Received Bolt + Bridge: doc suggestion and bridge stability


#1

I finally received my Bolt+Bridge after a long wait and for the most part, I’m pleased.

I had some trouble installing it (which could be improved in the instructions) and I’m finding bridge to be relatively unstable. I also have a question about the bridge status screen. Here we go.

Installation went relatively smoothly with a couple exceptions. At the point where I put the lock cylinder in place, I wanted to test that everything was working smoothly so I tried turning the tailpiece to lock the bolt with my hand and couldn’t do it. It felt like maybe I needed some more leverage, so I instead tried turning it from the key on the outside, and it turned smoothly. I finished installation and tested everything and it seemed to be working fine. Then I removed the key from the outside lock and I could no longer close the bolt by hand! With the key in place it worked fine (from the inside) but without the key, it wouldn’t close (on the inside). I took everything apart and discovered that I did this step wrong:

“Make sure the tailpiece is rotated fully counter-clockwise if you’re installing the Bolt on the right hand side of the door”

At the time I read it, I assumed “counter clockwise” must mean from the point of view of the diagram (showing the inside of the door). But it means “counter clockwise” from the outside of the door. (Where the hand is in the diagram.) I think this isn’t fully clear and the instructions should mention from which side counter clockwise means. It would have saved me fifteen minutes and some stress. Something like “While looking at the lock from the outside of the door, turn the tailpiece fully counter-clockwise using the key…”

Bridge:

I had trouble using blink-up to install the Bridge. With my Nexus 6, I tried a bunch of times and couldn’t get it working. It would appear to work (start the process) and then at the end of the blink-up it wouldn’t blink green. I realized later that I should have tried adjusting the brightness higher and tried that, but instead I tried using an iPad instead and that worked fine the first time.

Now that the lock is operational, it is quite reliable from bluetooth but very touch and go from the bridge – which is the case I expect to use the most. Often the lock state isn’t reflected properly and the bridge seems to crash frequently. It is reported in the log often right at the time that you attempt to use it. Often you get a report that the server timed out and didn’t effect your command, but then the command works. Because the state often isn’t reflected properly and it often doesn’t work, you can’t be sure whether your command worked or not if you aren’t in the house to see it. This seems like a problem. Here is a screenshot of the activity screen showing the bridge problem:

Click for screenshot of Activity showing bridge failures

I have fine wifi connectivity and the Bridge status screen never shows the wifi connectivity anything other than “Good”. However, the bluetooth signal strength is always “Poor”. This, even though the Bridge is only about 7 feet away from the lock (through an open doorway.) As a test, I put the Bridge literally inches from the lock and the status screen still showed “Poor” most of the time.

Here is a screenshot of my Bridge Status with the Bridge about seven feet away from the door.

Click here for Bridge Status screenshot

I’m hoping some of this will be improved with future firmware updates.

–Jim–


#2

@jjd thanks for the detailed feedback; inserting the key in the tailpiece throws off all the instructions give it will have a much greater range of freedom. We might want to note this. I’m scratching my head about the confusion with the graphic, however - on that type of door (interior of right handed shown in the manual), you should rotate the tailpiece counter clockwise as specified. Mind sending a pic to support?

Often the lock state isn’t reflected properly and the bridge seems to crash frequently. It is reported in the log often right at the time that you attempt to use it. Often you get a report that the server timed out and didn’t effect your command, but then the command works. Because the state often isn’t reflected properly and it often doesn’t work, you can’t be sure whether your command worked or not if you aren’t in the house to see it. This seems like a problem.

The beta firmware on Bolt helps significantly with reporting the correct state. I took a look at the screenshot; while Bridge isn’t perfect due to a handful of issues, the amount of disconnects you’re seeing is way higher than most folks. The “poor” signal strength to Bolt is definitely the issue. You noted that you held Bridge right up to Bolt but the signal was still poor; do you have any nearby WiFi repeaters? Could you try again and keep it for a few minutes to see if the RSSI improves?


#3

Now I’m the one scratching my head! The activity log clearly says “Wifi Disconnected” and my Wifi signal strength is nothing but “Good”. I’m not sure how if the bluetooth signal strength is Poor it would cause the Good Wifi signal to disconnect?

There are no nearby wifi repeaters. There is a 5ghz wifi access point in the basement one floor down and about 20 feet away horizontally. The main 2.4ghz access point is one floor up and about 10 feet away horizontally. I have never had wifi range issues or interference with any other device in the house which includes several laptops, tivo wifi adapters, wifi alarm clock, playstation 4, wifi printer, several phones and a couple tablets. In fact there is a Raspberry Pi-based webcam client about the same distance from the front door as the Lockitron and it works fine.

I will perform your test and report back.

Thanks for your time, Cameron.


#4

Whenever the term “clockwise” or “counter-clockwise” is used, it is ambiguous if it referring to something that has two sides, like a door. When the viewer is facing the inside of the door, counter-clockwise means the opposite of what it would mean if the viewer were facing the outside of the door.

In the graphic in the installation manual, the view of the reader is from the inside of the door. However, the hand in the picture is on the outside of the door. I believe when you said ‘counter-clockwise’ you meant from the hand’s point of view, not the viewer of the picture’s point of view. Is that clearer?

This is super helpful, thanks. I think we need a bolded “as viewed from the inside” to clarify.

Now I’m the one scratching my head! The activity log clearly says “Wifi Disconnected” and my Wifi signal strength is nothing but “Good”. I’m not sure how if the bluetooth signal strength is Poor it would cause the Good Wifi signal to disconnect?

There are no nearby wifi repeaters. There is a 5ghz wifi access point in the basement one floor down and about 20 feet away horizontally. The main 2.4ghz access point is one floor up and about 10 feet away horizontally. I have never had wifi range issues or interference with any other device in the house which includes several laptops, tivo wifi adapters, wifi alarm clock, playstation 4, wifi printer, several phones and a couple tablets. In fact there is a Raspberry Pi-based webcam client about the same distance from the front door as the Lockitron and it works fine.

Ah, okay - I confounded a couple of things here without explaining my reasoning. “WiFi disconnect” is a catch all for us being unable to connect to the device and send a command. Sometimes it’s due to WiFi, sometime it’s due to Bluetooth. We should do a better job of splitting this up. In your case, I think it’s all due to Bluetooth and not WiFi.

The reason I bring up the repeater is that Bluetooth operates in 2.4ghz, same as WiFi. As such I’m trying to figure out if there is anything in the 2.4ghz which might be creating a bunch of noise (from the Bluetooth perspective).

How far from Bolt can you be when connect to it with your phone directly over Bluetooth?


#5

[quote=“cameron, post:4, topic:2485, full:true”]
Ah, okay - I confounded a couple of things here without explaining my reasoning. “WiFi disconnect” is a catch all for us being unable to connect to the device and send a command. Sometimes it’s due to WiFi, sometime it’s due to Bluetooth. We should do a better job of splitting this up. In your case, I think it’s all due to Bluetooth and not WiFi.[/quote]
Ah, I see. I would recommend changing the activity log message to something like “Cannot connect to Bolt through Bridge” or even better yet, if technically possible have two different messages “Wifi DIsconnected” and “Bridge Bluetooth disconnected”. That would surely help with debugging and give better guidance to the customer.

I have performed the bluetooth range test you asked for and my results were slightly better than before. This time I measured the distances instead of estimating. The convenient place to keep Bridge is about 10 feet from the Bolt. It’s just slightly around the edge of an open door frame. With no obstructions between Bridge and Bolt, here is what I found:

Distance    Bluetooth Signal Strength


15 feet        -91 to -89 dBm (Poor)
10 feet        -84 to -81 dBm (Poor)
7.5 feet       -86 to -81 dBm (Poor)
5 feet          -85 to -82 dBm (Poor)
2.5 feet       -77 to -75 dBm (Average)
1.25 feet     -75 to -71 dBm (Average)
6 inches      -67 dBm (Good)

Of course, within 2.5 feet, the door is going to hit the Bridge!

Where I want to keep it 10 feet away but slightly behind a doorframe, the results were close to the 15 foot numbers.

It is slightly difficult to measure this as there is substantial hysteresis in the wifi vs. bluetooth icon on the lock page. I unplugged the Bridge and there was still a lot of hysteresis in the icon about whether it was connected. So I was testing by actually trying to lock or unlock. What I found was that at the 10 foot distance I was using for Bridge, my phone was able to reliably lock/unlock the door. At twice that distance, it would occasionally work, but not reliably. At perhaps 13 feet it was quite reliable, but the distance is not as long as I would typically expect for Bluetooth. With a wireless bluetooth headset or speaker (admittedly not BTLE) I easily get reliable connections at more than twice this distance.

And here’s a new question: When I first started up the Lockitron with the new sealed batteries that came with it (Energizer Alkaline – not the fancy Energizer Ultimate Lithium shown in your installation video) the web control panel says “Battery Life Remaining: Low Battery %”. In doing the range test, I thought “maybe the batteries really are low and that’s causing the problem” and I installed a brand new set of alkaline batteries. But those also said “Low Battery %”. Is this something I should be concerned about?

Thanks.


#6

@jjd thank you for the detailed information; the range issue on Bridge is really perplexing. We’ve seen Bolts which have poor range due to an antenna issue, but this would manifest via the phone as well.

My best guess is that there is something wrong with the Bluetooth chip on Bridge, but we’ve never seen this before and it’s a lot less likely because it uses a chip, not a wire antenna (and QC on the soldered down components is a bit more comprehensive than the wire which can be damaged during installation). If you reach out to support I can work on getting you a replacement; we have a handful in the office in the case of a failure like this, but as noted we’re very short on these guys.

I believe the battery issue is due to a firmware issue; we had another report of this I’m still looking into.


#7

Not to intentionally hijack… Add a third report to the low battery…


#8

Thanks for the replacement offer, Cameron. Since installation, I have slightly moved the Bridge and have only had one occurrence of “WiFi disconnected”. Rather than go through a replacement, I think I’ll continue to see how well it performs for me. I do think that you’ll have much more luck with customer satisfaction with the Bridge product if you can improve the working range that it can be from the lock. I’m sure there are many installation locations where the current range is not sufficient to have the bridge in a convenient location.

Perhaps an alternate bluetooth chip or one that offers the ability for you to have some sort of external (to the chip) antenna. Happy New Year to everyone on the forum.


#9

@jjd yes, the Bluetooth consistency coupled with WiFi issues are indeed one of our biggest focuses for improving Bridge.