Trying to understand Secondary Controllers

I’m just starting out with Z-Wave and Vera and I’m trying to understand some of the basic underlying concepts. Specifically here I’m trying to understand secondary controllers.

First I’ll describe what I think I know so I can find out if my assumptions are wrong:

  1. When a primary controller adds a device, the device will then send its messages exclusively to that controller.
  2. The device decides the route that messages will take to get to the Primary controller.
  3. When a secondary controller is added to the primary, the primary sends information about all the devices that have been added to the primary.
  4. However, when the primary subsequently adds new devices this information is not automatically sent to the secondary!?
  5. Devices don’t send information to secondary controllers.
  6. When a secondary controller wants to make something happen on system, it does it by sending a scene activate command with a scene number.
  7. The scene number sent by the secondary has no relationship to scenes set up in the primary. Instead the primary can use the scene number to allow the secondary to activate different triggers based on the scene number it receives.
  8. The Primary can be set up to de-activate a scene when the secondary’s scene command comes in.
  9. The secondary can’t directly control devices (e.g. turn on a light); it can only send triggers to the primary.

Is this correct? What does it mean to de-activate a scene? What is the purpose of sending the network configuration to a secondary if all it can do is send triggers to the primary? Is this just for backup of the configuration? I guess I can see it as a step in making the secondary into a new primary, but if that is the purpose why wouldn’t that be a one step process? In other words the copy configuration would be part of a “move to new Primary” function but not something you would do with a secondary.

Anyway, When I got my Vera Lite (less than a week ago), I got a Aeon Labs Z-Stick at the same time with the idea that I would plug it into a PC and use it to trigger events on the Vera, and monitor state. (Events would originate from some software on the PC). So far I have the OpenZWave sample application running, but I haven’t progressed beyond that. And now I’m not certain that with the Z-Stick set up as a secondary if it will be able to monitor state of devices on the network.

Lastly, it occurs to me that any triggering and monitoring of state that I would want to do on the PC needn’t involve the Z-Stick, but could talk to the Vera over the network instead. Where would I find information on how to do this?

Having had a ZWave netywork for about 6 months, here’s my view/assumptions.

  1. Yes. Only a primary controller can add/delete devices from the zwave network and is more or less the master of it’s domain. However you can have secondary controllers send commands to devices. Said devices will let the controller know if the command was received and executed. (At least for a GE one, the Intermatic one is lost if the primary is down)
  2. Yes and no. Vera, as master controller can ‘optimize’ said routing.
  3. Correct
  4. Correct, but the secondaries can map those later added devices to their keys without needing an update from the primary.
  5. They will respond to secondary’s with success/failure codes if receiving commands from a secondary.
  6. A secondary can directly control a device eg a light via assigning that light to a button. Some devices also allow you to assign a scene to a button.
  7. Not quite sure what you mean here.
    8 . Not quiet sure
  8. Incorrect. I can still control lights with my GE secondary remote even if my primary Vera is powered down. However, I am not able to do the same with my Intermatic HA07 remote. I therefore believe this functionality is dependent on the design of the remote/controller.

Sending the configuration to a secondary controller, as far as I can tell, is to let the secondary controller know the network layout (mesh) as well as what devices are present in the network.

You are correct, you should be able to get network/device info on your PC via the network using basically the same kind of function calls the iPhone/Android apps make. That information is in the Wiki somewhere.

I’m kinda missing a floor plan type of layout and have been wondering if I can create a web page with that floor plan and small image buttons in the locations I have devices that I can click to switch stuff on and off. So that when I am on my internal network with a tablet (or even my internet connected TV) I can have it access that web page for control. I believe this is possible using the above mentioned function calls but haven’t had to time to delve into it yet due to other projects with higher priorities.

So it would be more accurate to state, No a zwave device will send and accept messages from the Primary Controller as well as any and all Secondary Controllers properly configured in your network.

Crack open a brand new Vera set it up and Add 7 basic lamp modules followed by Scene Controller such as a Intermatic / Wayne Dalton desktop controller the battery operated one with the LCD screen or a handheld GE remote control or any number of other like devices… The Intermatic accessory switch the one that doesn’t have a load control would also qualify. During the adding of any of the above scene controllers Vera also sends down to said scene controller the required data on those 7 lamp modules you previously added.

Here’s how things get messy… Next, add 4 additional zwave light switches to Vera … The previously added scene controller won’t know about those unless you get vers to update the secondary controller … At least that how my table top Intermatic seems to behave … I too am very new so ymmv. But updating the secondary controller isnt a big deal so I’d say do it any time major additions or subtractions take place on your Vera.

Also once you add devices to your secondary controller those devices will now respond to Vera as well as the secondary controller… Vera being notified of these communications is something I’d have to investigate further.

One thing I read in the forums is in order for the Intermatic desktop controller to speak directly to the devices require one more update between the intermatic and Vera … I’ll post back when I learn what the best method is to accomplish this final update… I think the secondary might just need to be reIncluded into the Vera zwave network and once that’s done the intermatic will send commands directly to the individual devices instead of using Vera as the intermediary.

I’ll edit this post with more concrete info since I’m going to tackle this very issue tomorrow. :slight_smile:

re: #9, I can’t speak for the HA07 but believe it will work the same as my HA09 which will indeed control most devices when vera is down but as DaveGee is alluding one must update the secondary when devices are added or scenes assigned to the secondary. If this is done it will both trigger scenes, and directly control devices that can be controlled by it directly (such as lights) though it needs vera (through a scene) to do something something like arm a motion sensor.

regarding my #7:
7. The scene number sent by the secondary has no relationship to scenes set up in the primary. Instead the primary can use the scene number to allow the secondary to activate different triggers based on the scene number it receives.

What I mean is that when a secondary such as the HA09 sends a scene activate it also sends a value referred to as “scene number”. I found this confusing because it does NOT mean that the command will activate scene number zero on the main controller. It is just a number that can be used to distinguish one scene activate command from another (coming from the same controller) . So for example when Vera gets an Activate Scene 1 message from the HA09, it can use this as a trigger to launch ANY scene it wishes. This confused me at first - I think the terminology could be clearer.

With regards to #8, when I set up a trigger from a secondary in the Vera Lite I get an option to trigger on either “a scene is activated” or “a scene is de-activated” (both with a scene number specified). I have no idea what it means to de-activate a scene. I suppose it is just an alternate message that a controller can send. It seems that a de-activate trigger can be defined in the Vera, and then used as a trigger that activates a scene! This is again bizarrely confusing terminology. Is this just MiCasaVerde’s terminology, or does this come from the Z-Wave spec?

Thanks for the clarification on #9. My understanding now is that a secondary can talk directly to a device and get a response back, however if the device sends state updates (like a sensor) the secondary will never see them. For example when a door sensor when tripped it will send a message directly to the primary controller. A secondary controller could poll the sensor to find out if it has been tripped, but that would really waste batteries on a sensor.

I’m still unclear as to how a secondary controller is set up to directly control a device. Is this “association” rather than “inclusion”? Does the target device care if it has this association? It seems to me that whereas inclusion is a property of the device, that association would be a property of the secondary controller. Yes?

If I understand it correctly this is an example of some great work done by the MCV developers, with a little alchemy under the hood they allow vera to both run the scenes and set up direct association between the secondary and the device when scenes are created and transferred to the secondary, this requires that Vera is allowed to set associations automatically. The great thing about this behavior is that because vera also sets up the direct association the secondary will switch the type of devices it can (such as lights) wicked fast even if Vera is being pokey that day.

Can you walk us through a real world example of that? What capabilities must the secondary have to do this? I’m assuming here that the Vera is the Primary and the secondary is something else.

[quote=“Dolphran, post:5, topic:171712”]7. The scene number sent by the secondary has no relationship to scenes set up in the primary.
[…] I think the terminology could be clearer.[/quote]
Right; often no actual Z-Wave scenes are even involved. Naming it [tt]Which button[/tt] may be a lot clearer.

[...] no idea what it means to de-activate a scene.
I suppose this is meant to mimic the notion of an 'off' scene / the 'off' side of a 'scene' button that appears on many controllers. It depends on the controller whether this is actually supported. And I believe there is a mapping inside Vera from whatever comes across through Z-Wave to 'scene' (i.e. button) numbers and activate/de-activate events.
Is this just MiCasaVerde's terminology, or does this come from the Z-Wave spec?
MCV.
[...] A secondary controller could poll the sensor to find out if it has been tripped, but that would really waste batteries on a sensor.
Most battery operated devices are asleep and cannot be polled on demand.
I'm still unclear as to how a secondary controller is set up to directly control a device. Is this "association" rather than "inclusion"? Does the target device care if it has this association? It seems to me that whereas inclusion is a property of the device, that association would be a property of the secondary controller. Yes?
Inclusion is adding the device to the Z-Wave network (i.e. it gets the HomeID, a NodeID, etc.) Association is adding a device into a group defined on another device. What the purpose of that group is, depends on the other device. E.g., a motion sensor could define that any device added to, say, group 1 will be turned on/off when motion is/is no longer detected.