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post #1 of 75 Old 05-25-2007, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Has anyone tied Hunter Douglas PowerRise shades into a control system? I have 9 windows that I need to control. Generally, the system works fine, except that I haven't been able to get my control system to reliably learn the IR codes and repeat them so that the motor responded. Even if I did, I would be worried about reliability.

So... has anyone retrofitted these to use them with a wired control system? I'm about ready to just purchase new motorized headrails, but these are outrageously expensive. Before I do that, I was hoping someone might have done this before.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 75 Old 05-25-2007, 06:34 PM
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Dave:

I use both the Hunter Douglas PowerRise shades and the motorized EasyRise shades with my Ocelot.

With the PowerRise, I use an emitter over the eye. Reliability is not 100%. The IR code is a bit strange and seems difficult for the controllers to deal with. The shade has to go to sleep to conserve battery power, then awaken when it gets an IR signal. I believe this is part of the problem.

I don't believe you will be successful in finding a way to hard wire the shade. If you do, share it with us, please. I have asked them to include switch contacts on the PowerRise, but I don't know if it can or will be done.

I control the motorized EasyRise shades with relays, part of the Ocelot system. I use two relays per shade, one for each pole. Works perfect, never fails. The HunterDouglas IR system for EasyRise is worse than the PowerRise in reliability, so stay away from it.

If you can live with what you've got for a while, I know for a fact that Hunter is very serious about getting into motorization in a big way. In preparation they have purchased an existing remote control manufacturer (ESI). Excactly what's coming, or when, I don't know. Hopefully in 2008.

I wish there were a better answer. I had the privilege of having HunterDouglas fly me to their headquarters a year or so ago to discuss what I thought they should do with motorization. They had all of the top design people there, along with the President of the Division. They listened carefully. I think we will see good things in the future, but don't hold your breath on timing. They recognize the motorized remote control shade is the thing of the future, and a big thing for home theaters. They also recognize that home automation controllers expect 100% reliability and I believe that will be one of their main objectives. They also want to hit an acceptable price point so it can appeal to a broader market.
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post #3 of 75 Old 05-26-2007, 06:57 AM
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Dave:

To follow up on my previous post, this link to an ESI page may be of interest to you. It contains information on a new ESI product to interface PowerRise shades with home automation controllers.

http://elec-solutions.com/docs/motor...p/rp60hdp.html

I don't know anything about it other than what is on the web site.

I will be trying to find out as much as I can in the next few days.

Remember, ESI is now owned by HunterDouglas. ESI is physically located near HunterDouglas in Broomfield, Colorado.
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post #4 of 75 Old 05-26-2007, 05:16 PM - Thread Starter
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It looks like we have a lot in common... the Ocelot was what I had planned on using to control my shades as well, only I was never able to get it to reliably record and playback the IR codes. After much deliberation with ADI, it was determined that the frequency was incompatible with the system and could never be used reliably. Since then I've had non-automated motorized shades, which isn't all that useful.

Every spring/summer season I wish they were automated because I would open my windows more often if it was easier to raise and lower the blinds in such a way that they were level. I wish I had known at the time that this would be such a challenge and I would have gone with EasyRise in the first place. I've tried to find someone to retrofit what I have or sell me the parts to do it, and the cheapest I was able to find is $9000 for 13 shades. No thanks!

None-the-less, I'm back here again and determined to find a solution.

I'm not familiar with ESI, but the information on their website looks promising. It doesn't give enough information about how their module integrates with the PowerRise headrail for me to understand how the whole solution works. There are no easily-accessible connectors on the headrail that it would interface to directly.

Which brings me to a point that you may be interested in...

I HAVE been able to interface the PowerRise blinds 100% reliably with a hardwired control system, with one caveat... the system needs to remember whether the shades' last movement was up or down.

If you look at the attached picture, you can interface a dry contact inline with the button that is on the headrail IR receiver. The only problem is that, like the button, it alternates movement direction. I haven't tried yet, but it should be possible turn the shade around when necessary if the Ocelot can be programmed to remember the state of the last movement.

Let me know what you think.
- Dave
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post #5 of 75 Old 05-26-2007, 05:38 PM
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I guess we are using the same systems. By the way, I'm controlling my Ocelot with a Pronto. Gotta love the bright IR output. In case you have one, and if you haven't tried it, the Pronto seems to learn the PowerRise codes easily and mine works every time. Trouble is, I don't want to control it with the Pronto.

A side issue, I have my Ocelot programmed to lower the PowerRise shades each morning as the sun hits my east windows, and to raise them as it leaves them. Since there are trees of various sizes shielding the sun, every day has a different lag time following sunrise. Took me a whole year to program them in. I hope nobody cuts a tree down.

Back to the issue at hand. I'll begin to gather detail on the ESI PowerRise stuff next week. I should be able to acquire all of the knowledge we need. I may even purchase the stuff and test it, depending on what's involved. I'm not sure yet how they are distributing the ESI stuff, whether it's through regular Hunter dealers, or if one has to become an ESI dealer.

In case you haven't figured it out, we're a HunterDouglas dealer, the largest one in our state. That, along with a HunterDouglas fabrication center in our city gives me a lot of opportunity to influence this stuff as well as find out where they're going with it. Fortunately, Hunter responded well to my repeated urging to move towards supporting home automation interfacing. I can give input, but I don't get much feedback due to their confidentiality concerns. I learn about what has happened when it hits the market.

I'll get a full report posted here as soon as I know what the ESI stuff amounts to. There are a lot of PowerRise users on the forum who would be anxious to have better control of there shades (starting with me).
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post #6 of 75 Old 05-29-2007, 08:18 AM
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I've learned a little bit more about ESI and it's new relationship with HunterDouglas. Information is not easy to come by, as companies like Hunter don't like to tip their hand in advance of a product move for competitive reasons.

It appears that the EIS PowerRise module is pretty reliable. I believe it will be virtually plug and play. I believe the same module will be capable of IR/RF/RS232, but I'm not sure of that. I am told it's simple, straightforward, and easy to deal with.

I am told it can be retrofitted to existing PowerRise shades.

Hunter has only owned the company a little over a month, and the integration of the controls with HunterDouglas hasn't really taken shape yet. Hunter fabricators don't have anything yet, but it is anticipated that things for HunterDouglas shades will be sold through regular Hunter dealers.

The feeling I get is that the stuff won't be overly expensive, as things of this nature usually run.

Since HunterDouglas hasn't gotten their arms around this yet, the best source of information and product availability is direct from ESI. I am told they are very responsive and "good people."

I am anticipating it will be this fall before I actually have a sample to test.
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post #7 of 75 Old 06-19-2007, 11:15 AM
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They suck. I had four of them and they all broke after about 6 months of use. Very cheaply made. Avoid like the plague.

For every complex problem there is an answer
that is clear, simple, and wrong.


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post #8 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 01:40 AM
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Has anyone used the hunter douglar battery operated remote shades?

80" Vizio LED - (60" Vizio plasma - retired)
Harmony 890 Remote
X10 Commander Iphone App = full control of lights, fireplace, pool, shades, from Iphone
X10 IR543 controller
Hunter Douglas motorized shades

 

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post #9 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 06:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes - that's what this thread is about.
- Dave


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post #10 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 08:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonn B View Post

Has anyone used the hunter douglar battery operated remote shades?

What is it you want to know?
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post #11 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 08:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deane Johnson View Post

What is it you want to know?

Ohh thanks. I wanted to know for those that had them, how do they work? Does the battery do the job ok? Are they are quick as the hardwired ones?

I was thinking about going with the duets. Do you all have the platinum series, or are they all the platinum series now?

80" Vizio LED - (60" Vizio plasma - retired)
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X10 Commander Iphone App = full control of lights, fireplace, pool, shades, from Iphone
X10 IR543 controller
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post #12 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonn B View Post

Ohh thanks. I wanted to know for those that had them, how do they work? Does the battery do the job ok? Are they are quick as the hardwired ones?

I was thinking about going with the duets. Do you all have the platinum series, or are they all the platinum series now?

The battery concept certainly sounds questionable, but it has proven to work quite well. They are rated to last 1 yr if operated up and down once per day. I talked to someone the other day who operates his daily and hadn't changed the batteries for two years.

The IR is touchy to learn in some learning or home automation systems. My Pronto works very well, but my Ocelot has some trouble.

The new Platinum series is RF and apparently works extremely well and is the only way to go except for one thing. Your Ir learning remote can't operate them. You would have to use the HunterDouglas remote supplied. There are going to be additional control options, but I don't know anything about them yet.
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post #13 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 12:21 PM
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Ahh, so you are saying my harmony 890 remote could possibly control them their IR system? But the new platinum series it wouldn't be able to?

I did some reading on the platinum series, and it says thier remote does IR and RF on the same remote.

80" Vizio LED - (60" Vizio plasma - retired)
Harmony 890 Remote
X10 Commander Iphone App = full control of lights, fireplace, pool, shades, from Iphone
X10 IR543 controller
Hunter Douglas motorized shades

 

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post #14 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonn B View Post

Ahh, so you are saying my harmony 890 remote could possibly control them their IR system? But the new platinum series it wouldn't be able to?

I did some reading on the platinum series, and it says thier remote does IR and RF on the same remote.

Jason, I'm glad you raised these questions. I had a bunch of Platinum technology literature here but had never looked at it. I called a friend at the factory to confirm a couple of things. Glad I did. Things are not as they appear.

You cannot operate the new Platinum technology with a learning remote. Here's why. When you send an IR signal to the shade, there is also a brief RF burst from the remote to wake the shade up. The shade goes to to sleep to conserve batteries. If you try to send an IR signal from a learning remote, the RF signal will not be present and it won't wake up. This is an undocumented design feature of the shade.

Using the shades with the HunterDouglas remote has some nice features, but it's only with the Hunter remote. You can use the IR to operate a single shade, they have narrowed the beam to avoid hitting other shades on the same channel (there are two). In addition you can program any shade to respond to any one of 4 RF buttons on the remote which can be used with either of the 2 channels for a total of 8 RF buttons. You can program as many shades as you want to any of those 8 RF channels. In other words, if you want 10 shades in one room to go up all together, program them all to the same RF button.

Interestingly, old PowerRise shades can be retrofitted to the new system. There is a simple DIY kit available, but in doing so, you lock yourself into using only a Hunter remote.

By the way, this was not done to make people buy and use HunterDouglas remotes. It was done for a simple design for the masses to use without any complexities. Those of us on forums such as this with more technical knowlege than average would like more flexibility, but the masses would become confused. PowerRise is a product designed for the masses. It has to have the "sleep" feature to make batteries last a year or more.
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post #15 of 75 Old 10-10-2007, 06:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Since I started this thread, I guess I'll provide an update on my current status...

Like Deane, I tried unsuccessfully to use my Ocelot to automate my blinds (I have 11 total). It just couldn't reliably duplicate the IR signal.

In digging around the headrail a bit, I ended up wiring relays to each blind and automating them. This has proven to work nearly 100% reliably, with the only problem being that since the relays are connected to the button on the headrail, I don't have discrete up and down adjustment like on the original HD remote, I only have a toggle (the shade does the opposite of what it did last time).

I would say that it was more work than I anticipated, but in the end I'm happy with the shades. The only annoyance I have is that as the batteries age, the shades move at different rates. This isn't a problem because only toggle them between the stops, but it looks a little odd as they raise or lower.
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post #16 of 75 Old 11-10-2007, 11:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deane Johnson View Post

Jason, I'm glad you raised these questions. I had a bunch of Platinum technology literature here but had never looked at it. I called a friend at the factory to confirm a couple of things. Glad I did. Things are not as they appear.

You cannot operate the new Platinum technology with a learning remote. Here's why. When you send an IR signal to the shade, there is also a brief RF burst from the remote to wake the shade up. The shade goes to to sleep to conserve batteries. If you try to send an IR signal from a learning remote, the RF signal will not be present and it won't wake up. This is an undocumented design feature of the shade.

Using the shades with the HunterDouglas remote has some nice features, but it's only with the Hunter remote. You can use the IR to operate a single shade, they have narrowed the beam to avoid hitting other shades on the same channel (there are two). In addition you can program any shade to respond to any one of 4 RF buttons on the remote which can be used with either of the 2 channels for a total of 8 RF buttons. You can program as many shades as you want to any of those 8 RF channels. In other words, if you want 10 shades in one room to go up all together, program them all to the same RF button.

Interestingly, old PowerRise shades can be retrofitted to the new system. There is a simple DIY kit available, but in doing so, you lock yourself into using only a Hunter remote.

By the way, this was not done to make people buy and use HunterDouglas remotes. It was done for a simple design for the masses to use without any complexities. Those of us on forums such as this with more technical knowlege than average would like more flexibility, but the masses would become confused. PowerRise is a product designed for the masses. It has to have the "sleep" feature to make batteries last a year or more.

Deane, thanks again for all your help here. I have a few more things to pick your brain with.

I alot of places online have the old IR based blinds, and I can only get the new Platinum ones from a retailer. If I get the IR based ones, and want to put TWO shades on these left/right bottom windows:



Will this work? How will I be able to get both to operate at the same time, since I won't be able to point the remote at both shades??? Would I have to get Platinum in this situation???

80" Vizio LED - (60" Vizio plasma - retired)
Harmony 890 Remote
X10 Commander Iphone App = full control of lights, fireplace, pool, shades, from Iphone
X10 IR543 controller
Hunter Douglas motorized shades

 

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post #17 of 75 Old 11-10-2007, 09:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Will this work? How will I be able to get both to operate at the same time, since I won't be able to point the remote at both shades??? Would I have to get Platinum in this situation???

If you want to use the factory remote control and run both shade at the same time, you need to get the remote eye option when you are ordering them. You can probably get away with getting it for just one shade and putting the eye close to the other shade, or you could get it on both and locate the eyes somewhere inconspicuous.
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post #18 of 75 Old 11-11-2007, 08:53 AM
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Jasonn, the first thing you have to find acceptable is that the old Hunter IR is temperamental to say the least. It doesn't always respond. With this in mind, you should be able to put both shades on one channel and sort of swing the remote past both from your sitting position. Sounds fine, but in practice you'll find they don't respond well and you have to go back and do things all over.

It's bad enough that I have these older shades with IR emitters over the receiving eyes driven by my Ocelot with a Xantech amplified manifold, and I still only get about 95% response.

I haven't used the new RF/IR shades yet, but from what I have heard they are pretty good at responding. Based on what I know, I would find a way to go with the them so you can push one RF button and have them both respond. Keep in mind you'll always have to use the Hunter Platinum remote, you'll never be able to put it in your home automation system, or your universal remote.

Adding the remote eye gives you some additional placement options, but does not seem to improved the response.
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post #19 of 75 Old 11-12-2007, 08:37 PM
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Ok, so it seems like I should just go with the Platinum series, and use their remote, and forget about controlling any blinds with my harmony 890. It sounds like the Platinum is much better and is easier to control...

80" Vizio LED - (60" Vizio plasma - retired)
Harmony 890 Remote
X10 Commander Iphone App = full control of lights, fireplace, pool, shades, from Iphone
X10 IR543 controller
Hunter Douglas motorized shades

 

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post #20 of 75 Old 11-13-2007, 04:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jasonn B View Post

Ok, so it seems like I should just go with the Platinum series, and use their remote, and forget about controlling any blinds with my harmony 890. It sounds like the Platinum is much better and is easier to control...

I would recommend you purchase them locally through an established dealer rather than finding them on line. You need local back-up in case you have any difficulty. I have seen something as simple as an internal string that needed to have the tension adjusted slightly cause them not to work properly. Trying to get that handled on the internet is impossible.

In general, the PowerRise has been a huge success, and you want them working at their best at all times.
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post #21 of 75 Old 11-16-2007, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
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In digging around the headrail a bit, I ended up wiring relays to each blind and automating them. This has proven to work nearly 100% reliably, with the only problem being that since the relays are connected to the button on the headrail, I don't have discrete up and down adjustment like on the original HD remote, I only have a toggle (the shade does the opposite of what it did last time).

Hi Dave,
Thanks for all the advice - very helpful and timely as I am confronted with a very similar situation... Could you share a few details on how you made your connection? Did you hookup to the 4 pin connector intended for the satellite eye or solder to the switch? If using the sat eye input, what connector fits that socket? I am trying to automate 8 powerrise silhouette blinds and was able to get marginal success by connecting pin 2 and 4 of the 4pin connector (with makeshift connection till I get my hands on proper connector) to my Control 4 relay outputs but the results were a bit flaky. Seems to work great for a while and then there are intermittent false triggers. Very annoying....

Tony
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post #22 of 75 Old 11-17-2007, 11:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Dave,
Thanks for all the advice - very helpful and timely as I am confronted with a very similar situation... Could you share a few details on how you made your connection? Did you hookup to the 4 pin connector intended for the satellite eye or solder to the switch? If using the sat eye input, what connector fits that socket? I am trying to automate 8 powerrise silhouette blinds and was able to get marginal success by connecting pin 2 and 4 of the 4pin connector (with makeshift connection till I get my hands on proper connector) to my Control 4 relay outputs but the results were a bit flaky. Seems to work great for a while and then there are intermittent false triggers. Very annoying....

Tony

When I started I wasn't sure how successful my modifications would be so I wanted to retain all of the original control functionality. In order to accomplish this, I just soldered onto two of the switch contacts on the back of the PCB, in parallel with the existing button. Of course, I don't have discrete up & down control, but this hasn't been a problem. I ran these back to my Ocelot controller and hooked each blind up to a relay output. It has worked perfectly for me (after some fiddling with the timing of the relay closures in the Ocelot). My original intent was to use the IR output of the Ocelot to control everything, which would have given me discrete controls, but I couldn't get it to reliably transmit the IR signal. The hardwired solution has been very reliable.
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post #23 of 75 Old 11-17-2007, 01:32 PM
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Just to mess your mind up, here's an interesting DIY module that gives you all kinds of control over PowerRise. I don't know anything about it or what the distribution channels are. I have been told the folks at this company are very good to talk to.

http://elec-solutions.com/docs/motor...p/rp60hdp.html

You apparently use on of these two things to interface the module to your home automation system.

http://elec-solutions.com/docs/autom...i60/index.html
http://elec-solutions.com/docs/autom...sib/index.html

I have a feeling it's all pretty simple once one figures it out.
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post #24 of 75 Old 11-19-2007, 07:50 AM
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Thanks Dave and Deane,
I will call ESI this afternoon and try and get more information, pricing etc on their interface products.

I thought I might provide an update to my efforts thus far: I had some marginal success when closing contacts on pin2/4 on the satellite eye connector, but intermittent false triggering of the blinds made me wonder if my temporary connection was shorting out and causing the malfunctions. Based on Dave's comments I removed my three trial units and soldered the connections to the manual button. Was seemed like a neat solution as the wiring came cleanly out of the hole intended for antenna. I replaced them in the windows and everything worked great. I had a couple of units that did some weird things like repeating the vane tilt cycle before returning up which would put them out of synch. The batteries were low (10.5V) and I replaced them and that seemed to resolve this. After changing the batteries, I cycled the units multiple times (three blinds in unison) and everything worked perfectly. The blinds were left closed for the evening and remained that way all night (no false movements). The following morning I was demonstrating the operation to the clients and they were duly impressed. Then, sometime in the afternoon, one unit began going off on its own. Sort of like a hunting mode where it would go all the way up/down/tilt and back up in a contimuous loop. The only way to stop it was to disconnect the wires from the motor. Simply removing the wires from the relay outputs did not help. About an hour later the second unit bagan to malfunction, randomly going off every couple of minutes or so. Disconnecting it from the relay out put stopped the misfires. The third unit remains fully functional by remote control and 100% stavle. Very strange.

Regarding the install: The wiring that was in place by previous contractor was 12Ga spkr wire which I have connected to 3 outputs of my Control4 relay axpander. The blinds are installed on south facing windows which get fairly warm in the afternoon sun. The malfunctioning units begin to fail in a left to right mode, where the left most unit has the longest length of cable run. If you guys have any ideas about this bizarre behaviour or had similar experiences and what you did to resolve would be helpful as I feel like I have spent way too much time on something that should be very straightforward, arghhh! PS, needless to say, the clients are less impressed than they were yesterday am...
Thanks,
Tony
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post #25 of 75 Old 11-19-2007, 08:15 AM
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Thanks Dave and Deane,
I will call ESI this afternoon and try and get more information, pricing etc on their interface products.

Tony

I'm pretty certain the interface we're looking at on their site is only for the old Hunter PowerRise. In all likelihood they are developing something for the Platinum series, but that's pure speculation.

Be sure to post back here what you learn after you've talked with them.
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I'm not sure what the cause of your issues are, but I have 11 blinds wired as I mentioned and have never had one move by itself. They've been installed this way for about two years. From your description, it sounds like the problem is light-dependent. I would try covering the IR eyes for a day and see if that makes a difference. I don't see how the soldering mentioned above could cause that sort of random action unless something was accidentally damaged during installation.

Regarding ESI - from the recent EHX show it would appear that they've actually been purchased by HD. I'm not sure what this means for current or future product support and development.
- Dave


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post #27 of 75 Old 11-20-2007, 03:45 AM
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Regarding ESI - from the recent EHX show it would appear that they've actually been purchased by HD. I'm not sure what this means for current or future product support and development.
- Dave

You are correct, they have been purchased by HunterDouglas.

I too am not sure what this means regarding future products, but I'm pretty sure it won't mean less. It is my understanding it will continue to operate as an independent company with the same management team that developed the company. This has been Hunter's operating style in other purchases. I assume there will be more products available that interface with Hunter, but that's only a guess.

They make controls for other shade manufacturers, possibly even BTX.
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post #28 of 75 Old 11-20-2007, 08:44 AM
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From your description, it sounds like the problem is light-dependent. I would try covering the IR eyes for a day and see if that makes a difference. I don't see how the soldering mentioned above could cause that sort of random action unless something was accidentally damaged during installation. - Dave

Hi Dave,
I was not suggesting that the soldering method was the cause of my issues. As I had the same problems when I connected my relay output wires to pins 2/4 on the satelite connection port. Everything would work for a while and then after a while start to become faulty. I only mentioned the orientation of the units regarding sunlight as it was my observation that the faulty condition appeared to occur only during mid/late afternoon when the sun was strongest so that there seemed to be some correlation there. I wondered about the sun/IR problem and covered the eye with elec tape but did not help (Unit continued to cycle). I also wondered whether the other aspect of the sun's position (heat) was the culprit in some way, altering behaviour of circuitry and wiring (reduced resistivity).

At any rate it IS very bizarre. The units are not damaged as they work perfectly well under all conditions as before using the remote and manual button provided that:
Unit 1 does not have any length of wire attached to the internal switch (it still has the short pigtail wires soldered to the switch, but i needed to cut it from the 12ga speaker wire installed through the walls and down 3 stories to the utility rm where the relay controller is.
Unit 2 is still connected to all wiring but diconnected from the relay output.
Unit 3 is connected to my relay output and can function 100% this way with either automated relay control or manual/IR operation.

Deane,
I contacted ESI yesterday and it looks like the product you had suggested is for my older non-platinum powerrise units, but won't work in my application as it requires a 3-wire connection and I only have 2-wire in place. At any rate, I have to resolve the cause of my issues due to internal wall wiring before I could implement anything further. I would need to do further troubleshooting by swapping out blinds and exchanging connections between relay outputs, wall wiring and blinds to get to the root cause, however this would be very time consumming so I was hoping someone had a whizzy bang answer : )

My current theory is that there may be a partial short in the in-wall wiring (staple through the jacket...) that manifests when sufficient heat allows subtel movement in conductors around the staple..... or, the length of unshielded wiring is picking up some elec noise which does something to the circuitry on the motor board???

Unfortunately I have not been able to talk to anyone at Hunter Douglas that is REALLY technically savvy on the detailed design/operation of powerrise that could understand my conditions and make some probable suggestions.... ie when my unit1 goes into a continuous cycle mode: up/down/tilt/up, this is not a condition that can occur from a continuous closure of the manual button (as in a dead wire short) - it is like some special demo/test mode that can be selected by program/switch setting only...
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At any rate it IS very bizarre. The units are not damaged as they work perfectly well under all conditions as before using the remote and manual button provided that:
Unit 1 does not have any length of wire attached to the internal switch (it still has the short pigtail wires soldered to the switch, but i needed to cut it from the 12ga speaker wire installed through the walls and down 3 stories to the utility rm where the relay controller is.
Unit 2 is still connected to all wiring but diconnected from the relay output.
Unit 3 is connected to my relay output and can function 100% this way with either automated relay control or manual/IR operation.

Can you easily move the relay controller adjacent to the shades and run relatively short wires to the relays? I think that would tell you a lot about whether the wiring is the problem and if the C4 relays are capable of doing what you need reliably. FWIW, my blinds are wired with Cat5 and the longest run is about 200'.
- Dave


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post #30 of 75 Old 11-27-2007, 12:51 PM
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I read these posts, and would like to relay my experience with HD and, in my case, PowerTilt.

I tried to hardwire interface an automation panel to the three HD blinds with PowerTilt. Not wanting to make too much of a project out of it, I wired relays across each of the three "satellite eye" manual buttons. Not ideal, due to the "toggling" thing as pointed out, but workable, and easy (I thought).

It worked.. sort of. The problem was reliability. For some reason, the blinds would not always tilt when the relay closed. I figured it was the relays - 15 amp relays closing on a 50uA, 2.7V signal - the old problem with not switching enough power to clean the contacts. Fine - took out the relays and replaced them with transistors. Guess what - same problem. I was a bit surprised. I even caught the thing red-handed once - transistor was definitely on, but blind was going nowhere.

I haven't had any spontaneous operation - just non-operation, and only sometimes. Usually they work, but every now and then, one of the three blinds is still open, or still closed (they're supposed to operate together).

For the people asking about the batteries, I removed them and wired the blinds straight to 12V panel power. Current draw seems to be low - less than 200 mA per blind when operating. Don't know what happens in a locked rotor situation, if the control board protects against that or not. Otherwise, current could get large (6 amps?). Motors, by the way, appear to be from SEI (Source Engineering Inc., google it for the WEB site - I had it here but this thing won't let me post with a url) and may be the model 40ZYT056-12-38.

Contacted ESI. Very helpful. They had a product that they said did exactly what I needed, however it only worked with the older motors/eyes with the 4 pin connector. The new 6 pin connector is different, and the product no longer works. May have something soon though..

I did find out more about the 6 wire interface though. Apparently there are two signals in there which will open and close the blinds, although I have to experiment to see exactly what that means in terms of tilting blinds. I'm not certain it will be much better than my relay/transistor-across-the-switch solution, since the guts (the motor control board) are still the same and I'm still switching low-level logic signals over 50' of wire.

It is all a bit odd - and without electrical drawings of the HD motor control board, and the firmware (I seem to recall seeing a micro on there - a PIC maybe?) I can only speculate at this point. I am beginning to suspect the control board though. I swear there were occasions when even the manual button didn't respond, but I wasn't paying that much attention as this was before I wired them to the panel. Also, there was one time where one blind made a horrible squealing noise when I pushed the button, and the motor went nowhere. If I had to guess, I'd put my money on a firmware issue.

Ideally, I would remove all their electronics, drive the motor directly from the panel, and deal with the limit sensing somehow or another. I see they did limit sensing with a magnet in the shaft and a hall-effect device. This would take some time to duplicate, and the idea was to avoid making this in to a project...

Kevin
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