Best way to use BOND as a paperweight

After 6 months of having to spend 2-3 hours once or twice a week (to include several replacements) to “re-setup” my bond every time it loses internet connections, I’m finally giving up. Just wondering if anyone had a creative way to destroy this piece of junk (and to think, I recommended it to 1-2 people…don’t I feel like the heel). Thanks.

Ron

Seems like a bad experience you’ve had, but I cannot fathom how that’s happened with you getting no resolution from the company, or at least insight into what about your setup provides such a challenge.

That’s not been my experience at all. Furthermore, the Local API they have committed to developing (and is now in testing) makes this device fairly resilient in the face of Internet connection outages (aside from integrations with smart assistants, which by nature would typically rely on Internet connections).

Rather than using your BOND as a paperweight, or destroying it, I (and perhaps others) would like to see if we could help you get it working more reliably.

  • What WiFi security protocol are you using?
  • Where is the BOND in relation to a WiFi access point?
  • What kind of devices are you controlling, and via which method (IR or RF)?

Ok, lets do this.

What WiFi security protocol are you using?
Asus Rapture GT-AC5300 Tri-band WiFi Gaming router for VR and 4k streaming, with quad-core processor, gaming spot, AiMesh for mesh WiFi system, WTFast Adaptive QoS and AiProtection network security. All smart home devices in my home (Alexa, Garage Doors, etc) are connected too their own “network” using the WPA2 protocol. In addition I use AiMesh with 3 additional Asus AC1900 WiFi Dual-band 3x3 Gigabit Wireless Routers stationed through the house (the closest being about 15 feet from the BOND unit).

Where is the BOND in relation to a WiFi access point?
The unit is located exactly in the center of the first floor (2 stories). The “closest” unit would be either a closet 15 feet away OR right above on the second floor about 10 feet away. (For the record, I’ve move it ON TOP of the router, 1 foot away, 2 feet away, 3 feet away, 4 feet away, etc. I have ZERO issues with it the 3-4 days it works every time I get it set up)

What kind of devices are you controlling, and via which method (IR or RF)?
6 Harbor Breeze fan/light kits with wireless control units (RF). The are stationed equally around the house, with the closest being 15 feet away with a clear line of sight.

I wouldn’t consider myself an IT novice. I also maintain a 36TB server in my home with an Xbox OneS on each of the 12 TVs that I use to stream my media off the server throughout the home. EVERYTHING else in my house is already controlled through Alexa (all door locks, all the other lights, TVs, security cameras that display on any of the TVs or the EchoSpot/Shows, etc). I followed all the instructions setting it up. When it fails, I AGAIN follow all the instructions. With EVERY unit I’ve owned so far, setup is a snap. THEN the VERY FIRST TIME the internet goes down it disconnects and refuses to reconnect (mind boggling in-of itself, as EVERYTHING else I own automatically reconnects?). No problem, run the quick reestablish connection instructions. EVERY TIME it gets down to the three orange bars. Contacted IT the first time, “Sorry, 3 orange bars means return it right away…nothing we can do” (I returned them to Amazon vs the company, as Amazon sends me a new one the next day vs. 4-5 days…as if this isn’t enough of an inconvenience having to spend 2-3 hours setting it up again?). So after the first time, why bother contacting them again once I get the 3 orange bars…I ALREADY know the answer? So instead, I’ve been fighting through it. It’s not really true that it’s bricked when you get the three orange bars…if you’ve got 2-3 hours to waste and are willing to COMPLETELY REDO setup you can usually get it to reconnect (have to factory reset the unit, 20-30 times).

I WANTED to love this thing. I “invented” it in my brain 4-5 years ago when Alexa first came out (obviously it’s a shame I’m not an electrical tinkerer, or I’d have build my own and be BOND THE RIGHT WAY right now). It would have saved me $800-900 through having to buy individual light bulbs to make them smart (can you think of anything stupider? Just MAKE THE DEVICE CONNECT TO ALEXA, then you don’t have to buy $40 light bulbs every time one dies…they don’t last 10-30 years as they claim! Really, what you want to do is control it at the electrical box. That way you can control every individual outlet, but I digress).

So, where’s my solution? Show me the way Obi Wan Kenobi!

I figured you had tried things such as you have explained here, nor did I assume you were any particular level of novice or genius.
As always, though, establishing the basics first and then branching out from there is where I begin.

I claim to be no Obi Wan; I do not label you some young padawan. I am simply curious, and you obviously have some nascent interest in making this better for you since you invest the time into typing a couple posts (not to mention the hours of resets and returns).

I, too, mentally “invented” this device a few times over the past couple years; a fully polished product with all the bells and whistles I imagined, this one is not. However, especially in the past few weeks, it has taken significant strides towards being more like what I conceived.

All the following is assuming 2 things: (1) you still have a BOND and (2) it has a serial number that begins with an A or B. If your latest BOND has a serial that starts with Z, there are a couple differences to note – a different firmware number, and ability to do a little more troubleshooting right out of the box.
Anyways…

  • WiFi hardware setup and location
    Well, we seem to have some overlapping taste here, though I will admit that AiMesh continually lets me down (causing more issues with August Pro hubs [and occasionally other devices] than I am prepared to accept), and so I generally end up running my 3 Asus routers with one master / DHCP and the other two as APs.
    Nominally that breaks down as Asus GT-AX11000 (a tri band device) in Wireless Router mode (and taking care of DHCP). Under LAN, I have DHCP server reserve the IP address for most of my smart home bridges, such as the BOND bridge. I also use Google’s 8.8.8.8 / 8.8.4.4 DNS servers vs the AT&T Fiber ones.
    Next, I have an Asus RT-AC66U_B1 (a dual band device) running in AP mode downstairs next to 1 BOND (a ZZ serial number / revision 2 BOND) with ethernet backbone from the AX11000.
    Finally, I have an Asus RT-AC1900P running in AP mode (a dual band device) upstairs about 10 feet away from the other BOND (a BD serial number / original hardware BOND) with ethernet backbone from the AX11000.
    I do leave Asus AiProtection active, but do not utilize the built in WTFast or other Adaptive QoS services. Perhaps naively, I actually leave all my computers and my IoT devices on the same network, particularly because of the programmatic and integrative malarky I run, and I don’t want to be bothered with crossing between separate networks.

  • Device control
    Glad to see it is a consistent type of device (same brand, likely similar remotes, all RF). I personally have a mix of brands, but all 3 currently connected are RF-based ceiling fans.
    In troubleshooting, do you always set up all 6? I figure if I were in your shoes, I would only set up 1 for the duration of my troubleshooting (particularly since the BOND only originally supported storing 5 devices, and then later was ‘upgraded’ to handle 6), both to save myself setup time and to simplify what was being asked of the offending BOND.

  • Other thoughts
    While I am envious of the storage size of your server, I’m no slouch either. True, we have our differences in that I am a more simple 5 TV household, using Android TV / Roku / Fire OS devices + Plex server vs Xbox extenders. My home assistant of choice is Google Home (rather than Alexa), but otherwise most of our setup parallels nicely.
    Except for the BOND issues you’ve experienced. With 2 separate BONDs, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve had to physically reboot the BOND to solve some lingering gremlin in it operating. The new firmware (1.138, released about 3 weeks ago) also now has the “reboot on WiFi failure” built in, as Olibra knows they had some struggles with the device. I personally never experienced those issues, but Olibra owned up to BONDs with serials starting A or B getting ‘lost’ in the big bad internet / home network (see https://forum.bondhome.io/t/bond-software-release-v1-138/).

I did reference this page https://olibra.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360000749192-BOND-LED-Patterns and found that there are 2 different “3 orange/red LED” patterns – solid or blinking. You haven’t specified (that I remember) if your 3 LED pattern was blinking or solid, and I claim no special knowledge of this scenario. However, it seems like a solid 3 LED pattern would be indicative of some failure to boot, while the flashing 3 LED pattern might be related to power draw.
Makes me wonder, as an aside - how are you powering your BOND? I use 2.1 amp USB power, vs the 1 amp minimum they specify.

  • Thoughts on troubleshooting what happens with internet connectivity loss
    What firmware is your current BOND on now? Let’s make sure it’s at least 1.138, since that is listed as a network-issue-correcting firmware.
    Maybe you could do any troubleshooting with only having 1 ceiling fan connected, just to minimize variables (hey, this may be a sugar pill, but particularly when troubleshooting issues caused by new hardware, I end up having more success doing a stepwise setup, and only adding the next component when stability has been proven at the ‘more simple’ level) and lessen the frustration you experience if / when a reset is required.
    Then maybe you could set up 2 continuous pings which log timestamps and results of attempts to reach (1) your internal BOND device IP address, and (2) appbond.com (the root URL that @danmandle found as the cloud-based BOND communication server). That way, if the BOND becomes unresponsive, we can see more specifically the timing of that unresponsiveness related to if / when your Internet (or the BOND cloud service) experienced a glitch.

Also note, we do have Olibra employees in this forum who are actively engaging with us. There is a decent amount of troubleshooting they can do from their end as far as reviewing their logs of communication with a device, given a serial number – I would think you could reach out to them and see if there are additional insights they can provide, or logs they can dig into.

To digress with you … that’s why I ended up using hardwired Insteon switches and plugs (with occasional plug in modules for seasonal / temporary device control) in both my old home and my new home. Local, non-cloud based control (particularly powerful when controlled via an ISY994i vs the consumer-friendly but limited and cloud-based Insteon Hubs) for the win.

residualimages,

I thoroughly enjoy the discussion, and never took ANYTHING you said as an attack. My only intent with my second reply was to avoid the “is it plugged in?” step we all seem to get with any “tech support”. I’ll note you are great at disarming vitriol, must be a philosophy fan…just as my vitriol was structured as it was for a reason :blush:. I was about to run through your latest retort to “give it one last try” (against my better judgment mind you) and had an email from BOND offering a new model where they have supposedly “fixed” the wifi issue. I WAS giving up, but the way they worded the email gives me hope. It’s as if they are conceding the wifi was an issue and they specifically fixed it with new hardware (vs. software…where I was never sure the issue resided). That said, I’ve cut-n-pasted into my little “how to” cheat sheet I keep and if I run into this issue again, I’ll have it. As I keep saying to EVERYONE, I really WANT to love this thing. The concept is brilliant (of course it is, you and I thought it up!), the execution not so much. Doesn’t help I don’t have a lot of patients for things I pay hundreds of dollars for that don’t work out of the box…seems it’s easy to lose sight of just how “magical” the stuff we are talking about is. Imagine trying to explain to someone (other than Arthur C. Clarke) just 15 years ago that you can operate your lock/garage/lights/tv/etc just by saying “computer, turn on the lights” (come one, WHO uses ‘Alexa’ when you can make the wake word ‘Computer’?!). Actually, I find the routines the most helpful features, but again I digress.

How are you liking those switches? They seem pricey to me. I know first world problems…just not willing to go THAT far with 100+ switches in the house when I don’t think that is the final answer. Life is rough huh, hence the hope I placed in the BOND. I’m currently finishing up construction on a new home. Installed over a mile of CAT-6A cable myself. I keep landing back on those Sonoff style switches (Amazon: Sonoff Basic Smart Remote Control Wifi Switch Compatible with Alexa DIY Your Home via Iphone Android App). Of course I’m LEARY of putting anything Chinese in my home as: 1) they never have ANY support (usually not an issue for techie types…as long as it works); 2) I’ve found they fail quite often and; 3) quite frankly, there is no better way to say it, I DON’T TRUST THE CHINESE (Google their 100 year plan, I won’t be in the least surprised when it comes to light they build in back doors to EVERYTHING built there). Have you tried any of these type devices? This method seems a LOT closer to wiring in from the electrical box. Essentially, they are the EXACT same thing I put in my fans that I’m trying to control with BOND.

Capt (Ret) Ron

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Capt Ron, I am glad you read my replies in the intended spirit with which they were given. Nuance can easily be lost in a text-only Internet forum, all too often – but in our case, seems like we’ve managed to stay within the bubble of productive dialogue.

With the email you received, I am assuming they are describing the Z-revision BOND. I am not privy to all the minutiae involved with the revision, but I did see some WiFi improvements being described. Hopefully between the revision, and the new firmwares the company is still releasing, you will be able to find some marked improvement in stability.

As far as the Insteon devices… since they were one of the only options which I found capable of independent control of both plugs (on the hardwired outlets), I dipped my toes in eagerly, though cautiously. I was able to find a few sales early on to get my first 5 or 6 outlets and switches.
Once I did that, though, it became addictive. The annual Black Friday sales from SmartHome.com, and occasional markdowns throughout the year from that site or even some big box brick 'n mortar stores, make the investment more palatable at prices near 50% MSRP a unit.
The other benefits include local control vs cloud control (though network control is available if internet is available), and the fact that the dual-band versions of the units act as repeaters for the system. Add in various sensors, and I have a very robust system which I personally control with programmatic access; even the exposure of the system to Alexa / Google / IFTTT is on my terms with my words. Additionally, there are lots of software and hardware plugins available to the ISY994i to include other 3rd party systems and protocols.

While I have not tried the switches you mention (do not prefer WiFi as the underlying communication protocol), I had tried hard-wired Noon Home switches as an early adopter. I disliked (a) the astronomical price (b) the reliance on scenes as a default vs controlling the attached load as the default and (c ) configuring the multi-way switches got picky (especially compared to my Insteon alternative, which utilize virtualized multi-way pairings rather than physical traveller wires).

Not to throw fuel on the fire(not intended as such at all), but for what its worth… While I also “invented” this sort of a device in my head (and even started tinkering with a hardware implementation right before Bond finally shipped) I now firmly believe Bond is a bad solution for ceiling fan control. This is not really Bond’s fault, but the crazy way most ceiling fan RF controllers are made, being stateful without allowing to read the state, making controlling fans and lights reliably a crapshoot at best. It would be trivial to make a ceiling fan controllers with discrete controls for light(even if you cannot sense it, you would be able to reliably control it), or better yet, one with z-wave or zigbee protocol, but nobody seems to care to make one (or someone is sitting on a patent??)

I did recently found the Sonoff IFan02 device, which is supposed to be a drop in replacement for the standard RF controllers that both provide a physical remote, but also has wifi built in (not my favorite wireless protocol, but beggars can’t be choosers). From what I understood online, the factory firmware is crap, but it is based on a pretty well known ESP8285 chip, and there is an open source replacement firmware that is supposed to be pretty reliable (and me being familiar with Arduino SDK, it should be easy to modify/fix if need be) I ordered one and should get it this week, will let you know if that is a better solution.

Welcome to the nice friendly campfire, Michael. :slight_smile: We’re all very inventive around here but I am getting further along in my home control project with the BOND bridge than I was sketching out transceivers. So you’ll find I’m more on the optimistic side for its potential.

Agreed that without a universal protocol shared between OEM manufacturers, “smartening” the new and existing fans (and other RF devices of the world) is not a straight forward task.

My problem with universal in-ceiling devices (yes there are a couple) that I’ve used so far is that they do not work for all fans my family likes. The OEM remotes and their in-ceiling device components are the only way I’ve been able to reliably get all functions of various DC and AC motor fans.

Right or wrong, my commitment when buying a fan is looks first (family approval), then functionality second, then method of control third.

Unfortunately that garners me a lot of cool fans with various speed settings and other OEM function remotes that can’t easily be updated to “smart control” with a universal drop in replacement.
Have more than 3 speeds? Not supported. Have dimmable LED boards vs bulbs? Not supported. Push button direction change? Iffy support at best.

However, the BOND bridge device, when paired with local control API, lets me eliminate all my OEM remotes while still retaining all OEM commands.
That may not be the case, at least not right now, for all homes and all fans, but it works for mine. Now my wall switches and Harmony remotes can do all the necessary actions, and I myself locally track state. If ever the state gets out of sync in a way that my integration programs can’t handle, I myself can look at my smart home dashboard and manually update the variables myself with a click or two.

May not be everyone’s cup of tea, but this device with local API is a 85% fit for what I wanted to be able to do, with ~100% possibly in reach after some more development time.

Thank you. For what it’s worth, pre-Bond, I approached it in a much simpler way - buy a spare remote, wire it via relays to a network attached micro-controller, but I agree that Bond is a better approach to THAT.

I also agree that local API is a huge leap forward, but I am coming to the conclusion it just is not enough. Maybe your setup is better, but I have 4 fans, all different ages and models - but all pretty common ones, mass produced and picked up at hardware chain stores, and with not a single one of them I can ask my “smarthome” solution to turn all lights on or off in the room. Not one. I can manually control the device directly… kinda sorta… which is something, but they are not usable in a larger home automation sense. And as far as I can tell, there is no real way the Bond’s approach can ever accomplish that, because it clones the remote and the the remote it emulates just does not have enough capability to be able to do this. The “state tracking” may be a partial solution, if you are willing to give up the direct control of the device (which is a legitimate non-starter in our household), but even then it is not really able to track the dimmer level, meaning it might turn on the light, but it will not light anything other than itself.

Like I said, it is not Bond’s fault, it is just not realistically possible. BTW, I did have a suggestion/idea for Bond to allow the device to be independent LISTENER for remotes in addition to the transmitter of the commands - in which case you can use a different code in the remote and then use Bond as a repeater, which will now is guarantee to hear every command from local remote, but from what I understand, most remotes may not be strong enough to transmit that far.

I will see if the Sonoff modules are any good. They promise a much better approach, but you are right, their capabilities are rather specific, and given how dirt-cheap they are, I am concerned about quality.

Perhaps Bond, having some experience in the market of both electronics and the so called “IoT” device category, may want to enter the market of direct RF controller replacements… but then again, there must be a reason for the lack of such devices in the market - either its an issue with patents, or maybe just not enough money to be made :-/

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I am going to reply with my setup in mind, but I am completely aware that my setup does not equal your setup, and therefore I do want to make clear that I am not invalidating your salient points in any manner.

When I say I am using state tracking, I am tracking the on/off of ceiling fan light and speed/off of ceiling fan via my ISY994, and not using BOND’s own integration with Google Home. The local API makes the BOND app superfluous day-to-day, and in fact other members of the household don’t even have it set up / installed any longer. Therefore, the BOND state-tracking doesn’t even come into play.

With that setup, both my direct control, smart in-wall switches and keypads (fan light on/off, as well as fan off/on/speed) and the Google Home control (accomplished directly through my ISY setup) and the Harmony remotes’ control all stay in sync. If I really want a physical remote just for fan control, I could use one of the Insteon multi-scene remotes but so far I find we don’t need them. This does require no longer using the OEM remote at all, but for us, the benefits outweigh the cost of not holding the ‘cool’, original manufacturer remote.

Full disclosure addressing one of your points: setting and tracking dimmable percentage for fan lights is not something I am currently set up for, and won’t be able to mess with trying to accomplish for at least another week or so.

To be fair, my setup with ISY994, IR, Z-Wave, Insteon, Nest, Harmony, Rachio, BOND, etc is not for the “casual” home automation dabbler (not labeling anyone here, just saying for the casual shopper). Yet, the BOND with Local API really begins to shine for my usage case, and automatically and painlessly (for end user family members) addresses a lot of challenges of cross device integrations.

Let us know how the Sonoff modules integrate, and any limitations you find which are particularly vexing, or surprisingly awesome features.

Shudder
I still have to do (basically) that for the particular kind of garage doors we have and which I haven’t felt like replacing. Not my favorite. And darn it all when occasionally the vibration from the doors opening and closing jiggles my crappy, hasty wiring harness loose. Sigh.

I get what you are doing, and I can see how it works for you. I think the key difference in our setup is that you are ok with losing the original remotes - which is not an option in my case as I have no good replacements (what do you use for your in-wall switches/keypads, BTW?). While there is voice control and app control, those are pain in the rear when you just want to change fan speed quickly. I do have a few Z-Wave and Zigbee remotes, but they are so slow and unreliable, I hesitate to offer them as replacement of 100% reliable and functional original remotes…

(It does not help also that my house is about 100 years old, and most light switches are not wired with common wire)

The Sonoff device seems like a direct drop-in replacement (wiring wise) for at least two of my fans, probably more - and it will allow my systems to know exactly what the state of the system is, regardless of how I got there and control it directly without relying on mimicking the remotes and hoping the signal gets there.

There’s the terrible thing I hope never to hear from people doing home automation, and which I’ve luckily managed to avoid in my only two homes in which I pursued automation.

To answer your question I have to show you common wire smart switches; however, the same could be accomplished (sans back lit LEDs) with battery powered wall mounted remotes (can even be mounted into a wall plate so it looks like a switch keypad I believe).

My proof of concept / test bed:
In-wall switch / keypad control via BOND

A bit of an update, I got the Sonoff device a few days ago, and while upgrading it to OSS firmware was a bit tricky (there is a part where you have to turn it on while shorting a pin to ground to get it into update mode to get the initial flash) - but the update was smooth and it was a wire-for-wire drop in-replacement for the existing remote receiver- I didn’t even need to take the fan down. It is really nice, as there is a web interface for playing with it, and SmartThings plugins that let me control it directly and be able to sense its state of it. I have not yet dove into the firmware or SmartThings code, but having access to all of that makes me happy.

As you suspected, there is some functionality loss. For one, I cannot figure out how to dim the lights (seems to be an either on or off function) and there is no facility to reverse the fan from remote (but to be fair, this fan didn’t have that ability to begin with)

I will check out Insteon stuff. I previously always ignored it as it was not compatible with anything other than itself, so maybe there is a new way to integrate it now.

Thanks

Thanks for the update, Michael. With your OSS firmware, do you have local control or cloud control?

If the fan doesn’t support reversing by remote originally I’m not sure if it is possible to add afterwards. Bummer on the dimmer so far. :frowning:

To be clear, the Insteon hubs you can find in the normal impulse buy, common consumer stores and online deals is really only compatible with Insteon (and sort of X10 maybe).
However, the ISY994i series of controllers allows full Insteon compatibility (far more than the basic consumer hub exposes), as well as X10, plugins for all sorts of things like Harmony, Hue, basically any network based API (including IFTTT, Alexa, Google Assistant), Elk security systems, and optionally Zigbee, Z-Wave, and IR. Might have left something out of the list but you get the idea.
The local programming that you can do on that ISY994i series allows you to make all these protocols and devices work together on your own terms. I’ve got Z-Wave bulbs changing color on schedules as well as ad-hoc changes via Insteon keypad buttons, Harmony remotes controlling Insteon lighting scenes and ceiling fans, and Insteon keypad buttons controlling BOND-bridged ceiling fans, all from that ISY994i.

Anywho, sorry for the longwinded disclaimer - didn’t want you to find a $40 Insteon hub bundle and think you were ready to integrate all the things, because that guy Matt said you could. :crazy_face:

The OSS firmware is Sonoff-Tasmoto (https://github.com/arendst/Sonoff-Tasmota) - the firmware has a local web server that can be used via web browser or as an API endpoint, as well as support for MQTT and a few other protocols. All of this is local. However as with any custom stuff with SmartThings, all of that is unfortunately running in the cloud.

Ah, thank you for educating me. I thought you had likely been talking about the Tasmota firmware (which you can even apparently install on DIY receiver / remote Frankenstein solutions in addition to official Sonoff devices?), but I am fairly ignorant of SmartThings I have to admit. This is useful background knowledge for me to have now.