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BruceEicher 12-22-2016 06:59 PM

RV Hangar Automation by Wireless WiFi
RV Hangar Automation by Wireless WiFi

03-11-18 Update. The Wemo worked for a season or so, but after a firmware update (I suspect) it stopped playing well with the Verizon Hotspot.

So I purchased an iHome switch and a multi monitor for motion, temperature, sound, light and humidity. A push notification tells me what’s going on in the hangar. It and the switch is working well with the Verizon box.

Old news;
I just purchased and ran three days of testing of my new Verizon Hotspot device Wi-Fi linked to a WeMo ac plug switch, all with positive results.

The first use of this set up will be auto “while I sleep” and manual remote switching of my oil sump pre-heater.

Equipment cost was $100, $50 each for the Verizon Hotspot Wi-Fi and WeMo AC Plug Remote. Nothing else is needed. Then additional plugs are $50 retail.
The hotspot device price requires a contract.
Adding the device to my shared data Verizon plan is $10 a month. That’s a lot more per year than the switchbox device, pay as you go. But I dropped my IPad cell data plan when I bought a new 6+ phone, so now I am back to the same cost, and can use the Wi-Fi in the hangar making the IPad good for flight planning and such.

Verizon 4G LTE signal is very good in my hangar. I have yet to see a dropped connection with either device. Data use for plug control and feedback is near null. Switch reaction time is a second or two.
Set up of the two units took me about ten minutes. Unplugging and moving the units did not cause loss of settings or memory.

The plug is controlled by a good, easy to use smartphone app.
Additional features besides on and off are; duration timed auto off (so you don’t leave the heater on if you scrub the flight) scheduled on and off (so you don't have to wake up early to warm your engine for a morning flight, and it’s quite easy to set!) plus, data return to your phone of duration on and off history and kilowatts used. See screen snapshot. You get to name each device and add a photo for each too.

And then; you can purchase more plugs, hardwired wall switches, LED light bulbs, thermostats, plus security items like cameras, motion detectors, fire alarms, contact switches…
A weather proof camera would make a good sky condition/runway visibility monitor with the right view out the hangar.
I believe about 12 to 18 units can be combined into a single system.
And it is all portable. I leave the Wi-Fi plugged into hangar power, but you can run it off the included battery for hours in your car, cabin or motorhome for any Wi-Fi receiving device.

rv8ch 12-23-2016 01:17 AM

we're in the future
Very cool solution - things like this make feel like I'm finally in the future! :D

OK, we don't have flying cars yet, but airplanes are a pretty good substitute.

Canadian_JOY 12-23-2016 07:41 AM

As a follow-up from a Canadian pespective... I have the MuVo device from Bell Mobility and had contemplated doing the same thing as Bruce has done, as a means of controlling an engine pre-heater. Bell still offers this device at a buy-in rate of $10/month for a minimum level of data. That's enough data that all six folks in our row hangar could turn their heaters on and off every day and still not exceed the data limit. $10 per month split six ways is pretty darned cheap.

Oh, I should add the Bell MuVo device works perfectly well inside our galvanized steel-clad hangar with no need for additional antennas etc.

Larry DeCamp 12-30-2016 07:08 AM

WEMO setup ?
my WEMO works at home with my att/iphone or ipad. BUT, at the hanger, with a different wifi system, it won't function with my same cell phone used at home.
Any advice from youe wireless gurus ?

BruceEicher 12-30-2016 08:50 AM

Hi Larry,
After setting up mine at home I moved it and the verizon hotspot to the hangar, so it stayed on the same wifi system.
I believe that you need to push the reset button to erase memory of the home wifi and then reprogram it for the new hangar wifi so the phone app and its device (phone, tablet) can find the switch. The setup process might also be teaching the app where to find the switch...

AlexPeterson 12-30-2016 10:25 AM


Originally Posted by Larry DeCamp (Post 1137743)
my WEMO works at home with my att/iphone or ipad. BUT, at the hanger, with a different wifi system, it won't function with my same cell phone used at home.
Any advice from youe wireless gurus ?

I'm no guru... but, I do have a WEMO switch and know the problem of which I believe you speak. They are great devices, but one major drawback is that a phone app can only connect to units at the same basic IP address. I understand a work-around (at least for Android) is to have separate log-in accounts on the phone. So, one for WEMOs at home and another for WEMO's at the hangar, for example. I don't think this is a big deal on Androids, but it is a pain.

This is only a problem when you have WEMO's at two separate physical locations.

snopercod 12-30-2016 12:12 PM

This is really cool!
This is really cool! Thanks for the information. I see the WeMo switches are down to $30 now, too.

What does the Verizon contract cost, please?

GWZ 12-30-2016 08:17 PM

Very interesting. I have a maybe three year old Wemo switch (looks a little different than the one in your photo) and couldn't get it to work with a wallmart prepaid hotspot. Doing a little research I found this on the Wemo troubleshooting site:

Cellular Hotspots

Using a cell phone or cellular hotspot device is not supported by WEMO.

I just checked and they still say it won't work with a cellular hotspot. Any cell system gurus out there that can explain why the Verison hotspot works but the generic wallmart hotspot won't?
Thanks, Gunther

1001001 12-30-2016 08:44 PM

I'm working on something similar, but with a small twist.

Those of us who are Comcast Business or Xfinity customers have the ability to connect to any Comcast wireless router that advertises an "XFINITYWIFI" SSID using our accounts. It just so happens that my hangar gets a (sort of weak) signal from one or more neighbors of the airport that are Comcast customers, allowing me to connect through their routers.

I am playing around with a Raspberry Pi, trying to figure out how reliably to get it to auto-login to Comcast. I found a handy shell script that continually checks the Pi's IP address against the last known (checks every few minutes, but this is configurable) and sends an e-mail if it doesn't match.

This way I'll be able to connect to the Pi, knowing its IP address. Then I'll get a relay board for the Pi, and use it to control the heater. I'll eventually be able to control the lights, and maybe even the hangar door remotely through my smartphone.

Once I get the proof of concept running, I may set up the Pi to connect to my home VPN so that I don't have to check my e-mail for the IP address, but that's just a flair thing, not really necessary for the basic concept.

Right now, I'm just working on automating the Comcast login on the Pi.

scard 12-31-2016 06:55 AM

I have a Pi at the hangar that polls for a specific Google calendar event that describes when and duration for sump heat. Power is switched via It has been out there running for years without touching it. Just works. It is probably more complicated than need be, but that is just right for me.

I've also tinkered with zWave power control with node js which works pretty well too.

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