Reg man builds smart home rig, gains SUPREME CONTROL of DOMAIN – Pics

LightwaveRF and Arduino: Bright ideas for dim DIYers


Feature Reg reader Ben Lamb was so impressed with how his recent Lightwave RF installation turned out, he put pinkie to keyboard to share his experiences with us. In his own words, here's how he got on.

Until recently, home automation solutions were a kludge. Unless you were starting from scratch you'd have to place devices in-line with existing light switches, resulting in a battle between the home automation configuration and the light switch. In short, it was an exercise in frustration.

These days the workarounds are more sophisticated, yet not that difficult to instal. While shopping for a dimmer switch on B&Q's website, I discovered a range of LightwaveRF products from a company called JSJS Designs. The products are drop-in replacements for existing light switches and offer push button dimming. They can also be remotely controlled from simple handsets much like you'd use for a TV.

These remotes do the job but, as I'll explain later, I also tried my hand at putting together my own iOS app that linked to a radio transmitter connected to an Arduino Micro board. A much cheaper and far more satisfying option than paying over the odds for the separate JSJS Wi-Fi Link box.

LightwaveRF socket and dimmer

LightwaveRF socket and dimmer: practical choices in a growing range of home automation components

Other options for remote controlled lights include Insteon, KNX/EIB, X10 – popularised in Europe by Marmitek, Zigbee and Z-Wave. I chose LightwaveRF for simplicity, you only need to replace the lightswitch to get the remote control functionality, and it looks stylish compared to some of the alternatives. The deciding factor was it was half the price at the time.

However, since I bought mine, the manufacturer, JSJS Designs has announced a partnership with Megaman UK that makes low-energy lightbulbs. The products have been slightly modified to work better with Megaman’s bulbs and should be back in stock in April. Sadly they appear to have increased the prices so the dimmer switch is now about £30.

Many websites such as Vesternet and UK Automation, sell a wide range of the different technologies available, so you can compare the choices.

Lightwave RF socket and dimmer

Fixing is straightforward but you should check the depth of the Lightwave dimmers before installation

Let's get back to basics first though. The lighting units start at £25 £30 for the single switch variant. Two-, three- and four-switch options are also available. They look elegant, comprising two buttons with two separate LEDs between them. A blue LED indicates the light is on and amber that it's off. The LEDs are not so bright as to be distracting in a dark bedroom but are incredibly useful for locating the light switch.

Available with a choice of five different metal faceplates: stainless steel, chrome, black chrome, brass and white. These clip over the plastic dimmer unit cunningly hiding the screws in the process. Electrically, the installation is trivial: turn off the power and screw in the two wires that went into your old light switch. The catch is that dimmer switches are, in general, deeper than normal light switches.

The thick of it

If you're replacing an existing dimmer this might not be a problem, as they can be put into a 25mm deep wallbox. However, 35mm provides more space for the wires and if you don't have one you might need to drill out bits of your wall to fit a replacement. I live in a solidly built Victorian house; newer constructions might make this process easier.

LightwaveRF dimmer

A variety of different face plate styles are available

Operation is simple, tap the top button and the light turns on, gently fading up to its previous level. Tap the bottom button and the light fades off. Once the light is on holding either button raises or lowers the level of the light.

So far so good. I have a light switch that is as convenient to use as any other light switch. The magic happens when you start adding remotes.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Experts: AI should be recognized as inventors in patent law
    Plus: Police release deepfake of murdered teen in cold case, and more

    In-brief Governments around the world should pass intellectual property laws that grant rights to AI systems, two academics at the University of New South Wales in Australia argued.

    Alexandra George, and Toby Walsh, professors of law and AI, respectively, believe failing to recognize machines as inventors could have long-lasting impacts on economies and societies. 

    "If courts and governments decide that AI-made inventions cannot be patented, the implications could be huge," they wrote in a comment article published in Nature. "Funders and businesses would be less incentivized to pursue useful research using AI inventors when a return on their investment could be limited. Society could miss out on the development of worthwhile and life-saving inventions."

    Continue reading
  • Declassified and released: More secret files on US govt's emergency doomsday powers
    Nuke incoming? Quick break out the plans for rationing, censorship, property seizures, and more

    More papers describing the orders and messages the US President can issue in the event of apocalyptic crises, such as a devastating nuclear attack, have been declassified and released for all to see.

    These government files are part of a larger collection of records that discuss the nature, reach, and use of secret Presidential Emergency Action Documents: these are executive orders, announcements, and statements to Congress that are all ready to sign and send out as soon as a doomsday scenario occurs. PEADs are supposed to give America's commander-in-chief immediate extraordinary powers to overcome extraordinary events.

    PEADs have never been declassified or revealed before. They remain hush-hush, and their exact details are not publicly known.

    Continue reading
  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022