The Z-Wave ToolBox in Las Vegas
We could barely contain everything in the “pod” (display kiosk) inside the Z-Wave Alliance pavilion. The main reason for ZWP attending ISC West was to show off our our suite of Z-Wave Tools. Included in this was the flagship of our troubleshooting line, the first-ever Z-Wave troubleshooting tool; Z-Wave ToolBox. Also featured were our popular Sensative Strips and the newly rebranded Zwaveproducts.com line of dimmers, switches, and accessory switches. For good measure, we also brought along a Remotec ZTS-500, a very futuristic and feature-laden thermostat from Remotec.
After years of soaking up the trade-show experience, I was on the flip side; giving a presentation (or two). It wasn’t like I didn’t know or believe in the ToolBox; this is what I lived for the past 4 years. But I was concerned how would the world react. Would others yearn for a product I knew was the best thing since the 100 series chip? It seemed like we were caught up in a swirl of pre-show preparations. I had a lot of help from Margaret, also from our Moonachie, NJ office.
When the show opened Wednesday morning, it was surprisingly quiet in the Z-Wave Alliance booth. Then all hell broke loose as swarms of attendees asked questions about the suite of tools we offered for Z-Wave installers. We sorted out questions from a steady stream of visitors, until it finally quieted down Friday morning. We had great interest in our dimmers, thermostats, door/window sensors, and received many questions about those items. For now, I’m going to give a general sum-up of the types of questions we got for the ToolBox and related tools, and leave input about our other featured devices in upcoming blogs.
Q: “I’m worried that this may be too difficult for my installer to understand. Is there a simpler tool that you will have on the market that wouldn’t be so complex?
A: When first investigating Z-Wave issues at MDU installations in the New York Metro Area, the tools I had very complex for me as well. The ToolBox is a reaction to that set of tools. The ToolBox may seem a little overwhelming at first, but creating an underpowered tool would get the installer the quick answers, but perhaps wouldn’t give all the answers. So as we developed this tool, we added simple widgets to ease the introduction to the new installer, but also created powerful tools so that the advanced user isn’t left out, either.
Q: “Why can’t I see my device names? Can I add them, or rename the devices that your ToolBox shows?”
A: This question specifically refers to the Network Health Tester. There is a Control Panel of devices that appears once the ToolBox is ‘Learned In’ to your controller. The Control Panel is based on Z-Wave device node IDs. It omits device names, or alternate controller IDs (such as the ones given to a device by the panel). The reason for this is due to the permissions that we get from the Z-Wave controller when we add the ToolBox via “Learn.” We are not a secondary controller, and only have access to the ID that’s on the Z-Wave chip. We provided a ‘test’ (On/Off) command to help identify nodes. The ToolBox is meant to quickly identify problems (20 minutes once the operator understands how the tool works), and really there should not be a need to rename nodes as you want to get in and out as quickly as possible. However, this is such a popular request, we will have our developers add it in subsequent firmware updates.
Q: “Can I purchase the software-only for inclusion on my own gateway?”
A: We did get many questions about someone wanting to implement our ToolBox into their gateway/panel. We do not have any plans for making this available at this time, but wouldn’t pass up a great opportunity for the right company.
Q: “The price seems okay for installers, but I want to troubleshoot my own network. Is there a cheaper alternative?"
A: We have created a packet analyzer-only version of the ToolBox, with a small form factor and more appealing cost. However, this device doesn’t take into account the installer-friendly features of the ToolBox. It assumes you will read the packet analyzer and understand what to do next. It’s a great tool for a specific application.
Q: “What is the difference between this tool and the CIT from the Z-Wave Alliance?”
A: “The Z-Wave ToolBox and the Certified Installer ToolKit (TM Z-Wave Alliance) are very similar, in that they allow the installer to troubleshoot Z-Wave networks. The Z-Wave ToolBox is commercially available now, and does not require enrollment into the CIT program. Zwaveproducts.com provides support for the ToolBox. The ToolBox was scratch built by installers, for other Z-Wave installers, and takes a more installer-friendly (not developer intense) view on troubleshooting. Each region has its own SKU, which allows us to keep costs down as well as keeping the programming simple (Why pay for and manage AUS frequencies when you run an installation shop in California?). We also can respond very quickly to feedback from installers, and firmware updates are included for one year from purchase.
Q: “Will your Z-Wave ToolBox work in other countries? (Brazil, Mexico, France, etc.)
A: Right now only the US version is available. The North American frequency has been released for sale, and currently we are 'doing the details' for sales in the EU and AUS markets.
Q: “What if I want to sell the ToolBox [or] become a distributor?"
A: Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: “How is the ToolBox powered?”
A: The ToolBox is delivered with a 120VAC power adapter. There is a 12V battery option with case and strap that will go on sale as soon as we iron out all the features for our installers.
Q: “Can I see the ToolBox in action?”
A: Check out this video “Ad” that we played at ISC-West 2017 CLICK HERE TO VIEW
Q: “How much does the ToolBox cost?”
A: The Z-Wave ToolBox retails for $249 USD and can be purchased HERE.
Over all, the show went really well. The reaction to the ToolBox was very warm, and the questions gave us a better insight on how to make the ToolBox more viable for the Z-Wave installer.
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