Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Recessed Z Wave Door Sensor Install

As you know I've been playing around with some home automation tools recently.  One thing that I've wanted to install is a contact sensor for my front door.  The issue has been that the trim on the door makes it very difficult to install a traditional, flush mount sensor like I used for my pantry door project.  While searching online the other day, I found this recessed sensor, which seemed perfect for my application, so I ordered one up.  It arrived on Wednesday, so over the weekend, I got around to the install.

Package contents: sensor, magnet, small screws and instructions.

The physical install seemed like it would be straight forward but before I started drilling holes in my door frame I needed to be sure the sensor would pair with my Almond+. 

Pairing the Sensor 
The first step here was to remove the cover so that I could pull the battery saver tape.  It would be nice if you could do that without removing the cover but no dice.  I set my Almond+ into pairing mode, pulled the strip, watched the LED light up and... no love.  Ok, time for the directions.  A quick scan of the directions indicated that the device does not start up in pairing mode, you need to push the little Z Wave button with a paperclip.  I put my Almond+ back into pairing mode and then I pushed the Z Wave button and bingo, done!

Screen shot of the configured sensor from the Almond app.

Physical Install
With the pairing finished, it was time to move on to the physical install.  First up I had to drill a 3/4 inch wide hole in my door trim.  I chose to do this along the top of the door because of the way my door fits into the trim.  The clearance on the long side of the door is pretty tight, while the clearance along the top is more loose.  I think it would have worked on either side, but since I had the clearance, I took advantage.

One hole drilled into the top trim of my door frame.

Next I dry fit the sensor into the hole to see if I had drilled the hole deep enough.  The sensor mostly fit, but it did not fit flush, so I drilled slightly deeper and tried again and that did the trick.  Notice that there are three holes in the cap of the sensor, two for screws and the center hole for pushing the Z Wave button with a paperclip.

The dry fit sensor before I added the screws to hold it in place.

The last step for the sensor install was to add the two small screws.  Again, notice the center hole to reach the Z Wave button.

One sensor, fully installed.

Next up, I needed a hole for the magnet.  This time I used the same bit to drill a shallow hole into the top of the door.  Again, I did a quick dry fit and found I needed to make the hole a little deeper before I got the fit I wanted.  Super simple.

There's a hole in my door...

Push the magnet into the hole. 

Now the hole has a nice magnetic cap...
And, just like that, I'm ready to create some automation rules.  The first rule I created really isn't a rule at all.  I setup the new sensor to trigger a notification anytime the sensor state changes, but only when the Almond+ is in "Away" mode.  Home and Away are some of the first things I created with my Almond+ but I don't think I've posted about that process.  I'll save the details for another post but in general if Cath's or my cell phones are connected to the wifi then the Almond+ sets itself to Home and if neither phone is connected, then it sets itself to Away.  This is great because it uses our phones as a presence sensor so no need to buy a Zigbee or Z Wave presence sensor.  Now if anyone opens the front door while neither Cath nor I are home, I'll get a notification via the Almond app.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about this sensor or the install process feel free to leave me a comment.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Laurel Ultra 2016 Training Day

I'm running the 50K version of the Laurel Ultra again in June and this time it's my 50 for 50 birthday celebration.  I ran this awesome race back in 2014 (link here) and I run on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail (LHHT) all the time, so I'm super happy that my schedule cleared out and I'm able to run the race again.

I was hoping to do a rim-to-rim-to-rim run, across the Grand Canyon and back, as my 50 (miles) for 50, but the logistics of that trip just did not work out, so the Laurel Ultra is a great substitution.  I'll get the R2R2R trip done some other time...

The last time I ran in the Laurel Ultra I was four weeks post Ironman, so I was in great physical condition but I was definitely still recovering.  My training had been spread across swim, bike and run, so I was probably under trained from a run perspective.  Also, I was way under trained from a trail run perspective.  I think I put in fewer than 30 total miles of trail running leading up to race day.

This year, training has been quite different.  I raced Ironman this past November and I'm not racing Ironman again until November of this year, so the early part of this season has been mostly run focused.  This ski season has been "challenging" (aka non-existent), so I've been able to get in some solid running miles on the trail.  Most of my trail miles have been from 7 Springs to RT 653 since I've been running back to the house after a morning of snowboarding.

This past Saturday was different: the weather had been so warm I had no interest in even trying to snowboard.  Instead, I had Cath drop me off in Ohiopyle with the plan to run from Ohiopyle back to the house (~20 miles).  This would be both my longest trail run of the season and also my longest run overall.  Add to that the elevation gain between Ohiopyle and RT 653 and the fact that I ran long on Thursday and I knew I had a big day ahead of me.

The weather was great and there were lots of people out on the trail.  Usually I'll pass one or two groups of people on the trail but on Saturday I think I passed by closer to 10.  There were some through hikers with fully loaded backpacks stopped at the first observation spot out of Ohiopyle. There were three or four couples with dogs and three or so more without dogs.  And there was one solo hiker who I passed as I was climbing the Conn Road hill.  One thing I didn't see was other runners. 

My pace was pretty reasonable, for me - not slow (but not fast) and steady.  I felt pretty good as I crossed the road at Maple Summit (my I can't go any further safety bail out point), so I called Cath and told her I intended to keep going.

Somewhere around mile five I started thinking about all of the bridges on the trail and I wondered how many bridges there are on the entire trail.  My initial guess was 140 - 150 (~2 bridges per mile which seemed reasonable if not low).  I started counting at some point and most miles had 2 or three. The most I counted in one mile was 6 and the least was 1, so I'm revising my guess up to 175, unless there's a penalty for going over :-).  Maybe one of these days I'll do a more formal count.  For the record, I'm calling it a bridge if I take two or more steps along the length of a split log or 6x6.  If I step off of wood, onto land and then back onto wood, that's two bridges, but if two sections of wood meet without a step onto land then that's one long bridge.

This mental exercise really helped to pass the miles between Maple Summit and RT 653.  I mostly jogged and counted bridges as I ran more and more out of gas...  I struggled up the steep hill past the camp site trail head and then ran along the flat to the road.

Ironically, the worst part of the whole trip was walking down the road to the house.  I was pretty spent and since I was walking I started to get cold.  Plus I was out of water and I was pretty thirsty. Cry me a river...

I took Sunday off as a recovery day.  It was Cath's birthday and we had plans to go to Nemacolin or 7 Springs but we ended up spending much of the day cooking and lounging on the couch.  It was a great way to end the weekend.

This run was a pretty good test and I'm happy with the way it turned out.  I was spent by the time I reached RT 653, but I could have kept going if I had to.  Factor in the fact that I was running on tired legs and I'm even happier.  Overall there's still lots of work to be done but I'm happy with my progress thus far.  I'll be on the trail again this weekend and hopefully I'll get in another Ohiopyle to 653 day in early April.

Hopefully you enjoyed your weekend training also!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Zigbee Automatic Pantry Light

Yes, I know that my blog is mostly sports related posts, but I'm into technology also and I'm trying to create some more interesting content, so this is my first home automation post.

I recently got an Almond+, which is a combination home router and Zigbee/Zwave controller. Using the Almond+ and connected devices like contact sensors and light bulbs I'm able to create automated actions.  In this case I've automated my pantry light so that the light comes on when you open the pantry door.

Here are all the things you need...

Any brand of door/window contact sensor that will work with your hub. 
GE Link connected LED bulb.
Almond+ router and home automation hub. 

Contact sensor

GE LED bulb


The steps required for the project:

  1. Pair the contact sensor to the Almond+. 
  2. Pair the light bulb to the Almond+. 
  3. Install the light bulb and turn on the switch. 
  4. Install the contact sensor. 
  5. Create the automation rules in the Almond+.

Here's a picture of the contact sensor installed on the door frame.

Install the magnet. In my case I installed it on the inside of the door where it would match up to the sensor.

Program the automation rules in the Almond+

First one to turn the light on when the sensor is open. 

Then one to turn the light off when the sensor is closed. 

Finally, here's a brief video of the light turning on and off as I simulate the door opening and closing.