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"Killer Applets" for the Home using the new UPB Standalone Timer
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Many home control applications require a timer, but until recently there were no standalone UPB timers on the market. Now Web Mountain Technologies is shipping a multi-functional UPB timer.
Submitted on 01/31/06, 05:14 PM
"Killer Applets" for the Home using the new UPB Standalone Timer
By Terry Bolinger and Gary Koenig
Web Mountain Technologies
Over the years we've learned that there are four main reasons for implementing lighting control (and home automation) - Convenience, Security, Savings, and Ego. Convenience means implementing applications that make your life or your family's life easier. Providing a method to turn lights and appliances on or off from a handheld controller on a bedside table is an example of convenience. Automatically turning on porch lights at dusk, or causing lights to randomly turn on during the evening hours while the family is on vacation provides for worry -free security. It is difficult to show a short -term payback by implementing lighting control alone, but UPB automation can save energy and conserving our natural resources is becoming more and more appealing to people who are trying to do the right thing. Last but not least, ego is very often a powerful driver to implement home automation. We see ego as a primary influence in the selection of automation systems for high end homes - affluent homeowners want automation components geared toward impressing friends and business associates almost as much as they want the components to meet functional needs.
We are commonly asked "What is the killer app for home control?" Well, truthfully, there isn't one. We have learned, however, that most homeowners have one or more particular applications that really resonate with them. We call these "Killer Applets". The homeowner who inadvertently left the garage door open over night only to discover missing bicycles and tools the next morning would probably find our garage door monitoring Killer Applet of great interest. Anyone who has had his/her home broken into while on vacation would most likely consider our ability to make an unoccupied home look lived in to be a Killer Applet. Each of us will discover some Killer Applets that strike a chord with us.
Many Killer Applets require a timer, but until recently there were no standalone UPB timers on the market. Very recently Web Mountain Technologies began shipping a multi -functional UPB timer, rendering many Killer Applets affordable and easy to implement. The key features of the new TIM -01 -A UPB Timer include:
• Support for 99 separate timed events;
• Sunset and sunrise triggers;
• Adjusts for leap years and daylight savings time;
• Can be put into "Vacation" mode to make a residence look occupied even when there is no one home;
• The timer can be used like a table -top controller to manually trigger pre -programmed timed events or to signal an emergency by turning on all automated lights with a single button press;
• Nonvolatile memory and battery backup protect programs and keep the timer running even during extended power outages.
Let's take a look at a few of the Killer Applets that make good use of the new TIM -01 -A Timer.
Most landscape lighting products are low voltage systems powered by a low voltage transformer in a metal box on an outside wall of the home. These transformers usually use dial timers that use pins pushed into holes on the dial's circumference to determine when the lights should be on and when they should be off. Unfortunately, these timers are subject to clock drift, power outages and inability to compensate for daylight savings time, meaning the landscape lights never come on or go off at the right time. To overcome this annoying problem, get rid of the manual timer and replace the AC wall outlet where the transformer is plugged in with a UPB controlled outlet. Control this outlet via the TIM -01 -A. Now, even when there is a loss of power, the Timer's battery backup will keep running and when power is restored the Timer will operate your landscape lighting according to your pre -set schedules. In addition, the Timer automatically updates itself for daylight savings time and can be programmed to come on at sunset, rather than a fixed time.
Tip: If you want to be able to manually turn on the landscape lighting, install a UPB wall controller or tabletop controller.
Components - controlled outlets or appliance modules, TIM -01 -A Timer
Simple Bedside Control
While the TIM -01 -A provides great utility in terms of timed or triggered events, it can also be used as a tabletop controller. By programming the TIM -01 -A appropriately, a user can control lights throughout the home while lying in bed. For example, when going to bed, push a button for a Bedtime scene. This would cause the front porch lights to turn on, turn off the lights in the basement that the kids left on, dim the hallway lights to the off state at a fade rate of 5 minutes, and turn off any other controlled lights throughout the home. This button might not affect the bedside or overhead bedroom lights, which could have separate buttons assigned to them allowing the user to turn them off when ready to go to sleep. With a UPB controlled ceiling fan in the bedroom, the user can turn the fan on from bedside, let it run until the room is sufficiently cool, then, upon waking in the wee hours, turn it off with the bedside TIM -01 -A without having to get out of bed.
Tip: Make sure to select the TIM -01 -A's "Enter" mode for Emergency operation. This is a great feature for women or children who may occasionally be home alone at night. By pushing one button, the whole house can be illuminated to scare off a potential thief, or just provide peace of mind.
Components - Dimming wall switches, lamp modules, TIM -01 -A Timer
Oftentimes, when a family leaves home for a long vacation, the home is ripe for a burglary. In a normal home (meaning no wonderful automation system like we are discussing here), lights are always off, and there is no sound. With the TIM -01 -A Timer, the house could have a routine that would cause a burglar to question whether someone is home, and move on to an easier target. The TIM -01 -A when left in Vacation Mode will cause lights to come on randomly (especially to simulate making a bathroom trip at 2 in the morning) and it could be programmed to cause a television or radio to come on in the evening to make some sound. In addition, the system could also perform such tasks as intelligently lowering the temperature in the home to allow for savings on energy bills or turn off the water to the home until needed by the sprinkler system.
Tip: Predefine the vacation programs you want to run when the house is unoccupied. Because of the TIM -01 -A's unique Vacation Mode, these programs will not run during normal operation but rather will only run when the timer is put into Vacation Mode.
Components - dimmers, lamp modules, TIM -01 -A
Secure Entry Package (Garage Door)
Coming home on a moonless night to a dark house can be a daunting experience. Recognizing this, several of our dealers offer packages that include the installation of a sensor on the garage door (similar to a security system sensor) that will close a set of contacts when the garage door is closed, and open the contacts when the garage door opens. They then run these contacts into the terminals of one of our CM -01 Input Output modules. When the CM -01 detects a contact open, indicating the garage door has opened, the CM -01 sends out a UPB signal that can be used to turn on multiple lights throughout the home. Now, anyone coming home to a dark house at night can have the house automatically illuminated just by opening the garage door. The result - greater peace of mind and enhanced security. This Killer Applet appeals especially to women who may be living alone or who simply come home often to a dark, empty house.
Tip: Make sure you get heavy duty sensors to detect the garage door opening. Light duty ones tend to fail, due to the vibration caused as the garage door moves. The sensors you select also need to work over a distance of an inch or so, as there will be gap between the two halves of the sensor with one half installed on the wall, and the other half installed on the garage door
Components - wall dimmers, lamp modules, input/output module, magnetic sensors
Terry Bolinger is the Chief Technical Officer at Web Mountain. With over 20 years of experience in telecommunications, he founded Web Mountain in 1999 to develop IP based products for the home automation market. After several years of dealing with X10 products, he determined that he had to find an alternative, if Web Mountain was going to continue in the industry, leading to the licensing of UPB technology.
Gary Koenig is the VP of Sales and Marketing at Web Mountain. He has held a variety of technical as well as sales and marketing positions in software and services companies over the past 30 years. He has been active in the home technology sector for the past 6 years.
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Visit www.webmtn.com for more details on available UPB products as well as more information on applications and more details on UPB.