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Dimmer Switch (Red Series) | Project Lights Out

NOTE: This thread is closed for now since the product is in production. We will continue to discuss hardware/software improvements, ideas and other wish lists around improving this product in the thread located here: Dimmer Switch (Red Series) | Project Lights Out (v2.0)

Introduction
As mentioned in the 2019 Product Roadmap topic, this thread serves multiple purposes.

  1. Allows us to keep you updated on the project status (either good or bad)
  2. Allows you to participate and help us develop amazing products with you
  3. Enjoy each other’s company and have fun talking home automation

How this initial post will be laid out is in five sections:

  1. Project Overview
  2. Initial Hardware & Software Requirements (edited to remain up-to-date)
  3. Timeline (edited to remain up-to-date)
  4. Pinned Ideas & Shout-outs (edited to remain up-to-date)
  5. Weekly Recap

Housekeeping

  • DATES & FUNCTIONS ARE NOT SET IN STONE: Just a reminder that all dates and functions are sometimes fluid. We have to make choices based on feasibility, opportunity costs, and overall timeline. I will be as transparent as possible on these decisions, but just a heads up, they may not always be exciting.
  • NO IDEA IS A BAD IDEA: Ok, some are, but honestly throw out anything that you can think of. If we use your idea, we’ll credit you and send you a free device, so take that shot!
  • VERSION 1 VS VERSION 2: Some ideas may be fantastic, but may not make the cut for the first version of the product. Once the product is locked in from a function standpoint, we’ll keep a tally of V2 ideas and then once the product is produced, we’ll move the ideas over to the Suggestions & Wishlist section.

Ok, let’s get this party started!


Project Overview
The purpose of this project is really improve the quality of switches that are being offered in the market. For too long there’s been a bunch of, “me too” switches. Almost all switches in the Z-Wave space are created by the same manufacturers and look identical. Really the only difference is the firmware and even that is pretty basic compared to what it could do.

So we’re setting out to create the Next Generation of smart switches. A switch that not only looks visually appealing, but one that can control your entire house at the click of a button. Or one that can visually notify you if your garage door is left open past 10pm. Or how about one that you can adjust without needing a HUB? Did I mention it should monitor energy as well? Finally, this switch should have all the configuration options available from a hardware (3-Way wiring to an aux or dumb switch) and software standpoint (smart bulb compatible, ability to control the dim ramp rate, control the amount of dimness based on the time of day, etc).

This is a huge project, but we’re excited about it and finally we’ll be able to create something from scratch that is truly community built as most of the features we’re requesting are driven from you!

Project Name - Lights Out

"Lights Out" refers to us creating something that will truly turn the lights out (pun intended of course) on other smart switches. It's as simple as that.

Lights Out - Hardware Requirements
Here are the initial hardware asks we came up with. Pretty decent start!

Hardware - Initial Mockup

Hardware - Dimmer Switch (Look / Feel)

  • Responsive Paddle: rests in a neutral state (tap up = on // tap down = off & hold up = dim up // hold down = dim down)
  • Config / Favorite Button: button should be used for configuration of the switch as well as scene control.
    • Should be able to be held (for config)
    • Should be able to be tapped (for scene control)
  • RGB LED Bar: should measure the % of how much the switch is dimmed
    • LED’s should be RGB
    • LED’s should also be able to be dimmed
  • Colors: dimmer switch will be offered in white, but the paddle should be able to be replaced to change colors (almond, brown, red, black, grey, etc)
  • Slim Design: depth of switch should be as slim as possible so that it can fit into metal boxes.
  • Air Gap: UL requirement

Hardware - Features & Capabilities

  • Z-Wave Plus: use the best Z-Wave module on the market
  • 3-Way / 4-Way Ready: should work in multiple different settings in a 3 & 4 Way setting
    • Should work with an auxiliary switch
    • Should work with an existing dumb switch
    • Should work with another smart switch
  • Power Monitoring: switch should measure the power consumption
  • Z-Wave Distance Estimator: should be able to estimate the signal strength of the Z-Wave signal and notify via the LED bar (see Appendix - Section C)
  • Instant On: when tapped 1x (and scenes aren’t used), switch should turn the bulb on instantly (no delay)
  • CFL & LED Compatibility: minimum buzz and flickering
  • 600W: increase the wattage to 600 to be competitive
  • Non-Neutral: switch should work without a neutral wire
    • 03/16/19 - Neutral & Non-Neutral Compatibility: switch should be able to work with a neutral wire or without a neutral wire. The more we found out about the limitations with the neutral wire being removed, we wanted the ability for people to use the neutral wire if they have one.

Lights Out - Software Requirements
Below is what we came up with for the software requirements. Welcome to the next level!

  • Z-Wave Scene Control: 11 scenes (Z-Wave Central Scene Command)
    • 10 Scenes via Tapping the Paddle up or down
    • 1 Scenes via Tapping the Config Button
  • Notifications via RGB Bars: RGBW Bars should be able to change colors based on events set up by customer (ie: if window sensor is opened, RGBW bar changes to red)
    • User can choose to sync the bars or have them show separate notifications
  • RGB Bars Config: bar should be able to change colors and also dimmed to the customers favorite level
  • Auto Timer: switch should have a timer that shuts the switch off after a certain amount of time
  • Easy Config: switch should be able to be configured via the config/favorites button.
    • There should be infinite customization via parameters in the firmware, but also set customizations for HUB’s that do not allow parameter changes (ie: Wink)
  • Internal Relay Disable: internal relay should be able to be disabled locally and via Z-Wave
  • Set Min/Max Level: minimum dim level / maximum dim level
  • Ramp Rate Configuration: ability to change how fast/slow light turns on
  • Ramp rate & instant on/off separated
  • Default Dim Level: ability to set the default dim level
  • OTA Ready: ability to update firmware via OTA
  • Associations switch should be able to be associated to other Z-Wave devices

Timeline
Ah, everyone’s favorite part. When is this flippin thing going to be released? Great question – here’s the high-level of what happens leading up to the first release of the timeline:

  1. We present a PRD (Project Request Document) that has all of the above info in it
  2. R&D (manufacturer) analyzes the PRD and we go back and forth until we can align on 90% of the product
  3. Initial Timeline is released and remaining 10% of product features are added/cut along the way

NOTE: I’m cringing at this next paragraph because I am post-writing this project thread for visibility – boy did we not have any idea at the problems we’d face. Much better days when we were naive and expecting this to launch in May!

Again, just want to throw this out there – I don’t have a crystal ball so I can’t predict things that come up along the way. Trust me when I say we’re trying our best to get things launched on time.

Pre-Initial Timeline Milestones:

  • Present PRD: Completed 01/17
  • R&D Analyzation: Completed 03/12
  • Initial Timeline Released: Completed 03/12

Timeline (Estimated)

The initial timeline will be shown below and will be updated weekly (if needed).
  • Design Phase: Completed (estimated completion date is 04/29 05/24 06/06 07/18)
    See Weekly Recap for notes around the delays
    • Structure Design (Rendering, 3D Mockups, and Printed Mockups): Completed (est. completion date is 08/09)
      • 03/08: 3D Mockups (click here for interactive design) – Looking SHARP!!
    • Hardware Design (PCB Design & Testing): Completed (est. completion date is 04/05 05/24 06/06 07/18)
    • RF & Antenna Design: Completed (est. completion date = 03/02)
    • Firmware (For Basic Functions Only): Completed (est. completion date is 04/26)
  • Tooling: Completed (est. completion date is 04/29)
  • EVT Phase: Completed (est. completion date is 04/29 05/24 06/06 07/18)
  • DVT Phase: Completed (est. completion date is 05/23 06/24 ~~07/30)
  • Certifications: In Progress (est. completion date is 08/17)
    • Z-Wave Certification (Technical): In Progress
    • Z-Wave Certification (Marketing): Completed
    • FCC Certification: Completed
    • IC Certification: Completed
    • UL Certification: Completed
  • Mass Production: Not Started (est. completion date is 09/03 10/15)
  • Arrival on Amazon, Inovelli.com , etc: Not started (est. completion 10/22)

Pinned Ideas & Shout-Outs
Here are the ideas from the community. We sincerely appreciate them, we love them, and we couldn’t create the products we do without them. So, thank you for your input and let’s continue to innovate together and change the home automation category for the better (NOTE: if an idea is crossed out, it’s not because it wasn’t valid, nor was it something we didn’t consider – we’ve discussed it internally or with the manufacturer and unfortunately it was not feasible).

Hardware

Software


Weekly Recap
Every Wednesday, we have a meeting with our manufacturer to go over the various projects (status, issues, timeline, etc) and below I’ll provide a recap as well as edit the sections above so we can all keep track. If you have any specific questions you’d like me to ask, feel free to tag me and let me know so I can ask them as well. The weekly cadence for updates will be Thursday mornings.

August 12, 2019: I will update the history of the calls in milestones vs weekly as I’m post-writing this thread after a lot of history has happened for visibility. Either way, get some popcorn ready, it was a wild ride!

September 12, 2019: Major update
Long story short, there are still some issues that the team has to work through, but I did get a spreadsheet with all the Pass/Fail bugs and they’ve been knocking them out every day and actually pulled an all-nighter last night to get me the OTA file for me to test tomorrow when the new samples arrive.

The biggest issue that they are having problems with now is the auto-load detection between the the neutral and non-neutral three way. We’ve gone back and forth on this one – originally we asked for the switch to work in a 3-Way setting if there was no-neutral wire and after a few months they said they couldn’t do it. Now, they have figured out a way to do it with an auxiliary switch, but the firmware is having a hard time detecting whether or not there is a load on it or not in some scenarios, so they need to tweak it.

In addition, due to the fact that some of the firmware is on a separate MCU (since the capabilities were too complex for the Z-Wave 500 Series), they are having to work with a separate team to optimize everything.

However, they have assured me that they will work around the clock and finish everything by next week. Then we need to run it by Z-Wave real quick and then it should be good to go.

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