Banggood Fun – Aqara Opple Triple Zigbee Switch

Aqara Opple

And MORE: But firstly – a look at my new triple Opple switch which arrived this week from Banggood – and as usual I’ve no interest in using it on the standard APP and Gateway – so let me show you it working in Zigbee2MQTT – and hence in my Node-Red installlation. When I say “triple” I mean of course 3 switch panels – 2 multi-purpose buttons each panel as you’ll see further down.

The package arrived in good condition along with some other stuff – I’m sure Banggood have cornered the market in using sellotape.

As you can see on the image over on the right, I’m using the Node-Red node to read the Zigbee switch, having re-named it from the default horrendous sequence of characters to something useful. The node regularly shows battery status which is very useful when you have lots of Zigbee devices. These devices like other Opple products and indeed most Zigbee sensors – send out a package which includes button state, battery state and signal quality.

And here is the switch, still in the box, fully operational with no wires of course. There is a magnetically attached set of switches in a standard-looking wall switch housing which simply sits on the wall, held in place by a supplied adhesive strip or screws. It doesn’t get any easier – and for beginners – in terms of range – Zigbee uses a 2.4Ghz (similar to WiFi) short range radio. as long as you have the odd mains-powered Zigbee gadget nearby, the whole thing acts a a mesh to give essentually unlimited range (battery powered devices of course do not contribute to the power of the mesh).

I’m sitting in my office. In the main room of the house I have a Sonoff mains-powered ouput device which does it’s own thing while increasing the range of my Zigbee network (based on a ZZH dongle attached to my Raspberry Pi here in the office at one end of the building). If I take this new wall switch pretty much anywhere on the ground floor – it will just “work”.

The Aqara is powered by a single inexpensive CR2032 battery and based on experience with other devices I’d not be surprised if I get a year of use out of it before replacing the battery.

Aqara Opple Switch

Taking a look at the individual parts of this wall switch, we see the 6-way magnetically attached switch, the backplate, extra adhesive strips and a couple of pretty standard mounting bolts – so plenty of mounting options then. At the back of the switch section (left) is a tiny button used only for “pairing” i.e. introducing the switch into your Zigbee network. Also supplied was a small manual – but as that was entirely in Chinese, I guess it will be a much use to most of you as it was to me – but then it wasn’t needed anyway.

Six buttons, a total of 20 action outputs for all 6 button. Let’s go through them:

button_1_single
button_1_double
button_1_triple
button_1_hold
button_1_release

The above of course applies to all six buttons – hence 30 operations, that simple. Also there is a tiny light in the top corner in the photo above – which comes on VERY briefly when pressing buttons and slighly more obviously when pairing with your Zigbee network.

And now we come to the howler – replacing the CR2032. You have to carefully pry off the button panels with a plastic spatula (I used a credit card) and then do the same with the PCB itself to get to the battery at the back. What WERE they thinking about? Easy enough now that I (and others) have warned you but anyone putting a thin metal object between the buttons could risk causing damage.

SO, in at the deep end, I got out my credit card and as you may see in the photos below – while the switch itself is LOVELY and works a treat – personally I’d FIRE the person who dreamed up the battery replacement mechanism. You have to carefully PRY off the 3 button panels, then remove a tiny screw holding in the guts which comprised a top and bottom layer. That’s easy but there are 8 tiny edge tabs holding the innards in place – you have to pull off the top plastic black section and then remove the PCB – you need to be at the back of the PCB to replace the battery – and watch out for the pairing button at the back which drops off and could easily be lost.

For heaven’s sake, what stopped them putting a hole in the back of the box? or a simple battery cover on the back?

Aqara switch dismantled

I got the whole lot apart in a few minutes and then back together – thankfully without any marks or other damage – but this the the most ridiculous battery replacement I’ve ever seen.

Other than that – as a triple wall swith with extras, fine (working on it – on-off and dimming/colour control next), for gaming (without the back-box) – the sky’s the limit. I’m going to have lots of fun with this.

And here’s a larger photo of the switch enclosure itself showing the magnets used to hold it to the base. How does all of this tie back to Zigbee2MQTT and Node-Red? See my first article on the subject here.

Magnets in the back of the Aqara switch
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6 thoughts on “Banggood Fun – Aqara Opple Triple Zigbee Switch

  1. Looking at the bangood page the switch you have is actually 6 way. The options are 2 way, 4 way or 6 way. Pressing each end of the ‘switch’ plate should generate a different button number. This makes it even more useful and gives it a bewildering array of control possibilities. The aqara range is proving to be a very productive tool set. They aren’t the cheapest around but, in my experience, they have few limitations when teamed with MQTT. I’m a real fan.

    1. You are of course correct Cris and I’ve altered the first para to make that moer obvious. As you’ll see I love the switch – but I think we can agree the battery change method is a real dog’s breakfast. I thought of putting this on the wall, but it is good for so much more than just turning 3 lights on and off.

      If only there was moer consiostency with Zigbee output devices… (not referring to Aqara) – I have Zigbee lights which default to power on after a power falure, others which default to power off etc. I am tending now to use WIFI for actual outputs and Zigbee for controls – with a couple of mains-powered Itead (Sonoff) Zigbee smart sockets thrown in to maintain a house -wide mesh. But that’s just me. All good fun. Erm, note the price of these switches – other reviewers last year quoted lower prices – I guess we can thank Covid for that…

      I should have mentioned that at the end of the day my switches end up controlling things at the end of MQTT links.

      1. The battery will last quite a while unless you are using it as a game controller. No, i’m not kidding. Six buttons with 4 actions each makes this a fun challenge. Changing it is easy once to take a dremmel to the back of the case and cut your own access panel. The moulding even has useful guides of where to cut! Whether this was intentional or not is questionable. Yes, a bit of sticky tape to hold it place is a bit ugly but only when the switch is not in place. I have one of these that I have out in the graden that allows me to control the sprinklers (I have 4) on demand. One of the buttons toggles all the switches to control the garden and patio lights as well. Endless fun with one portable and lightweight switch. The family actually like using this – when they are generally bemused by my nerdy automations!

        1. Sorry. Credit where it’s due. The idea of trying to set up the 6 way as a game controller is not mine. I got it from notenoughTECH.

          1. I noticed that Mat had talked about it as a games controller and I could see some promise in that. My watering system could do with more flexibility – but that will have to wait until we finally convince the town hall to increase our water pressure which is currently rubbish.

  2. I find myself here once again saying the exact same thing over again! I got a couple of these (2-switch/4 button units) to go with a box load of aqara PIR sensors, buttons and enviro sensor and they are pretty damned handy things! Especially once again I point out …for somebody who self taught coding to a “it works” standard 🙂

    They have a stylish finish like the IKEA Tradfrei stuff I have and just pair up with my zigbee2mqtt coordinator. The end result; really powerful mqtt payload straight into NodeRED. Parsed json out of the MQTT sub node is only a couple of actions away from powerful automations. These really do make automation easy as you point out with single/double/long and release from each button!

    I was just looking at the new Shelly PRO 4PM unit on Jon Oxer’s superhouse.tv last night and this sort of hardware is so easy to use now. The new shelly 4-way relay has a MCU, screen and Ethernet/MQTT integrated into a DIN rail module. For my home (a bungalow) 4 of these units and a roll of 1.5mm sq twin & earth would match up with a few OPPLE’s to fully automate lighting and possibly heating using a few zigbee TRV valves. Things evolve fast and use cases are beyond what we have considered really! I like this stuff, can you guess?

    Garry

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