Controlling your house with Siri is now easier than ever

With the use of Shortcuts in the iPhone, now is easier to control devices in your home. This iPhone app let you configure actions that are going to be wrong anytime you tell Siri specific command.

So, for example: if you would like to turn off the lights of your living room anytime you were going upstairs, you could create a Shortcut. Vannn, you would only have to tell Siri something like “hey Siri, turn off the lights of the living room”, or “hey Siri, I’m going upstairs”, and Siri would take it from there by running the sequence of comments that you have implemented in your app.

How to connect the iPhone with my devices at home

There’s a tricky thing that you have to know: unless you have Apple TV fourth generation, or any other way to connect your iPhone with your home, you will not be able to control any devices with the iPhone.

The easiest way would be to install Google assistant, there’s a trick to connect to google assistant with Siri and then let Google assistant control your devices.

You can read more in here:

https://ios.gadgethacks.com/how-to/make-siri-run-google-assistant-commands-your-iphone-0194527/

This way anytime you tell Siri to do an action, Google assistant will receive the common bit and then proceed to do the action, like turning off lights, changing your thermostat if you have a Nest, etc.

You can start playing with the application now, we recommend you to visit this community at Reddit where you will find a lot of information about how to set up and recommend the configurations:

https://www.reddit.com/r/shortcuts/



New Fibaro Z-Wave Motion Sensor (FGMS-001) available at Amazon

The brand new Fibaro Z-Wave Motion Sensor is now available at Amazon, this motion sensor is capable of many great things, like sensing temperature, movement, lights and even vibrations!

Get it on amazon.com
Get it on amazon.com

 

Since it started being sold, this sensor has been the number 1 reference for buyers and reviewers so it is worth checking it out at Amazon.com.  The price is above all other sensors in the market, but it surely has demonstrated being way better than its competitors.

Also available at the Amazon Canadian Store.

Here’s the description as shown on the amazon website:

Extremely versatile 4-in-1 sensor combining motion, temperature, light level and vibration functions.

Features

  • PIR (motion), light level and temperature sensors.
  • Tamper and low-battery alarm notification.
  • Very small size makes it ideal for any Z-Wave system.
  • Dimension – 2.95 x 2.95 x 2.56 in.

Specification

  • Technology – Z-Wave (908.4MHz).
  • 4-in-1 Sensor – Motion, temperature, humidity and lighting level.
  • Temperature – 32 to 104°F (±1°F).
  • Light – 0 – 32,000Lux.
  • Tamper Alarm – Yes.
  • Push-button – Wake-up, inclusion and exclusion.
  • Rating – Dry (Indoor) conditions.
  • Power – 1 x CR123A (3.6V) battery.

Upgrade your Vera controller to UI7

Vera released this week their latests UI to the public.  This release is a candidate firmware that may be will be automatically applied to all veras around after a few more testing.

Vera UI7 Dashboard
Vera UI7 Dashboard

If you want to go ahead and start using the UI7 you can do it by accessing your UI5 or UI6 setup page and search for the firmware tab, then you can drop the following link into the “Advanced: URL for Vera Custom Firmware” input and click on continue.

http://download.mios.com/rt3662_betafirmware/rt3662_Luup_ui7-1.7.318-en-mios.squashfs

The process is pretty much simple and it last for about 15 minutes.  During this time you will not be able to access your vera on the IP address that you usually use but after 15 minutes you will be able to see the new Vera UI7 green dashboard and start using your controller again.

New menu navigation

Vera UI7 Navigation
Vera UI7 Navigation

The first thing you will notices is that the navigation in the Vera UI7 is way easier than before.  It consist on 9 links on the left part of the screen that are always present and available for you to navigate.

This new navigation menu is having the following links:

  • Dashboard
  • Devices
  • Cameras
  • Scenes
  • Energy
  • Settings
  • Apps
  • User & Account Info
  • Logout

The Dashboard menu item is where you will find all your favorite devices and default scenes to have a quick idea and glimpse of what’s happening in your house.

The Devices menu item allow you to access and configure any device you have installed on your vera.  This menu would be very similar in functionality to the “devices” menu on the UI 5 interface.

The Scenes menu will be probably the most used by all Vera owners, as here is where you access your custom and specific scenes like “watching a movie” or “going sleep” or “children playing at the backyard”.  Here you will be able to configure as many scenes you need.

Energy will allow you to connect with EchoLabs and receive reports of your energy consumption.

The settings menu item will allow you to configure almost every aspect of the Vera controller.  Rooms, Wifi, Backups, Logs, Z-Wave settings, Insteon Settings and much more.

Apps menu item will send you to the apps page, which is now beautiful and styled in a way much people would dream of in the Vera UI5.

The last menu item before the logout button is the User & Account Info where you will be able of specify your user settings, create new users, manage your alerts, etc.

 

Default Scenes

The UI7 is full of improvements that will make your life much easier when programming your modules and scenes.  For example, having 4 default scenes on the dashboard is an excellent way to control your house without much clicking around.

Vera UI7 Default Scenes

 

Favorites in Dashboard

Your favorites will also be listed on the Dashboard in a slick way and you can always have a glampse of what’s happening at your house by looking directly at your rooms where you have favorite devices:

Vera UI7 favorites in dashboard
Vera UI7 favorites in dashboard

Scenes

The scenes menu is now way more clean and easy to use and configure.  You will access your scenes in the main scenes screen and you can easily play them just by clicking a button without much hunt

Vera UI7 Scenes
Vera UI7 Scenes

 

Apps Section

The Apps page is probably the one that got most of the changes in the right direction.  Not only because the slick styling which is appealing and attractive but also because the easiest way of adding Apps to your Vera.

Vera Apps Page
Vera Apps Page

 

You will still be able to develop your own apps and add your Luup code using the Develop Apps access:

Vera Develop Apps
Vera Develop Apps

 

It is definitely a good change for this Apps section of the Vera which was very much forgotten and lacking in both styling and functionality in the previous UIs.

 

Final Note

As a final note, if you still don’t have a Vera account you will need to open a new one on here: https://home.getvera.com . This is because the old mios account will not work anymore.

If you want to find out more, go to the getvera website:

http://getvera.com/vera-ui7-release-candidate/

How to get PAN and TILT to work with the Foscam FI8910W and Vera3 z-wave controller

One of the main purposes of purchasing a Foscam camera is to be able of PAN and TILT using the web based controls that the camera brings.   This is possible using the Vera3 controller but only if you download a plugin that will activate the functionality.

There are two plugins that will help pursuing the goal of having PAN and TILT working for your camera on the vera3 controller. The first one is

 

Both of these plugins will install a file called I_FoscamPTZ.xml that you will later use to indicate to Vera3 that the “Generic IP camera” device that you are installing will have special functionalities defined on that XML file. 

After you proceed to install one of these plugins the XML file will be available for you to use it.  Go to your camera settings using the “Advanced Settings” screen or the UI5 interface and add the name of that file to the variable impl_file.  After you do this click on save and the camera will be ready to use the PAN and TILT modes within the Vera3 interface.

Later whenever you want to see your camera you will see that the PAN and TILT controls appear on the interface and by clicking them you can fully move your camera up down left or right.  See these two last screenshots as examples of a camera control using both Vera3 interfaces (the advanced one and the simple one)

 

 

 

User interfaces for Vera Controls (Micasaverde) explained

The vera system has been constantly evolving thanks to the effort of many developers and Micasaverde (Now Vera Control LTD).  This development has bring many changes on the user interface and confusion in between new users and users that have been since the very first Vera 1 or Vera 2.

Here we will explain in simple english how many interfaces are out there for the vera controller and what you can and cannot do with each one of these interfaces.  Plain and simple .

 

Vera UI5

Vera UI5
Vera UI5

Vera UI5 has been the default interface for many years (2+ years).  This interface is crude, rude and oriented to a technical consumer, capable of understanding the many different possible configurations that can be done with a vera controller.

This is the interface by default that you should be using if you want to truly integrate your Vera controller and devices in the best way possible. The vera UI5 is not recommended for end users who only want to integrate basic devices like motion detectors or light switches

So if you need to mess with IP cameras, uplodas, emails, dropbox and many other different devices the Vera UI5 is definitely the UI that you want to be using.

Pros

  • Fully configurable
  • Allows you to customize every single variable of every device
  • Allows you to integrate generic IP Cameras
  • You can create, test and deploy your own custom code

Cons

  • Not user friendly
  • Requires good understanding of technical specs
  • Ugly interface
  • You can only login using cp.mios.com. No access to home.getvera.com

 

Vera Mobile App 1.3

You can get the Vera Mobile App from here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vera-mobile-app/id514267785?mt=8

 

Vera UI6

Vera UI6
Vera UI6

The vera UI6 is an interface released in early 2014 that was directed to the end user.  It is very nice and contains beautiful graphics.  It is easy to understand and can be programmed by anybody without almost any knowledge.    The only problem is that this version was released very early in the development and it contains a variety of bugs that will have you suffering for many many hours. For example, you cannot configure a Generic IP camera from this interface, as it doesn’t allow you to input a custom url for getting the video from your camera.

This user interface is definitely a good start for somebody that is configuring a vera controller for the first time, you can do some basic control with lights, switchers and motion detectors, but no more than that.  For more advanced control you will need to run the Vera UI5.

Pros

  • Beautiful Interface
  • Easy to use
  • Control basic devices (motion, lights, switchers)
  • New authentication system (MMS)
  • New web interphase home.getvera.com

Cons 

  • Terrible issues with compatibility (UI5 code gets deleted when you save new changes)
  • Doesn’t integrate generic devices (for example IP cameras)
  • Unstable, some buttons are not working when clicked

Vera UI6 Mobile

Vera Mobile simple ui6
Vera Mobile simple ui6. Credits: http://getvera.com/#how

The Vera UI6 mobile is not listed anymore and it is not accesible.  You can now download the Vera UI7 Mobile (see below)

 

Vera UI7

vera UI7
vera UI7

The vera UI7 interface is currently in BETA.  Developers are working with the community to create what is going to be the best UI ever for Vera controllers.  Nevertheless you can test the Vera UI7 on your mobile and have fun with it.

This new UI will allow you to configure all devices from a nicer user interface and it is directed to end users, so anybody will be able of connecting devices with minimum knowledge about z-wave and with no programming knowledge.

The new UI7 have 4 preset scenes that you can have preconfigured, these are: HOME / AWAY / NIGHT / VACATION.  In each of the preset scenes you will be able to arm/disarm and use the devices you want, also to send notifications to the user you want by sliding some nice graphical sliders that are available at the home screen.  Here’s an screenshot showing how you will be able to slide with a single click or touch of the screen:

Vera IU7 presets
Vera IU7 presets

 

You can request access to the beta program on here (currently closed) : http://getvera.com/beta/

Vera UI7 Mobile (Version 2.1)

 

Vera Mobile UI7
Vera Mobile UI7

The Vera Mobile UI7 will reflect exactly the same graphical interface as the new Vera UI7.   This means you will not have to download any other third party app to control your Vera form your iPhone, as this mobile UI7 will have everything you need. We strongly recommend anybody to download it and start playing with it as it is a very stable app and allows you to easily activate your preset scenes or custom scenes from your mobile phone.

You can get the Vera UI7 for Mobile here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vera-mobile-ui7/id787203434?mt=8

How to connect the Foscam FI8910W camera to your z-wave vera3 controller

The Foscam FI8910W is compatible with the vera3 controller.  Altough it doesn’t have z-wave integrated it will connect to the controller using the LAN network.   This camera can be placed anywhere in the house as it has a WIFI antenna and will transmit the videos and images to the network very easily.

The camera comes with a support for ceiling and screws. It also comes with a CD and manual which we will not use when connecting to the Vera3 Controller.  You can see a short clip here of a Foscam FI8910W camera unboxing:

The only thing you will need to connect your camera to the network is to plug the power cable to your wall and the ethernet cable to your router.  When you do so, the camera will activate and will be available in your home network under a private IP that is normally of the type 192.168.0.XXX, where these last 3 XXX are going to vary depending on how many devices you have connected into your ethernet network.

To discover which is the IP of your newly connected camera you will need to access your router settings.  If you have a d-link routher for example you could navigate to 192.168.0.1 to access your router configuration.   If this is the first time you do so, when prompted for an user and a password you can input admin / admin or admin with no password.

Here you will see the devices connected to the network and you can see a new deviced called “ipcam” showing a specific IP address.  This is your new foscam camera.

Using your browser you can access that address and get to see the camera working and the PAN and TILT controls working.  In this window we will do not much, as we want that same information to be read from the vera3 z-wave controller and integrated into our home automation system so let’s continue by removing the ethernet cable and waiting 2 a pair of minutes until the camera connects automatically to the WIFI network.

When the camera is connected you will see a second device showing on your router status under the name “ipcam” and showing a different IP address.  This is the IP address that the camera will use to send the images over wifi and will be the IP address that we will use on the Vera3 to configure the camera.

Copy this IP address and go to your Vera3 controller configuration page:

Look at the bottom for the link to “Advanced Settings”

In the advanced screen, click on DEVICES / ADD DEVICE to get the process started:

 

Then click on “Add an IP camera” and click on “Manually Add” to start the process of adding your new Foscam Camera.  In this screen you will see a list of MAC addresses that correspond to all devices connected to your Ethernet Router.  We wouldn’t know at this point which one corresponds to the camera but we know the IP address and we can fill it on the box at the bottom that indicates “Or, if your camera is not on the list, paste the URL which returns a JPG file in the box below:”

In this box we will use the IP address of the camera and an aditional parameter to grab the camera which is:

/snapshot.cgi?user=admin&pwd=

Then this will bring the camera image to our new Vera3 device.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you happen to change the password for the camera on the camera settings, then you will need to input that password here. For example:   /snapshot.cgi?user=admin&pwd=mynotthatsecretpassword 

Your input box should look similar to this snapshot:

In the next screen you can select “Generic IP camera” and input the user and password if needed.

 

After you do this you will be able to see the camera image showing on this popup.  This means your camera was correctly configured so you can proceed to close everything and save the changes.

Also see how to get the Foscam PAN and TILT functionalities to work with the Vera3 device.

 

How to install the Webcam Dropbox Uploader on your Vera

The Webcam Dropbox Uploader will allow you to record snapshots from your Foscam wifi camera.   It will work by creating a new device into your vera network and allowing you to use that device into your Scenes so every time an action is produced you can save a camera snapshop.

This could be useful if for example you want to take a snapshop automatically every time a motion sensor is triggered in the entrance of your home.  You would may be want to simply know if the mail guy is just leaving a box in front of your door ir if something else is happening.

First open the apps page inside your device by opening the Advanced Settings and going to APPS / INSTALL APPS

Webcam Dropbox Uploader
Webcam Dropbox Uploader

Then search for “dropbox” in the “search by” field

Search Dropbox
Search Dropbox

You will see the “Webcam Dropbox Uploader” showing on the list and you will be able to install it by clicking on the blue install button

Install Dropbox App
Install Dropbox App

The app will automatically create a new device that you will be able to use as a z-wave device and integrate it into your scenes.

Once installed, the app will show a configuration popup.  Click on Advanced and input the name of this new device as “Dropbox” so you will remember later and find the device easier.

Dropbox App Settings
Dropbox App Settings

Remember to click the red SAVE button before reloading the page or going to your home manager.

After you save and go to the home page you will see your new device on the devices listing asigned to “no room”

Drobox Device not configured
Drobox Device not configured
Drobox Device not configured
Drobox Device not configured

The Dropbox App will allow you to change the default update frequency from 10 minutes to whatever value you want.   This is useful as you can have your cameras to automatically send you images every once a while so you have an auto-updated backup of what have been happening in your house.

Now, to connect to your account you will click on the “settings” icon (the wrench) for your Dropbox Device and it will bring the popup window again with a link that says “to connect to Dropbox, please click here”

Dropbox device settings
Dropbox device settings

After you click on that link, another popup will show where you can link your Dropbox account with Vera using your username and password.

Dropbox authorize screen
Dropbox authorize screen

When you come back to your vera menu you will see that the screen now says “Dropbox has been authorized. Please click Save to save your data.”

Dropbox has been authorized. Please click Save to save your data.
Dropbox has been authorized. Please click Save to save your data.

After this step, your dropbox will start receiving images every few minutes (depending on your previous settings) so you can keep track or log of images on your cameras.  The plugin will automatically create a folder named “Applications / Vera Camera Archive” and will save the images on subfolders by date.

Vera camera Dropbox Folder
Vera camera Dropbox Folder

To include the Dropbox plugin into a scene you will need to use the UI5 to include a loop code into your scene.  Go to AUTOMATION and click on the configure icon for the scene you want to configure.

Include loop code into a scene
Include loop code into a scene

When  you’re editing the Scene, click on LUUP so you can include the code.  You will see the Luup box from where you can drop the following loop code:

lul_settings={}
lul_settings[“webcamNumber”]=XX
for loopNumber= 1, 5, 1 do
luup.call_action(“urn:milliesoft-com:serviceId:WebcamDropboxUploader1″,”SendSnapshot”, lul_settings,YY)
end

Change XX for the id of the camera you want to use and change YY for the id of your new dropbox device.

This code will take 5 pictures in 5 seconds, one per second (defined in the loopnumber for ) .  This way you can have an idea of what’s happening in that specific room.

Click save twice and get to your home screen to activate the Scene.

Having these lines of code will make the Dropbox App to run literaly behind the scenes, you will not see any input or setting to configure Dropbox but when directly accessing the loop code.  The final setup will allow you to see the snapshots coming into your dropbox folder, like shown in this image:

dropbox foscam snapshots
dropbox foscam snapshots

If you want to read further you can visit these Vera Forums that are being constantly updated:

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,16518.180.html

http://forum.micasaverde.com/index.php/topic,16518.150.html

You can also see the original instructions for the Webcam Dropbox App here:

http://www.milliesoft.co.uk/index.php/other-articles/104-dropbox-webcam-uploader

The Internet of Things and z-wave

Z-Wave uses a source-routed mesh network topology, and has one Primary Controller and zero or more Secondary Controllers that control routing and security. Devices can communicate to one another by using intermediate nodes to actively route around and circumvent household obstacles or radio dead spots that might occur. A message from node A to node C can be successfully delivered even if the two nodes are not within range, providing that a third node B can communicate with nodes A and C. If the preferred route is unavailable, the message originator will attempt other routes until a path is found to the C node. Therefore, a Z-Wave network can span much farther than the radio range of a single unit; however, with several of these hops a slight delay may be introduced between the control command and the desired result.[11]

In order for Z-Wave units to be able to route unsolicited messages, they cannot be in sleep mode. Therefore, battery-operated devices are not designed as repeater units. A Z-Wave network can consist of up to 232 devices, with the option of bridging networks if more devices are required.

The Internet of Things – Learn how to easily automate your own house

Z-Wave uses a source-routed mesh network topology, and has one Primary Controller and zero or more Secondary Controllers that control routing and security. Devices can communicate to one another by using intermediate nodes to actively route around and circumvent household obstacles or radio dead spots that might occur. A message from node A to node C can be successfully delivered even if the two nodes are not within range, providing that a third node B can communicate with nodes A and C. If the preferred route is unavailable, the message originator will attempt other routes until a path is found to the C node. Therefore, a Z-Wave network can span much farther than the radio range of a single unit; however, with several of these hops a slight delay may be introduced between the control command and the desired result.[11]

In order for Z-Wave units to be able to route unsolicited messages, they cannot be in sleep mode. Therefore, battery-operated devices are not designed as repeater units. A Z-Wave network can consist of up to 232 devices, with the option of bridging networks if more devices are required.

Automate your home lights

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