Getting rid of some outstanding issues

I tend to lose interest in things by the time they’re almost finished – that may sound strange (I don’t ūüėČ ), but it’s the truth and it’s a habit that’s hard to beat. Knowing that I will get something working, doesn’t always mean I will make it that far and complete the whole job. The main reason is that there’s so much more to explore and learn, and that’s the most interesting part of it all; the thrill of learning more each time you start something new, right? In a way, being able to unlock the front door with my smart phone is just a nice side effect…

So while I’m still waiting on some Z-Wave hardware for my RaZberry, I started doing those last bits on some of my earlier projects.

Security system

Getting our security system connected to the rest of my Home Automation system has always appealed to me. With RFXCOM and an Alphatronics interface I did have access to the information of the sensors, but controlling the security system can be very handy too, for example arming it when everybody has gone to bed.
I did some experiments with a Powerlink in 2011, connected the system to my LAN in 2012, tested this with some experimental code, helped others to get things working, but there is where it ended; during a re-shuffle of some Serial-to Ethernet servers our security system was disconnected and I kinda ‘forgot’ about it; however some recent ‘events’ in the neighborhood brought the job of integrating the security system higher up on the to-do list.

Someone was so kind to give me his PowerMax code which has already been tested at various locations and the last 2 weeks I’ve been busy ‘porting’ the VB code to Delphi, testing the code with my own security system and monitoring everything to see if it’s all working OK. And it is… so now it’s time to take the last step and start using that interface.¬†The biggest advantage is that my Home Automation system knows exactly the same as the security system does:

  • Panel Status (e.g. Armed, Disarmed, …);
  • Panel State (Ready, Alarm, Zones in memory, …);
  • Sensor information ( Open, Closed, Motion, Battery Low, ..).

By getting the information directly from the security system itself, it won’t matter anymore if RFXCOM or Alphatronics receiver will miss some packets – now I’ve got 100% correct information.¬†And now I also have several new things I can do with my security system:

  • Arm and disarm the security system from my Domotica system;
  • Arm the system and bypass certain zones if I want to;
  • Control the security system from anywhere and with any User Interface;
  • Disarm the Security system event-based; for example, when someone opens our Nemef Radaris RFID front door with a badge;
  • Arm the system when the front door is being locked.

This weekend I updated my system.

Done!

Nemef Radaris Evolution

Nemef Radaris Evolution

One of those other things that got disconnected some time ago in a 90%-finished-state. While working on a Plugin for the Nemef Radaris, I stopped using the Nemef RF Module from my own system to test the Plugin, and I never started using it again afterwards. A big loss? Well, the Nemef Radaris doesn’t need a HA system, it works completely autonomously (for obvious reasons), so in some way we didn’t really miss the ‘Domotica link’.. today I finished some loose ends in the code and it’s working 100% now.

Next!

Web interface

Web Interface

I’m very bad at creating nice-looking icons myself, it’s just not my cup of tea. Most of the times I try to find some icons on the web, but I’ve never been able to find an icon collection that has all the icons I need. So it becomes a mess very quickly, and ugly.. too ugly to use (and to show off..)

And my requirements are really not that high – as long as the icons speak for themselves and have a somewhat similar ‘look’ , I’m easily satisfied (I think).

After finding a new collection of icons on the domoticaforum this week, I decided to use that one. And there’s 1 big benefit with this collection: I know the person who made these icons, so if I miss some specific icon, I know I won’t be lost…

On to the next item!

So, even if the outcome of my new Z-Wave tryout with the RaZberry will be disappointing, waiting for Z-Wave has already brought some positive things, namely finishing some things that should have been done a long time ago. OTOH: waiting this long is OK Рjust once every 3 years or so, not more often please!

Nemef Radaris Evolution Plugin for Homeseer

Finally the Plugin for my Nemef Radaris Evolution is almost ready to be tested ‘in the wild’. The time for testing the Plugin only by myself has almost ended – it’s time for others to try and find the bugs that I couldn’t.

Nemef Radaris Evolution

One last thing that still has to be tested is multi-controller and multi-RF Module support. It should all be in the Plugin because it was developed from the start with multi-support in mind, but this could never be tested with the single RF module and controller I have.

For that, Nemef was so kind to lend me both an RF Module and an additional controller to do this! Now I can test my own RF module with 2 controllers and also test a configuration of 2 RF modules with 1 controller each; that should suffice.

The total number of supported RF Modules will be set to 4, so that it will be possible ¬†to control a maximum of 16 Controllers with the Plugin – I think that will be enough for most users ūüėČ

 

The type of lock inside the furniture is a ELMEC600 (dutch), while my own lock has a ELMPS module. Both lock modules have some small differences regarding the protocol (status bits), so now I can also test how the differences between those 2 types work out.

Less than 2 weeks left before holidays start for me so I’ve got to hurry – can’t keep this extra hardware here forever!

 

Nemef Radaris Evolution and Homeseer

Last summer I became the proud owner of a Nemef Radaris Evolution electronic door lock. It’s in use for 6 months now and has been unlocked almost 1800 times. In that period of 6 months, the Nemef Radaris Evolution has proven itself as a really solid and reliable piece of equipment. I’ve never seen nor heard of a better solution (no, I don’t work there). If I would have written a full scale review about the Radaris Evolution, the conclusion would have been ¬†“Highly Recommended” – but since I don’t do reviews, you’ll have to do with just the conclusion ūüėČ

Combine the Nemef Radaris Evolution furniture with a Nemef RF Module and you’ve got all the the ingredients to fully integrate the Nemef Radaris Evolution door lock(s) into your Domotica system. However, that’s where things get harder – as far as I know, there’s no (consumer) software available for the connection between the Nemef Radaris Evolution and Home Automation systems. No Plugin, module, app¬†or anything like that to monitor and/or control the Nemef Radaris. Only 3 guys (I know of) have implemented this in their own homebrew system; Pieter Knuvers is one of them.

But this can change very rapidly; I’m working on a Homeseer Plugin for the Nemef Radaris Evolution.

Homeseer Plugin screenshot

 

 

With this Plugin (and a Nemef RF Module¬†(dutch link)) it will be possible to monitor and control up to 4 Nemef Radaris Evolution (dutch link)¬†door furnitures. Opening the door, badge management (yep,¬†you can stow away your programming card), viewing historical data (what badge was used where and when), it’s all in the Plugin. Want to give a badge access only during a certain time period on a certain day? The Nemef Radaris Evolution Plugin and a small script can accomplish just that.

The basis of the Plugin is almost finished now; I already tested the basic functionality by feeding my own historical data to the Plugin and this looks just fine.

Now it’s time to provide the necessary event triggers to Homeseer, so that the Nemef Radaris Evolution door furnitures can really become a part of that¬†bigger picture,¬†called Home Automation. ūüėČ

 

Unlocking the Nemef Radaris Evolution lock

Having a remotely controllable door lock is great; being able to unlock the door with a keyfob or access card too. Especially when you compare it to the old-fashioned key method. My front door key is getting rusty, it’s not used anymore! On the other hand, when I’m at home I usually don’t have my keychain with me all the time;¬†key-chain, cell phone and wallet have their own place in the living room so I always know where to find them.

So what happens when someone rings our doorbell? Before I can walk to the front door, I’ll have to get my¬†key-chain¬†cause I can’t open the door without it anymore. The simplest remedy for this is laying a keyfob or access card near the front door (in our case, on the stairs) and use that one to operate the lock. Simple and easy.

But there’s a much better solution for this! The Nemef RF Module has 3 inputs, of which input 1 can be used to temporarily unlock the Nemef Radaris Evolution. So what I did is mount a momentary on switch to the wall and connect the wires to the RF Module. Done! No more badge on the stairs and a simple push of the button is enough to unlock the door.

Momentary lock switch

My Domotica system will be notified of this push by a so-called Hardware Status Response in which a specific bit will have changed from 0 to 1, indicating that input 1 is low. Once the button is released, the same response will be received again but now with a value of 0 for the input1 bit.

After that, when the door is actually opened, Status Responses¬†are received which reflect the changes to the lock ¬†status, caused by opening the door and the subsequent closing of the door again. Normally, when a badge is used to unlock the door, these¬†Status Responses¬†are preceded by Badge Responses,¬†so it’s very easy to detect whether the unlock was caused by using a badge or by pushing the momentary switch.

 

Another great tool is the Lock Action¬†command; this command enables you to temporarily open the lock (the lever can be used to open the door). In our situation, this means the touchscreen in the living room can be upgraded with an extra button for opening the front door. When the doorbell is pressed, the touchscreen automatically switches to the front door camera page so we can see who’s there. From now on, with the Nemef Radaris Evolution lock integrated in our Domotica system, pushing the ‘open’ button on the touchscreen is enough to let that person in ūüôā

 

 

The Nemef RF Module

From a Domotica perspective, our new Nemef Radaris Evolution is nothing more than a closed system. No communication, I/O or other ways to interface with it. But there’s a really good solution to this: the Nemef RF Module!

Nemef RF Module

The RF Module can be used for transmitting an ‘open’ command to Nemef Radaris locks, it can act as a wireless interface for RF Controllers and can also be used with products of other manufacturers. Last but not least this RF Module has a RS485 interface for easy integration into existing systems. The open ASCII protocol that is being used for the RF Module makes the combination of the Nemef Radaris Evolution and RF Module a complete solution for integration into any Domotica system, including mine.

The RF Module is also equipped with 4 relay outputs capable of switching max. 24V AC/DC @ 0,8A. On top of that, this RF Module has 3 inputs (the middle terminal block with the 6 connectors) which can be used for various pre-programmed purposes. More on that later.

In my case, the RF Module is connected to a RS48RS485 converter5 to Ethernet converter so that I can ‘talk’ to the Nemef RF Module over Ethernet.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on the software side of things; classes that represent the RF Controller, RF Module and Badges have been developed and an interface class which takes care of handling the protocol and delivering the protocol data to the corresponding device class instances.

A preliminary version of the resulting page showing some of the information that’s available can be found here.

This RF Module enables me to:

  • Lock/unlock the door from my Domotica system (hence, from wherever I am);
  • Badge administration: adding and deleting badges from the RF Controllers memory and granting access to the in- and/or outside readers;
  • Configure the 3 inputs of the RF Module;
  • Switch the 4 relay outputs.

And of course, my system gets notified of all the real life events taking place on the Nemef Radaris Evolution, like

  • a badge that has been detected by a reader (which badge, which reader, whether access has been granted);
  • the status of the controller (deadbolt position, battery condition, latch status);
  • changes on each of the 3 inputs.

All this is done without the need for polling or any other kind of continuous communication; cool ; what more do you want..

More on the advantages of using the Nemef RF Module in an automated (home) environment later!

The Nemef Radaris Evolution

Nemef Radaris Evolution

Nemef Radaris Evolution

Since about a month we have a new door furniture on our frontdoor; the Nemef Radaris Evolution. It has been a long-cherished wish to have a electromechanic lock and now we have one, with the Radaris Evolution as matching furniture.

The Radaris Evolution that was installed on our frontdoor is equipped with 2 RFID readers; 1 on the outside and 1 inside and also has a lever on both in- and outside. To access the Radaris Evolution you can use keyfobs, remotes or credit-card sized transponder cards.

The lock is a multi-point lock, which means the lock doesn’t just have a single dead bolt; this lock has 3 hook bolts. This lock certainly provides much more security than the one we had before because this lock is SKG ** security rated and also has the dutch police “safe living” hall mark. Free levers on both sides make sure the mailbox isn’t that much of a security issue anymore either.

It’s obvious that this lock has been designed with security and convenience in mind all the time; we’ve had an electronic lock before, but this Nemef is of a ¬†different league; you just can’t compare those 2.

The Radaris Evolution is battery-operated and can be used with 2 AA alkaline batteries, or if you prefer a longer lifetime, lithium batteries of the same size. Alkaline batteries should be able to keep the Radaris Evolution working  for  a maximum of 5 years or 45.000 operations.

Now why is this Nemef Radaris Evolution so important to write about it on a Domotica related weblog? Well, more about the Domotica link later; I have to finish some things first!

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