Today my Switchbot curtain robots arrived. They work pretty well, but getting them to the point of working well was a bit tricky. Here’s some notes, in case they help others:
- The instructions for how tightly to clamp the robot to the rail are frustratingly vague. My recommendation is that if you have a telescoping rail, gently attach the robot to the thinner part of the rail, then while calibrating, increase the tension by one click at a time until it can move freely.
- The telescoping rail shim works a LOT better if you make sure that the seam is on the back of the rail, rather than on the top or bottom (where it sometimes interferes with the motion of the wheels); at least this is the case with my grommet curtains. (This also happens to reduce the drag from the grommet ring to the shim, which is also quite important.)
- The instructions and app don’t make it AT ALL clear about how to group two curtain units together! The answer is to set the curtain’s open direction to “open from the middle;” if you’ve already set them up as individual units, you can go into one curtain’s settings and change the opening direction.
- Grouping curtains has pluses and minuses; on the plus side, it makes managing scenes easier, and it also fixes the asymmetrical delay issue that Techmoan ran into. On the minus side, it means that there’s no way to control them individually in HomeKit, if that’s a thing you want to do.
- On that note, to get them to work with HomeKit (rather than using the “Siri shortcuts,” which suck), you need to enable the “cloud service” mode on the curtain(s), and run something like Homebridge and the homebridge-switchbot-openapi plugin to get HomeKit to see the device. And yes, you need a Switchbot Hub and a bridge to do this, and annoyingly enough, this all goes through Switchbot’s cloud servers, meaning if they ever go out of business, the dang things will probably stop working entirely. Why the hub can’t just talk locally is beyond me.
Anyway, having this set up was a lot of fun when my neighbor came by to help me finish hanging up my new TV; he suggested closing the curtains before verifying the TV tilt angle, so I said, “Hey Siri, close living room curtains,” and he said “No way!!!” and then the curtains closed.
And now I have a bunch of automations, like:
- If I say “Hey Siri, game time,” the curtains close and all the living room lights turn on and the air purifier turns off
- If I say “Hey Siri, movie time,” the curtains close, and the lights and air purifier turn off
- In the morning, the curtains automatically open
I also have a few other automated lighting changes throughout the day, and the awesome one will be when my bedroom shades finally arrive — I’ll be able to automatically close them at midnight and open them at 8 AM, and maybe I’ll stop getting woken up at 6 AM by the sun shining on my face!