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Home Control Assistant Newsletter for April 10 2022

Have you read the Important Announcement posted on August 1, 2021? If you haven't you need to.
Ladies and Gentlemen, thanks for coming. 

Please takes seats and enjoy the cocktails and small bites being served while I recap the mystery and name the murderer.

Quite a while back I helped a user develop some programs that use the Ecobee remote sensors to control devices that effect environmental parameters – cooling units, humidifiers, and de-humidifiers.

It took a while to come up with all the programs that were needed, and to create a system that the user could easily adjust. I’m not going to get into all that as it is very site specific. The piece of this you need to know is that it took some time to debug the system. As part of that effort the system creates log files that show when the sensors change values and what effect, if any, there was.

A few days ago, the user reached out to me saying that a device got controlled and he can’t imagine why. I connected to their system using Team Viewer to check things out. I always proceed in an orderly manner when I have a problem like this. Since the data comes from the outside – the Ecobee cloud – I wanted to follow that data from the source into HCA to see if a problem could be there.

First, I made sure that the Ecobee was online. It was. I then looked at the Ecobee managed sensors to see if they were online and reporting reasonable values. They were.

Then I checked to see that HCA was able to access Ecobee data, as sometimes in the past HCA could lose Ecobee access. That was working fine.

Next, I checked the log files that are still being created as part of this system. They were there and the data in them all looked correct. The relevant log file for the day the problem happened looked correct. Sensor values were recorded and there was nothing in the log file that showed the device in question was controlled. 

Finally, I turned to the main HCA log file. I right clicked on the device that was controlled and picked “Show Log” from the popup menu. The log viewer showed two lines. Here is what I saw:


The 2nd of the lines was the control of the device showing that the user did indeed see that the device was actually ON. But it was the first line in the log viewer that told the tale.

In short, the house assistant did it! 

A while back this feature to show client actions was added to log configuration (“Tools” ribbon category, “Log Usage” button).


It was added for exactly this sort of hunt. Thankfully the user had this option enabled so the log showed more than just the ON of the device. It showed that a client connection – in this case Alexa - was what caused the action to happen. Possibly Alexa misheard another command and that resulted in what the log shows. Or it could be one of the unnerving times when you don’t talk to Alexa and she suddenly starts speaking answering a question you didn’t ask or doing some uncalled for action.

Don’t know but we must believe the log.

Mystery solved. Please stay and continue to enjoy the drinks and food. Until next time, I bid you goodnight.

 
If you are using HCA with UPB devices and also use Google Assistant or Alexa for voice control of them, please drop me a note as there are some developments you may be interested in.
If you are using a version of HCA prior to version 17, you may have questions about the wisdom of upgrading to version 17 given the future of HCA. Here is something to consider:

The support policy for older HCA versions has been changed
 as I can no longer devote time to past version users. Support will only be available for HCA 17 users.

If you are on version 16 or earlier and want to continue using the cloud features and want to be assured that if you have a question that it gets answered, it is indeed time to upgrade.

HCA is fully operational for several more years so the update cost, spread out over that time, is very little. Knowing support is available when you need it is worth it.
Upgrade to HCA 17
Anyone who is using Hubitat with HCA – not SmartThings – please drop me a note as I would like to add you to a discussion list for those users. I have some Hubitat ideas that I would like to “kick around” and it would help to have a group of users who have experience with Hubitat. Please just send a note to the regular support address saying you would like to be added to that discussion list.
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