An update on all those SmartThings
As a group, those of us building SmartThings have worked together for a number of years in an agile fashion. We iterate, tweak, adjust, change, and otherwise break and fix things in rapid succession. Now, we’ve brought that style to the world of hardware, and while we are happy with where we are now, the repercussions of this method in hardware are a bit different than in software. With circuit design, physical testing, firmware development, battery choices, enclosure designs, material selections, and so much more to consider, I am surprised we have come this far, this quickly. Here is a run down of where we are for each Thing (and the hub):
To simplify the FCC certification requirements, speed development, and meet deadlines we made the decision early in our Kickstarter campaign to remove the cellular and Bluetooth radios. This allowed us to do two great things: add a Z-Wave radio to accomodate those devices people may buy “off-the-shelf” and change the power requirement so that we need only a Micro USB power cable that will make it much easier for our international backers and customers to use in their countries.
We’ve replaced the ZigBee radio with a chip that uses our custom ThingModule firmware. It also includes a ZigBee radio. With each of the ZigBee and Z-Wave radios we’ve improved the antennas and we boosted the power of the ZigBee radio so that signal strength won’t be a problem across the average home.
We’ve changed the battery clips for the motion sensor after finding that it was sometimes easy to knock one or both of the AA batteries loose. We’ve also added a USB power option in the event that some want to conserve batteries and just leave the sensor plugged into the wall or a computer. We’ve designed the enclosure in a way that allows for it to stand in multiple orientations or be mounted in the corner of a wall or ceiling. Though you maybe cannot tell from the photo of the 3D print above, we’re still not quite happy about the size (too big) and have revised the design and are printing the first copy of the new design at the office today.
More power tweaks: In an effort to make sure we hit our goal of measuring battery life by year between replacements, we altered the contact sensor to use 2 AAAA’s (yes that is 4 A’s) instead of the coin cell batteries we were using. We’ve also replaced the magnet we were using but that decision and the enclosure design are still in flux.
Last but not least, here is a run down of the changes we made to the multi-sensor SmartTag: After breaking several battery holders we changed it out for a sturdier way to hold the coin cell battery in place. We also decided that it was worth the delay and changes to the enclosure for the SmartTag to add a speaker. This will add some functionality to perhaps find your keys with a beeping sound. We’re sure there will be a lot more uses for the speaker, and we’re excited to see how it ends up being used in SmartApps.
The SmartTag hardware, in full enclosure, was submitted for comprehensive FCC certification testing. The battery of tests is impressive! Covering duty cycle, bandwidth measurements, radiated measurements for the integrated antenna and peak power output, and spurious emissions within the frequencies we use. It has passed all of its tests and is compliant with all applicable FCC guidelines and regulations. The FCC filing itself is now underway. The team is excited and proud of this milestone.
As you can see we’ve been making changes but we are finally seeing the results of those efforts and we’re excited to share them with you. We’ve got more in store very soon, too. Look for an update for details of a new web-based IDE that you can use to create virtual and real SmartApps.