Lo-T Devices

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Kellemora
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Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

Here we go.
I have TWO Echo Devices, and EIGHT Lo-T Schmartz-Plugs.
They are set up in groups, such as Living Room, Den, Kitchen, Office, etc.
Everything has been working just fine for over a year, and as expected.

NOW, suddenly, and this started about 3 weeks ago, and we've not nailed it down yet.
The TWO Lo-T Plugs originally assigned to DEN, out of the clear blue sky, began turning off every night at 11pm.
At first I thought, well, maybe a neighbor is using my WiFi system and they may have Lo-T Plugs under the word Den.
So I changed the group name from Den to Night Lights.
Well not at first. First I changed the name of Den to DenTwo.
Alexa recognized the change and said, no device named Den, but if I told her DenTwo, she would do her thing.
Well, 11pm rolls around and the lights on DenTwo turned off.
Rather than just change the name, I deleted Den and DenTwo completely and created a brand new group named Night Lights.
I figured that would fix it. I also checked my Router Logs to see if any IP address showed up other than our own.
Nope, nobody stealing WiFi from us, hi hi.
I tried turning off my office router at night.
Doesn't seem to matter that bank of lights went off at 11 pm again.
Checking the Amazon website for my Echo devices. There are NO Schedules Set, NO Routines Set, No Timers Set.

So, what I've done for now, and until I figure out what is causing it. I did set a Schedule to TURN ON Night Lights at 11:02 pm.
The lights go off at 11 by themselves, and Alexa turns them back on at 11:02 pm as expected.
Even though we had a Time Change, it didn't matter, they still turn off at 11 pm.

I have RESET the Lo-T outlets individually, but that didn't fix it, and the fact BOTH Lo-T outlets in the Night Lights group turns off at 11 pm sharp, every single night. It really has me befuddled, hi hi.
We have NOTHING in our house set to do anything at 11 pm either. No clocks, No Timers, etc.

So this is a real Poser to me!

Yes, my wife can control the lights through the WiFi using her Schmartz-Fone, but she has no timers or schedules set there either, and she removed the Alexa App from her phone for a couple of nights to see.
They still went off at 11 pm. So after a couple of nights she reinstalled her Alexa App. Since she uses it to control other things in the house from the comfort of her easy chair.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

Well ... I hate to admit it ... but I just did a Gary browser disappearing act. :lol:
I had several paragraphs of my most considered thoughts on this subject, and when I went to post them I blew away the website instead. Coming back, of course, revealed a blank editing box. I'll try to reconstruct my dialog, but it just won't be the same as the original. :cry:

I prefaced my narrative with the disclaimer that I know nothing about Lo-T technology, Alexa, or your LAN other than what I read from you herein and whatever my friend Google can explain to me in 3 minutes of less. My lack of experience and knowledge is no reason for me to remain silent.

From what I can understand those 8 smart plugs boil down to be nothing more than switches. Whatever you attach to them gets turned on or turned off. That is the only purpose in the life of a Lo-T plug.

The Lo-T plugs respond to control signals sent over your WiFi network. It is possible that they can be controlled some other way too, but you didn't mention anything like that so it will remain only a possibility in this discussion.

Since you have groups of smart plugs, my first instinct would be to physically relocate the errant plugs to some other group. And, of course, put the known good plugs in the place of the suspect ones. If the problem follows the plug in a different group, then you know the solution is in the plug itself. Repairs or replacement would be in order.

If playing musical plugs doesn't fix it, that eliminates them from being a cause of the misbehavior. It is possible that a control signal coming in from the Internet and traveling down your LAN and WiFi network is the problem. To determine if that is the case simply pull the Internet connection wire out of the modem and see what happens. If the problem persists, then it's not the Internet but most likely something attached to your LAN and WiFi network. It gets fuzzy at that point because I don't know what all you have connected. All you can do is disconnect all your access points one at a time to see if any of them being disconnected (and preferably turned off) fixes the problem.

Again my fuzzy understanding of the problem shows here because I don't know what part Ms Alexa plays in this scheme. If the Echo/Alexa is an integral part of what makes the Lo-T plugs work, then disconnecting Alexa won't tell you much. But, if the plugs can function without the presence of Alexa on the network, then by all means remove her first to determine if she is the troublemaker. If she is paired to the smart plugs and can't be removed then you should disconnect all those other IoT devices connected to your LAN so that there is no possibility that they would be sending any signals while you are testing things out.

Here's where it gets tricky. If yanking all the access points one at a time does not localize the problem, then it starts to look as if the Echo/Alexa itself is malfunctioning. Replacing her with a known good one may not be easy for you, plus she may not be the problem regardless.

After doing all the above, and eliminating everything inside your house as being the source of the problem, then you can only assume something outside your house is radiating a control signal that is causing havoc with the Lo-T switches. Look for a guy in the neighborhood with a 500 watt CB radio, for example. You can't make him stop, but you could coordinate an experiment. Have him power up his rig and see if your lights go out. Seriously, if the control signal is coming from outside, that may not be easy to discover or fix. But, it is possible some strong RF signal is hitting the plugs directly at exactly the right frequency. It would be a huge coincidence, but is a possibility.

And, changing the group names is a good idea for testing possible software/firmware issues. Yet again I don't know how Echo/Alexa works, but if she gets updated by a central data center located in downtown Moscow, then it is possible that the automatic update is flawed. The only cure there is to roll back the software/firmware, or possibly contact Amazon for a workaround, patch, or fix.

I think I was a bit more entertaining in my first post, but hopefully this one has all the information you need to be inspired to find a solution. I am standing by for your next report.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

Thanks for all the info Yogi, but I've actually tried everything you said, except for turning of Alexa, hi hi
I did turn of Alexa in my office, as well as the Access Point by unplugging both, so they had no power, hi hi.

Since it is both Outlets in the group, and no others, is why I blamed it on the Group and Alexa.
It's also not Random it is always at 11 pm sharp.
I did switch out the two outlets, for two that have not been bothered. And put the two that were originally in the group into another group. It is still those two outlets in the group I first renamed, then killed and created a new group for the two new outlets. So I can rule out the individual sockets themselves.

To add insult to injury, we now have a pole lamp coming on sometime during the night, and it is on an outlet not used from the problem group either. Now this may only be a one time thing that happened, but still odd. I know Lo-T is subject to interference.
I did ask my neighbor to the west if he has anything on a schedule for 11 pm, and he said nothing that he knows of. His outdoor lights and camera are all dusk to dawn and motion sensitive.

As a safety precaution, the switches I have will remain at their current setting of the WiFi or Cable goes out. If they are off, they will not turn back on without a command to do so. But if they are on, they are supposed to turn off 1 hour after a cable outage, just in case someone is not home when it happens.

What bugs us is it is the same to lights, regardless of which LoT switch they are on, which is why I suspect the Group.
But changing the group made no difference, which surprised me to no end.

Last night I removed ALL of the switches, unplugged all of them, then plugged them in and reset them.
Then I had to go through the routine of giving each one a name, and assigning it to a new group name.
I've used all different names again too! Each Outlet has its own new name, and each group has its own new name.
Living Room became TV Room, NightLights (formerly Den) became Rec Room, etc.
This time rather than name each of the outlets, I just used a letter number combination, Pole Lamp became ST2, The string of lights became BR5, etc.
I tested each one on its new name before assigning them to a Group. Now we wait and see until 11 pm tonight.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

There is another more complex method of troubleshooting your groupie problems. Based on the assumption that the control signal is coming down the WiFi from the controller (Echo/Alexa?) to the individual switches, there will be a stream of data that can be sniffed with the proper software. There are quite a few network sniffer programs that will record data streams, but perhaps the most popular one is called Wire Shark. If you can sit around until just a minute or two before 11 PM then you can turn on Wire Shark and start collecting all those packets going over your network. Soon as the lights go out, stop the collection and review the list of packet data. Those packets have source and destination data, such as IP addresses which can be resolved to network names, i.e., the ones you gave them when you made the new groups. Armed with all this data you should be able to tell where the control signal is coming from. No, Wire Shark is not intuitively obvious to use, but I have a feeling you can figure it out enough to capture the data you need. Some experimenting ahead of time will make you an expert. LOL From what I understand Wire Shark comes in both Linux and Windows flavors. Probably other OS's too.

Some logic might be all that is needed here. Those group names are being recorded somewhere, and I'd guess it's in Alexa's core software. She must have a lookup talble something like a DNS server that converts IP addresses to network names. Likewise she must have a scheduler that knows when to send the off/on signal to specific network devices. If the Alexa module is the physical piece of hardware with all this information and control, then that has to be the source of the problem. However, I realize Amazon owns Alexa and they might have all that information on their servers using Alexa simply as a router. That is where the data packet sniffer would come in handy. You can determine exactly where the control signal is coming from.

Then, too, there must be tech support web sites or customer support phone numbers. In any case, I wait with abated breath for the results of tonight's experiment.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

Well, exactly at 11 pm, the two outlets called Night Lights turned off again.
So now I know for a fact it is not the outlets themselves, because I reset each of them, gave them new names, and used them in different locations than where they were previously.
The fact these two plugs are from what used to be the Living Room, and that they were programmed with new names, and also a brand new group created for them using a new name there too. The group has to be figuring out I changed the outlets around and used new names to figure out which ones it was turning off before, to go back to turning off the new ones just like before.
As I said earlier, I unplugged the router in my office, and unplugged the Echo device up here. So that eliminates either the Echo box from up here, or anything coming in over my WiFi in the office.
Alexa does not work at all if it does not have a signal from the WiFi.
For my next trick, I plan on unplugging the Echo box in the house tonight, and if those lights still go out at 11 pm, I'll know it is not Alexa doing it, and will have to look for something else causing it.
Stay tuned for tomorrows update, hi hi.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

Have you pulled the wire from your Internet connection yet and let the dice roll without an said connection? Alexa could be the problem, but I'm thinking perhaps Alexa is taking orders from the infamous Cloud. If that is the case, the problem might be outside your control. You don't want to go replacing Echos and/or Alexa if they are just puppets taking orders from above.

The failure mechanism seems to be hard wired, or at least burned into firmware. Changing the names and group assignments would not matter if that is the case. The controller has some faulty instructions burned into it's innards if it's all due to a firmware update. You know ... those SDK's you told me about. Maybe one got installed behind your back and is the responsible party.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

With both of our Echo units unplugged, the lights still went off at 11 pm like always.
So either the signal is coming in over the Internet, and out the WiFi to the Outlets as a group.
Or it is something in the house I haven't figured out what yet.
Tonight I will unplug the Routers, which I hate doing the main router because it changes all the IP addresses to everything.
I'm going to get to the bottom of it one way or another.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

You do not have to unplug the routers in order to disconnect from the Internet. All you need to do is yank the wire/cable that goes from your modem to the wall plug that is the interface to your ISP. Doing that will keep the DHCP server in the router functioning and you won't lose your IP addresses. It will, however, disable any incoming control signals from the big Echo in the sky.

If something inside your house is causing the problem, then I'd expect more than just one specific group on your network to be affected. About all I can think of that would cause the problem you see is an abundance of RF noise or a signal on the exact channel which your group of switches operate. I can think of only one source that might know what that exact frequency is, and it's up in the Cloud. It can be internal to the Echo as well, but I think you eliminated that possibility.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

Well, in a way, that is what I did. I disconnected the Router from the Modem.
Both Echo devices complained they had no access to the Internet.
Also, our lights did not go off at 11 pm.

I have the cable set up this way. Inbound cable, Modem, Telephone Box, then the Router.
The WiFi router I have in the office is used as an access point and is connected via LAN to Router.

In any case, now I know the shut-off signal is coming in over the Internet, so it has to be Amazon doing it.
Even though they say I have no Routines or Schedules or Timers set. Strange, very strange.
Now that I know this for sure, I'm sending them a troubleshooting request.

It still could be something from a neighbor getting in over the Internet, but if so, it is not directly to the LoT devices.
I say this because the LoT devices themselves do not know which group they are in. And it is definitely the NightLight group.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

I'm very glad you determined the source of the problem, and it just confirms my suspicions about Amazon eavesdropping on your home activity. You did tell me how restricted it all is but the proof of the pudding is that none of it works if Big Brother Amazon isn't in on the conversation. I got to wonder why they insist on doing it from the Cloud because it can in fact all be local without any Internet involved. Then, too, some things are beyond my understand ... believe it or not. LOL
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

It is a handy device to have around.
We had one for years before buying smart plugs to use with it.
They have helped one heck of a lot. Saved electric too!
I've not heard back from the trouble report I sent in to Amazon yet.
But hopefully they can figure out why my lights turned off at 11 pm.

Also learned something new about it too.
When I replaced the Roomba, I bought a much cheaper Deebot, and it works just as well if not better.
Learned I can tell Alexa to have it start cleaning, and where, and in what mode.
My first experiment with doing that, was to have it clean around the birdcage every evening around 3 pm for 15 minutes.
Then it goes back to its docking station before the frau gets home from work, hi hi.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

If you have not done something like this already, read these two articles:
https://www.smarthomeexplained.com/what ... -and-echo/
https://www.smarthomeexplained.com/does ... -the-time/

Those articles explain the difference between Alexa and Echo and how each one operates. The second article explains how useless Echo devices are without an Internet connection. The reason for that is Alexa lives in the cloud and is nothing more than software given the name "Voice Assistant" by Amazon. This Voice Assistant is the smarts part of the Smart Home concept. Echo, and all it's variations, require Alexa to do anything. On their own they are stupid. Alexa is akin to what Microsoft calls Windows these days, i.e. a service.

Now that I read the above two articles I understand the problem you are experiencing, but I can't conclude where the problem actually is located physically. It could be inside the Echo device, or it could be up in the cloud on Amazon's servers. The two, Echo and Alexa, must be connected together for anything to happen. Also, another interesting note is that they talk about Bluetooth being a necessary component of the setup in some cases. If your system has that requirement, then some Bluetooth enabled device in your house could be reeking havoc every night at 11 PM.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

I have the Echo DOT in my office, and we have the Echo SHOW on the kitchen counter at home.
Debi does of Bluetooth on her Schmartz-Fone, and it is only set up to use the wireless earbuds.

Yes, I knew Echo was the Device, and Alexa was the voice activation app installed in the device.

Well, the NightLights went out again at 11 pm, so it is definitely coming from the Echo device via the cloud over the WiFi.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

I got the distinct impression from reading those articles that the Internet, the Alexia software, and the Echo devices depend on each other to operate. Thus they are all integrated into one single device and you really don't know which one of the three is issuing the bogus signal. Hopefully the trouble ticket you submitted will resolve the issue.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

I got a response back from Amazon Security Services in my e-mail last night.
I don't believe their answer though.

They said, we have checked your account back for 14 days and no instruction to turn off Den or NightLights was active at any time from 10:30 pm through 11:15 pm, however, there was activity shortly after 11 pm to turn Den or NightLights back on by verbal command. You have no Routines, Schedules, or Timers turned on.
Please check all your Teckin Devices as they can receive signals from any "Smart Life" application and from iOS 8.0 or above or Android 4.4 or above.
The instruction to turn off your devices at 11 pm did not pass through our servers!

The reason I don't believe them is because the GROUP Den, and later the GROUP NightLights are the GROUP that is turning off, even after I reset the individual plugs and swapped them around. The only place this change was made was on the Echo/Alexa device settings website.

A couple of times our Halogen lamp would come on during the day. I swapped out that plug with the one on the pole lamp.

For a Smart Life application to have the ability to turn off the same two light fixtures in a Group, it would have to know the Group name. Also, how would it know I swapped the plugs for those fixtures around?

ALSO, we did set a Routine to turn the GROUP NightLights back on at 11:05 pm, so why didn't they mention it?
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

What you quoted of the Security Service response made sense to me. There is nothing illogical about it as far as I can tell. Unfortunately, that response only addresses one part of the three that makes your system work. As I pointed out in my previous comment, since all three components are required for the system to be active, it would be difficult to pinpoint the specific element without using more analytical methods than you have available. I also suggested earlier in this thread that you could learn a few things about a network packet capturing tool called Wire Shark and possibly pin point the origin of the problem that way. The only other method would be to swap out Echo and all the switches it controls with known good replacements. You might be able to do that easily enough with the switches, but swapping out the Echo controller would require you to procure one in addition to what you have.

The complication in all this is explained in the Security Serevice response. The errant control signal could be coming from outside your Alexa network and never passing through Big Brother's server. I read that Bluetooth is also involved with the Alexa system so that anything in or near your house using Bluetooth would be highly suspect. You can indeed survey your own house, but Bluetooth extends out to your neighbors property too, most likely.

The most ambiguous part of the response you got is the advice to check all the "Smart Live" applications in the area AND iOS 8 OR Android 4.4. I don't understand what is being referred to when citing operating systems as being a possible source of interference. Given that those OS's are connected to both the Internet and Bluetooth, something funky may be going on there. I just don't see how an OS by itself could do this. Perhaps you can query the tech jocks for more information about what to look for specifically.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

Well, you know I swapped out the original smart plugs taking them from another group that was working just fine.
The two smart plugs that were in the Group Den are now in the Group Living Room, and they are not going off at 11 pm.
However, the two I reset and added to the Group Den started going off at 11 pm.
This is why I think it has to do with the Group not the individual devices.
OK, my next step was to rename the Group Den to Den2 to see. Deleted Group Den.
They still went off at 11 pm.
So I deleted Group Den2, reset the two smart plugs, added them to a brand new group named NightLights.
The next night they both went off at 11 pm again.

Now here is where it gets really frustrating. My Echo Dot in the office is unplugged, so it can't do anything.
My WiFi router in the office, only used to run the Echo Dot is unplugged.
We unplugged all the smart plugs. Removed all the Groups from the Alexa App. Unplugged the Echo Show for 20 minutes.
After dinner, we plugged the Echo Show back in and did a complete reset on it. Checked the App and nothing was there.
Came up to my office, and checked the on-line web app from up here, nothing there. Good!
I reset each of the smart plugs and named them T1, T2, T3 and T4.
T1 and T2 were placed in the living room, and T3 in the Den, and T4 in the Kitchen.
I created a Group named it TVroom, added T1 and T2 to this group.
I created a Group named Hearth, added T3 and T4 to this group.
Told Alexa to turn on TVroom, and she did.
Told Alexa to turn on Hearth, and she did.
Last night at exactly 11 pm the Group named Hearth turned itself off.
How was this even possible? Grrr.

I tried something else after that too.
I asked Alexa to turn on Den, she said I have no group named Den.
I asked Alexa to turn on Den2, she said I have no group named Den2.
I asked Alexa to turn on NightLights, she said I have no group named NightLights.
I asked Alexa to turn on Hearth, she complied and the T3 and T4 came on as expected.

I ask Alexa what timers I have set, she said no timers are set.
I asked Alexa what Schedules I have running, she said you have no schedules set, and asked if I wanted to set a schedule. I said NO.
I asked if I had an Routines set, she said there are not routines set up in your schedules area.
So I asked if I had an group named Routines, she said you have no group named Routines.

This morning I sent an e-mail to Teckin, and included much of what I have told you already, only a bit more terse.
Now I'll wait and see if they ever respond.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

It looks to me, sitting 485 miles away from you, as if the problem is in the smart switches. I say this because you seem to suggest the problem follows the switch(es) regardless of where you place them.

If it is possible, eliminate all groups.
I'm not sure how or if you can do that, but the ideal would be to have no switches identified with any group.
If you still observe the problem in that case, it has to be in the misbehaved switch itself.

Alternately, if you must have groups then list all the switches as one group.
If only one in the group goes out unexpectedly, then that one is the problem.
If the entire group goes out unexpectedly, then it's the Echo device.

You could accomplish the same thing by physically removing all the switches except the one (currently) misbehaving.
Again, don't use names or groups to control the switch if that is possible. Simply test to see if the suspect switch faults when it is isolated by itself.
Repeat with all four switches, one at a time.
If they all fault when tested individually, then obviously the problem is in the Echo device.
If only one, or some, of the switches fault, then the problem is in the switches themselves.

I am basing the above conclusions on the assumption that the group assignments are retained inside the Echo device. Since the tech support folks claim they aren't seeing any shut down signal, it has to be generated locally - which is what they said in their first response.
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Kellemora
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by Kellemora »

NO Yogi, the problem don't follow the individual smart plugs, it follows the Group I put them.
Even if I switch them around and create a new Group, it is only that Group which is turning off.
I can take plugs A & B and switch them with C & D. If A & B were the ones turning off, it will now be C & D turning off.

We have a string of LED lights on the Mantle, and a flower pot decoration by the back door with LED lights.
These two are what we use as our night lights.
Regardless of what I name the Group these two plugs are on, they turn off at 11 pm.
I can switch out the plugs from the Living Room to the Night Light group, and still it is the NIght Light group that goes off at 11 pm. When I switch plugs, I have to uncheck them from the Living Room Group and add them to the Night Light Group, and vice versa. Renaming the 11 pm Group from Den to Den2, from Den2 to NightLights, from NightLights to Hearth, has not stopped them from turning off at 11 pm. Weird, very weird!

I can say this, if the Echo device is not plugged in, the lights do stay on.
But the Echo device has no internal function to turn on and off the lights, it is only a link to the Alexa server.

By the same token, if the internet is down, the lights will stay on then too.
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yogi
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Re: Lo-T Devices

Post by yogi »

I'm very unclear about the functional structure of your lighting system.

I presume the switches are dumb devices and can only do two things; open or close their contacts. At this point I'm not even sure how that happens, but they do nothing without receiving a control signal.

I presume Echo is akin to a DNS server wherein it simply keeps track of names and addresses. It's a simple two column name-number matrix scheme where the name you give the groups and/or the individual devices are translated to an address that identifies the device you want to control - light switches in your case.

I presume the intelligence behind all this is Alexa who lives up in the Internet Cloud. Alexa keeps track of the schedules you create and most likely is the clock for the system as well. So, on schedule, Alexa sends a signal to Echo which routes the signal to the specific devices.

You manually assign the groups, the device names, and the time schedule (using the smart phone app???), and all those instructions get stored in Alexa's memory banks. Alexa is keeping track of the time so that it knows when to send instructions out to your specific Echo device. The service people say they are not sending any signals, yet you are seeing lights go off and on at inappropriate times. If some source external to your Alexa network is not the cause of the false signaling, then it has to be within Echo - because you tell me the switches are dumb and can't do anything unless they are instructed to do so. The source of the unwanted instructions has yet to be determined, but Echo is looking mighty suspicious in that Echo is the only place in the system that does the group-to-deviceID interpretation.

Or, it could be something else altogether different.
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