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  #1  
Old November 19th, 2017, 06:03 PM
Kitar Kitar is offline
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Motorized Tilting of Horizontal Blinds

Greetings, I've been looking to automate the tilting of several of my horizontal blinds in our house and wanted a roll your own solution. The Home Depot Custom Window Covering people want more than C$370 for each Somfy RTS tilt motor in addition to the price of the blinds. Add a Somfy remote $200 and more than $500 for the ZRTSI-II Somfy's ZWave interface and this becomes very expensive option.

So I went ahead and purchased the blinds without the motors and will attempt to automate them myself. My search comes down to two motors, Somfy or iBlinds if they are successfully funded, or a home rolled solution. The Somfy motors are 1/3 the price if bought from a US supplier and self installed.

I started this thread to compile ideas and options for Horizontal blind control. As such I wanted to share what I've learned so far and hear what your thoughts are.

iBlinds is a fully ZWave Plus certified blind tilt motor for horizontal blinds that will soon be offered on an upcoming Indegogo campaign. These guys have had a few failed campaigns in the past but this time they have an advantage. Their product is fully Z-Wave certified and the product design looks mature. It looks like it will be offered with some options like Solar charging, wall wart or a battery tube.

The motors can be mounted anywhere on the tilt rod and should not require cutting of the rods. Positioning is variable anywhere between full open to full closed but may not be able to simultaneous tilt multiple blinds in sync.

The Somfy Wirefree TILT 50 RTS Tilt motors mount on the end of the tilt rod and require the rod be cut a few inches. Very narrow windows may not be possible. Bali who also use the Somfy RTS tilt motors could not make my blinds as a couple of my windows are 15" wide. The downside to Somfy is that they are proprietary and ZWave or RS485 interfaces are quite expensive. The RFXComm and HS plug-in look to be the best alternative to Z-Wave. I hope a Somfy owner can chime in here and tell me if fill you are able to sync tilt multiple blinds to any position with the RFXComm. My understanding was that you have 3 positions, Closed UP, My Position, and Closed Down.

Another option might be some cheap micro gear motors from Ali.. coupled with a Fibaro Zwave motor controller but I do not think it will be able to simultaneously sync tilt. The Fibaro's are not inexpensive and as I recall need a minimum of 24VDC or 120VAC.

Your thoughts and experiences appreciated.
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  #2  
Old November 19th, 2017, 06:57 PM
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peterpc peterpc is offline
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I use a servo motor connected to an Adafruit 16-Channel servo driver on a Raspberry Pi.
The RPI is controlled with the drhsIPPlugin.
I have a virtual device and it's % is the open/close position.
Works perfect.
I am now thinking of using a ESP8266 for the job. Then I don't need any wires to the blind except 5V. And it is cheaper than a RPI.
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  #3  
Old November 19th, 2017, 10:09 PM
Kitar Kitar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterpc View Post
I use a servo motor connected to an Adafruit 16-Channel servo driver on a Raspberry Pi.
The RPI is controlled with the drhsIPPlugin.
I have a virtual device and it's % is the open/close position.
Works perfect.
I am now thinking of using a ESP8266 for the job. Then I don't need any wires to the blind except 5V. And it is cheaper than a RPI.
Sounds like a nice project. The 5V system would be an easy solar job as well. As I recall one of our forum mates here posted about the ESP chips having flakey WiFi. Is this still a concern?

Looking at the Adafruit servo motors (tower pro) I would be concerned about the torque. The blinds I am getting are very heavy 2.5 inch composite wood slats and the windows are near 6' tall so the load will be substantial if you are twisting the tilt rod directly. Not exactly a 1" aluminum blind!

Let's assume one could get beefier motors/drivers. Using 1 ESP + servodriver + servomotor in each blind, do you think they could be synchronized? I have 2 adjacent rooms with a group of 3 windows in each, so I'd like to tilt 6 blinds at the same time. Damn open concept.
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  #4  
Old November 20th, 2017, 03:26 PM
integlikewhoa integlikewhoa is online now
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After doing some searching I went with Bali Autoview blinds which use somfy motors and are z-wave plus built it. Grabber is the parent company for Bali.

Issue for you is I don't think autoview comes in a blind tilting option yet, just a roll up or pull up version.

So back to your somfy stuff. The ZRTSI-II is not needed for homeseer to control your blinds as you know. I have a brand new never used one in California for sale, I ended up with autoview's. I never used it and never bought somfy motors for it so I don't have the anwsers to your questions on its use and capabilities.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/RFXCOM-RFXt...cAAOSw9N1VpqNc

But The AutoViews are very nice as battery life has been great, z-wave plus and instant status works great. Double tap light switches to open and close blinds.

Hope you find a solution or autoview comes out with tilt.
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Old November 20th, 2017, 03:55 PM
wadesready wadesready is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by integlikewhoa View Post
After doing some searching I went with Bali Autoview blinds which use somfy motors and are z-wave plus built it. Grabber is the parent company for Bali.

Issue for you is I don't think autoview comes in a blind tilting option yet, just a roll up or pull up version.

So back to your somfy stuff. The ZRTSI-II is not needed for homeseer to control your blinds as you know. I have a brand new never used one in California for sale, I ended up with autoview's. I never used it and never bought somfy motors for it so I don't have the anwsers to your questions on its use and capabilities.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/RFXCOM-RFXt...cAAOSw9N1VpqNc

But The AutoViews are very nice as battery life has been great, z-wave plus and instant status works great. Double tap light switches to open and close blinds.

Hope you find a solution or autoview comes out with tilt.
what kinda money do you have into your bali autoviews?
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  #6  
Old November 20th, 2017, 04:07 PM
integlikewhoa integlikewhoa is online now
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Originally Posted by wadesready View Post
what kinda money do you have into your bali autoviews?
I bought from Homedepot they cost around 350 a window with battery pack and all out the door. I installed myself. I think like right now they are 20% and I think I used that at the time too.

"SAVE20NOW" which is written all over the homedepot site or you can get 20% off in store too.

You can build them online (homedepot.com) and check price for your size. Use that code to get your final price.

EDIT:I just played around on the site and you will also have sizing problems. If I drop down to a narrow window.... "autoview motor" option disappears. So play with sizing and such to see all options.
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  #7  
Old November 20th, 2017, 04:13 PM
integlikewhoa integlikewhoa is online now
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Here is the other post which has pics of all the components and video's of them in action. Look at the last few posts at the bottom.

https://forums.homeseer.com/showthread.php?t=189791
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  #8  
Old November 20th, 2017, 04:45 PM
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peterpc peterpc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitar View Post
Sounds like a nice project. The 5V system would be an easy solar job as well. As I recall one of our forum mates here posted about the ESP chips having flakey WiFi. Is this still a concern?
I have multiple ESP8266 for temperature readings and have no problems with them.

Quote:
Looking at the Adafruit servo motors (tower pro) I would be concerned about the torque. The blinds I am getting are very heavy 2.5 inch composite wood slats and the windows are near 6' tall so the load will be substantial if you are twisting the tilt rod directly. Not exactly a 1" aluminum blind!
My blind is 4 cm wood, 2 meter high and 1 meter in with. No problem opening them. Just try to rotate the bar by hand and if you can the servo can.
Quote:
Let's assume one could get beefier motors/drivers. Using 1 ESP + servodriver + servomotor in each blind, do you think they could be synchronized? I have 2 adjacent rooms with a group of 3 windows in each, so I'd like to tilt 6 blinds at the same time. Damn open concept.
If you send the commands in one event line I think they will go synchrone.
I have led lights that can be set individually.
When I make an event with seperated lines you see them going on one by one, when you combine them in one event line, they go on at the same time.
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  #9  
Old November 22nd, 2017, 08:42 PM
Kitar Kitar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterpc View Post
I have multiple ESP8266 for temperature readings and have no problems with them.


My blind is 4 cm wood, 2 meter high and 1 meter in with. No problem opening them. Just try to rotate the bar by hand and if you can the servo can.

If you send the commands in one event line I think they will go synchrone.
I have led lights that can be set individually.
When I make an event with seperated lines you see them going on one by one, when you combine them in one event line, they go on at the same time.
Thanks for the reply.
I am not familiar with these tiny servos. I've had some experience with older industrial Mitsubishi servo drives where there are the power phases and signal lines for the encoder but I only see three wires on those motors. Guess I've got some googling to do.

Do you have any control over the positioning speed by a parameter or by different frequency pulse train from the Pi? I am thinking somewhere between 6 to 10 seconds full closed down to full closed up would make for a smooth transition aka WAF.
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Old November 22nd, 2017, 09:12 PM
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Rupp Rupp is offline
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It's a shame these are still manufactured. I'm amazed that no one picked up this design and continued with it. I've been using these for over 13 years and they continue to work perfectly.
https://forums.homeseer.com/showpost...8&postcount=30
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Old November 22nd, 2017, 09:19 PM
wadesready wadesready is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by integlikewhoa View Post
Here is the other post which has pics of all the components and video's of them in action. Look at the last few posts at the bottom.

https://forums.homeseer.com/showthread.php?t=189791

very cool
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  #12  
Old November 23rd, 2017, 11:02 PM
Kitar Kitar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rupp View Post
It's a shame these are still manufactured. I'm amazed that no one picked up this design and continued with it. I've been using these for over 13 years and they continue to work perfectly.
https://forums.homeseer.com/showpost...8&postcount=30

I've had this one pictured below sitting in a box for more than 15 years and is still new. Never did get the seal of approval. Infrared remote controllable but very noisy But I do know of one HS3 user who uses this daily.

Then there is another one called the EZWand. Amounts to the same thing with an RF remote.

I think this Indiegogo campaign looks to be one of the neatest wand spinners. It is called the FlipFlic and is Zigbee or BLE controllable with solar options.

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Last edited by Kitar; December 1st, 2017 at 09:45 PM.
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  #13  
Old November 30th, 2017, 05:54 PM
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peterpc peterpc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitar View Post
Thanks for the reply.
I am not familiar with these tiny servos. I've had some experience with older industrial Mitsubishi servo drives where there are the power phases and signal lines for the encoder but I only see three wires on those motors. Guess I've got some googling to do.

Do you have any control over the positioning speed by a parameter or by different frequency pulse train from the Pi? I am thinking somewhere between 6 to 10 seconds full closed down to full closed up would make for a smooth transition aka WAF.
I have been working on the ESP2286 board to program it for my blinds. They are much cheaper and smaller and can be build in the blind itself.
Just finished the programming and the servo is controlled by this command:
http://192.168.86.235/Blind?Angle=0
Angle can be 0 - 180
return in the webpage is the angle.
When you want the state of the blind you send:
http://192.168.86.235/Blind
and the page returns only the angle.
Speed of the servo can be adjusted to any speed you want by an delay between every step of the servo.
I use this servo: MG 946R. It can handle 12 Kg. That must be enough to handle a big blind.
Tomorrow I am going to test the ESP2286 with the blind that is working with my PI to see the result.
From HS you can set the blind with a little script that has the hs.GetURL command. And you can set the blind in a virtual device and run the script on changes to this device.
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Old December 1st, 2017, 11:56 PM
Kitar Kitar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterpc View Post
I have been working on the ESP2286 board to program it for my blinds. They are much cheaper and smaller and can be build in the blind itself.
Just finished the programming and the servo is controlled by this command:
http://192.168.86.235/Blind?Angle=0
Angle can be 0 - 180
return in the webpage is the angle.
When you want the state of the blind you send:
http://192.168.86.235/Blind
and the page returns only the angle.
Speed of the servo can be adjusted to any speed you want by an delay between every step of the servo.
I use this servo: MG 946R. It can handle 12 Kg. That must be enough to handle a big blind.
Tomorrow I am going to test the ESP2286 with the blind that is working with my PI to see the result.
From HS you can set the blind with a little script that has the hs.GetURL command. And you can set the blind in a virtual device and run the script on changes to this device.
Peter this sounds like a very cool setup with the web interface and all. How are you going to package this? Will these ESP's be good for battery usage ? You might consider a battery wand up behind the headrail for a concealed look.

With a 0-180 degree swing did you have to make a compromise on the start and stop positions or is it enough travel to go from closed-up to closed-down positions and are you using 90 degrees as the open position? I've been looking at several servo motors recently and thought a continuous rotation motor might be more suitable than 0-180 since it would allow a full 360 degree rotation of the rod.

I am assuming you had to remove the wand or cord tilt mechanism. On a blind here I counted 10 turns of the wand from closed up to closed down. If it was even mechanically possible the wand would spin furiously with a 1:10 ratio.

I am aiming to have local control as well but I am left with activating the motor using a momentary ON-OFF-ON spdt microswitch somewhere in the headrail. It would be very nice to be able to maintain the mechanical adjustment. WAF !

Last edited by Kitar; December 2nd, 2017 at 02:30 PM.
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  #15  
Old December 3rd, 2017, 05:03 AM
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peterpc peterpc is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitar View Post
Peter this sounds like a very cool setup with the web interface and all. How are you going to package this? Will these ESP's be good for battery usage ? You might consider a battery wand up behind the headrail for a concealed look.
I don't think batteries will work. The ESP2266 has to be active to show its IP address and power consumption can be 70....300 mA.

Quote:
With a 0-180 degree swing did you have to make a compromise on the start and stop positions or is it enough travel to go from closed-up to closed-down positions and are you using 90 degrees as the open position? I've been looking at several servo motors recently and thought a continuous rotation motor might be more suitable than 0-180 since it would allow a full 360 degree rotation of the rod.
I think 0-180 degrees is just not much enough. I made some photos attached. The RPI goes a little bit further because you can set all parameters there yourself. I think you need 0-270 swing. Searched the internet and I think you can modify a servo by adding 2 resistors to the potmeter inside to make the swing bigger. Will try that this week.

Quote:
I am assuming you had to remove the wand or cord tilt mechanism. On a blind here I counted 10 turns of the wand from closed up to closed down. If it was even mechanically possible the wand would spin furiously with a 1:10 ratio.
Yes, you have to remove the tilt mechanism.

Quote:
I am aiming to have local control as well but I am left with activating the motor using a momentary ON-OFF-ON spdt microswitch somewhere in the headrail. It would be very nice to be able to maintain the mechanical adjustment. WAF !
After the servo is set to a position, it is very easy to turn the servo bij hand. So you can open and close the blinds by hand by just turning the bands. But you can also use an other ESP2286 with a switch and program this 2286 to send commands to the blind. Was already thinking about that, but in the livingroom I also have HSTouch to control the blinds.
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Old December 3rd, 2017, 04:07 PM
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peterpc peterpc is offline
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Tested servo by adding 2 x 2.2K resistor.
Angle was more then 180. Probably around 220. But going from 0 to 90 was around 80 degrees and going from 180 to 90 was around 100 degrees.
Tried 1K and difference around 90 degrees was lees, but also max angle was around 200 degrees. Searched internet and found a servo that can do 270 degrees. Ordered 2 of them to see if that will work better.
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