Best way to get through rock wall and metal cabinet?

I'm new to HE and have installed maybe a couple dozen devices around the house and in my backyard. However I have one place that I can't automate: my pool light. I have my pool controls in a metal box which is behind a curved rock wall about a foot thick. I installed a Sonoff ZBmini switch inside the cabinet connected to the pool light. There are a couple other ZBminis located about 20' before the rock wall.

The mini on the Pool Light did pair up and it does appear on the zigbeegraph as a green dot connected to to the other switches. But it does not respond to commands. If I leave the metal box door opened, it works intermittently. Although I have all Zigbee devices installed, I was thinking about getting a Wifi switch like the Shelly 1 Plus WiFi Switch or the SONOFF Basic R2 10A Smart WiFi Wireless Light Switch to improve chances of controlling that circuit. Would this be a successful venture? Alternative ideas?

If the cabinet is blocking ZigBee, it'll likely block WiFi.

Any chance you can test the ZBmini with it completely outside the box? I'm wondering how much interference the wall is causing. If it's not killing the signal, you may be better off having a repeating devices right near the enclosure for the ZBmini to jump through.

You could potentially hack your zigbee device and use an external antenna (coming though you metal cabinet).

might have to run an ethernet inside, set up another hub, then share via hubmesh so you can keep the metal box closed but still interact with the devices

Mount another plastic box on the metal box to hold the Zigbee stuff.

Nineleaf 1PK Junction Box ABS Plastic Dustproof IP66 Waterproof External Universal Electrical Project Enclosure Grey 7 1/8" x 4 1/2 "x 4" inch(181x111x100 mm) fit 20mm Cable Gland for Outdoor Use

I put a Zigbee outlet on the end of a long extension cord and positioned it at various places behind the wall but outside the cabinet. I was able to achieve a decent connection to it and it relayed signal to the one in the cabinet.

The external antenna sounds great, but the few articles I've seen about it seem very difficult to hook up and tune the antenna. Otherwise I guess I'll have to rig up a weatherproof box outside the cabinet and run the AC line to it. I don't see many weatherproof Zigbee devices anywhere.

To find the best position, I've moved the corded outlet around and seeing how it responded to a bunch of commands. Should be some kind of cheap app or device that can tell you how well a device is connected. Here is my http://hubitat.local/hub/zigbee/getChildAndRouteInfo report. I can see "Pool Light via Outlet X" referenced although I have no idea what all this data means.

Child Data:

No children


Neighbor Table Entry

[Outlet Clothes Dryer, 01AB], LQI:46, age:3, inCost:5, outCost:5
[Attic Fan Kitchen, 025A], LQI:56, age:3, inCost:5, outCost:1
[Outdoor Bar Light, 100A], LQI:96, age:4, inCost:1, outCost:5
[Outlet Cabinet Light, 256A], LQI:98, age:3, inCost:1, outCost:5
[Light Ceiling Sue, 29CC], LQI:110, age:4, inCost:1, outCost:1
[Terry Outlet, 2E6C], LQI:134, age:3, inCost:1, outCost:5
[Outdoor Socket West Side, 363D], LQI:44, age:5, inCost:5, outCost:7
[Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C], LQI:150, age:3, inCost:1, outCost:1
[Outdoor Deck Lights, 67D3], LQI:39, age:5, inCost:7, outCost:7
[Outdoor Light Garage Driveway, 8A0E], LQI:63, age:4, inCost:3, outCost:1
[Outdoor Front Porch & Yard, AF67], LQI:116, age:4, inCost:1, outCost:1
[Outlet X, B523], LQI:78, age:3, inCost:3, outCost:7
[Outlet phone cabinet (driveway relay connection), B7D8], LQI:84, age:1, inCost:1, outCost:0
[Driveway Sensor Chime @Gazebo, C00B], LQI:67, age:1, inCost:3, outCost:0
[Outlet Clothes Washer, D478], LQI:50, age:3, inCost:5, outCost:5
[Attic Fan Living Room, E6B9], LQI:40, age:3, inCost:7, outCost:3


Route Table Entry

status:Active, age:0, routeRecordState:2, concentratorType:Low Ram, [Outdoor Bar Light, 100A] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:Active, age:32, routeRecordState:2, concentratorType:Low Ram, [Outdoor Gazebo, 3CAE] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:Active, age:64, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Outdoor Deck Lights, 67D3] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:In Discovery, age:0, routeRecordState:2, concentratorType:High Ram, [Unknown, 0000] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:Active, age:64, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Pool Light, 8E55] via [Outlet X, B523]
status:Active, age:64, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Outdoor BBQ Light, BA1A] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:Active, age:0, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Button4 2, BF82] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:Active, age:64, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Outdoor Landscape Lights, 5784] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:Active, age:64, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Outdoor Light Garage Driveway, 8A0E] via [Outdoor Light Garage Driveway, 8A0E]
status:Active, age:32, routeRecordState:2, concentratorType:Low Ram, [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C] via [Outdoor Balcony Lights, 4A6C]
status:Active, age:64, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Outlet phone cabinet (driveway relay connection), B7D8] via [Terry Outlet, 2E6C]
status:Active, age:64, routeRecordState:0, concentratorType:None, [Outlet Clothes Dryer, 01AB] via [Outdoor Bar Light, 100A]

I've not actually hacked a device yet, however I do have several Zigbee boards that can be changed from internal antenna to external (arrow to smc connector) by a simple connection.

I would think antenna like this with the connector cut off and the wires tack soldered to you Zigbee device (and cut the internal antenna connection) would be really close to the optimum.

Or nearby. Here is an example from my former house where I used Zooz Zen16 to control pool pump speeds.

Looking at the PCB photos, it looks like you could get away with soldering on a U.FL connector on the ANT1 pads and rotate the resistor from R13 to R14 to add an external antenna.

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Flash a dongle and mount the antenna on the outside of the box... :thinking:

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  1. Consider moving the Zigbee device in an adjacent plastic box of the metal box.
  2. Consider adding a Zigbee repeater
  3. Troubleshoot whether the Sonoff device is faulty