UK-Automation Tips on Security Alarms

Marmitek X10 Motion Detector MS13E

UK-Automation provides solutions to security with a range of branded alarms that can be used inside and outside of the home.  One of the most popular items is the Marmitek X10 Motion Detector PIR. When this senses movement, it sends wireless X10 signals to an X10 receiver. This receiver can also perform alternative functions such as controlling on/off light and appliance switches. The benefits of the system are:

  • Saving energy by turning off lights when a room is unoccupied
  • No need for lighting wall switches.
  • Activating lighting sequences
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use
  • Protecting and warning of visitors.

When used in conjunction with a Marmitek CM15pro Computer Interface and ActiveHomePro software, macros can be set up to run when the MS13E senses occupancy. Sequenced lighting is possible with the CM15pro time delay. The system works by sending wireless radio frequency (RF) signals to a transceiver module, which then passes the signal to the house wiring. Other X10 controlled modules, such as the lamp or appliance modules can then turn on lights or appliances. The MS13E also has a built-in photocell that detects when it is dark. The field of view is approximately 110 degrees on the horizontal axis and 125 degrees vertically with a PIR Range: 45 degrees - 5 metres, straight ahead - 12 metres.

Alarm chimes

Doorway Beam Sensor Alarm - Chime

Another popular product in the security alarm range is the Doorway Beam Sensor Alarm or Chime designed to sound a user selectable chime or alarm when someone walks through an invisible infra-red light beam. This beam is projected from an emitter and bounced off a reflector placed at the other side of the detection area. When the infrared beam is broken by any presence in the path of the infrared beam, it is spotted by a sensor built into the emitter detects. A chime or alarm can be set via the included separate speaker annunciator to notify of a security alert.

HCF Proactive Security System

Finally there is the Hydra Control Freak Proactive Security System which is currently on special offer with a saving of £149 over the RRP. This is an advanced security system which informs a homeowner via text or email when a PIR is triggered. This enables the homeowner to monitor the video captured by the camera via a smart phone at the point that the PIR was activated. The HCF can be used to control X10 devices, and can be activated to switch on lights, sirens  or alarms. It can schedule events on a timed weekly or daily basis. All of these and many other alarms can be found on the UK-Automation website, allowing you, the homeowner peace of mind about the security of your property.

Smart Home Statistics

According to a recent report by the British government, the Government’s £11bn programme to install energy smart meters in every home by 2020 may be at risk of failure. There have been many setbacks and problems in the plan to make more homes smart, involving the installation of the meters, which take automatic gas and electricity usage readings and send them back to energy companies. The ultimate aim is that this will eliminate estimated billing and encourage households to save on energy costs through monitoring their consumption. “We do not believe that near-universal smart meter roll-out will be achieved by 2020,” said the Energy and Climate Change committee report. However, it does show that the country’s leaders can see the benefit of smart home technology and in fact, those who already have smart meters are already seeing reductions in their energy consumption, with research published last month showing “high satisfaction rates and confidence in the technology.” Chairman of the committee, Tim Yeo, said: “Smart meters could generate more than £17bn in energy savings for the country.”

Confidence in Technology

Multifunction Energy Meter

This confidence is enhanced by another recently published home automation report which shows the global home automation market valued at USD 4.41 billion in 2014, with an estimated growth rate of 26.3% from 2014 to 2020. Modern day home automation solutions use the latest digital technology to provide better performance and efficiency and according to the report, the market is “primarily driven by growing need for effective solutions in various domestic applications such as lighting, safety and security, energy management, entertainment (audio and video) and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning).” Interestingly, the highest revenue generating segment was safety and security in 2013. Unsurprisingly, North America was the leader in the home automation market in 2014 followed by Europe and Asia Pacific collectively accounting for more than forty percent of the global market revenue share. Experts have said that a rising awareness towards energy conservation and ability to manage energy consumption through automation technologies are the main influences on the market growth of home automation, together with the rise in smartphone-based home automation solutions. Companies like UK-Automation are at the forefront of smart home technology with a range of branded products for safety, security, lighting, HVAC, energy and entertainment. So even if the smart meter scheme is not initiated by the proposed date of 2020 into every home, you can still make significant savings by installing some of the energy and cost saving products that can be found on UK-Automation’s website.

Garage Remotes from Merlin

Merlin is a well known and well established brand for anyone who needs a remote control garage door opener. Through UK Automation, the company offers a number of options for those who want the ease and security of a remote control for their garages and lock-ups. The first offering is the 2 Channel Full Size Garage Remote which is priced at just £36.00. This is one of the company’s most popular items, and is used for Merlin Prolift range of garage doors. The product is a new generation transmitter which features high security code hopping technology. What this means in layman’s terms is that they have the capacity to transmit a unique code whenever the buttons are pressed. Both 2 or 4 channel models are available enabling the user to operate additional Merlin garage door openers. The large button makes for easy operation and there is a holster for wall or visor mounting.

Keyring Remote

Merlin 2 Channel Key Ring Remote

For those who prefer the comfort of a keyring remote control, Merlin has two versions. The 2 channel remote control retails at £25 and is designed specifically for fit on a keyring. This compact device can also be placed as a wall mounted push button. Easy to use, the key are manufactured from soft feel silicone rubber. Again, the same technology is used as with the full size version, with its unique code. The Merlin 4 Channel Key Ring Remote is exactly the same but obviously, as the name implies with four channels, and is priced at £40.00.

Merlin Beam Sensor

For the safety conscious, there is the Merlin Beam Sensor available for a mere £39.00. This safety beam sensor is only compatible with the Merlin Prolift 230 and Prolift 430 garage door openers and offers all the benefits of a safety beam sensor. Safety beam sensors give peace of mind and are connected to the bottom of the track. When the infrared beam is broken, even though nothing may come in contact with the door, the door is reversed.

Merlin Remote Control Upgrade Receiver

Finally UK Automation offers the Merlin Remote Control Upgrade Receiver. For just £50, you can upgrade an existing Merlin remote control system to high security. Simply add the receiver, which fits directly onto Merlin products via spade terminals, screw terminals and plug on looms included for easy connection to other products. This upgrade is extremely useful for older Merlin door openers with obsolete radio transmitters. More importantly it can also be used on other brands of garage door openers although the receiver may need a DC power supply. For these and all other garage door openers, visit UK Automation for the best choice.

Amazon Smart Home News

According to a report from the research agency IDC, the Internet of Things is set to be worth $7.1 trillion in five years time, more than twice the size of the smartphone, PC, tablet, connected car and wearable market put together. Which means big companies like Amazon are already harnessing the power of the IoT in their new product development.

Zipabox Smarthome Z Wave controller by Zipato

Amazon is branching into the home automation market with the launch of its hardware and a cloud-based service, both of which support web-enabled devices around the home. The Dash button is a physical device which was introduced last week across America, on a purely invite-only basis, and if successful, will become readily and globally available in time.

Dash Button

The plastic device is a little bit bigger than a human thumb and it connects to Wi-Fi; when the Dash is pressed, it allows the user to automatically order items from Amazon Prime. At present, Amazon has partnered with a mere 18 companies, including big names such as Gillette, Olay, Huggies and Bounty. Each Dash button acts a one-click entry point to these branded items on Amazon, and the button can be “tweaked via the main Amazon app to order products, but only from that one brand. Shoppers can choose whether pressing the Gillette Dash button would order another 5-pack of shaving cartridges or a 10-pack, for instance.”

The aim is that Dash buttons will be scattered around the home, so that if you are running low on an item or run out, then a simple press of the button will enable you to re-order exactly what you want in less time than it takes to actually access the item’s website.

Amazon’s interest in this is pretty clear: the organisation makes for loyal customers who have the ease and comfort of ordering items from one place. As for the shoppers, could anything be easier? Or indeed, lazier.


The second launch is a new cloud-based service is called the Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), which is expected to be introduced, again in the US, by autumn. According to a report on the Mashable website “If the Dash button is a physical, one-click access point to Amazon, think of DRS as a budding ecosystem of third-party devices, all running software that connect back to the tech giant.”

So far, Amazon has linked with four companies: although this is expected to change drastically once the concept is launched. Initially, Brita water is one of the inaugural four and its filters will feature a sensor that measures usage, and when necessary, will connect to Amazon and reorder water filters. The other companies include sellers of household products and again, when the product is running low, the sensor will inform Amazon and reorder.

The Internet of Things is set to revolutionise smart homes and Amazon is only one of many companies that are leaping eagerly into a new market. Shopping from home may become even easier in the coming years and in order to make sure your home is up to date and geared up with everything needed to ensure it can handle smooth transition to innovations, check out the home automation products that we offer.


What’s New So Far For the Smart Home?

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, brought to market over 20,000 new products to entice the smart home owner.  Some were practical, some were dubious and some were   downright unbelievable.

However, the 3D food printer by XYZprinting is one of the more useful and interesting items: the concept enables any user to upload any design or import them from the Internet for making cake and biscuit decorations. The Food Printer works by turning ingredients such as chocolate, dough or other solid items into uncooked food. XYZPrinting says it has worked with a food specialist, and created a proprietary recipe that can be used in single- or triple-material versions. The machine has an onscreen touch display which allows users the choice of preset designs for the shape of the food. Alternatively, budding Mary Berrys can import designs from online or upload their own designs via a USB port.

Also unveiled at CES was a wearable fitness tracker that can analyse body composition. The InBody Band  tells you your fat and muscle mass, body fat percentage, sleep patterns, heart rate and body mass index using four sensors, two at the front and two on the rear. You can get a reading simply by placing your fingers on the front-facing sensors. Ideal for those on the move who want to monitor their bodily performance on a constant basis.

Or if you prefer a belt, then the wearable market has been introduced to a smart belt called “Belty”  from Paris-based Emiota. This device monitors the wearer’s waistline measurements and advises when they become too tight and less intake and more exercise is required. Automatically loosening when the wearer sits and tightening when they stand, the belt is expected to alert people when it’s time to start losing the fat!

Finally Swedish furniture manufacturer, Ikea has launched a brand new range of furniture fitted with wireless charging spots for mobiles and tablets. Called the Home Smart range, products include bedside and coffee tables as well as individual charging pads for any surface.  Makes you wonder why no-one has thought of this concept before!

Raspberry Pi

UK-Automation offers a variety of branded products and one of the most interesting is the Raspberry Pi. This ingenious little device is a relatively inexpensive computer the size of a normal credit card, that plugs into a computer monitor or TV. Using a standard keyboard and mouse, it acts in exactly the same way as a desktop computer (internet usage, video games, to making spreadsheets, word-processing) but it has the facility of interacting with the outside world. It also allows people to programme computers and learn how they work.

Initially launched and developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation charity with the “intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science in schools”, it has already proved its value in numerous situations, from music machines and parent detectors to weather stations and tweeting birdhouses with infra-red cameras.

What Else is New?

The Razberry daughter board mounted on the Raspberry PI

So what is offered with the Raspberry PI from UK-Automation? First is the RaZberry, a small daughter board that connects on to the Raspberry PI. This allows it to be used as a controller and gateway for any Z-wave equipment. This little board is ideal for those who want to be creative in writing an individual user interface and applications. It comes complete with an Installer UI and Ajax web demo.

Features include:

  • External 32 K SPI flash for network data
  • Sigma Designs 3102 Z-Wave transceiver module offering additional enhancements
  • Backup and recovery function including network topology
  • Extended Node Information Frame
  • Firmware update from the Raspberry PI OS
  • Network management (Include, Exclude, Reorganize)
  • Device interview and configuration
  • Management of direct associations between devices

And a host of other interesting features.

There is also the Installer User Interface that implements all the features of the Z-Wave network. Not only does it manage and operate a Z-Wave network but also acts as a reference instance to learn how to access the JSON Data model and execute demands.

HiFiBerry DAC+

HiFiBerry DAC Plus for Raspberry Pi Model B Plus

There is also the HiFiBerry DAC+ a high-resolution digital-to-analog converter for the Raspberry Pi Model B+. In layman’s terms, this is a sound card for the Raspberry Pi, to give the best audio playback quality.

Features include:

  • A dedicated 192kHz/24bit high-quality Burr-Brown DAC giving hifi quality audio output
  • Compatible with Raspberry Pi Model B+ & Raspberry Pi 2 with no additional power supply required
  • Ultra-low-noise voltage regulator for optimal audio performance
  • Hardware volume control. You can control the output volume using “alsamixer” or any application that supports ALSA mixer controls.
  • Supplied with spacers to fix the board onto the Raspberry Pi

Whatever your needs, UK-Automation keeps ahead of the competition and looks for devices that will make your smart home even smarter. We have a good range of HiFiBerry parts for the Raspberry Pi.

Systemline Entertainment Systems

Systemline S7 Home Net Cabinet

UK-Automation offers a number of options for entertainment systems, including the Systemline multi-room entertainment range. Since 1987, Systemline has been manufacturing leading systems and is now Europe’s leading designer and manufacturer of high quality products for the smarthome market.

Decades of Sound

Systemline S7 KPS3 Keypad

It was 1988, Systemline introduced its first multi-room control system, the first system in the world to be based on universal IR control and since then the company has expanded and developed rapidly to offer numerous products that enhance a room.

UK-Automation offers five products from the Systemline range:

As it is built into the wall, this is a space saving device and the wipe clean option keeps it tidy and attractive. The quality of sound is unsurpassed and you can even pipe TV sound through the system. With options for iPod Dock & Bluetooth Receiver, it offers a flexible alarm feature and wireless connectivity.

E200EL built in HiFi Sound System by Systemline with iPhone Dock

The E200EL bundle contains:

      • E200 Keypad
      • iPhone/iPod dock (30pin) versions above 4 will require an adaptor (not supplied)
      • A pair of Q Acoustics QI 65BC ceiling speakers
      • Cat5 Cable
      • Hub
      • DAB Aerial
      • Power Supply

E200BT Bluetooth built in HiFi Sound System by Systemline - E200 Keypad

The second product is the The E200BT Bluetooth built in Hi-Fi Sound System by Systemline. This basically offers exactly the same sound quality as the E200EL, but includes:

      • E200 Keypad
      • A pair of Q Acoustics Qi-65CB ceiling speakers
      • QED uPlay Plus
      • Cat5 Cable
      • Hub
      • DAB Aerial
      • Power Supply

Systemline High Performance Ceiling Speakers

Finally, for those who simply want a great quality speaker system, Systemline has the Q Acoustics Ceiling Speaker Qi65CB, which has been designed as an incredibly slim speaker with a maximum rear depth of only 73mm. Cost efficiency is assured and it offers good bass extension and a detailed mid-range for voice reproduction and an extended high frequency range, eliminating the need for a conventional crossover and tweeter arrangement. Features include:

      • Magnetic grille
      • Tweeter / Tweeter diameter: 2.2” (55mm) sympathetic radiator
      • Woofer diameter: 6.5”
      • Power handling (program): 10-50W
      • Impedance (nominal) ohms: 8
      • Sensitivity dB (2.83V, 1m): 93
      • Response (low frequency) -3 dB: 77Hz
      • Max rear depth: 73 mm
      • Size:Round: 232 mm
      • Cutout (nominal): 203 mm

According to its website, Systemline “will continue to innovate and develop solutions . . . and look to provide the ‘wired-for-wireless infrastructure’ to deliver the level of choice appropriate for today’s needs.”

Hot Picks from this Year’s CES Show

Each year, January marks the time when people converge on Las Vegas for the CES Show  to contemplate some of the weird, wonderful and downright odd items to be introduced to the consumer gadgets market.

Put a ring on it

How do you fancy a wearable that lets you control all of your devices just by waving your hand? Ring from Logbar is a smart wearable magic ring, powered with Bluetooth. The beauty of this little gadget is that it can be pre-programmed with lots of gestures which enables the user to control devices hands-free.

For example, if you move your finger clockwise, you can turn a lamp on and off. If you draw a circle with your finger, you can access the camera on your smartphone remotely. However, this does herald warning signs that perhaps the Ring should not be used when you are out with friends on a stag night. Who knows what you may return home to!
The plastic Ring is due to market in March and it will be available in various sizes.

Other wearables

It seems that wearable devices are the ‘in-thing’ with a discreet wearable camera gaining interest. The Clip 2 from Narrative is described as “a cute little camera that clips onto your collar and automatically snaps what it sees every 30 seconds.”

For those who have children who are permanently plugged into social media, this will be extremely popular. For those caught unaware on camera, it might not be so popular. The Narrative Clip 2 sends the pictures back to your smart mobile device so that you can peruse them at your leisure.

Similar to the original Narrative Clip, the Clip 2 has an 8-megapixel camera, 86 degree lens angle, flexible backside mount, wireless connectivity and a more powerful battery. Reasonably priced at under $200, it comes in red, white or black and will be available some time later in the year.

Top Pick

Finally, the top pick is the Parrot self-watering plant systems which enables your plants to water themselves automatically. There are two parts to this launch: the Pot, a dishwasher-safe smart pot with its own water reservoir; and the H20, which you simply put in a normal into a plantpot and attach a standard water bottle. A lot of intellectual research has gone into these products, with Parrot developed them in conjunction with horticulturalists from European universities.

The Parrot Pot senses moisture levels, fertiliser, sunlight and temperature and feeds the right amount of moisture to the flowers and plants. Both the Parrot H2O and the Parrot Pot will communicate with the Parrot app via Bluetooth.

E200EL built in HiFi Sound System by Systemline with iPhone Dock

E200EL built in HiFi Sound System by Systemline with iPhone Dock


Please a look at UK Automation’s range of bluetooth devices including this one.

News From America Smart Home Command Centres

HiFiBerry AMP Plus Case

HiFiBerry AMP Plus Case

So many home automation products are hitting the marketplace that the question is, how can they be managed and controlled? News from America is that there are many companies vying to become dominant in controlling smart homes. Today’s marketplace incorporates everything you could possibly want for the automated home, with products and services that seem positively futuristic. Washing machines, devices, Internet-connected light bulbs, security cameras, entertainment devices, heating . . . even garage-doors that alert users if left open, devices that slow down when everyone is asleep and lights that come on at the recognition of an opening lock.

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas highlighted the need for a smart home control platform, a command centre if you like. And if the Americans are thinking of it, then the UK won’t be too far behind. The glut of smart-home choices is part of the Internet of Things which basically refers to adding computing, sensing capacity and wireless communications to hardware. Because of the sheer amount of products, the demand is there for platforms to control multiple objects.

Mergers and Movers

Z Wave 4 Button Touch Panel Switch by MCO Home

Z Wave 4 Button Touch Panel Switch by MCO Home

We can see this happening already, with Apple last June deciding to make future home devices using a platform called HomeKit. The company is attempting to reduce the need for individual apps and hub devices by building features into its iOS software to configure and coordinate multiple wireless gadgets more accessibly and easily. “It becomes a lot less confusing for the consumer,” says Chris Allen, CEO of iDevices LLC, one of multiple companies announcing HomeKit-based products at CES.

“There is nothing worse than 15 different apps for 15 different devices,” says Nate Williams, chief marketing officer of Greenwave Systems.

We can see how companies are thinking using for example, Whirlpool, the cleaning machine company, who joined the smart thermostat company, Nest’s programme which enabling interactions such as spinning its dryers periodically when users are absent. Another UK company, Wink, deveoped last year the ability to command Nest devices to its home app as well as many others as Nest’s app doesn’t control other companies’ devices.

“Every single one of these U.S. retailers and service providers want to have their own offering of a platform,” is the prediction from Jimmy Busby, chief executive of Alabama-based CentraLite Systems Inc., which designs home hardware and software for other companies.

Some companies are already offering tasty titbits: PEQ, a hardware and service provider is on the brink of to merging with a connected vehicle service called Zubie, which would allow subscribers driving away from their homes to have automatic happenings, such as their front doors automatically locking and the heating turned down.

Nest has already announced certain partnership measures, including Dropcam camera recording footage in the event of smoke which could which help in later investigations.

Certain companies are using the Web service IFTTT “If This, Then That.” The example cited is a motion sensor catching someone in the biscuit barrel: “Post a Facebook status message anytime someone reaches for the cookie jar.” Maybe that’s going too far but the sentiment is obvious.

Who will take ultimate control remains to be seen but in the meantime check out UK-Automation’s list of products for a comprehensive insight into what’s new and existing in the smart home market.

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