Greg MacLellan

May 10, 2013

Garage Door indicator/sensor via Insteon

Filed under: Home Automation,Renovations — groogs @ 9:56 pm

I’ve started putting a bunch of Insteon stuff around my house, and one of the things I did is link the garage door to a KeypadLinc.

I found a way to set it up using a single button, which I’m posting here mostly for myself in case I ever need to do it again, but maybe it will help something else. A side note: there are many easy-to-find ways to do this with multiple buttons, and I’m sure someone else has figured out my single button way before me and posted on page 46 of some obscure forum thread, but I hate reading those threads (and generally don’t) and you probably do too.

The biggest challenge to making this work is that the KeypadLinc will always toggle its internal state when you press the button: if it’s sending an ‘on’ or ‘off’ command, it will leave the button light on or off afterwards, which means it MAY not reflect the actual state of the door. I have the keypad light on if the door is open, and the sensor only activates when the door is 100% closed. The “trick” I’m using is simple: the door takes time to close, so even though pressing the button toggles the button light to be on, when the door closes later it turns off. The keypad button always sends ‘on’.

The way it works is this:

  • If the door is closed (keypad light off), pressing the button sends an ‘on’ command and the keypad internally turns the light on. The door starts moving, and the light would come on anyway. End result is the light is now on indicating the door is open.
  • If the door is open (keypad light on): pressing the button sends an ‘on’ command, and the keypad light stays on. The door starts moving, and since it takes a few seconds to close, when it finally closes the IO Linc sends an off command and the keypad light goes out.
  • If the door is opened by non-Insteon (eg, the wireless remote or button in the garage), when it opens the IO Linc sends an on command and the keypad light turns on.
  • If the door is closed by non-Insteon, when it closes the contact closes, the IO Linc sends an off command and the keypad light goes out.

You will need

  • An Insteon IO Linc
  • An Insteon KeypadLinc (6 or 8 button doesn’t matter)
  • A normally-open magnetic door/window contact (typical of any security system)

To set it up:

Install the I/O Linc and Sensor

  • Wire the magnetic contact to the Gnd and Sense inputs of the IO Linc.
  • Wire the N/O and Com outputs of the IO Linc to the button contacts on the garage door opener. You probably already have a button in the garage – this should just be wired in parallel like another button.

When closed, the green Sensor light should be on, and when open it should turn off. Make sure you test the door a few times — the next day I found I had to move the sensor about 1/4″ closer to make it reliably detect “closed”.

Set the I/O Linc output mode to Momentary Mode A:

This is from the manual:

  • Press and hold the set button until it beeps.
  • Repeat this twice more for a total of 3 times.

Now test the door by pressing the set button – it should turn the I/O linc output on for a couple seconds and the door should start moving. Note you need to wait about two seconds between presses for it to see it.

Link the I/O Linc to the KeypadLinc button

  1. Open the door (because we want “On” to be “Open”)
  2. Press and hold the Set button on IO Linc for 3 seconds
  3. Press the KeypadLinc button you want to use once, and then press and hold the set button for 3 seconds

That’s it – the Keypad button should turn on when the door opens, and off when it closes.

Link the KeypadLinc button to the I/O Linc

  1. Press the keypad button, and then press and hold set for 3 seconds
  2. Press and hold the set button on I/O linc for 3 seconds

Set the KeypadLinc button to “Always on” mode:

  1. Press and hold set for 3 seconds, it will beep. Do this 2 more times. This will set it to ‘always off’ mode.
  2. Do the exact same thing as step 1 (3 more presses), but this time it will be set to ‘always on’ mode.

That’s it. The button should now be able to control the door, and the light should indicate the door’s status. I actually have two keypads linked in this way (one by the front door, one in the kitchen) and it’s convenient to see the garage door status. I’ve had this up and going for close to 6 months now and haven’t had any issues.

May 6, 2013

Garage Reno – Part 1

Filed under: Renovations — groogs @ 1:22 am

With the warm weather, I finally started a multi-faceted project that required tearing apart the garage ceiling. My original plan was to get network/cable wiring into the remaining two bedrooms, and install a central vacuum system. Late last year when I opened an exploratory hole in the garage ceiling drywall, I found the ceiling is built down about 18″ and insulated with batt insulation, so I decided I’d also improve the insulation and raise it up.

For what it’s worth, over the winter time I didn’t notice the room above the garage being noticably colder than the rest of the house, but I think that is probably because of what I found this weekend when I started tearing the ceiling open:

They installed a heating vent and an “air return” into this space. That of course means I’m directly heating this space under the floor, which likely helps to make the floor feel warm, but also wastes a lot of energy. This is a pretty common thing builders do for rooms above garages, but it is really not the best way to insulate.

What I want to do is remove the false ceiling, spray foam the floor above, and then reinstall the drywall on the joists so I can build some shelves into the garage ceiling. By spray foaming, I get a very high insulation value, but also get a vapour seal (note: there’s no vapour barrier on the ceiling now, although there is on the walls), and an air seal: this is important as if there’s a car running in the garage, I don’t really want the fumes to be sucked in and circulated around my house.

Although in this case, someone did take the time to caulk all the edges of the existing drywall, it still isn’t really a reliable seal. In fact there were numerous hockey puck-sized impact spots in the wall (some of which had broken through the drywall) from the previous occupants, and although the insulation would have slowed it down this was still a way for exhaust fumes to get circulated into the furnace return.

I wasn’t really expecting to find so much HVAC up here — the hole I made earlier was above the garage door and so I couldn’t see anything behind the beam. There’s two heating vents for the room above and an air return (all of which jog below joists) as well as two insulated 6″ ducts for the main floor bathroom and laundry room fans, plus the 5″ heating line for the ceiling space itself. As a result, I decided I will just be raising up the middle section between the two beams, which are about 8′ apart. It’s enough to get some storage.

The space is also connected to the rest of the house — I can see 10′ or so back into the rest of the house, over top of the laundry room, bathroom and hallway. Again, for exhaust fumes and heat reasons this isn’t really ideal, so I’d like to separate the spaces.

Hopefully next weekend I’ll finish the vacuum piping and network cables, but I still have many things to do after this:

  • Install a new subpanel. I only have one breaker space left, and aside from adding another circuit or two in the garage I will eventually be finishing the basement, which will need several new circuits.
  • Figure out a new way to attach the door tracks and opener so I can take down the false ceiling joists they’re attached to
  • Brace all the existing false ceiling joists so I can cut them off at the beam
  • Add blocking between the real joists to separate the rest of the house
  • Install new lighting
  • Get spray foam installed
  • Reinstall drywall
  • Paint

It’s a bit more work than I originally intended, but that is the way these things go.