I have a MinkaAire Skyhawk (MF-F749L) fan controlled via the RF remote that came with it and a Bond Home 1000, controlled via API from my home automation system.
The RF remote that came with the fan can only “toggle” the light, which is essentially a worthless feature when trying to integrate with other controls. I need a discrete “Light ON” and “Light OFF” behavior which is not on the RF remote.
Is there any way for the Bond device to infer how to send a discrete ON and OFF commands via the API?
I contacted MinkaAire, and they said this was something Bond could do and directed me to call Bond. Bond tech support directed me here
Back in the days of IR codes for TVs and custom remotes, it was possible to send commands that weren’t on the original device remote because the devices recognizes more codes than their own remotes would generate. So discrete on, off, direct to hdmi 3, etc. I’m hoping there is an equivalent here, and I’m not stuck with an unusable light fixture that can only toggle.
So this is a long-standing issue with “dumb” fans / lights. I feel your pain.
I’m also excited to have another home automation DIY integrator join us on the forums!
While I understand the “device can support more commands than the OEM remote exposes” (definitely found more codes for my LG OLED than is on either OEM remote it came with), I’m a little pessimistic about that working in this case.
If the MinkaAire receiver doesn’t have a discrete On/Off RF code it can interpret, then it doesn’t matter if the remote does or does not have the command, or if Bond could send it.
No real way to know other than the ol’ plug-and-chug; since Bond just replays RF (or IR) commands it knows or “learned” though, you’d have to find a way to generate the
various “hope this works” RF signals and hope to get lucky, then teach Bond that signal if ever you found one that works.
To get around this, what the Bond team originally offered was the ability to track state inside of the Bond system. What that means in reality is an 85-99% success rate of asking via API or voice assistant, etc a discrete “Light On” or “Light Off” command (for which Bond just sends a ‘toggle light’ command after verifying that the Bond-tracked last known state was the opposite) and getting the expected result – IF AND ONLY IF the original RF OEM remote is no longer used.
You have to commit to only using Bond app and any API-driven integrations ONLY to get any benefit out of the “trust state” feature.
How it works for me?
I use an ISY home automation controller to handle all my Bond devices whenever I am not using the Bond app. I enable trust state tracking in Bond for each device with a toggle.
Through that ISY, I can then send Light On and Light Off commands with a single tap on the Light On button or Light Off button of a in-wall or remote keypad (Insteon based in my case, although I even have a Harmony hack to allow home control buttons on those remotes to function) - a double tap on the respective Light On/Off will patch the state belief of the Bond’s tracking and then send the corresponding command to Bond again.
The double tap to PATCH Bond’s state belief is what saves me in the ~1-15% failure rate of something being delayed and therefore not actually turned On or Off as expected, or some guest finding the OEM remotes which I hide in drawers, or something else.
Thanks for the detailed reply!
My assumption was that the fan has a code for ON and OFF, but the remote that came with it simply doesn’t have a way to transmit them. I was hoping that via the API, I could get the Bond device to synthesize the appropriate commands - or perhaps I could get my hands on another RF transmitter to teach it the Bond with.
Ultimately, I just want the fan light to turn off when I hit the “all lights off” scene as I leave the bedroom. It should be simple! The remote even has two light buttons, but both toggle the light.
I’ve had scene controllable lighting for so long and haven’t had to deal with this type of state tracking stuff for almost 20 years, so it feels like a big step backwards, but so far it seems to be tracking well. It might be robust enough, we’ll see. Otherwise, I’ll just not use the fan’s light.
In my case, I’ll never use the Bond app directly. I control my lights and fans from UPB wall controls (or Harmony remotes). With this new fan, I’m bridging the wall control or IR from the remote, via the automation controller to the Bond API, to control the fan. I’d like to keep the fan’s remote because it’s a handy way to have 2 remotes for my wife and I to both have control over the fan at night. We’ll see how it works.
(I’m looking forward to adding some automated blinds and using the Bond to bridge those into my automation as well)
I think UPB is hardline / wired only, right?
So does your automation controller have a compatible smart remote of some sort you could replace the OEM remote?
And/or does it have a Hue Emulator equivalent to fake Bond devices as Hues and set up within Harmony for lights there?
That’s where the benefits of my dual band Insteon works in my favor (hardline and an RF), and the ISY home automation controller having that Hue emulator ability is the icing on the cake.
Yes - UPB is wired only. Similar to X10, but far more capable and near enough to 100% reliable.
I still use a very old “Homevision Pro” controller that I installed over 15 years ago. It has relay and digital outputs, digital inputs for contact closures, and it can send and receive IR, RS232, etc. Anything can trigger anything with unlimited versatility. It’s really a terrific system, but it hasn’t been made in forever and doesn’t natively do anything IP… but it is tethered to a computer which can be triggered to do anything (like a curl http request to intergrate the bond device).
It uses an RS232 power interface module to bridge to control the UPB lights (or get stimulus from the UPB lights). So I can trigger automation events from UPB, or trigger UPB from other automation events. IR is still my bridge for remotes to trigger automation, but the remote itself is RF and the all the “IR” is wired.
So, I see how you are using the Hue emulator, but I can basically use the Bond API (and others) natively. I also have some functions that requires specific UDP commands with JSON packets that I bridge through a node-red server. It’s all a little entangled, but very powerful.
Yep, understand the “old systems are powerful and better” than the shiney hubs in a lot of ways. Local control? Scripting and insight? Expandable?
Sounds like you have that with your Homevision Pro + computer, like my ISY (+/- computer for some options).
The only way I was able to get Harmony remotes to natively support the “home control” buttons (light and plug icons) on the bottom of Elites was the Hue Emulator (python based if I recall correctly) to expose a Logitech ‘officially supported’ set of things for those buttons.
Homevision was compatible with a variety of expansion boards for additional relays and input ports, and it natively supported Dallas 1-wire devices like the DS1820 temperature sensor. It is programmed in a proprietary interface which eliminates syntax errors and code formatting, but is a little cumbersome.
What is nice is the infinite flexibility of nest if-then-else and conditionals related to sunrise/sunset, etc. I’ve programmed Leviton OmniPro controllers, and it’s always a chore to accomplish even simple automation tasks. The complexity of what I do in Homevision could not be replicated in most controllers.
The downside of Homevision was that it’s wasn’t a plug-and-play environment for novices. The instructions for output ports say things like “The open collector output should never dissipate more than x mW of power”. So there was a big barrier to entry if you weren’t an EE or at least a electronics hobbyist.
The current crop of automation makes it more accessible, but it’s not the same type of truly integrated automation I’ve had for decades, and I haven’t encountered anything I couldn’t integrate, unless they are trying to be difficult (I’m looking at you Google/Nest!).
Homevision isn’t compatible with any particular remote, it just understands IR. If I had an IP remote and something to bridge it to Homevision via RS232 it could certainly utilize that, but standard NEC codes are easy to synthesis (with Homevision) and teach to Harmony, and then use them.
My Harmony stuff is very involved. I wanted functionality when the AV systems are “off”, but the off button can’t trigger an activity (I actually tried to get Logitech to add that functionality, but couldn’t even get their tech support to understand what I was asking for). Basically, I want the remotes to control lights regardless of what AV setting they are on, including when they are off. So when you press off, the node-red server sees that and immediately sends the hub a command to trigger the “Lighting Only” activity. (You can have moare activities than you have remote buttons to trigger, so I have a hidden one that is only triggered this way. So my Harmony setups are tedious to program, but work great.
Most of what you point out are items I also prioritize and use.
Nice to hear more about an alternative system with much of the same essential functionality - thanks for taking the time to educate me.
Same situation here. Frustrated with the limitations of toggling states vs sending specific on or off commands with Minka Aire fans. I nearly returned the Bond, but then installed some Graber roller shades that have Somfy motors. Bond works awesome with the shades because they have distinct open and close signals. For $99 Bond integrates into my Home Assistant and plays nicely with all of my other devices and automations. Graber was going to charge over $350 for their proprietary RF bridge. I was about to return the Bond due to the fans, but will keep now for the shades.
If you figure out the Minka Aire fans, please share!!!
I agree; it’s my least favorite option for any device.
As I replace devices over the years, I prioritize discrete commands for on/off/light temperature, etc.
I’ve also replaced a few “dumb” receivers in the past couple years with universal Smart by Bond kits from Home Depot, but I often seem to end up with DC-motor fans and/or LED-board light kits - and those don’t work with the aftermarket kits.
I’m keeping my eye on Smart By Bond brands (usually only specific models), where the licensed Bond technology is built into the fans so they’re designed “correctly” by default.
I recently saw they even have a landscape lighting company licensing the Bond tech and I’m super pumped about future use cases there!