Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Brains of the Outfit

Earlier this week I started using the LightwaveRF "Wifi Link". This can be used to automate the control of the various sockets and switches via the internet or a smartphone.

Here's a couple of pictures. Firstly in it's fancy box:

Unboxed. Here you can see the unit itself, the power supply and the stubby Ethernet cable it comes with:

Setup is pretty simple. After connecting to a spare port on my broadband router, I powered the WiFi link on. It went through some form of startup routing (visible on the small screen), showing the local IP address on the screen, checking/flashing the firmware and then setting the date and time. Presumably at some point it made contact with a central server to register that it had been powered on. Here's a shot of it going through the startup sequence:

The next step was to communicate with itvia the internet. Using a browser session I went to Here I registered an account using an email (which I didn't have to prove ownership of) and a 4 digit PIN. The PIN was shown in clear on the browser screen so security is pretty poor. Here's an example with ficticious data:

Locating the WiFi Link unit and registering for web control is better than the log in experience. On the web you enter the MAC address of the WiFi link, their server then pushes a 4 digit PIN on to the actual unit. After reading this off the screen you then put it back into the browser and registration is complete. Presumably the WiFi link published it's MAC address to the central server which links it to the IP address of your broadband line.

Using the website you can start entering details of the other kit you've got set up in your home. You specify rooms names (e.g. "Study") and device names (e.g. "Dehumidifier"). Here's an example:

You then put the actual device in learning mode (see previous post), press the on button on the web interface and pairing occurs. So it seems the flow is:

  • Web browser to LightwaveRF server.

  • LightwaveRF web server to WiFi link unit in your house.

  • WiFi link unit to the actual device (using the proprietary RF protocol).
One thing to be investigated is how the server communicates with the WiFi link box. My broadband router is set up to not accept incoming connections. Puzzling, will be investigated...

The final point is on the name of the WiFi link. From what I can see it does not using WiFi at all, (i.e. 802.11b,g or n). Is it legal to call it WiFi when it's clearly not??