Ring – Spotlight Cam Battery

Currently we have three “Right Spotlight Camera Battery’s” cameras. They are neat cameras that we move around our property for security and to monitor wildlife. We even went the extra mile and order a second battery for each camera and a couple of spares. They last between 2-3 weeks without issue, until.

One camera dropped off the network, no big just change the batteries, not blinking lights, nada. Tried a few batteries, brought whole camera into the office where I am sure the network single is strong, nothing.

We pay for the monthly “Protect Plus”, which is supposed to support online storage of all recordings for more than one device, and extended warranty.

So I tried the online chat support, first they want to link your Ring Account to your Amazon account, and want your mobile phone number. Personally I don’t trust Google as far I would throw anything they make. Such as the Next Protect, which EXPIRES and is worthless after a few years become, according to them, a sensor life expectancy. However that wasn’t noted anywhere before the sale.. Anyway, so after trying their online help, and being required to link to Amazon and give them my cell phone I told him to shove it (in a nice way). I PAY for service and I expect service. So I am told to call their 800-656-1918 for support. I bet you can guess how this is going to go.. But keep everyone updated.

UPDATE 01: Phone call with Ring Tech support took 35 minutes, including repeating all he steps already performed, replace battery, hold button for 1 second, repeat. Replace battery hold button for 20 seconds, repeat. Did however learn there are little LEDs inside, by hinge. In my case, NOTHING.

There is a $1 to send you a replacement, which will be refunded (will monitor), and you will be charged the full price of a new camera if you don’t send back broken unit within 13 days. Expensive junk! Again will keep everyone updated.

UPDATE 02: New Ring camera arrived, basically a WHOLE new camera. After setting up as a new device, it has been working fine. Sent the old one back by giving to UPS driver at out local Staples. Now have to see if I get the $2 back that they took, and make sure they don’t charge me for a NEW camera.

Synology NAS DS419Slim

Provide information and insights into new NAS. (TO DO)

DS419Slim

After a few months operating the drive, I can now report on its overall operation.

One, don’t let the photos on Amazon full you, this is a MINI NAS which uses laptop drives, not the normal desktop drives. Was surprised when it arrived, plus the description said it came with drives, but didn’t. Amazon likes to embellish its descriptions and mix all the “like” drives. So don’t bother reading them, get your reviews elsewhere.

After the second order, with drives arrived, install and setup was easy. Left the drive formatting/partitioning overnight. It comes with internet access to manage, configure and monitor.. HOWEVER, it isn’t free, SURPRISE. Locally accessing, does work and is free.

There are two pieces of software that can be installed on Synology Cloud Station Backup and Synology Cloud Station Drive. Station Backup does a backup as is per configured on each station. Station Drive syncs file as they are opened and closed. Users complained of slower computers, but was kind of expected.

You log into the NAS with each users account and can recover files easily. I don’t expect users to be able to do this.

Ring Interesting Developments

Explain New Ring ecosystem of devices, their pros and cons, plus how we have been using them.

Path Lights
Pathlights
Spot Light
Stair Lights
Mailbox sensor

Have been using this system for over size months now, and as much as I want to hate Google’s ecosystem I can’t. It was easy to setup and configure, though it is a bit of a fight to get system to do everything you want it to do. Once you figure out where and when you can configure be it web or app, it works.

Batteries last much longer than expected, some lasted over 4 months, solar lights work well if they get a few hours of sun per day.

Devices can be grouped to trigger Cameras and other lights. We have path lights that sense motion at either end of the path, and do a wonderful job. Pathlights are set about 12 feet apart, each has a motion sensor.

Flood lights can be used to trigger path lights and camera. VERY BRIGHT. We have two flood lights and a spot light lighting our wildlife feeding area. Lights up like a oasis of light at night, giving smooth even lighting around the area. We have photos of squirrels and raccoons sitting on the lights (and cameras). Wildlife doesn’t appeared to be scared off.

Wouldn’t recommend the solar camera system, the panels would not be able to charge the batteries enough to really help. The solar path lights and starlight work great, as long as they get a few hours of full sun everyday.

Expect to buy lots of D cell batteries, each path light and flood light takes four.

The cameras come with 1 removable, rechargeable battery. We bought an extra one for each camera. Batteries last 2-3 weeks depending on use.

The range of communication is pretty good, we have lights and cameras over 100 feet away from house and they appear to communicate fine.

Homekit access works, however we have configured a “HomeBridge” server and have the needed plugins installed. We can view the camera on our tvs.

Mailbox sensor is the only sensor we’ll take issue with. Our mailbox is over 300 feet from house and worked great till the battery died. To replace the battery you have to remove from mailbox and antenna, then try to reconnect antenna and return to it location inside the mailbox. Good Luck. – The first time you install the antenna isn’t attached to mailbox (double faced tape), so you have the full length of the antenna’s wire. However when you have to replace battery, you have to disconnect antenna to remove from mailbox, then try to reattached. This system needs improvement, bigger easier connection, maybe on the side instead of the back, something. But the system worked great when it was first installed and I am sure if you don’t need antenna it would be fantastic.

Wink – Update – Subscriptions

All I can say to Wink is, “WTF”!! They have dropped Spotter and Nimbus and now they want to charge $5 a month, FOR WHAT!! I’ve tried to contact them. Had to settle for a contact form asking if they are planning on adding support for Spotter and Nimbus, since they are basically adding nothing, but charging us $60 a year for their service.

Not a happy camper!

This is a copy of the eMail they sent us:

Dear Wink User,

Wink’s mission for the past 5+ years has been to provide users with a ‘Simpler, Smarter Home,’ while maintaining privacy for our customers. Our approach to simplicity and security has driven our design from the user experience to the technology behind the scenes.

We understand that a smart home is something that needs to be trusted and dependable, and we recognize that recent events have created some uncertainty around the reliability of the system. We apologize for these inconveniences and want to share some background information as well as the path forward.

Since 2014, Wink has grown to support more than 4 million connected devices. During this time, Wink has relied solely on the one-time fee derived from hardware sales to cover ongoing cloud costs, development and customer support. Providing users with local and remote access to their devices will always come at a cost for Wink, and over the years we have made great progress toward reducing these costs so that we can maintain that feature.

Wink has taken many steps in an effort to keep your Hub’s blue light on, however, long term costs and recent economic events have caused additional strain on our business. Unlike companies that sell user data to offset costs associated with offering free services, we do not. Data privacy is one of Wink’s core values, and we believe that user data should never be sold for marketing or any purpose.

We have a lot of great ideas on how to expand on Wink’s capabilities and satisfy the many requests from our user base. In order to provide for development and continued growth, we are transitioning to a $4.99 monthly subscription, starting on May 13, 2020. This fee is designed to be as modest as possible. Your support will enable us to continue providing you with the functionality that you’ve come to rely on, and focus on accelerating new integrations and app features.

Should you choose not to sign up for a subscription you will no longer be able to access your Wink devices from the app, with voice control or through the API, and your automations will be disabled on May 13. Your device connections, settings and automations can be reactivated if you decide to subscribe at a later date.

Our user community is integral to Wink, and we want to continue to be your trusted smart home provider. Visit subscription.wink.com to subscribe.

Wink Automation Future

A few years ago I started using Wink to automation and home monitoring, there were issues with loss of contact with sensors, and relocated to a new state. We packed up and forgot about the Wink hardware and planned on using it again some day. Well that day has come, and sadly, passed.

The hub, was tiny, and absolute, and we had 5 of them. Wink now had a new Wink Hub, much bigger, and a Wink Hub 2, now with an Ethernet connection.

Ok, first off, you need a smart device that has the newest bluetooth in order to configure and setup the Hub(s). Using an iPhone 6, didn’t work. But an iTouch ken 6 works. (Just a heads up.)

After just a couple of times, I was finally able to setup a pivot power strip, which has two switchable outlets and two un-switchable. Excitement builds.

Finally I can try the Spotter, the little environmental sensors, and to my surprise, they are no longer supported.

And finally, we were very sad to see they no longer support the Nimbus displays. That was heart breaking, we were so looking forward to using these.

Spotter
Pivot
Nimbus
Hub 1
Hub 2

We were really wanting to use these items, but without support we are at a loss. Wink as a company seems to have had gone dormant, no new product, lacking real support. It is hoped a larger company like Google, Amazon or Apple purchases Wink and revive life in their product line.

rtl_433 mhz

One of the most difficult problems I’ve attempted to resolve in the last few years, is how to capture and record (into mysql database) data received from 433mhz sensors..

rtl_433 -M utc -F json -G

{“time” : “2019-09-25 19:11:54”, “model” : “Acurite tower sensor”, “id” : 2766, “sensor_id” : 2766, “channel” : “A”, “temperature_C” : 22.700, “humidity” : 44, “battery_low” : 0}

{“time” : “2019-09-25 19:12:01”, “model” : “Acurite Lightning 6045M”, “id” : 253, “channel” : “A”, “temperature_F” : 72.100, “humidity” : 41, “strike_count” : 26, “storm_dist” : 27, “active” : 1, “rfi” : 0, “ussb1” : 0, “battery” : “OK”, “exception” : 0, “raw_msg” : “c0fd6fa9d12d9a1b88”}

{“time” : “2019-09-25 19:12:04”, “model” : “Smoke detector GS 558”, “id” : 8078, “unit” : 14, “learn” : 0, “code” : “63f1ce”}

Trying to parse and collect the data using LiveCode has proven to be difficult. First problem with rtl receiver, is it isn’t seen as a com port, or other readable device. It is seen as its own terminal device. I’ve tried piping, didn’t work. Basically everything I’ve tried, hasn’t worked.

The best advice I have received to is send data out to flat file, then read the file. Which basically mean lots of file activity and parsing. Unsure if I am willing to do that for what should be a simple task. That would cause a great deal of read/write activity on the SD drives and possibly wear out the drive faster.

Heard of a new program that outputs the data to files specific to the device id, trying to find it. Will keep everyone informed.

Reducing number of domains.

Over the years we have acquired a few domain names we thought we’d end up using someday. Some have gone up and value others have not.

So we’ve decided to start cutting down on the number of domain names we have and better combine those we want to keep.

LittleSoftwareBarn.Com is our ‘see us, see what we’ve done’ site.

LittleSoftwareBarn.Net is our locally hosted domain and allows us to interact directly with our internet of thing using local systems.

Other sites that were purchased thinking they would fit a future need, are being let go.

Sites we see as investments, in the name, are being kept.

We will be keeping http://travelingmickey.com it seems very popular, lots of visitors.

And N4N.us we will keep, because we like the WordPress blogging system.

Thoughts on Subscription Services

Everyone hates paying high cable bills, or monthly satellite service fees, cable cutters have caused a market shift. I do not feel this shift is for the better. Personally I hated paying over $100.00 a month to my cable company, so I switched to satellite, saving almost $25 a month. Now people are getting rid of both services and just using HDTV (over the air services) which in my area are VERY VERY LIMITED, or subscribing to an online service such as Sling or TubeTV. These offer many of the same nation wide services found on cable and satellite.

Hulu And Netflix enter the mix. There are times you want to watch movies or newly released shows and movies not found on the big streaming services. So you start to add on more subscription services..

There is also a HBO and CBS streaming services… And NOW there are a rash of new “+” services coming to market….

In my opinion this is just going to cause a rash of add ons and force consumers to pay even more than they would with cable, who is now raising their rates to cover the losses (smart!!?? <really>)..

UPDATE: As it stands I tried both SlingTV and TubeTV. I canceled SlingTV after a few months, it didn’t provided the channels we were looking for. TubeTV has been good, except for the rate hike of over $10 a month, but they did add channels, so it wasn’t too painful.

OH and as a, just a heads up. When after a few months, when TubeTV raised it rates we checked out SlingTV service again. And the sneaky buggers, re-subscribed us to their service. So they soaked me for a months service. So be VERY CAREFUL when reviewing their services.

LiveCode Project

Got a job writing a program to track a client’s, client’s. Can’t go into do much detail. But it is reawakened the joy of Programming in LiveCode again. LiveCode is up to version 9 now, haven’t done any major projects in it since version 6. SO, lots of new features and changes. Having to relearn a few things. This project will be using SQLite, which I haven’t used in a LONG time, but so far going fairly well.

UPDATE: You can see what the finish project looks like on LittleSoftwareBarn.com, Projects >> Boat tracker. Project took under two weeks to complete.