Setting up the CHARioT Central Heating Alarm Remote IOT

Ok, so the CHARioT has arrived in the post. Your package should look something like the picture below. Delivery times will obviously vary depending on where you are in the world in relation to our EU base. Within the EU the package has been known to arrive within 4 days but you should allow 8 working days even within the EU and longer outside the EU.

Kodi Control Home Automation Package

There is very limited space inside the Kodi Control housing and you should gently remove the top of the housing to check that the components have not been damaged during transit. Specifically you should push out the long sides of the housing a little and ensure the RF transmitter and RF receiver are not shorting on the microprocessor. The RF transmitter is the component with the orange antenna attached to it. We don’t generally attach an antenna to the receiver as you will get better results from the RF Learner feature of the device with your remote control right up against the device. This is because RF transmissions will be taking place all around you from different devices and an antenna would simply amplify the background RF in Learner mode.

Kodi Control Internals

In the photo above you will see that the orange antenna is an uncoiled piece of wire whereas when it arrives in the post it will be a tightly wound coil. The tight coil looks better and for the initial testing stage we recommend you leave the antenna coiled up with the antenna pointing straight up. Once you have completed the initial tests (details provided below) you will obtain a greater range with the antenna uncoiled and pointing straight up. Range will depend on the construction of your property and for shorter distances some users will not need to uncoil the antenna. As detailed elsewhere on this website we also provide range extenders for individuals with large properties. Most people will not require range extenders providing the antenna is uncoiled and pointing straight up.

Whilst you have the top off the device firmly attach the blue USB cable by inserting the smaller end into the side (right side as shown in the photo above) and as you push it in push the entire plastic circuit board towards the cable (from left to right in the photo above). This ensure you have a nice snug connection. The lager end of the blue USB cable will connect to the USB port on your Kodi Media Player (Raspberry Pi, Android, Windows or Linux computer etc). As long as you are connected to the internet most devices will automatically install the required drivers or already have them included within the Operating system. Please post in the comments box below if you require help tracking down the required drivers for your system but please provide full details of the make and model of your Kodi Media player together with the operating system you are using.

Immersion Heater Control Unit

 

Before we come to wiring up the device we just want to point out something that perplexed us when we first started working with the Immersion Heater control units. When yours arrives it will look like the photo above and we actually had our drill out trying to remove what we thought were possibly torx screws in the rear of the unit to give us access to wire it up. It turned out that the front panel simply pulls off and reveals the screws that hold the mounting box to the unit and exposes the terminal connectors for the wiring. The photo below shows the front cover removed, the screw holes and the red LED indicating the device is in standby mode.

Front panel removed

Now I’m sure for many that it will be obvious that the front panel simply pulls off but the first unit we tried had a particularly firmly attached front cover and even though we thought in might simply be a push fit it wasn’t obvious enough to prevent us from needlessly taking a drill to the rear of the unit. As we test all the units before we send them out the front cover will have been off and on at least once when you receive the device so it shouldn’t be quite so hard for you to remove it. Don’t adjust the DIP switches on the unit as our software is specifically set to work with the DIP switches in their default position. If you find your near neighbour has exactly the same unit we can provide a firmware upgrade to your Kodi Control device and different DIP switch settings for the immersion heater control unit.

We recommend that before installing the RF controlled immersion heater unit you have it wired up to a basic 3 pin, 13 amp socket for testing purposes. Please note you need to ensure you comply with electrical safety legislation in your country of operation. As shown below your unit should have the red wire pre-fitted to the live terminals. If you have one of the slightly different models that doesn’t use the red cable please contact us and we will send you the wiring details. Live (Brown) is connected to the center of the 3 terminals at the top of the unit and Neutral (Blue) to the left connector at the bottom of the unit.

Kodi Control Electrical Wiring

Ok so your immersion heater control unit is now wired up to a 3 pin, 13 amp socket and the red LED should be on. This red LED is only indicating the device is in standby mode and when you send the correct RF signal the green LED will be lit in addition to the red LED. Again this confused us a little when we first started using the units as we wrongly assumed the red LED indicated the device was powered up and hadn’t noticed the second (green) LED.

The Kodi Control device can be operated manually without a host device such as the Raspberry Pi or Android TV Box and it is useful for the initial testing phase. It is also useful if your host device fails because even though you can manually turn OFF the immersion heater control unit with the ON OFF switch below the two LED’s you can’t actually turn the unit ON without an expensive Home Easy 105 RF Remote Control unit. When you flick the switch below the two LED’s to off the device is obviously off but when you flick the switch to on it is only in standby mode and no power is going to your immersion heater element. It is only when the green and red LED’s are lit that power is being supplied to the immersion heater.

Manual operation of Kodi Control unit

So to test your system or manually switch the immersion heater on or off we use the green push button switch shown on the left side of the device with a green status indicator in the centre of the device. The green LED is generally only lit when it is sending the RF signal so don’t expect it to be lit when you connect up the device.

The push button switch operates as follows:

One push puts the device into Learner mode.

Second push turns OFF your immersion heater (just red LED lit on immersion heater control unit)

Third push turns ON your immersion heater (red and green LED’s lit on the immersion heater control unit)

The push button then resets so a fourth push would put it back into Learner mode, then OFF then ON etc.

When you use the green push button switch it isn’t simply a case of pushing the button once, twice or three times in rapid succession though. There are timing intervals set within the firmware and this can be partly illustrated by a screenshot obtained if you are using the Arduino IDE. Use of the Arduino IDE is not essential but it makes things easier when using the Learner feature or if you require a firmware upgrade. The Arduino IDE is available for most devices including the Raspberry Pi but you would need two SD cards for use with a Raspberry Pi (one SD with the Arduino IDE and one SD card with our Kodi Control image).

Learner then OFF then ON twice

If you click the Arduino IDE screenshot above it shows you what the firmware is doing each time you press the green button. It starts by telling you which version of Kodi Control firmware you are using. The latest version is 2.0. Each press of the button gives TWO counts in the firmware so after the first press it is in Learner mode and waiting for you to press a button on your RF remote control. The screenshot actually shows the code for a random background RF signal. The green LED on the Kodi Control device will flash once after a few seconds to indicate it is waiting for an RF signal and then with the Arduino IDE print the signal to the screen (more details on the Learner feature to follow). You should wait about 10 seconds between each button press to ensure the firmware has processed the code from the previous button press. With the second and third button press you will see the green LED flash rapidly followed by 5 intermittent flashes of the LED. The rapid flashing is the RF signal being sent to the immersion heater control unit and you should hear the faint click of the relay switching on or off (plus the visual confirmation with the red and green LED’s on the immersion heater control unit). The 5 intermittent flashes is the signal being relayed 5 times for users with big properties that are using our relaying units.

Even without the Arduino IDE you will soon learn how the manual operation works and if you press the button before each 10 second cycle has finished nothing will happen. Once you have manually tested the equipment with a 13A plug you can remove the plug and wire it up to control your actual immersion heater. You can also move on now to configure Kodi Control in automatic mode on your Kodi Media player as detailed here.

If you have any questions or recommendations for improvements please post them in the comment box below.

 

Set up one click energy saving RF timer control of your immersion heater

You might want to watch the video below in full screen to ensure you can see the details required to set up Kodi Control with your Raspberry Pi. The procedure is virtually the same for all devices with a few extra steps for Android devices (details available on request).

One click timer control for you immersion heater and other 433 MHz RF controlled devices with Kodi Control. Works with Raspberry Pi, Android, Desktop and Laptop devices.
Save energy with this neat home automation device. Once you have copied our Raspberry Pi image to your SD card you will need to configure the Keymap Editor to suit your TV remote control.

Select the Keymap Editor Addon and then use the following sequence:

Edit
Global
Add-ons
Launch Kodi Control –
Edit Key
Then press your nominated key on the remote control.
Click the close window X or back button 3 times until you reach the Save option.

If you are using a webcam for visual confirmation that your RF controlled device was turned ON or OFF you will need to check the literature that came with your camera (or Google) for the format of the Url (and associated Username and Password if applicable) to obtain a still image (not video stream) from the camera. If you get stuck please send us the make and model of your camera and we will see if we can provide the details but as we only have a small selection of cameras ourselves we will be working in the dark to some extent.

The same applies when using the learner feature of Kodi Control. If we don’t have your particular RF controlled device we can try to crack the RF signal for you but it will require feedback from you as users.

If you have any questions at all about setting up your Kodi Control unit please post a comment in the box below.

26th August 2015 Update

Depending on the time of year and the climate in your country you might want to schedule your RF activated device e.g. immersion heater, to switch on and off at regular times every hour, every day or every week in your absence. This is accomplished with a regular Kodi AddOn called The Scheduler. Our standard image for the Raspberry Pi already includes this AddOn but further details are available here if you need to install it on your system.

To configure The Scheduler select the main SYSTEM menu, then select Add-ons then My Add-ons and finally Services. You can set up 10 ON / OFF schedules so 5 transitions from ON to OFF (or vice-versa) in total. Scroll across to Custom Builtin Scripting (1-5) and 6-10 if more transitions are required. The command to enter in the Built-in script box is RunScript(script.kodicontrol) and you need to set two scripts for each transition e,g. one for ON and one for OFF. In the Kodi Control configuration screen ensure that your device is set in Toggle Mode (next RF signal will send opposite signal to the last, so ON becomes OFF and vice-versa) and Active . We would also recommend setting the duration in Kodi Control to the maximum of 1440 minutes (24 hours) when you are using The Scheduler Add-On to ensure it takes priority over the same day Kodi Control automated ON / OFF scheduling.

Please be aware though that if your system fails then your RF device could be left on (or OFF) accidentally. This is one reason that right from day one we set up the visual notification system within Kodi Control i.e. the webcam feature. We accept no responsibility for problems incurred due to devices not activating in your absence and recommend that you test them thoroughly before setting up such a system. There are additional steps that can be taken to reduce the risks such as the use of a UPS if you are running a mission critical service.

Kodi Control Home Automation Now Available – Questions And Suggestions

Just a quick post to show the Kodi Control kit, as detailed on the home page. Please feel free to add any suggestions for improvements to Kodi Control or ask any questions you may have by clicking the reply link above or in the comments box at the bottom of the page if you are viewing this single blog post.

Kodi Control Kits now availableClick each question to see what we have been asked so far:


1. What is the operating voltage of the boiler switch and the frequency of the RF transmitter?

The boiler switch operates at 240V but any voltage below should be fine. The RF transmitter operates at 433.92 Mhz, please ensure this is a legal operating frequency in your country. In Europe, Africa, most of the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and Mongolia the 433.92 Mhz frequency is license free.


2. Do we have to build the kit when we receive it?

No the kits are built and tested by us prior to despatch. The Kodi Control interface unit contains readily available parts that can be switched by the end user to allow for future enhancements etc. For example once the user has decoded the RF signals for their devices, in addition to the preset configuration for the boiler switch, Status sockets and bespoke relay they could remove the RF receiver (not transmitter) and replace with say an infrared or thermostatic module.


3. Will I need to be able to use a soldering iron to remove the RF receiver or to add new modules?

No the kits are designed for ‘push fit’ modules. Simply pull out the old module and push in the new module.


4. Is the system truly cross platform?

As per the recent video we uploaded it shows the system working on Windows 8.1, Ubuntu 14.04LTS, Raspberry Pi, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and a Net2Play C2000 Smart TV Box android devices. We don’t currently have access to any Apple devices but we will check compatibility for these devices in due course.


5. Which host do we recommend for Kodi Control?

We understand that our buyers have various systems and they all serve a purpose but our recommended host is the Raspberry Pi. We recommend the Raspberry Pi as it has up to 4 USB ports, has root access without invalidating the warranty, an excellent support network, very reasonably priced and The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a charitable organisation helping youngsters to learn Computer Programming. 


6. Will it work without a host system?

Yes, but obviously it is not as effective as it requires human intervention to switch the home appliance on and off. We have battery operated systems that require no host device and in time we should be able to improve the functionality so that human intervention just involves pressing a button for the ON signal with the system then taking over and sending the OFF system at a predetermined time.


7. Do Android devices require root access?

Currently yes and the process is quite involved but we hope to make this simpler and it might be possible at a future date to operate without root access.


8. Will the system work without a camera for visual confirmation that the RF signal has been processed?

Yes the system is designed to work with or without a camera but these days USB cameras are available for just £5 so it makes sense to have the visual confirmation for most users. As users become more confident in using the system the need for a camera does diminish though.


9. How do I enable the USB host API if it isn't already enabled on my Android device?

Add the Terminal Emulator for Android to your device from Google Play. You then need to ensure your filesystem is changed from read only to read and write access by typing the following commands into the terminal emulator.

su

mount -o rw,remount /system

Then create android.hardware.usb.host.xml with:

cd /system/etc/permissions

touch android.hardware.usb.host.xml

sudo vi android.hardware.usb.host.xml

Type or paste the following into the file and then ctrl X and Y to save it.

<permissions>
<feature name=”android.hardware.usb.host”/>
</permissions>

In the same directory you should already have handheld_core_hardware.xml or tablet_core_hardware.xml which needs to include the following additional line in the <permissions> section.

<feature name=”android.hardware.usb.host” />

Finally reset the filesystem back to read only with the command below and reboot your device.

mount -o ro,remount /system


10. How much does it cost to send the units to us?

The prices for postage and packing are very reasonable, see below:

Europe £5.

Rest of the World £7


11. What range can we expect with the Kodi Control device?

It varies for each property and depends where it is located, other RF devices in the vicinity and the type and construction of the property. From our testing, for properties with concrete floors between ground and first floor and steel reinforcing bars in the walls the range is at least 20 meters (considerably further in the open air if your RF devices operate outdoors). With wooden floors and without steel reinforcing bars the range is a little further. Our experience is that the unit is fine for apartments and medium sized houses. We do have range extenders available if you have a bigger property that is not covered by the normal operating range of Kodi Control.


12. Do I need any special cables for my Android device?

Yes you will need an OTG (on the go) cable and an FTDI cable. We do not provide OTG cables as they are different for each Android device and you may already have one from the Android device supplier. The FTDI cables we recommend, and supply for a nominal sum, have the Prolific PL2303HX chip and have been tested by us on our Android systems.


13. How can the range be improved?

We supply the Kodi Control units with the transmitter’s aerial curled as shown in the photo at the top of the page. In our opinion they look better with the aerial curled and make it easier to ship the units to you but if you remove the curls the range will be extended. You may want to fit your own aerial too. Another way to improve the range is to increase the voltage supply to the transmitter. With the USB connection the transmitters operate at 5V but they are rated up to 12V so a significant increase in range is possible. Please ask for details if you wish to feed the transmitters with 12V and ensure you use a common ground.


14. Do the range extenders need to be connected to a host device?

No the range extenders, for users with large properties, are autonomous units and operate without a host device. They simply need a power supply and can operate on batteries if that suits your application better. The extenders receive the signal from the main host connected Kodi Control unit and relay it on to the RF device being controlled.


15. What other features do the range extenders have that the main Kodi Control units don't have?

We have recently added basic thermostatic control to the autonomous range extenders. At present this means your RF devices can be automatically turned on and off at your chosen temperature settings. Further development in this area is ongoing.


16. Do the main Kodi Control units offer thermostatic control like the range extenders?

Not at the moment as the space inside the case of the Kodi Control units is quite limited but we may consider adding this feature with a future redesign of the unit. Do remember that our ‘push fit’ component layout gives our users the maximum flexibility when it comes to future enhancements of Kodi Control. The expectation is that we would simply mail out the additional ‘push fit’ modules and provide an online firmware update for the units.


17. Are the Kodi Control units and range extenders available without the boiler controller?

The system we offer was designed, coded and tested as a complete package and we feel it offers excellent value for money for our customers but yes we do sell the constituents parts to individuals that perhaps already have the RF operated boiler controllers or wish to use the parts within their own design.


18. Does the RF controlled switch fit a standard wall socket enclosure?

Yes the switch fits a standard 90mm x 90mm x 40mm wall enclosure as shown in the photo below. If you are modifying an existing installation you shouldn’t need a new enclosure but we can provide one free of charge if you need one. The postage and packing will be a little extra though as the enclosure takes the overall weight into the next pricing scale with Cyprus Post.


Kodi Control Switch Enclosure

Please complete the short form below if you would like us to email you more details or have any questions regarding Kodi Control.

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EZ(as)PiTV Reviews the new Gotham Openelec Media Player for Raspberry Pi

The video below is a short illustration from the EZ(as)PiTV guys of the Gotham XBMC update, running the latest Openelec software on a Raspberry Pi device. Very impressive software release but there are a few minor bugs to sort out so you might want to wait a few more weeks before upgrading your media player. On some machines the Raspberry Pi will crash on a regular basis if you have specific hardware peripherals connected. The software coders are providing regular bug fixes so it shouldn’t be long before this release is as stable as the earlier Openelec XBMC offerings.

Please ignore the poor quality of the recording. We were running short of time and struggling with reflection on the screen. We have a much clearer video for you to follow in the coming days. We look forwarding to receiving your feedback on the latest upgrade to the Openelec media player running Gotham on your Raspberry Pi.

Until next time.

EZ(as)PiTV

 

Free TV Blog

The developers at Mashup have been providing the very best TV channels and movies for several years. With their latest software release they have taken a big step ahead of all the other providers. The system is very slick and simple enough for even the biggest technophobes.

The video footage above was recorded during a 3G session and as you will see it didn’t suffer from the buffering that many fixed line broadband connections have. With an optimised system you can now watch the latest blockbuster movies and almost all TV channels wherever you are in the world. Please complete the short form down the right side of this page if you would like to find out how it all works.

 

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