A few days ago, as I was in a nearby DIY store (looking for something I didn't find in the end), I came by the Electricity aisle and noticed cheap remote sockets. These are a not new thing, I owned some more than 25 years ago — so unstable there were switching on and off randomly — and in France at least, the Belgian company Chacon made a successful product (DI.O) with this kind if items.
One of the major issue with them is that they are without any feedback of the status like you could have on a modern "smart plug". Yet, where a Z-wave socket alone is at least 40€, here a pack of 2 sockets was less than 15€ including the remote and its battery. The "manual" includes a EC Declation of Confirmity so I assume there are safe to use. The power is limited to 1000W but for Christmas lights, this is not an issue!
Obviously, the idea was also the do the reverse engineering on the protocol and if possible try to emulate the remote itself like I did several times in the past. Turns out that this very model of remote is used in dozens of packs and the circuit inside is well known and even officially documented!
Protocol and Home Automation
A quick search show pages and pages on the subject. These one are now called "Smart Home" but were previously sold under the Phenix brand by IDK. Protocol seems virtually identical to the Elro Home Easy plugs.
The main references about the subject seem to be:
- https://github.com/sui77/rc-switch for Arduino
- https://github.com/r10r/rcswitch-pi for Rasberry Pi
- http://www.princeton.com.tw/Portals/0/Product/PT2262_5.pdf for the Datasheet
The next question was: What is the best to integrate these elements in the existing installation? There are two main parts for this: controlling the sockets but also making the most of the remote (especially the two unused ON/OFF buttons).
As usual... A suivre!