A Quick Note On Aeotec Gen5 USB Sticks
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2020-01-21 07:00 by Karl Denninger
in Technology , 86 references Ignore this thread
A Quick Note On Aeotec Gen5 USB Sticks
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If you have one of these and put it in a drawer somewhere, not using it for a while, you should probably know that it has a lithium battery in it.  This is why you can unplug it from a controller, take it to a unit and include it there.  Incidentally this is a very nice feature that those "fancy pants" controllers lack, and it also obviates most (but not all) of the security implications of including something over the Net that has a security key (which was the rage over Z-Shave, if you remember.)

What is also apparently the case, and is not obvious at all, is that this battery is actually more than just a backup.  That is, when discharged, or if it fails, the stick gets very, very "wonky."  It appears, specifically, that the RF section is using that power -- perhaps what it wants to draw is more than the USB supply can reliably provide on a peak basis.

In any event if it's low on power -- but not out; it is still working when unplugged and will light up, for example -- you may well find that it will not respond to some commands and appears to not send or receive data either!  That is, you can tell it to "add a node", it will acknowledge the command but never then returns the next frame telling your controller that it is ready to proceed.

I've seen reports around the web that these things sometimes get "screwed" and do odd stuff.  I believe this is what's going on.  If the battery is not actually damaged -- that is, it's just discharged -- leaving it connected to USB power overnight is sufficient to restore it to health.

However, if it's actually dead then you're in trouble because that battery isn't exactly user-serviceable.  There may be, in that case, exactly nothing you can do other than replace the stick, which is a huge hassle since you then have to reconfigure your entire Z-Wave network including all security keys for devices that are running in secure mode, because the Network ID will change.

As near as I can determine when this happens the stick itself is not dead.  There are people claiming there are firmware problems in certain releases; I think what they're running into is exactly this, and the older firmware (of course) correlates with an older, more-likely to be worn out battery.

So if you run into this -- and it's been sitting unplugged for a while -- plug it into a USB port and let it sit overnight.

You might get a pleasant surprise.

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