Something tells me, I’m being shafted by UK’s blinds manufacturers. No matter how long is the rail, I always get 32mm diameter one, despite 37mm being also available. Something tells me, these are reserved for motorised roller blinds only. Last time it was Zemismart who saved my video and actually sent me compatible roller blinds to go with, this time, I simply gave up and used their wireless Zemismart Roller Shade Driver (M515EGB) instead.
I give up for now
I will return to motorised shafts again (especially that one of them is already hacked), so consider this a motivation to follow my ventures. Thankfully, there is more than one way to skin the cat. I used one of these controllers before, but the last one was wired and screamed at me like a banshee. This one comes without wires (it is battery operated) and feels verbally subdued.
I’m posting this around 11:11 sales and Zemismart will lower the prices significantly on selected products. They were kind enough to send me a list of products with the best deals for 11:11 so I will include these too!
- Everything ZigBee for windows, rollers and curtains
- Motorised curtains -WiFi (review) & Z-Wave
- 37mm motorised shaft for rollers (review)
- Tuya IR bridge
- 4 Gang Zigbee switch (grid pattern)
- ZigBee smart light switch (review)
- Tuya Zigbee starter kit (review)
- 3 Gang ZigBee push button wall switch
- 1-3 Gang no neutral wall switch
Automating blinds with wireless chainlink driver
Zemismart Roller Shade Driver comes in two flavours: WiFi (M515EGB) and ZigBee (M515EGB +Z). Each protocol comes with some advantages (more about this in a moment) but the driver itself is the same for both units. Why? Each set comes with a dongle which uses RF900 to “speak” to the driver itself. This way, the driver can remain in the low power mode for much longer.
The dongle links the driver with the internet thanks to an ESP8266 based chip. There is also an RF remote if that’s your thing, but integration with Tuya assures voice controls via compatible skills with Alexa and Google Assistant.
WiFi vs ZigBee
Personally, I’d rather get the ZigBee version, but beggars cannot be choosers and I end up with the WiFi option at hand. The advantage of the WiFi (M515EGB) is direct control. There is no need for a hub to bridge the service, but that pleasure comes with the trouble which is flashing the WiFi controller should you want to take over the blinds and release the Tuya constraints.
ZigBee (M515EGB+Z) needs an extra hub, like this one (review) but can also be paired with other ZigBee compatible devices including CC2531!
Blinds are smooth in operation. The speed isn’t rapid (30RPM) but it’s very quiet in operation. Much quieter than motorised shaft I played with or the wired equivalent with a banshee inside. The unit is very simple to mount – it took me about 10 min to get everything in place.
Since the Zemismart Roller Shade Driver is battery driven, an USB cord is included (the barrel jack lights up green when charged). The cable can be used for charging with the device in operation, or simply remove the driver from the wall and take it to your charging station. It’s easy and hassle free. I only wish the batteries came as packs you can replace.
There is an associated remote which comes with standard buttons UP/DOWN and STOP. There isn’t much to it. You do have to hold the button for about 1-2 sec to start the blinds. Zemismart Roller Shade Driver mirrors the same buttons in terms of control.
There are 3 limits (TOP and BOTTOM are mandatory for correct operation) and blinds will travel to the nearest limit based on your input. If you have a middle limit in place and you want to open the blinds fully, you will have to press the open button again as the blind would pause at the midpoint. If you don’t like this behaviour, delete the middle limit.
I took a quick peek inside to see what am I dealing with, and how hackable this thing is. At the heart of the system lays a TYWE3S (ESP8266) chip with is easy to access and tinker with thanks to USB dongle design. It’s an add on, so it can be easily flashed or replaced. The board itself also uses an STM32F based controller in charge of the RF900MHz.
Inside the Zemismart Roller Shade Driver, there are 2 18600 batteries keeping this thing connected and plenty of space to DIY extra things should you need to. I have no doubts I will revisit these again with some wild ideas, but for now, let’s talk about stock functionality.
It’s been 2 months, 2 automated actions a day and occasional manual controls and the device is still working on a single charge. You should be able to get 3-4 months on a single charge which is more than reasonable. It charges quickly and the unit takes seconds to be removed from the wall. Just do yourself a favour and try to preserve the chain position or you will face another calibration.
Tuya nowadays isn’t a bad app. It gets a rep for its Chinese origins, but as an ecosystem, it has more compatible devices than any western ecosystem alone. The dongle pairs in no time (hold set button for 5 sec). Linking it to the remote and the driver gets more tricky as instructions could be a bit clearer.
Unfortunately, Tuya force closes the device screen when I’m trying to use the slider to control the device. I never had this issue before, the up-down buttons in the app work well. I usually use Alexa voice control and automated actions, so it won’t bother me, but I have reported this as a fault.
Other than this, Tuya app comes with all options you would expect. There are timers and schedules, options to reverse the motor direction and a simple automation panel where you can create different policies based on sensors or triggers.
11:11 is around the corner. If you want to spruce up your house with new automation gadget, give Zemismart store a glance over. They always have interesting things to add to home automation and this year’ sales look interesting. Time will tell how long the unit lives on a battery. For now, I enjoy my custom automation thanks to AlexaRemotev2 and the ability to drive the devices without the need to hack it. I know for a fact I will revisit the dongle and make it mine with Tasmota! It’s a reason to follow me here! Leave me a comment in this Reddit thread if you have any questions.