Bose Solo
Numerous - lovely and useful tracking of numbers

Revolv and INSTEON Mini Remote

I've been using a bedside iPad to control my Revolv home automation system, but I finally grew frustrated with that and sought out a replacement. (In brief, the in-humane double-tap icons in the Revolv app, coupled with the lack of a proper iPad version, pushed me over the edge.)

If you've read Smart Home Hacks then you know the solution I wanted was a tabletop controller. While I have Z-Wave controllers on hand, Revolv doesn't support those so I turned to INSTEON mini-remotes instead. I decided on the Mini-Remote Switch model, because for now, one state (asleep/awake) is all I need.

I've been struggling with the mini-remote and Revolv for about a day now. It worked fantastically the first time I tried it, then the next several times I tried it (including last night, when I really wanted it to work) the hub wouldn't respond to it. I'd press a button and nothing at all would happen. The lack of a debugging interface for the Revolv doesn't help here, but I decided that maybe my bedroom was out of range. So I swapped out a nearby Z-Wave lamp module for a dual-band INSTEON model. Still no luck.

I stumbled upon the answer completely by accident. The mini-remote is a lot more complicated sophisticated than it looks. Although there are only 2 buttons, each one can be pressed in a variety of ways, but only one way is recognized by Revolv. Sounds crazy, but a quick tap, long press, and double-tap are all different things to this switch. I was accidentally long pressing when I should have been quick-tapping. Problem solved.

Ironically, it was the finicky double-tap behavior of the Revolv app that drove me to the mini-remote, and now I have a finicky quick-tap to teach my family instead. ("You're pressing it wrong!" And people wonder why home automation is so slow to catch on?!)

A word about the mini-remote: Aside from the surprising feature set, I'm not impressed by the build quality. The switch is light, feels flimsy, and makes a disconcerting cracking sound when you use it. The battery situation is also interesting--you have to recharge the non-replaceable batteries using a USB connection. I hope each charge lasts a very long time as that seems like an unnecessary complication.


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