Monitor External Contacts

Hey All,

I'm not new to automation, but I'm new to the current generation of stuff; used to do Elk, UPB, etc. New house, new strategy...

My challenge of the day is monitoring my driveway. I have a 200' driveway and I get mail and visitors who don't get along with my dogs and I want more notice. I bought a Guardline wireless sensor and installed it over the weekend - and I picked this because the receiver can give 12V out or traditional contact closures. I figured it would be a piece of cake to hook this into a door sensor with external contacts, but that's proving more difficult than I expected to find the right product! I prefer to use Zigbee or Wifi because I want to be able to move the receiver around the house without having to do the z-wave retraining.

My goals are 1) Mobile alerts to any trigger - simple iOS/Apple Watch alert. 2) Nice-to-have but not required - Alexa alert (similar to how Ring alerts Alexa) - this helps because I have speakers throughout tied to Echo Dots so the alerts play throughout the house.

I'm assuming I can do the alerts via Hubitat - it'd be nice if I can customize alert types and tones depending on type - I haven't done much with my HE yet though so I don't really know...

Here's the question finally - is there a good recommended sensor that's either Zigbee or Wifi that'll take external contacts and is known to be reliable with Hubitat? It'd be nice if it's small enough to permanently affix to the receiver - but it can be separate if need be. I'd appreciate any suggestions. If there's a better way that's not using HE I'm OK with that too - I kicked around Monoprice Stitch or something like that if need be. Unfortunately, I don't have my security system in yet or I'd just do an input there - but I'm looking for something I can get up quickly.

Thanks!

I swear by Ecolink sensors for external contacts. They’re Z-Wave. I’ve also got Wintop ones—those were half the price and just as reliable—but you can’t buy them anymore.

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Unless within that 200ft range you have places to install plug in repeating devices in between your end device and your hub, you are going to have a hard time getting that kind of distance out of a single device 200ft away using the wifi or zigbee 2.4ghz frequency.

I have an Aeotec (zwave) contact sensor on a mailbox about 120ft away from any repeater on a mailbox and that is about at the limit for zwave being the 908mhz frequency. I tried using zigbee first and could only go about 1/2 to 3/4 that distance before the signal dropped.

@work2play please correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s the guardline transmitter that’s 200 feet away, correct? The receiver is right outside or inside your house?

If I’ve got that right, I’m with @adamkempenich, the ecolink contact sensors are great for a use case like this, even though they’re z-wave. TBH I’ve never seen a zigbee contact sensor that has screw terminals like the ecolink sensors do. You’d probably have to hack something together if you really wanted to use a zigbee contact sensor.

@marktheknife (and in response to @waynespringer79) - yeah, the long range is handled by the transmitter - the receiver has the contact terminals and is in the house. I could fix the receiver in one place if this is working well - I was just thinking z-wave should be saved for things that don't move around the house much.

I'll look at the ecolink sensors. I also saw the Visonik one that looks useful, but it clearly doesn't have terminals to attach to, so it'd be a hack.

just curious, but why do you intend to move the receiver around? It's pretty much a doorbell, right? Not a device that's usually very mobile.

I think that @damon.dinsmore mentioned a few contact sensors to me during our chats that might have a place for external contacts. One might be zigbee. Maybe he'll pipe in since I tagged him.

Also a thought, If you're connecting it to automation, why would you need to move it? Couldn't you just automate the notifications? :thinking:

I used this hack for the Mighty Mule driveway sensor. It's worked great, even with rechargeable batteries in the transmitter.

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Thanks - I actually found your previous post before I came here and posted - that definitely looks like a good option. I don't know where my soldering iron is so I was hoping for something with screw terminals, but this will probably be the way I go if no better options are suggested.

I actually ended up using a EcoLink DWZWAVE2.5-ECO because it has internal screw terminals for dry contacts. It's zwave, though.

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I'll add another voice in favor of the Ecolink. The Monoprice Stich ones you looked at won't work because they're proprietary (and I think Wi-Fi?), but Monoprice does make similar Z-Wave sensors, including one that looks a lot like the Ecolink. That one won't work easily, though, since it requires the "internal" sensor to be closed before the external ones will read. You can achieve this by gluing the magnet to the side of the sensor or soldering between the contacts (that's what I ended up doing).

Like the above, I'm not aware of any Zigbee sensor with external contacts. If you're still opposed to Z-Wave (a repair is recommended if you move devices, but it still has some self-healing capabilities), you could also use something like HubDuino, but that might be more work than you're willing to set up for just this one project (but that would get you Wi-Fi for this sensor). If you're not opposed to soldering, you could also attach your device to the internal contacts of any reed-switch contact sensor. I'm guessing the Iris v2 contact sensor (model 3320-L/3320-L2) would be one, but I think some newer sensors might have moved to Hall Effect sensors instead of reed switches, which would make this more difficult to pull off.

But I'm also not sure why you'd want to move the sensor. You can make Hubitat give you alerts, so if you're still relying on the "original" device to do that, perhaps you could find a workaround using Hubitat instead (sounds like you already want something there). Most of what you what should be possible, but there is no official Alexa TTS capability. There are a couple of community solutions that may work for you there. With Pushover, you can even get differently-prioritized notifications, but with the stock Hubitat app (or most other solutions), you'll just get one kind of notification from the app.

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Thanks for the replies... Couple answers - 1) Technically the Monoprice thing would work outside the HE ecosystem if I want the alerts - BUT, yeah, I'd prefer to stay in HE because I may want to later trigger lights or other actions. 2) I might like to move it just because it's already a sounder - and if I wanted the kids to pay extra attention or something, having the primary device moveable could be nice - but not absolutely necessary. Does seem silly to me though to buy an external sounder when there's a built-in one. Good info on the other MP one - I'm sure that could trip people up!

And how will this work when people visit where you want to send out the dogs after them. This seems like only a partial solution. :wink:

Someday I'll take this further. I have a couple acres with invisible fence so normally they have run of the yard, but they also have an indoor/outdoor kennel so they can come in and get warm even if I'm not home. I'd like to add a heavy duty actuator or similar to the gate so I can release them from anywhere, and automatically open it if there's a fire or something. For now, my biggest concern is not getting sued or having my dogs taken should they nip someone. A 10-month 90lb German Shepherd can be pretty intimidating and is still lacking in manners a bit!

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On an impulsive whim, I did the one-click order on one of the Visonic's today - $20 and zigbee - even if I do have to hunt down my soldering iron, it seemed like the closest for my original goals. Thanks for the feedback all - I'll update in a few days.

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Wow - based on your pictures, I expected this thing to be bigger. No wonder you said you use a pretty tiny gauge of wire! Hopefully I can work on the rules a little for the next few days, then maybe this weekend I can solder it up. Thanks for the tip @rcjordan and everyone else who contributed!

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OK - this is the first thing I've done with my HE really. I got it to talk to my locks, but didn't do much from there. This is my first automation.

I haven't yet modified my transmitter because honestly it's easier to test this way - BUT, I have Echo Speaks V3 installed and working and making announcements through my whole house stereo, and I have my two cell phones alerting me to contact closure. Once I solder this thing up, it's a done deal. I'm excited - this has been fun and pretty easy! I spent more time trying to pick a transmitter than I've spent getting it all working as desired.

Last update... mimicked what @rcjordan did basically - got the Visonic sensor and desoldered the reed sensor and soldered in my own wires. I have those hooked to the NO and COM terminals on the Guardline driveway sensor. Whenever I get motion at the driveway, it triggers the sensor which tells Hubitat to alert my mobile devices and also make an Alexa announcement. The mobile alert works great; the echo one is questionable - but I think I know why. All in all, I couldn't be happier.

I believe my troubles with the Echo Speaks part are due to it not handling currently inactive devices well. My announcements aren't working today, but I think it's because my little Echo Spot was flickering every 2 seconds, so Amazon told me to send it back for a refund, so - I factory reset it and removed it from my account - so I'll bet removing it confused the whole app. Previously I was also getting errors because I had checked the box to alert to another offline echo. Things that some better idiot-proofing should fix, but my own issues that I can resolve too.

Anyway - just updating to close the loop. Thanks all.

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