433mhz Automated Christmas Tree Lights

Its that time of year again, decking the halls, hanging the stockings, and the hassle of having to stick your arm behind the Christmas tree to turn the damn lights on and off! First world problems… Time for some 433mhz magic!

Something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years and that I’ve never gotten round to, is having an automated way to turn the tree lights on and off. It saves me having to root around behind the tree to find the switch and means I can set the lights to turn on and off on a schedule (or even use some other triggers). As I’m still waiting for something better to come along (Come on Den pull your finger out!) and they were on offer, I popped into my local Maplin and picked up these bad boys.

433mhz remote

433mhz socket

This is a pack of 5 433MHz remote plug sockets, they cost £19.99 on offer, which i thought was pretty good! In reality I’m probably only going to use two of them (Yes we have two Christmas trees, what of it?), but I’m a sucker for a bargain. You never know, the other 3 may well find uses elsewhere in the house.

I did a little bit of research before purchasing and as far as I could discover,they were compatible with my existing HA kit, namely my Domoticz controller and RFXtrx433E 433MHz gateway; however, which this cheap stuff you can never be too sure, so its always a little bit of a punt…

These devices are about as simple a it gets. They have a channel (sometimes called a house code) which is set via a 4 way dial on the sockets and a slider on the device, this is in Roman numerals for some reason (I, II, III, IV). You set the remote and all of your sockets to the same channel to tune them in, so to speak.
They then have a second dial that relates to each sockets ID, these are labeled 1, 2, 3, 4 and match the 4 sets of on/off buttons on the remote. Simple.

According to the instructions I found, these are supported by the RFLink and Domoticz using the Lighting 1 protocol and the sub-protocol GDR2/COCO.

Following the instructions, I added a new switch manually in Domoticz:

Domoticz add switch

  • Hardware: RFXtrx433e (Or whatever you called your RFXtrx device)
  • Device Name: Socket01 (Name of your choice)
  • Switch Type: On/Off
  • Type: COCO GDR2
  • House Code: A (House Code relates to the channel of the Sockets, but instead of Roman numerals Domoticz uses letters A-Z. There are 4 channels on the sockets, so I = A, II=B, III=C and IV=4)
  • Unit Code: 1 (Socket ID for each switch or group of switches)

I tested this by turning the virtual switch on and off, this worked immediately, very gratifying!
As mentioned above, we have two tree’s each with a set of lights, so rather than setting up two virtual switches, I set both Socket’s ID’s to the same number. This allows the one virtual switch to control both sockets. This also gets around the other issue with these sockets, which is that they provide 5 sockets, but the remote can only address 4 sockets. Setting two sockets to share an ID is a way around this.

All in all I am quite please with this, its a cheap solution to a fairly niche problem. The only issue I am having is with range to one of the sockets. I am considering cracking one open to see If i can solder on an extra antenna so watch this space…

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