This project will be kicked off in the next two weeks (we are awarding the manufacturer this upcoming week - first week of August).
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!
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!
- Project Manager (Inovelli): @Eric_Inovelli
- Project Manager (Manufacturer):
- Innovation Lead: @Eric_Inovelli
- Technical Lead: @EricM_Inovelli
As per our tradition of working with you amazing people, here’s what this thread allows us to do as a community.
- Allows us to keep everyone updated on the project status (either good or bad)
- Allows you to participate and help us develop amazing products together
- Enjoy each other’s company and have fun talking home automation
How this initial post will be laid out is in five sections:
- Project Overview
- Initial Hardware & Software Requirements (edited to remain up-to-date)
- Timeline (edited to remain up-to-date)
- Pinned Ideas & Shout-outs (edited to remain up-to-date)
- Weekly Recap
- 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!
The purpose of this project is to expand upon our Blue 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 Zigbee Bindings, it can give you full access to controlling both your fan and lights separately!
I chose the name Walt to dedicate this to my dad, who passed away unexpectedly 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.
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.
- 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 contoller 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)
Should follow 2-1 Switch tooling and capabilities if possible.
- ZigBee 3.0: use the latest ZigBee chipset (MG24)
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
- ZigBee Distance Estimator: should be able to estimate the signal strength of the ZigBee 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 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
- ZigBee 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 ZigBee
- 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
- Zigbee Bindings (Individual & Group)
- Smart Bulb Mode
- Leading/Trailing Edge: Switch should have both leading and trailing edge algorithms for greater bulb compatibility
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:
- We present a PRD (Project Request Document) that has all of the above info in it (see above section for the pdf)
- R&D (manufacturer) analyzes the PRD and we go back and forth until we can align on 90% of the product
- 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.
- Present PRD: Completed
- R&D Analyzation: Completed
- Initial Timeline Released: Completed
The initial timeline will be shown below once released and will be updated bi-weekly (if needed).
Project Build Review
Est Completion Date: Sept. 16, 2023
Details: ID/Structure Design, PCB Layout & PCBA Making, Firmware Design & Test
Est Completion Date: Nov. 15, 2023
Status: IN PROGRESS
Hand Sample Testing & Verification
Est Completion Date: Nov 30, 2023
Status: IN PROGRESS
Est Completion Date: Dec 14, 2023
Status: IN PROGRESS
Est Completion Date: Dec 25, 2023
Status: NOT STARTED
Details: Materials Purchasing & Trial Run on Production Line
Est Completion Date: Jan 15, 2024
Status: NOT STARTED
Details: Zigbee, FCC/IC, ETL
Est Completion Date: Mar 15, 2024
Status: NOT STARTED
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).
- @Xero’s idea to mimic the Fan/Light as closely as possible by adding vertical buttons: Zigbee Fan Canopy Module | Project Cheryl - #162 by Xero
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.
July 29th, 2023: We’ve received multiple RFP’s back and we’ll be awarding the manufacturer the first week in August. We have one last conversation this upcoming week surrounding what country this will be made in.
August 30, 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.
November 3, 2023: No real update on timeline.
November 30, 2023: Finally some progress from the manufacturer. We’re exploring two options to pull this off. The first being a haptic feedback type switch and the other being a traditional mechanical feeling switch. There are pros/cons to both that we’re working through, but ultimately, I think we’re leaning towards the haptic one. More to come.
February 2, 2024: See update here: Zigbee Button Controller + Dimmer Switch | Project Walt - #75 by Eric_Inovelli