Z-Wave 800 Series Button Controller + Dimmer Switch | Project Walt

This project is fully funded and in progress!


I want to dedicate this project to my dad (Walt), who was an amazing father to me and my brother and sister, grandfather to my four girls, role model, engineer, and someone who always loved to tinker with things. Most importantly, he taught me to work hard, never quit if you believe in something, and always keep a positive attitude as it will inevitably rub off on others. I will miss you and hope that your spirit can live on through this engineering feat of a product!


Project Team
Feel free to tag any of us with questions. I’ll (Eric H) be the go-to’s for overall project management, timeline and anything other than firmware related questions, whereas Eric M is the go-to for any firmware related questions. Either way, we’re all here to help!


Introduction
As per our tradition of working with you amazing people, here’s what this thread allows us to do as a community.

  1. Allows us to keep everyone updated on the project status (either good or bad)
  2. Allows you to participate and help us develop amazing products together
  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 a suggestions/wishlist section.

Ok, let’s get this party started!


Project Overview
The purpose of this project is to expand upon our Red Series and bring to life the ultimate wall controller and switch combination. One that we’ve been trying to bring to market since 2020. There will be a lot of different combinations you can set this controller to from 2 buttons to 8, backlit or non-back-lit, the choice is yours.

We will also give this the ability to be paired this a separate Fan Canopy module to bring back the Fan/Light switch that was one of our most popular light switches.

So, not only can this be wall controller, it can be a light switch, but also via Z-Wave Associations, it can give you full access to controlling both your fan and lights separately!

Project Name - Walt

I chose the name Walt to dedicate this to my dad, who passed away unexpectantly in April 2023. He was an electrical engineer who was always tinkering with things and had a knack for figuring out how to get things to work properly. I thought it would be fitting to have this project named after him because this is going to be quite the engineering feat to pull off as there is a lot jam packed into this controller.

My goal is to make an incredible controller that will be put into 1,000’s of houses across North America that gives people the same joy that my dad brought me. I’m looking forward to building this one with everyone as it holds a special meaning to me (and quite frankly, I want to make my dad proud)!


Walt - Hardware Requirements
The hardware for this controller will have a modular design that will give you full customization of what you’d like your controller to function as. You can choose from either having a traditional LED Bar design similar to our current switches, or you can have a backlit design by etching into the plastic exposing the LED’s underneath.

Hardware

The default will be the two button design, but all pieces will be included in the package so you can snap off and back on a new orientation of buttons.

NOTE: Subject to change as R&D has not kicked off.

Hardware - Controller (Look / Feel)

  • Modular Paddle: the paddle should be able to work in a modular way so that the customer can pop buttons out and configure the wall controller however they want
  • RGB LED Bars: will be multipurpose (notifications, load display status, etc.)
    • LED’s should be RGB (artificial white included)
    • LED’s should also be able to be dimmed
  • Colors: the controller paddle will be offered in white (matching Lutron Claro wallplates), but the paddle should be able to be replaced to change colors (almond, brown, red, black, grey, etc)
  • Backlit: the controller should have the ability to be backlit in case the customer etches the paddle
  • Slim Design: depth of switch should be as slim as possible so that it can fit into metal boxes.
  • Air Gap: UL requirement
  • No heat-sink tabs: remove heat sink tabs for easier installation (note: may have to sacrifice max wattage)

Hardware - Features & Capabilities

Should follow 2-1 Switch tooling and capabilities if possible.

  • Z-Wave 800 Series: use the latest Z-Wave chipset (800 Series)
  • 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 another smart switch (if wired to another smart switch, it should be able to detect this)
    • NOTE: This switch will not be able to work with a dumb/existing switch due to space constraints
  • 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
  • Instant On: when tapped 1x (and scenes aren’t used), switch should turn the bulb on instantly (no delay)
    • Configurable delay in 100ms increments (see tech doc)
  • CFL & LED Compatibility: minimum buzz and flickering
  • Neutral & Non-Neutral Compatibility: switch should be able to work with a neutral wire or without a neutral wire
    • Should auto-detect which setting it’s in (neutral/non-neutral, aux/dumb) and if it can’t, then there should be a manual override.
  • Auto-Detect Neutral/Non-Neutral: Switch should detect whether or not it’s connected to a neutral wire or not
  • Leading/Trailing Edge Dimming: the controller should be able to switch between leading and trailing edge for better compatibility with bulbs

Walt - Software Requirements
Will follow a lot of the Red Series 2-1 Switch firmware, but will add in more scene control features

  • On/Off or Dimmer: Switch should be able to be either an on/off or dimmer depending on what the user sets it as
  • Z-Wave Scene Control: Multi-taps to activate various scenes
  • RGBW Bar Config: Bar should be able to change colors and dimmed to the customer’s favorite level
    • LED bar will also be fully addressable (thanks for the call out @suzakutk!)
    • Animations that mimic our 2-1 & Fan + the addition of weather animations
  • 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 / favorite 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
  • 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
  • Z-Wave Associations (Individual & Group)
  • Smart Bulb Mode
  • Leading/Trailing Edge: Switch should have both leading and trailing edge algorithms for greater bulb compatibility

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 (see above section for the pdf)
  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

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
  • R&D Analyzation: In-Progress
  • Initial Timeline Released: Not Started

Timeline (Estimated)

The initial timeline will be shown below once released and will be updated bi-weekly (if needed).

  1. Project Build Review
    Est Completion Date: Sept. 16, 2023
    Status: NOT STARTED

  2. Detailed Design
    Details: ID/Structure Design, PCB Layout & PCBA Making, Firmware Design & Test
    Est Completion Date: Nov. 15, 2023
    Status: NOT STARTED

  3. Project Build Review
    Est Completion Date: Nov 25, 2023
    Status: NOT STARTED

  4. Hand Sample Testing & Verification
    Est Completion Date: Nov 30, 2023
    Status: NOT STARTED

  5. Packaging Design
    Est Completion Date: Dec 14, 2023
    Status: NOT STARTED

  6. Tooling Build
    Est Completion Date: Dec 25, 2023
    Status: NOT STARTED

  7. Trial Run
    Details: Materials Purchasing & Trial Run on Production Line
    Est Completion Date: Jan 15, 2024
    Status: NOT STARTED

  8. Certification
    Details: Z-Wave, FCC/IC, ETL
    Est Completion Date: Mar 15, 2024
    Status: NOT STARTED

  9. Mass Production
    Est Completion Date: April 30, 2024
    Status: NOT STARTED


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


Monthly Recap
Every month 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 the manufacturer as well.

August 4th, 2023: We received a signed sales agreement from a B2B company that will fully fund this project for us. Great way to end the week!

August 30th, 2023: Project is officially kicked off and we received the initial timeline from the manufacturer, which has the estimated production completion date as April 30th, 2024.

9 Likes

Wanted to wait on this one until the t’s were crossed and i’s dotted as we needed this to be B2B funded to launch alongside our Zigbee version.

Well, today around 5pm, we received a fully executed sales agreement that will fund this project. We’re very excited about it!

Sometimes the marketing guy has to put the sales hat on and close deals. Too bad it wasn’t completed last time we tried this project, but sometimes you just need to upgrade salesmen :rofl:

Looking forward to seeing which switch sells more, the Zigbee version or Z-Wave!

6 Likes

Congratulations! Finally some good news on the business side.

When do we get the purple series?

Will preorders from the original be honored?

For those who are not in on the “Purple Series” April Fools joke that I posted:

https://community.inovelli.com/t/z-wave-800-series-2-1-switch-on-off-dimmer-project-phoenix/11428/317?u=vreihen

Yes, see: Z-Wave 5-Button Scene Controller + Dimmer Switch | Project Limitless - #533 by Eric_Inovelli

1 Like

The z-wave version is what I’m buying.

Multi-tap is not important for me, preferably an option to disable it for faster button input response. I see the entire point of a scene controller is to avoid secret combinations that are forgotten over time depending on frequency of use (without printing tacky instruction cards to the wall anyway).

Custom button layouts will probably lead me to replace at least a few of my Zen32’s where the location/room has fewer functions than buttons, since I hate unused buttons and assigning a random unrelated function just to fill out buttons is also silly.

I’m not too concerned about the built-in load capacity: it should be a scene controller first and possible functions as a scene controller should not be compromised for more load. For me personally most of the locations I want to use this in will not have any connected load (I installed larger or extra boxes in the wall during remodels specifically for scene controllers) and those that will are only 1-4 LED lights.

Will this only control a single load (i.e. not also the dual load switch)?

Also would be cool to let which buttons toggle the load be a configuration option.

Also would be cool to let which buttons toggle the load be a configuration option.

Expanding on this:

Parameter x: Button 1 Action
0: Disabled
1: Scene
2: Toggle Load
3: Turn Load On
4: Turn Load Off
5: Level Increase
6: Level Decrease
7: Set to Parameter y Level

This project sounds great! Exactly the switch I’ve been looking for (in Z-Wave version).

Question regarding the canopy module, which is briefly mentioned in the project overview. What’s the plan for this, exactly? Is it really a part of project Walt, ie. will it be developed and released at the same time as the switch? Or is this a separate project with its own timeline. Thanks and keep up the good work.

1 Like

I know he is very proud of the business you have built. The progress you have made is remarkable and could only be accomplished by someone to whom failure was never an option. I remember the first devices you built, and I still have them.

You have built a line of products, second to no other. Even Lutron cannot match the Inovelli line. Anyone that knows your story will be amazed at your accomplishment. I am still trying to figure out how you managed to squeeze 180 hours of work in a week.

All those sleepless days, thousands of emails and phone calls, thousands of drawings, hundreds of prototypes and an unimaginable number of pens and pencils. We can only guess at the number of printers and paper you used.

And suddenly, there were teenagers in your house. We can only guess at the support you received from your family, friends and employees. We will never understand the work and hardships you went through to make this look easy. Like the man that invented bubble gum, I’m looking forward to see what comes next.

To the team that never gave up, never surrendered; Never said die. Congratulations! You have my sincere admiration.

Gary

2 Likes

It’s been a long time and a change of sales platforms - who can I contact to verify you still have my Project Limitless preorder and that it’s getting transferred over?

I see mine in my order history. It shows as unfulfilled.

1 Like

Reach out to @Courtney_Inovelli or @Eric_Inovelli

I’m personally interested for zigbee and might add them to my switch selections without connecting any load!

Hello and welcome. There is a parallel thread for the Zigbee version here:

1 Like

This is really cool and reminds me of one of my favorite Insteon devices: the KeyPadLinc. Had this been available just a few months ago I wouldn’t have purchased several tablets for the house because they replaced old KeyPadLincs that I could find no replacement for :(.

I am so excited to see this project. I bought my first home a few years ago and am getting ready to gut and modernize it. I was cringing at the steep price tag of the Lutron RadioRA 3 keypads and now I’m so glad that I won’t have to go that route, and that there will be an affordable, good quality alternative that runs on an open ecosystem, and even has some extra features (like the RGB lighting.)

Yes and we are going a step further and offering the same price if you’d like to order more as these will be more expensive. It’s the least we can do at this point!

This is a great point!

Yes, single load only – hopefully we can work on a dual-switch soon as I’ve been wanting that one as well (selfishly for my house too!)

Just so I’m clear are you saying that you’d like any button on the controller to have the ability to do 0-7? If so, then yes, I think that’s a great idea!

Great question!

The way we envision it is that the canopy module (Cheryl) will be a separate project, but it will work with this project (Walt) if you’d like it to.

Building on this, we used to have a Fan/Light switch that was easily one of our best sellers and still ranks #2 on our site for most searches.

We unfortunately had to discontinue it due to us cutting ties with that manufacturer because they didn’t want to fix the disconnection issues the switch was having among other things.

So, we started to brainstorm of ways we could bring that switch back and one of the ideas we had was to come out with a button controller (this project) that could also be used as the Fan/Light switch since the switch part of the product shown above was actually just a remote that would talk to the canopy module.

Said a different way, we wanted to minimize SKU’s (it’s hard to stay in stock and we’d like to narrow our focus on select SKU’s) and the best way to do that was to combine the Fan/Light switch with a Button Controller.

Hope that makes sense?

Regarding whether or not they will be released at the same time, I think the canopy module will be released sooner than the button controller as the button controller is a very complex switch that has some very hefty firmware that will go into it whereas the canopy module is not that complicated and there are examples out in market already (non-smart) in addition to the one we made, so the team has a head start on it. Finally, we awarded the manufacturer who made our 2-1 switches and our new Fan switch this project, so 80% of the firmware is completed.

Thanks @Gary! When can I have you come to the office to be the official cheerleader, we (I) can certainly use it every now and then. I tell Courtney (who’s been here 4+ years) and Eric M who’s been my wingman from almost the beginning) that we’re going to have a crazy book (or movie) one day.

Some stories I could tell that would blow your mind. We’ve been beaten down, and beaten down hard, but we’ve persevered because of people like you and the community who have had our back over the past 7 years and I am truly grateful for it (and I know Courtney and Eric are too).

I’m looking forward to the next year or so – we have some awesome products on the horizon and it finally feels like we have some momentum behind us!

If you can’t find it in your order history, shoot me a PM and I can take a look for you. We transferred everything over to the latest platform, but if it’s not showing up, we have backups we can look into.

I’ll have to check this one out!

Nice! Congrats on the first house, even if it was a few years ago – still super exciting! Happy to get you some awesome switches to play with :slight_smile:

4 Likes

@Eric_Inovelli I’m sure you remember the devices I use. And that I have been a Universal Devices customer long before you built Inovelli.
I use that particular line of switches, fan controllers and keypads for two very important reasons.

One, the fan controllers and keypads. No other company offers the product line.
Two, that particular product is capable of 100% operation even if the controller/hub should disconnect or fail.

I continue to read posts from people asking about 3-way switches. Why? With the proper equipment and a little thought, 3, 4, 5 or 10-way switching is simple. One switch controls the load and any number of other switches tell the load switch what to do.

That is a big reason I like keypads so much; there are 18 currently in my house. I have four keypads, side-by-side, on one wall that allows one to see which lights are on and also control those lights.

You should look into these and see what you can do.

I would welcome a chat some day and maybe i can offer a few ideas.

If the women don’t find you handsome, they should at least find you handy. Hang in there and Never Say Die.

Gary