Smartthings RGBW Controller

Smartthings Logo

Technology is progressing at a rapid rate. Home automation appeared out of nowhere but has created its own foothold in the industry. Smartthings by Samsung is a modular home automation system which produces its own products but also allows third party products to be used within its ecosystem.

RGBW lighting is big at the moment, and most RGBW controllers are fairly expensive and a little hit and miss with Smartthings.

In comes the cheap H801 wifi RGBW controller.

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This little device doesn't work straight out of the box it needs re-flashing with custom firmware using a FTDI usb to TTL serial board.

FTDI USB TO TTL

This post will explain how to get this to work within Smartthings.

What you need.

  1. H801 controller
  2. FTDI USB to TTL Serial board
  3. Mini USB to USB 2.0 cable
  4. Jumper Wires (4x Female to Male and 1x Male to Male)
  5. ESPeasy Flashing Software
  6. Custom Firmware
  7. Smartthings custom device handles and smart app.

Some images taken from Smartthings Forums, also help and support available here - https://community.smartthings.com/t/release-smartlife-h801-rgbw-led-strip-wifi-controller-bulb/51182/360

Here is the hardware needed.

Hardware needed

Flashing the Controller

  1. Unscrew the 4 screws on the H801 Controller and remove the board from the casing.

  2. When flashing the board it's recommended to use the FTDI to power the H801, for this we need to change the jumper on the FTDI board from 5v to 3.3v

  3. Using the 4x female to make jumpers connect the FTDI to the H801

H801 Rx to FTDI pin2 Rx H801 Tx to FTDI pin3 Tx H801 3.3v to FTDI pin4 VCC **Have FTDI power H801 to minimize communication issues! H801 Grd to FTDI pin6 Grd

Also use the male to male jumper to enable flash mode on the H801 (blue cable in picture below)

wiring

  1. Connect the USB cable from the FTDI to a laptop/PC. The board lights might flash temporarily and go off, this is normal.

  2. Download and extract ESPeasy_R120. I extracted it to C:\ESPeasy_R120

  3. Download the custom firmware and place in the ESPeasy_R120 folder.

  4. Find the COM port that the FTDI is using, in my case COM5. TO find COM port, right click my computer > Device Manager > USB Devices. Its normally called USB to Serial adapter/interface.

  5. Open a command prompt. Click Start > Run > CMD

  6. Change directory to where you extracted ESPeasy_R120 to. In my case CD C:\ESPeasy_R120

  7. Enter to the following command changing the COM5 to your COM port.

esptool.exe -vv -cd nodemcu -cb 115200 -cp COM5 -ca 0x00000 -cf SmartLifeRGBWController.ino.generic.bin

If successful the command prompt window should populate with a load of text and then some loading starts ****. once finished your device should be flashed with the custom firmware.

Configuring H801.

The H801 should now be flashed with custom firmware, however still needs to be configured.

  1. The H801 should now be broadcasting its own Wifi. connect to it with the password 'configme'.

  2. You should now get a menu where you can configure the H801 to connect to your own Wifi. If this doesnt show automatically, open up a web browser and go to 192.168.4.1.

  3. Once it is connected to your Wifi we need to head over to Smartthings to add the custom device handler and smart app.

Adding the H801 to Smartthings

  1. Head to the Smartthings IDE - https://graph-eu01-euwest1.api.smartthings.com/

  2. Click on 'My Device Handlers' then Setttings and add a Repo.

Owner = erocm123 Git Repo = SmartthingsPublic Branch = Master

Look for the below in the right hand section

erocm123/SmartThingsPublic/blob/master/devicetypes/erocm123/smartlife-rgbw-controller.src/smartlife-rgbw-controller.groovy

erocm123/SmartThingsPublic/blob/master/devicetypes/erocm123/smartlife-rgbw-virtual-switch.src/smartlife-rgbw-virtual-switch.groovy

Tick them and then tick Publish before clicking Save

  1. Now Click on 'My Smart Apps'. This time click on 'Update from Repo'. In the drop down box, chose SmartthingsPublic (master).

Again on the right hand side look for

erocm123/SmartThingsPublic/blob/master/smartapps/erocm123/smartlife-rgbw-light-connect.src/smartlife-rgbw-light-connect.groovy

Tick the box and tick the publish box before saving.

SmartThings Mobile App

Now we need to head over to the Smartthings mobile app.

  1. Open the app and head to Automation tab then SmartApps

  2. Scroll to the bottom and + Add a SmartApp

  3. Scroll to the bottom and click 'My Apps'

  4. Chose SmartLife RGBW Light (Connect)

2 places below can help with installing and any support required.

help video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=268&v=3Kg_-bmBErM

help forum - https://community.smartthings.com/t/release-smartlife-h801-rgbw-led-strip-wifi-controller-bulb/51182/360

Harmony Skills and Alexa (Blue and Red)

enter image description here You've probably stumbled across this page if like me you live in the UK and don't have access to the Harmony Blue Skill.

If you're lucky enough to live in the US then this doesn't really apply to you as the US has 2 Echo Skills available for the Harmony, I will explain the difference below and how I over came the limitations in the UK.

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Harmony (Red Skill)

The Red skill is a basic Echo Skill available in both the US and UK. This skill links your Harmony Hub to Alexa. To control the hub you say commands such as "alexa, ask harmony to turn on...." alexa, ask harmony to turn the volume up"

Straight away you will notice that you have to use the INVOCATION name harmony to get it to do anything like many other basic skills. However Smart Home Skills like Phillips Hue or Samsungs Smarttthings allow you to use more natural speech such as:- "alexa, turn on living room lights" There's no need for an INVOCATION word.

enter image description here

Harmony (Blue Skill)

This leads onto the Harmony Blue Skill. Available only in the US, this skills is a Smart Home Skill which links Harmony and the Echo. With the Blue Skill it drops the INVOCATION word allowing you to say:- "alexa, turn on the TV" "alexa, turn up the volume" This is a much easier and cleaner way to interact with your new digital assistant don't you agree?

Unfortunately in the UK we don't have access to the Blue Skill however Harmony links with Smartthings and Smartthings is classed as a Smart Home Skill.

So my work around involves you already having or willing to purchase a Smartthings Hub.

  • Set up your Harmony Hub like normal with Activities
  • I had Activities called 'Watch Tv', 'Watch Emby', 'Play Xbox' and 'CCTV'.
  • Smartthings App - Open up the App and go to 'Automation' then '+ Add a Smart App' install the Logitech Harmony (Connect) app.
  • The Smart app will search and find your Harmony Hub and Activities.
  • The Activities will now be show as 'Things' which can be turned on/off within Smartthings.
  • They will be call {Activity Name} Harmony Hub. Rename them to something more appropriate, I called my 'Watch TV'
  • Head over to the Alexa App and then into 'Smart Home'. Click on Devices and run a Discover.
  • Alexa should find the new Smartthings Device called 'Watch TV' etc.

And that's it. Now in the UK you can say:- "Alexa, turn on the TV" This will activate the Smartthings Switch which in turn runs the Harmony Activity.


Limitations

Ok so this doesnt give you the full functionality of the BLue Skill but it's a start. You still cant control Volume or Favourites with out using the invocation name.


Issues

I ran into a few issues with my install, most noteably was that if any other device in your Smartthings App has the word TV in it then Alexa cant differentiate them. So when I said "Alexa, turn on the TV" she relied "there is more than one device called TV, which do you want?" But she didnt list them. Even after I deleted the other device called TV from Smartthings Alexa still thinks there is 2 devices called TV and there is no way to set one as default (that I could find). Even unlinking Smarttings from Alexa and re-linking didnt fix the issue.