The ABMHZ controller from Electronic Solutions Inc. (ESI) is said to fill a gap in wireless home automation by allowing for easy integration with other wireless home automation components. The plug-and-play motor controls enable consumers to control and monitor motorized devices such as window coverings and projection systems through the Z-Wave standard.
Compatible with most 115-V-ac motors and with a dc version expected to launch this fall, the controls are said to be an industry first. According to engineer Mark Perry of Lafayette, CO, U.S.–based ESI, competitive Z-Wave-enabled controls require the use of specific proprietary motors. “This can limit the range and style of products that can be controlled in a Z-Wave control system,” Perry says. “ESI is focused on developing controls that will work with any standard motor, so interoperability for different product types and sizes of products is not an issue.”
Perry says that the company chose Z-Wave over other wireless technologies because it offers a coherent, consistent means of controlling devices. “The organization of the Z-Wave protocol, particularly the device classes, helps achieve interoperability,” he explains. “Similar to the way musical instruments are categorized by the similar techniques required to play them, home automation devices are categorized by analogous ways in which they are operated. Lights can be turned on and off, and motorized window coverings can be opened or closed. Dimmable lights can be set to a level, and the controller can also be set to a level. The user can operate an ABMHZ-controlled window covering in the same ways as operating his or her lights.”
The ABMHZ controller combines a Z-Wave transceiver module with an intelligent motor controller. “The controller requires a calibration sequence when ABMHZ is installed, during which the motor control processor operates the motor, and detects a full motor run in each direction,” Perry explains. “The processor takes measurements during the calibration sequence that allows the controller to position the window covering (or whatever the motor is driving) to a percentage position.”
After calibration, the control can be operated as any other Z-Wave device. “ABMHZ must be learned into a Z-Wave network using a Z-Wave controller to take advantage of its wireless capabilities,” Perry says. “Once the ABMHZ is learned into a Z-Wave network, the Z-Wave transceiver interprets commands sent by the controller and passes those commands on to the motor processor.” The controller then sends commands to ABMHZ to open, close, move to a percentage position, start moving, or stop moving, using various commands in the Z-Wave protocol. Relays are used to energize the motor, and current sensing determines if the motor is still running.
Manual open-and-close push-button switches allow the user or installer to operate the control manually immediately after it is connected to a motor and plugged in. “In addition, it is possible to operate the motor as a basic open/close device from a Z-Wave network even if the calibration procedure is never done,” Perry adds. “The way in which an installer or a user learns ABMHZ into a Z-Wave network is common to all Z-Wave-enabled devices, and anyone familiar with Z-Wave technology can be up and running in a matter of minutes.”