Dimmer Extender discussion

Posted on
Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:49 pm
nsheldon offline
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Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

DU Lou wrote:
Thank for the great contribution. I am having fun setting up some dramatic Actions and Triggers with this plugin. I did notice that the selectable ramp rates offered are less then the default ramp rates that can be selected from the device itself. Is that by design or just a limitation of the plugin?

Thanks again,
~Lou

Hi Lou. In short, it's a limitation of the dimmer hardware and INSTEON commands used.

Dimmer Extender uses a special SmartLabs defined INSTEON command that includes both the brightness level and ramp rate in a single 8-bit byte (4 bits for the brightness level and 4 bits for the preset ramp rate to use). Normally, Smarthome/SmartLabs dimmers recognize 32 brightness levels and can be set to 32 different default ramp rates, but because 16 is the highest number of options that can be described by 4 bits, the dimmers can only be set to 16 different brightness levels (other than off) and 16 different ramp rates.

Posted on
Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:10 pm
DU Lou offline
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Location: Florida

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

nsheldon wrote:
DU Lou wrote:
Thank for the great contribution. I am having fun setting up some dramatic Actions and Triggers with this plugin. I did notice that the selectable ramp rates offered are less then the default ramp rates that can be selected from the device itself. Is that by design or just a limitation of the plugin?

Thanks again,
~Lou

Hi Lou. In short, it's a limitation of the dimmer hardware and INSTEON commands used.

Dimmer Extender uses a special SmartLabs defined INSTEON command that includes both the brightness level and ramp rate in a single 8-bit byte (4 bits for the brightness level and 4 bits for the preset ramp rate to use). Normally, Smarthome/SmartLabs dimmers recognize 32 brightness levels and can be set to 32 different default ramp rates, but because 16 is the highest number of options that can be described by 4 bits, the dimmers can only be set to 16 different brightness levels (other than off) and 16 different ramp rates.


When I said limitation of the plugin I also MEANT a limitation of the hardware ;) Fine piece of programing. Thank you sir!

Posted on
Sun Dec 09, 2012 6:10 pm
nsheldon offline
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Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Ha! I'm glad the plugin is working well for you. :-)

Posted on
Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:27 pm
Dewster35 offline
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Location: Petoskey, MI

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

I downloaded this plugin thinking it would do something else. My thought was that I could "set" the default brightness level and ramp rate without actually turning the device on. For instance, I have a nursery where we want to the ramp rate to be .1 and brightness to be 100% during the day of the overhead light and a lower brightness level and longer ramp rate when it is night time. My current setup involves the default device settings to be to the night time mode and a trigger to bump it up if it is daytime, but I'm not real happy with the delay. Any thoughts to expanding this to change the settings of a device without actually turning it on?

Posted on
Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:07 pm
nsheldon offline
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Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the SmartLabs documentation describing the commands necessary to make local device setting changes, so I can't perform configuration changes to dimmer devices through the plugin. Dimmer Extender can, however, set the brightness and ramp rate with each on/brighten or off/dim command.

You could thus have separate triggers for daytime and nighttime. For example, a "Nursery Light On - Day" trigger (or schedule) would have the condition (in the Conditions tab) that the variable "isDaylight" is "true". The action (in the Actions tab) would be to use Dimmer Extender to Set Brightness with Ramp Rate for the nursery light. A second "Nursery Light On - Night" trigger or schedule would have the condition that the variable "isDaylight" is "false". The action would be to use Dimmer Extender to Set Brightness with Ramp Rate, this time using the nighttime brightness and ramp rate. Only one trigger would fire at a time since the Indigo built-in "isDaylight" variable can only be either "true" or "false" and is automatically set by Indigo at sunrise and sunset.

Posted on
Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:35 pm
nsheldon offline
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Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Version 1.0.2 Released

(See main Dimmer Extender announcement thread for download link).

  • Added: optional automatic version checking (enabled by default) and email notification (configurable in the plugin configuration window).

Posted on
Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:29 pm
nsheldon offline
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Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Version 1.1 Released!

(See main Dimmer Extender announcement thread for download link).

  • Added: Brighten by 1 Step and Dim by 1 Step actions which can be sent to any INSTEON device.
  • Added: Start Brightening, Start Dimming, and Stop Brightening/Dimming actions which can be sent to any INSTEON device.

Posted on
Tue Aug 13, 2013 1:50 pm
nsheldon offline
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Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Version 1.1.1 Released!

(See main Dimmer Extender announcement thread for download link).

  • Fixed a bug that updated Indigo with the wrong actual brightness of a dimmer after Dimmer Extender sent a Set Brightness with Ramp Rate command to it. NOTE: Because using the Set Brightness at Ramp Rate feature built-in to INSTEON dimmers limits the number of selectable brightness levels to only 16 discrete levels, this update will cause the brightness percentage values shown in Indigo to almost never match the exact brightness percentage you choose. Previous versions of Dimmer Extender incorrectly told Indigo that it had set the dimmer to the exact brightness you requested, but in reality, it selected the closest of the 16 brightness levels available. Now, Indigo correctly shows that brightness level.

Posted on
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:04 pm
dduff617 offline
Posts: 398
Joined: Jul 05, 2006

Minor bug in UI

A minor problem I've observed:

As part of a trigger, I want a set of lights in my kids' bedroom to dim slowly. In the "Actions" tab of the trigger, I add an action to dim one of the lights with the appropriate parameters. Then I hit the "show all" button to show the action in list view. I select it and hit "duplicate" to create another action, which I edit, changing the device, but leaving the other parameters the same. I do this several times for each of the various overhead lights and lamps.

What I observe after doing this, however, is that in the "show all" view where the actions are listed, they all still have identical descriptions, all but one of which are inaccurate descriptions of their underlying actions. In other words, after duplicating the first action, when I opened the copies and edited them, the results of the edits were not reflected in the descriptive string that appears in the list of actions.

so presumably ValidateActionConfigUI method needs to see that the description gets updated not just at initial action creation but also after any edits.

Posted on
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:22 pm
nsheldon offline
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Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Hi. Thanks for pointing that out. I'll check out the code and see why it's not updating as expected.

Posted on
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:38 pm
dduff617 offline
Posts: 398
Joined: Jul 05, 2006

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

so the gist of my previous post was that if i duplicate an action and edit only the device, the description does not get updated as it seems it should.

i found that if i select the actions with incorrect descriptions, edit, then hit the "Edit Action Settings..." button and hit save (even without making any changes) the description then updates properly.

so i'm wondering if possibly this is might be an Indigo bug rather than a bug with the plugin. in any case, this is at least an easy work-around for the problem.

Posted on
Sat Oct 28, 2017 7:44 pm
nsheldon offline
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Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Hi again.

Sorry. I misunderstood the procedure you were following. I thought you were clicking the edit button for each action and it still wasn't reflecting the description changes. Yes. I can't control the description from within the plugin when the action is duplicated. As far as I know, the only time the plugin has a chance to update the description property is when you save the action. Indigo doesn't call any methods within the plugin when it duplicates an action, so the plugin has no idea that the selected device has changed until you edit then save.

Posted on
Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:29 pm
dduff617 offline
Posts: 398
Joined: Jul 05, 2006

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

just to be clear on the sequence...

1. I create a trigger. Within it, create an action, call it A1. Switch to "show all" to see the actions as a list. A1's description is correct.

2. I duplicate action A1 to create actions A2, A3, A4. Their descriptions are initially correct (unchanged).

3. Edit actions A2, A3, and A4 changing only the device (the target of the set brightness command). Switch to "show all" to see the actions as a list. Descriptions of A2, A3, A4 are incorrect.

4. Close the trigger object. I can confirm that the changes to the targets of the actions are permanent, but the descriptions of A2, A3, and A4 are now incorrect and still reference the target of A1.

This was the state when I filed the first "bug" report.

5. Now I go back and double click A2, then go one level deeper by clicking "Edit Action Settings". I make no changes, there but just hit "save" to exit. Now A2's description is updated and correct.

So there are two layers to how an action can be edited. A first layer you can get to by double-clicking the action in the list where the target device is configured and another sub-dialog entered by clicking "Edit Action Settings..." button where other set-brightness details are set. This second layer is exited with the "save" button and correctly updates description, however a change to the target device made in the first layer by itself does not update description.

Since the description references the target device, it seems like a bug that target device can be modified but description does not get updated.

Posted on
Sat Oct 28, 2017 11:15 pm
nsheldon offline
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Joined: Aug 09, 2010
Location: CA

Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

Thanks for the details.

I agree that it looks and acts like a bug. It's a design oversight, though, in how Indigo tells plugins about how actions are being edited. When you double-click an action in the action list and change the target device, Indigo makes not calls to any plugin methods. All of those changes are done within Indigo native code. The plugin is only notified of the device change either when the action is actually executed or by clicking on the Edit Action Settings button.

So while I agree that it's an interface inconsistency that should be addressed at some point, it's not something I can fix as there's not currently a mechanism within the Indigo API to tell when someone changes the target device in an action dialog until after they click the Edit Action Settings button.

Posted on
Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:50 am
matt (support) offline
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Re: Dimmer Extender discussion

nsheldon wrote:
It's a design oversight, though, in how Indigo tells plugins about how actions are being edited. When you double-click an action in the action list and change the target device, Indigo makes not calls to any plugin methods.

This is correct. We'll have to add some additional logic in Indigo Server to handle updating of those descriptions.

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