Exit Proliphix Thermostat

Time for something new…

Proliphix NT20eThe Proliphix NT20e has been in use for almost 3 years now. The Proliphix thermostat has brought me a lot of fun (integrating it into my Domotica system, working on the Homeseer Proliphix Plugin to add Celsius support) and comfort. But it’s time for a change!

Last year I built a Opentherm Gateway, because we noticed that a modulating boiler performed much better than a on/off controlled boiler -modulation made the “up’s and down’s” in temperatures disappear – the temperature became much more constant, which also made the floor heating much more comfortable than before.

However, the Honeywell Evohome set I used last year didn’t work well with the Opentherm Gateway; I could not override the temperature setpoint with the Gateway, which was the primary reason why I built it 🙁

I don’t know why it didn’t work, but it may have something to do with the EvoHome RF communication being not 100% 2-way?

Honeywell Chronotherm

So yesterday I dismantled the Proliphix and replaced it with a Honeywell Chronotherm Modulation (wired version). The thermostat cable running from the boiler to this new thermostat has been extended so I can give the Opentherm Gateway a place out of sight, connect a Serial to Ethernet server to it and remotely monitor the OpenTherm traffic as well as override the room setpoint.

To be continued…

Proliphix Plugin finished

Today I finished the Homeseer Proliphix Plugin I wrote about before. In short, the updated Plugin has been enhanced with the following features:

  • Celsius support;
  • Support for the IMT series thermostats;
  • Support for the IMT series Humidity sensor.

Although I received the code only for adding Celsius support, I’m sure the Homeseer guys won’t mind I added those other 2 items as well 🙂

I was fortunate to have a IMT350 here, sent to me by a Domoticaforum member who found out that the IMT350 wasn’t supported by the current version of the Plugin and asked me to have a look at it. So I did, and in the process I added support for the IMT350 to the Plugin.

Together with another Homeseer user who volunteered as beta tester for the Plugin, we accomplished the 3rd item in the list, support for the Humidity sensor. While I was writing the code for the IMT350, I realized that the first thing that would be missing, was support for the humidity sensor and I just couldn’t leave it like that; it felt like delivering an unfinished product, so I decided to throw in some extra lines of code to make the Humidity sensor readings accessible as well. After some ‘research’ (I’m not a Homeseer user, you know) I found out how to do this, and also found a way to get Humidity readings into HSTouch (with the help of that same beta volunteer who tested my findings). Below a HSTouch screenshot, including the humidity:

Another project finished, still dozens to go!

The Proliphix IMT350c

Proliphix added a new series of Thermostats to their product line: the IMT350. Two models are available; the IMT350c with wired Ethernet and the IMT350w with WiFi. I won’t go into their details, the Proliphix site has all the information you need. I was lucky to receive a IMT350c a few days ago – a Domoticaforum member bought one, but since the Thermostat didn’t work in combination with the Homeseer Proliphix Plugin, it was rather useless to him; so I was asked to have a look at it. Yeah, I always like those kind of questions 🙂

As a coincidence, some time ago I received the source code for the Homeseer Proliphix Plugin to add Celsius support to it. The Homeseer guys are too busy with all kinds of things but not with this Plugin, so they agreed on a 3rd party (eventually being me) to add the Celsius support. Adding Celsius support had already been done, and now suddenly I had this IMT350… and i knew the Plugin didn’t work with that model, so sounds like a good opportunity to fix that problem too..
First some pics of the IMT350 (click for larger image):
Proliphix IMT350c IMT350 Touchscreen
IMT Base Plate IMT350c back side
IMT350c USB connector?

Now that last one is a bit strange; do I see a USB connector there?? It sure looks like it; but since this Thermostat isn’t mine, I’ll leave the plugging in of a USB cable to the owner; I don’t want to destroy anything… I searched the manuals, but I couldn’t find any information about this USB port.

The IMT350 series Thermostats have a nice Touchscreen, which feels good and the up- and down-buttons for setting the temperatures are responsive enough. With my NT20e I sometimes had the problem that I clicked the buttons too often cause the Thermostat didn’t react fast enough; that’s gone now. The bottom row of buttons seem to react a bit slower though. Please don’t think I’m reviewing this Thermostat; I’m just telling my experiences I’ve had with it for a very short period; not long enough to be precise and conclusive. One thing surprised me was that the Thermostat takes more than 2 minutes to boot; that’s rather long, if you ask me. For the rest: this thermostat definitely looks much better compared to the NT20e, but still, I wouldn’t call this an “eye-catcher” in my house…

OK, let’s do some research on this IMT350! Connecting the Thermostat to my network was easy; the thermostat has DHCP so after connecting an Ethernet cable to the EPA-20 (Ethernet Power Adapter) and plugging the power adapter into a wall socket, I could start using the web-interface right away. I entered the factory set username and password and there it was. Time to start my own Domotica system and see if I can use this Thermostat; nope. I immediately got an exception on the first login attempt: HTTP/1.1 401 Authorization Required. Somehow I couldn’t authenticate, so I started Wireshark and looked at the conversation:

GET /get?....... HTTP/1.1
Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded
Host: 192.168.10.155
Accept: text/html, */*
Accept-Encoding: identity
User-Agent: Mozilla/3.0 (compatible; Indy Library)
Authorization: Basic YCRWaS43YDRTaX4=

HTTP/1.1 401 Authorization Required
Connection: close
Date: Fri, 01 Jan 2010 01:36:20 GMT
Server: Cherokee/0.99.37 (UNIX)
WWW-Authenticate: Digest realm="proliphixrealm", nonce="0572700e162cb40274041d07e8b87252", qop="auth", algorithm="MD5"
Content-Length: 450
Content-Type: text/html
Cache-Control: no-cache
Pragma: no-cache

Aah… Digest Authentication instead of Basic… Since I’m using Borland Delphi 2005 with Indy 10, I first had to partially finish the Digest Authentication code of Indy 10, cause it didn’t work. 🙁

After that, I could authenticate and communicate with the IMT350 just like I do with my NT20e. That’s it… all the information that I’m used to retrieve from my NT20e, came out the same way with this IMT350!

Wow, that was easy 🙂

Next step, the Homeseer Proliphix Plugin. Adding Digest Authentication to VB.NET was even simpler:

Dim wrCache As CredentialCache = New CredentialCache
Dim netCredential As NetworkCredential = New NetworkCredential(Me.User, Me.Pass)
wrCache.Add(New Uri(URL), “Digest”, netCredential)
MyWebRequest.Credentials = wrCache

Done! Launching Homeseer and configuring a new Thermostat was all that had to be done. When the Proliphix PlugIn starts up, it recognizes a potential HTTP 401 error and if this error does occur, the Plugin will retry with Digest authentication, so that both series (NT and IMT) can be supported at the same time. Here’s the result:

Homeseer Proliphix Plugin

Homeseer Proliphix Plugin with IMT350 and NT20

Extra display option for Proliphix NT20e

One of the items shown on the LCD of the Proliphix NT20e IP thermostat is the Device name. First i had it set to the location of the thermostat, so there was “Livingroom” displayed. Not very usefull, i know where the thermostat is, since i only have one.  Next text i displayed was my last name… even less informative, i know who i am… OK, another item for my to-do list: can this line of text on the display be used for something really usefull?

Then Pieter Knuvers came with a very good idea; why not display the outside temperature and humidity here? Good idea! Tonight i had some time to have a look at it: 🙂

Outside temp on Proliphix LCD

Outside temp on Proliphix LCD

Proliphix NT20e Thermostat online

Today i created the beginning of a page that will show real-time information about the Proliphix thermostat i started using yesterday. Although not finished yet, it displays some status information and will be extended with several charts to see all you ever wanted to know. But for that, I’ll have to wait a while to have some data to work with. Click on the image to go to my website.

Website Thermostat page

Website Thermostat page

Proliphix NT20e in use

This morning, when i got out of bed, i knew i had a job to do: my Home Automation system was going to be extended with the Proliphix NT20e Thermostat.

All worked well last night with the thermostat on my desk in the office, so drilling a few holes and placing the NT20e in the living room wouldn’t take more then a couple of hours.

However, one little detail took me a couple of hours more then i expected.
This detail was the fact that a Remeha Calenta with an outside temperature sensor doesn’t react on on/off thermostats… it took me some time to figure this out

Once i found out what was going wrong, the NT20e was mounted very easily.

NT20 back plate mounted to the wall
Proliphix NT20 mounted to the wall

Next thing to do was creating a kind of ‘demonstration’ that it all worked. I chose the touchscreen in the living room to be the first GUI to get the new feature of changing the thermostat set point. The touchscreen is 30 cm away from the thermostat, but who cares 🙂

NT20 thermostat and ASUS TOP GUI

NT20e thermostat and ASUS TOP GUI

I created a screen with a “+” and “-” button like this:

Setting Thermostat set point in GUI

Setting Thermostat set point in GUI

When a button is pressed, the numeric value in the middle that represents the new desired thermostat setpoint, gets a different color:

Setting Thermostat set point in GUI

Setting Thermostat set point in GUI

When neither the “+” or “-” are pressed for a period of 3 seconds, the numeric value returns to its previous color and the current value is sent to my Domotica system, which takes care of posting the new value of the set-point to the thermostat.

Setting Thermostat set point in GUI

Setting Thermostat set point in GUI

My conclusion so far about this Proliphix thermostat: the greatest thermostat I’ve ever seen.

But this is not the end of the story, there’s still a lot to be done!

Interface with Proliphix NT20e IP Thermostat

After unpacking, connecting and testing the NT20e the time had come to start testing the software i had already made in the past days to let my HA system interface with the thermostat.

With the very good and accurate Proliphix API documentation available, it was quite easy to start coding for the API without actual hardware to test with. The object oriented architecture i use in my Home Automation system really paid off this time. I mean, a thermostat with dozens of values/settings that can be read or written, is something completely different then for example a Door/Window sensor. Or not?

No, it doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re dealing with a thermostat or whatever type of sensor, they are both Devices with 1 or more DeviceValues. So all i had to do is focus on the device-specific code and ‘rewrite’ the API information to Delphi code. For example the code to define all the types and constants is 900 lines of code, the code that does the actual low-level interfacing with the NT20e is 430 lines and the code for the NT20e itself is 400 lines. In total less then 2000 lines of code of which only 1000 executable, not bad! The less new code means less new bugs 🙂

The result of these 1000 lines of code is total integration in the rest of my HA system. Complete exposure of the thermostat and its functionality: storing historical data to the database, creating events, manipulating the thermostat from the website, touchscreen or one of my other GUIs, everything instantly available.

Sometimes i am very glad i chose to create my own Home Automation system 3 years ago… this is one of those times :-).

Testing the interface. Before the thermostat would be placed on the wall in the livingroom, i wanted to make sure the interface was working properly. Only some minor bugs were found, mainly caused by making mistakes in translating the API documentation into constants. Currently the NT20e interface is running on my PC where it will run for some time before i am confident enough to take the next step: relocating the thermostat to the livingroom and start using it 🙂

Testing my Domotica system with the NT20e

Testing my Domotica system with the NT20e

Connecting the Proliphix NT20e thermostat

Ethernet and power

Needless to say that connecting this IP thermostat needs an Ethernet connection nearby. Fortunately i have a 1Gbps switch only 3 meters away from the place where the thermostat will be placed. The thermostat also needs 24V DC power to operate. POE (Power Over Ethernet) is being used to power the NT20e. An EPA-20 can be used to inject the power into the Ethernet cable that goes to the thermostat:

Proliphix EPA-20

Proliphix EPA-20

The EPA-20 is capable of powering 2 devices (not necessarily being Proliphix thermostats).

Dry testing

Before connecting the thermostat to my central heating, i decided to do some ‘dry’ tests first: connecting the Ethernet cable and power, but not the 2 wires that go to the central heating. I attached a multimeter to the connections i thought were the right ones for the combination of my central heating (Remeha Calenta) and the NT20e. My guess was i had to use the connections labeled RH and W1, so i monitored what was happening on these 2 connections when the relay switched. I tested voltage and resistance; and as i expected, no voltage is applied and resistance was either 0 or infinite; exactly the behavior i expected (and need).

Proliphix NT20e back plate

Proliphix NT20e back plate

Back side of the NT20e thermostat

Back side of the NT20e thermostat

The thermostat is ready to be used, but first: testing the interface to my Home Automation system with the thermostat still in the office! (will save me a lot of running from office to living and back again while testing) 🙂

Proliphix NT20e IP Thermostat

Yesterday i received a NT20e IP Thermostat made by Proliphix:

NT20e IP Thermostat and EPA-20 Power supply

As a logical followup on the Remeha Gateway disaster where in the end i was forced to disconnect the Gateway, my attention shifted towards using a thermostat to achieve my goal: being able to change the setpoint of the central heating from my Home Automation system. I’ve looked at several products, and in my opinion the Proliphix Uniphy Network Thermostats looked the best in terms of offered functionality, connectivity and professionalism. Pieter Knuvers from Bwired and i discussed this thermostat and Pieter was just as enthusiastic about this thermostat as i was. Pieter and i do a lot of things together; testing hardware is one of those things. Last Thursday a Proliphix NT20e and a POE Power injector arrived from the USA. Pieter received the same parts and we started testing.

Features:
– Compatible with fossil (oil, gas) as well as heat pump systems
– Support for Single stage heat and Airconditioning
– Wired TCP/IP communication
– Password protected, built-in Web Browser control interface (TMI)
– Email alerts
– Support for 2 additional external sensors
– 366 day programming
– 4 temperature periods per day
– 3 year scheduling
– Scheduling of vacation and other special days
– Energy Star compliant.

The first looks after the NT20e confirmed my expectations – the Proliphix Thermostat looks and feels very sound.

– It weighs more then the average thermostat i’ve ever held in my hands;
– The buttons on the front give a good, solid ‘click’;
– The LCD is backlit which makes it very good readable;
– The internals look solid and firm, good for years & years of operation.

One minor thing i think that could use some attention is the thickness; the dimensions of the NT20e are 14.2 x 9.5 x 4.3  cm.
This is quite thick, however you have to keep in mind that this thermostat has a lot to offer – more then the usual Dutch thermostat i know of, so that will probably cause the slightly higher volume.

This thermostat is the ultimate tool to achieve what i’ve wanted for years and years, even before i knew what Domotica meant: controlling the temperature setpoint without having to stand in front of the thermostat!