S Switchlinc On/Off Switch to control the light circuit. When I purchased the sensors, I initially planned to put two in - one for each of the matching bifold doors, left and right. When I went to install them, I found that it would be much easier just to add the sensor with battery on one door, and the magnet on the other door. As soon as one door or the other is opened, it opens the reed switch in the sensor, and the controller issues it's on command. This is what the installation looks like:

Sensor screws to the left bifold door, near the edge close to the top of the door.  Note the label on the battery with the installation date - I've gotten into that habit with my smoke detector batteries - makes it very easy when troubleshooting to identify old batteries that may need replacing. I use a Brother P-Touch for doing all my labels. 

Measure from the top of the door frame to the center of the sensor, in order to place the magnet at the same height. 

Installation of the magnet. The kit comes with good quality 3M double sided tape, but I prefer screwing the sensor and magnet down. The kit comes with the screws.
It took about 5 minutes to link the Insteon Wireless Open/Close Module to my Switchlinc On/Off Wall Switch, using my ISY-994i interface. The Open/Close Module is the controller, the Switchlinc switch is the responder. Now the LED light strips illuminate as soon as the doors are cracked open, and shut off as soon as the doors are completely shut. I also wrote a simple program in my ISY-99i to shut the LED lights off if 10 minutes passes with the doors left open. It's a very convenient upgrade.

Here's some photos of the strip lighting installation. I ripped some angled strips of plywood to direct the LEDs output towards the center of the vertical shelves on the sides, and almost directly down for the strips installed across the top. I then fastened the strip lights to the plywood using the supplied adhesive backing tape. I used kits from Costco - quite inexpensive, but I exceeded the maximum number of strips on a single power adapter, so I had to arrange two power adapters to power the setup.

The completed pantry with the strip lighting on. 

I removed the old light fixture, replaced it with a standard outlet plug and lighting box cover for power outlets. Then, I just plugged in the supplied power adapters. Notice the cable tie bases - self adhesive, and the zip ties. They help make a neat, inconspicuous installation.

The top LED strip light mounted on a ripped piece of plywood. I used one side of the plywood strip to mount the low voltage electrical lead using self adhesive cable tie bases. The top portion of the side strip is also visible. 

Lots of clean white light when illuminated. 


Protecting your Paint when Installing Insteon Switchlinc Switches or Keypads

This is a little trick that I've gotten into the habit of doing whenever I'm installing or replacing an Insteon wall switch device like a Switchlinc Keypad, Switch or Dimmer.
Tape a sheet of paper on the wall below the switchbox.

The sheet of paper will protect the paint from scratches caused by the aluminum edges of the Insteon devices rubbing on the paint as you're completing the connections.

Avoiding and Troubleshooting Link Problems between your Insteon Devices and your ISY-99/994

I just learned something recently that wasn't clear to me before. If you are using an ISY-99/994 automation controller with your Insteon network - you have to be very careful and disciplined to only link devices / add devices to your network using your ISY-99/994 interface.

As you probably know, you can link two insteon devices directly together by putting the devices into linking mode directly on the device (usually by holding the paddle down or a button down). However, if you do this in the context of an Insteon network controlled by your ISY-99/994 controller - the PLM attached to your ISY-99/994 does not learn of this new link, and this will cause a mismatch between the link table on the device, and the link table in your ISY memory, and the PLM.

When your link tables become mismatched, that may lead to unpredictable or slowed behaviour in your network.

So - how do you clean up these mismatched link tables?

Your ISY has a diagnostic tool that can read the link table on any of your devices, and can compare it to the link table that is stored in your ISY. It will show you the mismatched link table records.

Results of ISY Links Table Comparison - All Links Matching in this Example
If you have mismatched links - you can clear the link table in your Insteon device by performing a factory reset on the device (follow the instructions in the device user guide), and then perform a "Restore" command to rewrite the links table to your device. This correct the "unmatched" links problem. You will have to go through the same procedure with any other device which had manual links added. Once all your devices have been factory reset, then restored, you will have to recreate those links which had been created manually using your ISY interface, if you wish to retain this functionality. One caution is that this process is time consuming, it took about 3 hours to go through the link tables of just over 50 devices, and performing the hard resets of about 5 devices along the way that had mismatched link tables.

So - remember - always do your device linking using your ISY interface, and not manually.

If anyone out there has a simpler way of rectifying this issue, please leave a comment!

Upgrading 1980s Lighting Relay Panel with Insteon Switches and Dimmers

We purchased our current house a few years ago. We understand that the house was originally constructed by an electrical contractor, and there wasn't much lacking on the electrical service installed in the house - underground electrical feed with Teck cable, to a 400A service with a 200A generator disconnect, underground Teck cable to the pool shack for a generator installation, three 200A breaker panels, 2 automation relay panels, and an industrial programmable logic controller (PLC) panel - used for lighting and HVAC automation. 

The photo below shows the 110V lighting relay panel. About 28 circuits in the house were controlled by GE lighting control relays, so the 110V line feeds to the light fixtures originated in the basement in this panel, and not from normal light switch boxes. Instead of normal light switches, the house had 24V automation switches installed in the walls, these low voltage switches controlled the lighting relays directly, or they were wired as inputs to the PLC, and the PLC controlled the relay. The automation switches in the walls didn't look good, they worked on a one to one relationship with the fixtures (no scenes), and there was no dimming function - all the relays were on / off only. 

In the photo below, you can see the 24V control wires on the left side of the steel division in which the relays were mounted. All the 110V cables to the light fixtures exit the right side of the box. All the line feeds from the 200A breaker box to the right enter the bottom right side corner. 

Lighting control relay panel - Circa 1988 prior to upgrades
My first step was to layout the panel upgrades in Google Sketchup, and purchase all the material. I decided to use Phoenix contacts modular contacts to make all the connections, and plastic cable channels to route all the electrical cables in the panel. Once I was confident I could fit all the Insteon switches required in the box, I went ahead and purchased the materials. To install the standard Insteon Switchlinc Relays and Dimmers, I planned to mount them on aluminum C channels - 1/2" wide flanges, 2" deep webs.

Panel upgrades planned and laid out in Google Sketchup
Once I had all the supplies on hand, the next step was to disassemble the panel. I disconnected all the 24V control wires, and all the 110V line and load wires from the relays. To simplify the overall task, I left the interconnection of the neutral and ground wires as they were originally wired in the panel. As I disconnected each control wire, I labelled it with it's original circuit number to assist with tracing the wires back to their origins throughout the house in the switch boxes on the walls. 

Disassembly of the original relay panel

Disassembly continued, steel division and GE relays removed
Once the panel was disassembled, the hard work begun. I began by installing the Aluminum C channels upon which the Insteon Switchlinc Switches and Dimmers would be installed. I drilled a series of 1/2" holes in the webs of the C channels, and installed rubber grommets to protect the Insteon Switchlinc cables which would need to run through the C channels towards the connection terminals.

Installation of C Channel mounts for the Insteon Switchlinc Switches and Dimmers
Once the C channels were installed, I started running the cable channels.

Installation of plastic cable channels
The next step was to install the Phoenix terminal blocks. To do so, I installed a DIN automation rail to accept the snap in terminal blocks. I also started installing some of the Insteon devices. I ran the line cables from the breaker panel into the bottom of the terminal blocks, and then fed out the line to the Insteon Switches through the top of the terminal blocks. The control cable from the Insteon devices (red wire) was then installed on the tops of the terminal blocks, with the distribution cable running out to the light fixtures installed in the bottom of the terminal blocks. This orientation was used for the top half of the box, and mirrored for the bottom half of the box.
Installation of Phoenix Contacts Terminal Blocks, DIN Rail, and Insteon Devices
Each Insteon device was grounded to grounding studs on the panel. Crimp connections were used on the ground wires.

Photo showing detail of the terminal block connections. 110V wires were all routed in the cable channel.

Construction of the bottom half of the box begins - C Channels and Terminal Blocks

Intallation complete covers installed on the cable channels. 
The last step to this project will be to install a hinged cover on the panel. The cover currently mounts with four screws, and it's a bit slow to access the panel if you want to troubleshoot any of the devices. This panel has been running 2 years now with no issues whatsoever. The Insteon devices only consume around 60mA of power, so there is not very much heat buildup in the box. I labelled each Insteon device with it's circuit identification in the house electrical plans, as well as the breaker which feeds each device. 

I'll write another post with how I upgraded all the 24V automation switches in the house with Insteon devices. 

Just after I completed this project, Smarthome introduced a DIN rail mounted series of Insteon Switches and dimmers - which I suppose I could have used to accomplish the same task here with this panel. I wouldn't have had to use the C channels, and I would have had a bit more space to place the wiring. The plastic wire channels still would have been required. 

Smarthome DIN Rail Switches and Dimmers


Installing a Home Network Panel

When we moved into our last house, we did a fairly extensive renovation and in the process, opened up quite a few walls. I took the opportunity to run quite a bit of internet (Cat 6) and coax cable (RG6). All these cable runs terminated in a small closet under the basement stairs, where the central vac and water heater were located. Once all the cables were run, I wanted to come up with a way to keep everything neat and out of sight, so I decided to install a network panel.

Internet and Coax Cables run to Network Closet
Smarthome sells a selection of panels - I selected a panel 18" x 60", and had it shipped to my house. It had openings in the top for cables to enter, and I ended up cutting holes in the bottom to install some electrical outlets to power all the equipment installed, and ran those outlets from a small UPS.  In the photo below, my Wifi router has its antennae installed, I ended up purchasing external antennae which would allow me to place the antennae outside the panel, where signals wouldn't be affected.
Laying out the network components in the panel
Installing the network components using zip ties
Once everything was installed - telephone patch panel, router, switch, and powered coax cable repeater, I then turned my attention to cable management. Velcro ties allow you to bundle your cables easily, and if you make any changes its quick and easy to open the ties and adjust your cables. The small black box in the bottom right of the panel is my ISY-99i Home Automation controller - I put in a 40' Cat 5 cable to connect the ISY-99i to the PLM, which I located right next to my main breaker panel - to try to optimize the signal strength of my Insteon commands throughout the house wiring.
Cable management - Velcro Ties