Aeotec Multisensor 6

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A long list of the pluses and minuses of the Aeotec ZW100 Multisensor 6. I have had 9 for about a year now (as of June 2017), used on SmartThings.

I call these AMS herein, AMS0 to AMS8. All timestamps are U.S. standard month/day/year military time unless otherwise stated (1/2/17 13:00 is Jan. 2, 2017 1:00 pm). Atlanta GA USA, Eastern Time.

Summary

  • These guys are a lot of sensors for the money (about $60 now; used to be $50, cheaper with deals or in bulk)
    • Motion detector. Not intended for outdoors! But you can do it, in limited ways.
    • Thermometer good to 0.1 degree F (but why can we only offset it by 1 degree?)
    • Relative humidity in percent.
    • Illuminance/Light level (lux). Curious information; see below.
    • Sunlight levels (Ultraviolet index), although realistically this is a dodgy proposition for any sensor.
    • Acceleration/tamper (but has to be unmasked by third-party driver like Vandervoort's in Links. It's not very sensitive).
    • Battery level (doesn't work well, but use krlaframboise' SEL app to expertly advise of any SmartThings device's outage/status)
  • It can run on USB (awkwardly because it needs the back open) or on two CR123 batteries (about $4 a pair), which only last 3 or 4 months. Most smart devices last a year or more on batteries.
  • Subject to freeze glitches where you have to hard reset by removing batteries, roughly once a year. Not a big deal if you have one. If you have twelve, get to know your sensors well.
  • Two crapped out and were returned in this 1-year period. One may only have needed battery contacts tweaked; see below.
  • See below for dealing with these devices if you have trouble.

In summary,

They're a real player with a problem. They'd clinch it if their batteries lasted a year.

Why not redesign it with several AAs, and make it two years? Plus make the USB connection outside the shell. Aeotec, please read recommendations below.

Handy Links

For months, despite two requests, Aeotec basically said they didn't need to put docs for this on the web, referring me their website's info on the previous gen. As if that was enough. Good to see they finally put it out there. How hard was that? But come on guys, just give a link to a high-rez PDF please!
  • Robert Vandervoort's device-type handler (DTH) for AMSs (github, general ST forum thread). This shows considerably more info than the standard ST driver, including showing the temperature on the device-selection row of your ST app. Plus it exposes the accelerometer/tamper device.
As I say elsewhere, AMSs don't have the most sensitive accelerometer, but it still definitely means something if it goes off. It's also an easy way to test that it's working when you, e.g., put in new batteries - just shake it, if you've made an activity alert (it's considered a Vibration sensor in the ST app).
There are other AMS DTHs out there. I chose Vandervoort's in the summer of 2016. Maybe something is better now; please talk about it in my forum if you know more (Comments link to forum at bottom of this page or contact me if you don't want to make a forum account).

My Setup

I've bought nine total:

  • First one (AMS0) bought 2/21/16, $50
  • Four more bought 6/4/16, $168 ($42 each)
  • Final four bought 6/16/16, $180 ($45 each)

These were all bought through The Smartest House on Amazon Prime (no shipping, handling, or tax, no s/h/t! laugh), but it has since stopped selling them, and the price has gone up to $60 for one. Maybe that tells you something, maybe it doesn't. The Smartest House was good when I had to return two over time, but they sounded a little exasperated the second time. Still, The Smartest House was honorable. And AMSs are still solid offers on the smart home scene. I don't know of miracle alternatives in this arena; let's hope one happens.

Why did I buy eight in June 2016? I had recently learned of CSchwer's free SmartThings Google Log (SmartThings forum, Github), and we were installing new A/C units and doing $2k of insulation work. I wanted to compare before to after, so I went for it.

Ultimately it's truly hard to evaluate efficiency versus energy usage versus climate conditions, so although I have the data, I have yet to analyze it.

But it sure is cool to be monitoring all kinds of points around the house. I also have five other SmartThings temperature monitors covering other places (see below).

My AMS Locations

We have a three story house in Atlanta GA USA. The house is rather squarishly vertical overall, 3600 square feet including finished basement. The foyer is main floor plus second floor, but is pretty much just a central hallway, pretty small and segregated compared to how many houses are "open" these days (which is a reason I liked this house). AMS0 bounced around locations at first, but the final config since fall 2016 is:

Summary

  • AMS0 is in the top-floor foyer sitting on upper thermostat, AMS1 is likewise on main-floor foyer thermostat, with open airflow in the foyer between the two levels. AMS2 is in the basement in a comparable center-of-house location, but basement is not confluent. (The door at the top of the basement stairs is kept closed to keep our cat Pixel out.)
  • AMS3 is outside front, and AMS4 outside back.
  • AMS6 is a secondary on top floor (MBR), and the rest are on main floor (AMS5 garage, AMS7 kitchen, AMS8 study).

Details

  • AMS0: Second floor foyer sitting right on top of upstairs thermostat. Center of house.
  • AMS1: First (main) floor foyer sitting right on top of thermostat. Center of house; airflow contiguous with AMS0.
  • AMS2: Basement, center of house. More or less below the above two guys but no thermostat here. No contiguous airflow with the rest of the house.
  • AMS3: Front of house, up under the eave of the garage door. Outdoors but shielded from direct sunlight and rain.
  • AMS4: Back of house, up under the eave over the breakfast-room door. Outdoors but shielded from direct sunlight and rain.
  • AMS5: In the enclosed garage, which is part of the house as a whole and its door almost always closed, but not conditioned per se. Alerts me to movement there, and how well the garage's temps hold up.
  • AMS6: In master bed room on second floor, right by and at level of your kindly editor's bed. Usually close to AMS0 temps, but in a place that really hits home. As it were.
  • AMS7: The kitchen, on the main floor. In theory close to AMS1 but in actuality often higher. This room faces southwest and catches the setting sun, plus has activity, and our son likes the gas oven.
  • AMS8: My study. Behind me as I type. On the main floor; in theory should be like AMS1, but in practice a bit higher due to all kinds of electro crap. I usurped this grand old house's living room. Like any true geekish derp.

I am glad I wrote it down. I will check back here when things greatly change in the future to remind myself where the &^*! these things are/were.

Five other temp sensors

Also I have four Samsung SmartThings Multipurpose sensors (SMSs) at places where motion itself doesn't matter:

  • SMS1: On mailbox post (but not in it; the metal would block). So it's another outside temp sensor, but mainly it tells me when mail comes (via Android Tasker voice notification). This works by way of the excellent accelerometers of SMSs (much better than that of the AMSs). For more about mailboxes, see below.
  • SMS2: In main attic over on top of second floor. Eight inches above the attic floor deck... I just want to know attic temps near the ceiling of the top floor; don't need to know how hot it gets 12 feet up.
  • SMS3: In the walk-in garret (attic) extension on second floor above garage; semi contiguous with SMS2 given our attic but SMS2 is higher and always more extreme. SMS2 is above the top floor and SMS3 is to its side, in a drape-over shoulder attic situation above the garage.
  • SMS4: This right smug bastard is in the headspace of the basement, over its drop ceiling. Perhaps the most conditioned place in the house. Long story because I suspect the ductwork of lower HVAC leaks a fair amount into this headspace instead of distributing air to main floor and basement LIKE IT SHOULD. F*cking hell.

Plus a SmartThings motion sensor watching our basement doors, which also sends temperature data.


If you're reading between the lines, it's true that overall, I am not worried about burglars. I just want data.

Then I can die peacefully.

Sensors

Temperature

Impossible to know what's right

As the perennial scientist, wondering how accurate things are, I have no reason to doubt the AMS temperature measurements too much. But one finds that when you look really close, it takes NIST conditions to be absolutely sure what's going on.

What are you going to do if you have 12 different sensors next to each other over a period of time, when they all vary slightly? You can take an average, but who can say they aren't all biased a little high or low, if measures float around, which they always do?

And do they diverge even more (measure inaccurate) in winter? Or in Georgia attics? (How can you tell how well your house does inside versus out, if your sensors diverge measuring extremes?)


The bottom line is that you will see lots of variation across sensors, and no home owner can realistically say what's "true" until some simple cheap standard measurement candle becomes available.

Still, you can see what results and variation you get, with a good data logger. And compare the outside ones (at least) to some external measures like Wunderground or NWS.

Possible to know what's measured

In an early test run (inset, xlsx data), I found that my first batch of AMSs (AMS1 to 4) were 3.1

(data to be inserted later)

I once set four of them around the thermostat in the center of my home. This is as regulated as one can get without an expensive dedicated room.

Mailbox Detection

Also variously called Acceleration, Tamper, Vibration, and Shake detection.

I will probably move this section to its own page in the future, since it's not about AMSs, but here are some thoughts for anyone wanting to know when their mail arrives, or anything else involving shaking of these sensors.

Background

There are two things I wanted in life that had nothing to do with smart-home tech, back around Dec. 2015:

  1. When I got mail
  2. When there was movement on front porch (for package delivery, not to be left in the rain/stolen/forgotten)

After a long search across a wide range of very simple and very complex sensors of all types, some of them dedicated systems, I finally decided to go with a smart home setup. Wasn't it the cadillac of all systems? Adjustable, changeable, all kinds of data?

First I tried a Wink system, which failed miserably at detecting mail. Then I tried SmartThings (ST), which also failed miserably.

At long last - simple to anyone who knows smart-home devices well, and a complete surprise to anyone who does not - I found that I had to have a repeater for my mailbox (about 60' from the front wall of house, 90' from hub), plus, do not put the device in the mailbox.

Maybe I was rash to dump Wink on the spot over this, before I figured it all out, but I have since come to love ST's deep deep developer connections, so I do not apologize. I wish Wink well. But I'm an ST man for now. And we'll see what the future brings.

Mailbox Considerations

My mailbox is the simple kind, a metal mailbox on a roughly T-shaped wood post. When I first tried Wink and ST open/close sensors, I was immediately gobsmacked by two tough problems:

  • Simple U.S. suburbia mailboxes are metal. This will completely kill delicate signals already far from the hub.
  • Simple mailboxes have a curved design up top, which foils any open/close sensors. Plus forget about mailmen being careful while shoving things in... they won't understand or be careful of your open/close sensor sticking out into the opening, and will keep knocking it off its precise moorings.
  • In theory you could place it behind the bottom of the mailbox door, catching the edge as it hinges up.

But all these things need special conditions like, rough mailmen not shoving big things in quickly, banging the door around, or wondering what's hanging off the top (or bottom) and removing it. Or kids walking by on the street seeing something there, maybe yanking it off to examine.

So, for my situation, I say forget about using an open/close sensor, or all its fine placements, anywhere near the front of a mailbox.

Maybe it's different if you have a brick enclosure with a large plastic box. But then it probably won't accelerate much.

A Plea for Flexible Modular Smart-Home Devices
Some of these problems could be averted if the accelerometer were separate from the rest of the device. Say, with a 2' wire running to the sensor. Perhaps various types of endings for particular situations.
I sure wish somebody out there would let their sensors be separate from the base. Such as thin wires with a waterproof coating over the miniscule acclerometer on one end, and a plug for the the base on the other end. And/or an optional extended plug-in antenna for mailbox / refrigerator / machinery situations?
Maybe even a multi-capable base that you could buy various sensors to plug into?
How about that, designers? Make a nice little updateable core processing/radio unit, then let lots of things plug in. I bet you'd have a huge audience at first because no one is serving the multifold "niche" audience of unusual situations. I *so* want something where the temp sensor does not have to be right where the motion sensor is, but very close, and I don't want to have to buy and mess with two completely separate devices for the one particular place.
Make a great core with dozens of options, adding new ones, and we will flock to you. The price is not the biggest thing. The quality and flexibility are. There are a bunch of situations that simply can't be addressed right now. But if you make a really flexible core unit, think of all you could do with it! Update sensors independent of base and vice-versa! Optional base variants for special battery situations or local power, etc. etc.
Somebody please give it a shot. I'll buy a bunch already! Read all the junk I'm writing about problems with some of my sensors!

SmartThings Multipurpose Sensor Accelerometer Shines

If you have a typical mailbox like me, just use an extra good accelerometer. Like the one in the SmartThings (ST) Multipurpose Sensor. I call this an SMS herein (ST Multipurpose Sensor).

I tried an AMS here briefly. No go. It is simply not sensitive enough.

The SMS is so sensitive I can tap my finger down on it (without it moving noticeably), and it will ping. By comparison, the AMS needs a smack.

Mount an SMS on the underside/back of your mailbox support beam, out of the rain and weather, and out of the eyes of kids walking on the street.

An SMS works for me maybe 95% of the time when mail comes. If I experiment, I find it won't register if I'm quite gentle. Mailpersonages tend not to be gentle, but anything can happen.

He Said, She Said: The Sad Story of my Useless SmartThings Outlet, doomed to Repeater the mistakes of the past

I don't know about you guys, but I am all about climatic sensors and don't care about "burglar" sensors or turning on things remotely through slow SmartThings; not just the response time, but especially the fact that you have to first bring up the app, then tap about 5-10 different things just to turn on a fricking light. (I use an instantaneous cheap Etekcity remote for outlet control, and an Aeotec MiniMote for lights via Bravenel's nicer Button Controller+ app.)

The AMS might have been able to go the distance to my hub (Z wave), but its accelerometer was weak. My SMS was more than up to it - I've had to send back one or two because their accelerometer was too sensitive - but it didn't have the distance, being Zigbee. So I needed a repeater.

The damn fool ST Outlet that came with my ST hub kit couldn't do anything I could think of. No, I will not have to pull out my phone, hit some g-d 10 button keys to turn something on or off, f that. So I tried it as a repeater.

At which it failed miserably, 60' from my mailbox, plugged into an outlet on the inside front wall of my house, behind the brick fronting.

But when I moved it to an upper window - in the center of the actual window, on the inside, sort of awkwardly stuck there -

Now it all works fine.


If you are asking "why's he so exasperated", it;'s because I had to try multiple configurations, by multiple sensors, hubs (Wink and ST), and even placement of repeater, before finally - OMG - I get the Ding most every time mail is delivered.

How many hundreds of dollars and thousands of hours spent?

Smart-home tech designers really need to wake up. It is not some extreme moonshot request to know when your mail is delivered. But I had to push past multiple inadequacies.

Just to know when I got mail.

Are smart-home systems robust and deep?

No way. They're not ready for prime time yet, not a one of them. A pox on the smart home guy that says I was trying for too much. I am not trying for too much. My mail box is only 50 feet away! Wake up, guys! Change it all up. Make it robust! Stop asking if it's Z-Wave or zigbee, just make it both. Or something else, consumers don't care. Shut up and get robust.

ON the bright side, a perky Italian gal says my mail's arrived

So, here's a cool thing if you don't know about it yet,

There is an Android app called Tasker that lets you do all kinds of things with Android (not just ST). One of them is to intercept notifications (from any app at all) and perform an action.

I've always hated how SmartThings (and many other smart-home apps) are pretty childish. Only a handful of huge numbers per device display (when you could fit 50 numbers, or 10 devices)... And it's absurd that there's only one or two generic Notification sounds for the ten thousand possible conditions your two-dozen devices' hundred sensors might signal. Mailbox delivery should make a very different sound from movement a burglar probably caused. If mail is routine but burglars rare, you simply will not check what just happened the thousandth time you get the exact same old Notification sound.

I use Tasker to intercept ST notifications and say something extremely specific, based on what sensor threw exactly what message. It's also easy to choose what kind of voice (accent) will say the text-to-speech (TTS) in Tasker; just choose nationality and gender.

Like, I dunno... an Italian dame saying, You've got male mail.

Every single day.

Light / Lux

A VERY SIMPLISTIC OVERVIEW I DID MONTHS AGO, TO BE UPDATED IF/WHEN I GET TIME. In particular, I only used stats from changing values in the log. If nothing changed, there was no data. So if it went to 0 and stayed there 14 hours, that only showed as only 1 data point averaged into that "day" (only one of the many 10-minute intervals that day), instead of 14 hours of 0. I await the day AIs can go in and fix all the data irregularities that real-world data present. (Nods to DOE for all their unthanked work in this regard.) If/when I re-do this, I will do two things: 1) continue all data from previous point value (when a 0 should have been ditto'd 14 hours or whatever), and 2) set aside all 0-lux points as a special case, so that the actual amount of being lit can be compared against it.
You may be saying WTF to yourself. But read between the lines: This is complex data that sure could use some AIs doing the background work for you.
Note to self: Stop posting garbage data.

A very curious measurement, viewed over time. Here are my observations from Nov. 1, 2016 to Jan. 18, 2017:

A low-rez pic I hope to update with more data soon

I hope to update this with a higher-rez figure. Only so much time.
SD = standard deviation
N = how many data there were (each one is from a row of my CSchwer log (SmartThings forum, github) with 10 minutes per row in theory; see below). The large variation here is mostly because sensors only report when values change. As a very small percent (0-3%) it is due to the sensor being out, etc.
Mode is the most frequent number,
Mode N is how many times this was found, and
% Mode N is (Mode N) / N ... how much of that's sensor data was equal to the Mode value. If this percent is low, the sensor had more unique values than the other sensors, which is to say, their light levels changed the most. It's highest for the two outdoor sensors.

If you look at the list of my sensors, none of them have sunlight falling on them - a bad idea with these "indoor" sensors. But 3 and 4 (both under roof eaves) are facing areas that are sunlit. Most other sensors are not really facing anywhere sunlit (through windows) to any degree. I use them mainly for temperatures, not light, and being near an outer wall / window is not the best place for measuring temps representing the room or house as a whole.

This is from my CSchwer's Google Log. In theory, every 10 minutes for 2.5 months. But the sensors only record changes in values (so unless there is room light, they go to 0 at sunset then report nothing all night long). Also this is raw data... there are points where batteries went out, or the log, power, net, or hub were out, etc. etc. There was probably no data 1 or 2 percent of the time, in total.

This is a place where using Mode makes sense. We see that 0 was often the most frequent value. The modes above 0 make sense in context (#1 first floor foyer, 5 garage, 8 study). They all happen to be rooms that are mainly lit from the north. So their rooms get little direct sunlight, have a fairly diffuse steady light through the day, and values are not changing much. Therefore, because they have a smaller range of values, they do have some that occur more frequently than 0. These places also are not liable to have lights turning on and off a lot at night. (I have small motion detector lights throughout the house so we don't turn on lights just for walking from place to place after dark, we only turn on lights when we get to our destination room and need light for what we do there. Also: I'm a gamer, so there isn't much light in my study at night. Except for the dual monitors, grin.

In theory you could say 0 only happens once each day. But in reality it happens a lot at night due to how ST and the log function:

Sensors only report changes. But they always ultimately change to and report 0 when a light is turned off. Only the last value in a reporting period is saved to the log (10 minutes for me). If you pop into a room briefly, you may only see 0s. (Busted in the kitchen!) The basement (#2) and kitchen (#7) show this in spades. The basement doesn't have much windows, so this only gets up into 6 to 12 lux ordinarily by day and is otherwise the darkest place. But every time we turn on a light after dark, it results in yet another 0 to the log. We don't go down there tons, so what you see is what you get: it has the least light measurements in the house (only 1404) but a high percent of 0s (15%). Conversely, the kitchen is visited tons by all three of us popping in for something (me, wife, son). It has a lot more instances of lights being on briefly.


I might point out that light measures show one of the quirks of smart home sensors. On the one hand it makes perfect sense that we don't want sensors reporting if there is no change. But lots of empty cells in our logs make statistics problematic. The basement clearly has the least light in my house but because it has bright fluorescent lights, you'd think it's brighter than my kitchen - until you notice it has much less data (and was pitch black much more). To better approximate how much light rooms have, you'd really need to 1) fill empty cells (where data did not change) with values from previous cells, and 2) attempt to approximate how often lights are on, and at what lux, when they are only on briefly. (You can approach it by plotting a distribution of how often it crossed a reporting boundary - being on before it, 0 after it. Extrapolate based on length of reporting period; 10 minutes in my case.)

It's pretty hard to look at my light statistics (above) and get a real feel for how much light each room gets. What we really truly could use is a graph by time of day. Simple in concept, but a super amount of work at our current state of affairs. (Using these raw logs in Google Sheets.) It needs something more like area under the curve. And there would really need to be strong normalization for periods when the reporting interval changed (handled well by area under the curve), or there was missing data (extrapolate from where there was data).

The time covered (Nov. 1 to Jan. 17) is 77.5 days, which is 1860 hours or 11,160 intervals of 10 minutes. But the actual average interval is 10:38 plus there was some down time, so let's say it was 12 minutes and there are 9,300 intervals of 12 minutes. In this case, the sensor with the most readings (4553) only has data for half the period. The period with the least (1404) is only 15%. So one needs to be careful what conclusions they draw.


Okay, enough typing, smile. I started looking at this on a whim. Then wound up spending 2-3 hours on it, and learned a lot about how lights worked in my house. I had never really looked at this data before, although I've had these sensors since June. So I've learned a lot.


* work in progress *

Notes to self:

  • Temp ranges
  • Lux findings

Problems

There are a lot of little problems with the AMS. This is true of many smart-homes sensors. Still, it definitely needs improvement.

Batteries

AMS batteries only last a few months. Most smart home sensors' batteries last a year.

AMSs use a pair of CR123A batteries. I have been buying mine from Amazon. It's my general understanding that only a few factories make batteries these days at pretty high quality, resold under various names.

Careful, I do not recommend buying via eBay or other places that may very well resell dated/problem batteries. I haven't tested CR123As from eBay specifically, but did test some high-priced videocam batteries a few years ago, where genuine new ones cost $50-$60, but you could find them for $16 on eBay. In tests where I timed how long it took the vidcam to go from fully-charged batteries to dead, cheap ones invariably only lasted 20% of the time genuine ones cost. They were probably surplussed batteries past their prime, etc. There's an interesting tale there I hope to tell sometime. Ask on the forum.
Skippable Details
Until I can do a full analysis, here's some gross battery metrics as of 6/19/17 (all batteries from Amazon with Prime, no shipping or tax):
  • As for my devices, I bought one AMS 2/21/16 (464 days ago) and eight more circa 6/12/16 (374 days ago) (see My Setup). These all came with a pair of batteries. Since then I've bought:
  • 4 Panasonics 2/27/16 for $13.94 ($6.97/pair)
  • 10 Panasonics 6/10/16 for $15.99 ($3.20/pair) (I realized I needed to up my quantity game, laugh)
  • 10 Panasonics 6/16/16 for $15.40 ($3.08/pair)
  • 12 Streamlight 85177s 8/27/16 for $18.60 ($3.10/pair)
  • 48 Surefire 10/12/16 for $68.78 ($2.87/pair). As of 6/19/17, I have 12 left.

In summary, as of today (6/19/17), including the batteries they came with, my 9 sensors have run through 72 batteries (102 original or bought - 18 currently left in AMSs - 12 not yet used).

I've had the 9 sensors a total of 3,476 days (if you add the days together). Divide by 36 pairs (72/2) and the average PAIR of batteries has lasted 95.6 days or 3.17 months.

I haven't done an exhaustive check of Amazon (or elsewhere), but a quick review shows that 48 Surefire CR123As cost $70.00, which seems like a price point. That's $1.46 each or $2.92 for a pair.

If a pair lasts 3.17 months (needs a new pair 3.78 times a year), then the batteries for one AMS cost $11 per year (3.78 times $2.92), but they're only that cheap bought in huge bulk (48 batteries at a shot).

Note a huge deal if you have one. If you have 10 AMSs, that's $110 a year.

Let us also not forget: If you indeed have ten AMSs, then one of your AMSs runs out of batteries every 10 days on average (95.6 days/10).

Don't you love being rewarded for having a huge investment in one particular company, and tons of sensors... by... having to run the f all over the place a bunch of times a month? Hard-to-reach devices, another g-d "battery out" alert in the middle of the night, etc.


Sigh.


I read that the previous gen of AMSs was really bad with batteries. How worse could it have been? How can a pair of CR123As not last two years?

And why don't designers use AA batteries anyway? (Designers, never use AAAs! They have so much less MAh than AAs; the cost and larger size don't matter versus the hassle.) Please never use battery buttons or AAAs unless you can get 2+ years out of them. Don't think of how much you can get away with... think of how much consumer friendlier your long-lasting device will be.

Yes, you can specify it must have lithium for outdoor conditions, and list a few examples to underscore the fact. But don't give no alternative, even to people that understand.


Aeotech needs a slapping with a wet fish due to the AMS's severe battery/money/hassle problem.

Freeze glitches

On rare occasions - maybe every nine months as a rough average, maybe more often, I haven't kept precise notes - these guys will freeze up. You have to hard reset them by removing batteries (unless there's some other trick I don't know).

If your AMS goes out before the batteries were due to die in 3 months (and/or the batteries weren't dying) (but just try it anyway), take the batteries out and wait a while. More than 10 seconds, less than 60.

It confused the hell out of me when an AMS seemed to die after one month. I momentarily swapped out the 1-month-old batteries trying to reset it, but it still didn't work. Then I put fresh batteries in, and it did work. But then, thinking how odd it was that 1-month-old batteries apparently died, I tried putting the "old" ones back in. Lo and behold, it worked. I thereby learned you have to wait a little.

Not a big deal if you have one AMS. If you have 9, it happens once a month or something. Maybe Aeotec doesn't want people to have lots? Sarcasm. Please fix this, Aeotec. Even if you can't figure it out per se, make a way to do a hard reset remotely.

A truly hard reset. The same as removing batteries.

You'd probably like to think, "Oh, we fixed all that, now." Fine, you think that. But still give us the hard-reset capability. What can it hurt? Really, it can only help... why not give consumers more choice?

Aeotec: Make sure all settings are always stored in static RAM. For resets, battery death, whatever.

Contacts

Another oddity. I once had weirdly intermittent comms from an AMS. It had been fine for months, but crapped out and new batteries didn't help. It would always work on USB, but rarely work on batteries, even trying several pairs of completely new ones from the exact same batch all my other AMSs were using just fine. I contacted the vendor The Smartest House (TSH) and tried a dozen frustrating "reset everythings", but it kept being very flakey on batteries. Don't you hate it when reps don't seem to hear what you're saying?

TSH agreed to RMA. They tested it and said "some batteries don't have their ends at just the right position, and don't make good contact". This doesn't make sense to me because:

  1. All CR123A batteries look the same to me, down to the millimeter. It's not rocket science. How hard can it be? I had tried several pairs from brand new batteries, and all the other ones from this lot had worked fine in other AMSs.
  2. Isn't this exactly the same thing as having recommended that I make sure the AMS contacts have not become bent back or recessed a little? Just make sure the contacts touch?

TSH said No, that's not the problem. But I fail to see their logic. I buy CR123As in large batches now (48 at a time). I suspect batteries are all made by one or two factories; do your homework and you'll see. If you look at CR123As, they're super simple and No, the batteries were not loose in their sockets.

The upshot here is that if your AMS is flakey on batteries but not USB, make sure its battery contacts have not become pushed back against the housing. Use a tweezer to gently coax them out more if they seem indented. But be careful, it is easy to overwork simple metal leads, and break them at their flex point. Just make sure they seem to stick out enough by eyeball.

This is probably a rare thing. I'm just saying, make sure the leads don't seem pushed back.

Let me add that The Smartest House was ultimately honorable. They sent the same AMS back, paid for all shipping involved, and it has worked just fine since. So I'd like to hope their engineers learned something (though I doubt it, because the front-line rep was eager to insist it couldn't be a contact problem; she repeated what they said above).

the Usual Drill for Batteries

As good a place as any to add:

  • As always for any battery or electronic contacts - wipe them with a soft cloth (t-shirt!) to be free of any finger oil or other junk, before placing. Both battery and contacts.
  • And twist them once in place so any miniscule grit gets worked away.

Thanking you kindly for your every day diligence staying legal. To the laws of physics, chemistry, etc.

LED Light

The AMS has one little multi-colored LED light on the front. Most of the time, a green flash indicates motion detection. Otherwise, it does specific things when setting it up.

This light should have the ability to be turned off, if desired. Yes, you can tape it. But let us turn it off remotely if we desire.

Some family members or guests might feel spied on. They are not geeks like me, but it goes off every time they pass by. I don't need to be labelled Spy Master by non-geeks because I'm a geek. Also, maybe I don't want prowlers' attention drawn to a little light telling them exactly what to whack.

Just let us turn it off remotely if desired.

Quirks

Battery 2 First

If you read the instructions closely, you see that it can work on one battery if it's put in Slot 1. (Look close; their bays are enumerated. Thanks for giving us flexibility, Aeotec!)

At least once in my AMS history, one got stuck on 50% battery level for the life of its batteries, even though it had two.

Forever after, I put the first battery in bay 2, and the second in bay 1. So that when it comes up, it's at 100%.

Maybe it's just superstition; I'm not sure what happened. I don't want to test everything, shrug.

Tip

Use a pencil on the bay detailing and smear it to make markings more legible.

USB power requires the back plate off

Why?

You can't use the back mount if the back is off.

It's great to have this alternate power source. But either arrange it internally so a USB can fit in the back compartment and have the lid closed, or have a USB port on the side. Or have a cutout in the back for those into USB. Whatever.

+4 for USB, -2.5 for back-plate problem.

Comments

For comments, questions, or discussion, please follow this link where the Aeotec Multisensor 6 can be discussed in full.

Anyone really into AMSs is welcome to contact me about wiki edit privileges, but it is likely that I will give you your own page here (announced at top of this page) before I give edit privileges for this page. Ultimately this is not an ordinary wiki; this is my running notes on my AMSs.

Also, Contact me if you don't want to make a forum account, or are having trouble on my site.

Thanks!