September 2023 Archives

Zigbee multi-channel light controller

With a recent oven purchase I only had one device left that required the clock to be manually synchronised - a timer that I use to turn a light on in the morning. Having had to replace some remote controlled sockets with Zigbee variants I decided to do the same with the light timer so that it can be controlled by a computer that always has the correct time.

That worked ok but I wanted more integration with the light switch and since my living room lights could already be remotely switched by a different system I have consolidated both of them into a single light controller. There aren't any existing solutions for this that can handle multiple lights and multiple switches (you can have one relay/switch, or multiple relays plus multiple switches but Zigbee doesn't guarantee good integration in that scenario).

Using an ESP32-C6 I've made my own solution, the "Candle Dribbler" that satisfies my obscure requirements for how remotely controllable light switches should behave:

Left to right, low down on the wall: Opened double gang box with glowing red relays inside and 4 light switches on the front. Open single gang box with ESP32 microcontroller board hanging out of it. Open single gang box with cables hanging out.

Left to right, low down on the wall: Double gang fitting with 4 light switches labelled (FB M, LR C, LR L, LR R). Single gang box with ESP32-C6 inside behind a transparent plastic cover. Single gang socket with power supply.

Modifying the IKEA TRÅDFRI Shortcut Button

With the Zigbee remote-controlled lights and sockets I now needed a way to switch them that's more convenient than a mobile phone. There are various solutions available for this but the best looking one I could find is the IKEA TRÅDFRI Shortcut Button that can be used with any Zigbee coordinator. I can use these to switch lights on and off, play/pause music and turn speakers on/off.

White push button with a ceiling lamp pictogram that has been coloured in by hand

They work well but the battery management in the first version of the firmware isn't great and they regularly lose network pairing information for me when the battery runs out so I upgraded to the latest firmware (which is documented as fixing this issue).

One of the often requested features on these buttons has been the ability to set an action on a double press (as well as the original single press and long press gestures). The later firmware versions have added this feature.

Unfortunately to implement a double press requires delaying the reaction to a single press. Lights that would previously change instantly now take about half a second to do so which is visibly slow and irritating when you know that it used to be faster and doesn't have to be this way.

Trying to get IKEA to fix this is likely to be impossible and they don't provide any kind of email-based support that would allow complex technical issues to be communicated. Even if they could be persuaded that there was a need to make a change it could take months or years before they implemented it.

I don't want to wait that long before I can upgrade all of my push buttons to get better battery management, so I've decompiled the latest firmware and determined what to change to be able to disable the double press feature and remove the 400ms delay on single presses:

PCB from inside the IKEA TRÅDFRI Shortcut Button, with pins soldered onto the debug contacts at several different unusual directions and angles. Jumper wire cables are attached to most of the pins.

Full details on the firmware modifications and accessing the flash.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from September 2023 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2022 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Content authored by myself is just my honest opinion.

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