Category Archives: News

Z-Wave Multi-sensor Version 2.0 with SmartStart – Batteries not Required

Merrimack, NH March 19, 2018 – Express Controls LLC announces the release of Version 2.0 of the EZMultiPli three-in-one multi-sensor and Z-Wave repeater. The Z-Wave Plus certified device is one of the first available SmartStart devices on the market and is available for purchase now on Amazon.


  • Motion Sensor
  • Temperature Sensor
  • Light Sensor
  • Color Indicator Night Light
  • Z-Wave® Range extender
  • Wall Powered – No Batteries, No wires
  • Screw tab for secure installation
  • SmartStart enabled

The new features for the 2.0 version are the addition of a screw tab for secure mounting and SmartStart. The tab on the enclosure enables secure mounting in either a standard outlet or a decorator outlet common with GFCI circuits used in kitchens and baths. The tab ensures children, elders, cleaners or maintenance personnel can’t easily remove the sensor. Secure mounting means the Z-Wave network is robust and reliable since EZMultiPli typically is a key repeater in the Z-Wave mesh network. Never worry about the batteries dying since EZMultiPli is wall powered. Installed by anyone with just a screwdriver – no wires, no batteries, no damage to the walls drilling holes.


qrPackSigma Designs SmartStart technology makes installation easy and secure. If your home automation system supports SmartStart, the first step is to scan the QR code on the back of EZMultiPli. If EZMultiPli was purchased as part of a kit containing several SmartStart devices, the QR code may have already been scanned at the factory. The next step is to simply plug EZMultiPli into a wall outlet and it will automatically join the Z-Wave network. Inclusion should begin within a couple of minutes but may take longer if several SmartStart devices are added at the same time. SmartStart uses the latest Security S2 encryption technology for all radio communication ensuring your system is secure.

Express Controls

Express Controls provides expert consulting services for the design and manufacture of wireless Internet of Things (IoT) products for Z-Wave product development teams. Express Controls has been been developing IoT products using Z-Wave protocol since 2003 and the 100 series Z-Wave RF transceivers.  Currently we are developing Z-Wave products using the latest Sigma Designs fifth generation 500 series RF modules which enable us to quickly prototype any IoT device you can imagine.  We have resources available for PCB design and layout as well as industrial design and 3D printing to help visualize the entire IoT product quickly.   Leverage our knowledge of the nuances of the Z-Wave protocol to bring your Z-Wave product to market quickly.  


Eric Ryherd – CEO and Z-Wave Expert Consultant – +1 (603) 889-4841 –

ZWP500 Z-Wave Module Programmer and Tester

Merrimack, NH February 26, 2018 – Express Controls LLC announces the release of the ZWP500 Z-Wave 500 series programmer and tester. The ZWP500 is specifically designed to efficiently program the 500 series Z-Wave modules and chips from Sigma Designs. “The ZWP500 is the first 500 series programmer with full support for printing of the SmartStart QRcode which is now required for all Z-Wave certified devices” said Z-Wave expert and Express Controls CEO Eric Ryherd.  Utilizing the popular and powerful Raspberry Pi single board computer means the full capabilities of a high performance processor and an open platform can be utilized for programming and testing Z-Wave based products. The feature rich Raspian Linux operating system means the ZWP500 can be programmed in any popular language such as C, C++ or Python. The system is an open platform easily customized by the user or the experts at Express Controls can quickly develop a solution that exactly meets the needs of your product.



  • Sigma Designs 500 Series FLASH Programmer
    • Standard Sigma 12 pin programming header
      • SPI interface for programming
      • UART interface for debug
    • NVR and external NVM programming & test
    • 1ppm Crystal RF Calibration
    • SmartStart QRCode generation & printingqrPack
    • Fanless protective enclosure
  • Production Test Platform
    • Customizable Python interface
    • Scanner interface for serial number or DSK
    • Label printer interface for SmartStart DSK
    • Camera interface for LCD screen testing
    • Z-Wave ZM5202 Module onboard
    • Programmable RF Attenuator with SMA
  • Python API
    • Customizable Programming API or GUI
    • Sample test scripts for production testing
  • Programmable Power Supply
    • +2.0V to +4.5V 300mA
  • Raspberry Pi based controller
    • 1.2GHz Quad ARM CPU running Linux
    • 1GB RAM – 8+GB FLASH microSD
    • Ethernet, WiFi, HDMI and USB connectivity
    • Control locally or remotely via VNC


The ZWP500 is a production programmer for Z-Wave 500 series wireless RF modules. The ZWP500 programs Z-Wave modules at their maximum programming speed bringing the typical programming time down under four seconds compared to nearly 30 seconds with competing products. RF calibration is performed using the high accuracy 1ppm on-board crystal. A fanless enclosure means the ZWP500 can be deployed on the factory floor without special packaging or custom enclosures. The ZWP500 is a complete, high speed, robust production platform that can be customized to meet your exact requirements. Customization services are available from the Express Controls team of experts.

In addition to being a fast production programmer, the ZWP500 is an ideal platform for testing Z-Wave devices. Product testing on the factory floor to ensure every device is free of manufacturing defects requires an accurate, fast and robust system. The ZWP500 utilizes the Linux based Raspberry Pi model 3 (RPi3) Quad Arm A7 processor which is then augmented with the precise timing generators of a Cypress PSoC microcontroller and the RF capabilities of the on-board Z-Wave module. A programmable power supply with current measurement capabilities enables rapid testing to ensure that the Device-Under-Test (DUT) is free from gross production failures like power to ground shorts or missing power components. Either Python or C programming languages can be used to develop a customized test program to fully verify every electronic component of the DUT. Express Controls can write the test program for you or your team can develop it using the sample code provided with the ZWP500 as a guide.

The ZWP500 can be used for software validation to verify there are no bugs in each release of firmware. The full power of high level programming languages like Python or C can be used to test every button press and Z-Wave command class with each firmware revision. Push buttons can be activated with millisecond precision. DACs can generate specific voltages or waveforms to trigger specific conditions. The power supply voltage can be varied to trigger low-battery conditions as well as measure current to ensure the DUT battery lifetime will meet your specification. LCD screens can be checked against reference images to verify every screen reacts properly to every button press. The power of the RPi3 is at your disposal using the most advanced programming languages to fully test every aspect of your product with every release.

Typical Programming & Test System

ZWP500SampleSystemA typical ZWP500 based system is shown here. A custom designed PCB utilizing spring loaded pogo posts is used to make contact with the Device Under Test (DUT). This board is then mounted in a 3D printed jig which clamps the DUT in place during programming and testing. A low-cost Zebra thermal printer is used to print the SmartStart QRCode at the same instant the DUT is programmed with the 32 byte encryption keys to ensure the proper QRCode is matched with the DUT.

Contact Express Controls for details and pricing.

Express Controls

Express Controls provides expert consulting services for the design and manufacture of wireless Internet of Things (IoT) products for Z-Wave product development teams. An early adopter, Express Controls has been been developing IoT products using Z-Wave protocol since 2003 and the early 100 series RF transceivers.  Currently we are developing Z-Wave products using the latest Sigma Designs fifth generation 500 series RF modules which enable us to quickly prototype whatever IoT device you can imagine.  We have resources available for PCB design and layout as well as industrial design and 3D printing to help visualize the entire IoT product quickly.   With well over a decade of experience learning the nuances of the Z-Wave protocol, we are here to help you get your Z-Wave product to market quickly as well as provide expertise for a variety of other IoT and/or Z-Wave challenges you may be experiencing!


Eric Ryherd – CEO and Z-Wave Expert Consultant – +1 (603) 889-4841 –

CES 2018

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is THE trade show for smart home technology and all things cool and new and geeky. It’s a massive show and I only spent one day there and never made it out of the Sands convention center which is one of the smaller venues. If you’ve never been to CES it is something to see. The crowds are enormous and the tech is brand new. So new, some of it will never actually make it to market as there is plenty of smoke and mirrors.

Eric Ryherd wireless IoT consultant expert

My purpose is obviously to seek out the latest news about Z-Wave and chat with my clients. The Z-Wave Alliance invited me to man the “Ask the Expert” desk at the show for a few hours which I was happy to do. My expert knowledge of Z-Wave answered simple questions like “what’s Z-Wave?” (It’s like wifi but low power) to complex questions about the rules around Security S2 and SmartStart.

The most common question is always what’s the difference between Z-Wave and Zigbee? My short answer is that Zigbee is like silos. If you can develop an app, gateway and all the devices you need, then Zigbee will work OK. Z-Wave however was a mesh network from day one and every Z-Wave device can talk to every other Z-Wave device regardless of the manufacturer. Z-Wave is built around standardized command classes so every hub knows precisely what format a temperature sensor is sending the data. Is it in celcius or Fahrenheit? Tenths of a degree or hundredths? With Z-Wave, the format is fully specified. The other protocols let you decide the format which is fine if you have the huge budget to do it all. But if your investors have you on a shoestring budget then Z-Wave is the way to go. I have much longer answers to the Z-Wave vs. Zigbee question but much too long to keep your interest in a quick blog post.

The big announcement for Sigma (other than the acquisition by Silicon Labs) is the announcement of the 700 series. Unfortunately details remain shrouded in secrecy but Sigma has put a stake in the ground of having developers kits by summer 2018. Finally having a real 32 bit ARM processor will be a huge productivity improvement for us IoT developers.

I had limited time to walk the floor but it does seem that smart home has finally taken off. There are so many companies making cool gizmos it’s overwhelming. From sun tracking solar powered umbrellas to cameras of every size and resolution to lots of new hubs there is no way one person can take it all in. You’ll just have to see for yourself.

The Z-Wave Alliance booth is even bigger this year filled with companies hawking the latest IoT thingamagiggy using Z-Wave. Every one of them able to talk to all the other Z-Wave doodads. The booth was busy all day long. I did wander past the tiny Zigbee booth buried in the back of the hotel with a few people in it but nothing like Z-Wave.

SiLabs acquires Z-Wave – Good or Bad?

On Friday of last week Silicon Labs signed an agreement to purchase Sigma Designs for $282M.

The question is: is this good for Z-Wave or bad? 

logoSilicon Labs is a well respected semiconductor manufacturer with an array of microcontroller products  from 8-bit 8051s thru modern low-power ARM CPUs. Silicon Labs has been chasing the IoT market since before IoT was a “thing”. Their low power micros have industry leading features often integrating the latest connectivity solutions like USB, Zigbee and now Z-Wave.  With a market cap of nearly $4B, Silicon Labs (SLAB) has a lot more financial muscle than Sigmas (SIGM) mere $265M could provide. All Z-Wave licensees should rejoice that a much larger company is now  supporting Z-Wave with the accompanying increase (we hope) of resources.

sigma-logoIn my opinion, the most interesting part of the announcement is that SiLabs is buying Z-Wave and not Sigmas primary business of Set-Top-Box processors. The announcement states: “Sigma Designs is in active discussions with prospective buyers to divest its Media Connectivity business”.  The announcement goes on to say that if Sigma can’t unload its “Media Connectivity business” then SiLabs will buy just the Z-Wave portfolio for $240M thus making the rest of Sigma worth only $42M assuming someone is willing to pay that much for it.

The Past

logo_zensyszwaveZ-Wave was originally invented by Zensys based in Copenhagen Denmark in 1999. Originally the Z-Wave protocol used Chipcon radios (acquired by TI) and Atmel processors (acquired by Microchip). In 2003 Zensys announced its own custom designed “100 series” Z-Wave transceiver which was a complete Z-Wave capable IoT System-On-Chip. In 2008 Zensys was struggling financially.  Fortunately Sigma stepped in an purchased Zensys for an “undisclosed amount”. Nine years later, Sigma has sold Z-Wave for a very nice ROI of perhaps 100X. Mergers and acquisitions in the semiconductor industry are frequent as technology and markets shift in unforeseen ways.

The Present

Z-Wave is growing like crazy as the number of 100% inter-operable mesh networked Z-Wave devices on the market continues to increase. There are now over 600 Z-Wave licensees with over 2100 products already on the market. With the recent addition of the AES-128 encrypted Security S2 communication and SmartStart to simplify the building of the Z-Wave network, Z-Wave shows it is continuing to evolve while still being completely backwards compatible with all the existing devices all the way back to the 100 series.

The Future

The future is nearly impossible to predict. I certainly don’t claim to have a clearer crystal ball than the next guy. But this acquisition bodes well for the future of Z-Wave. The additional resources should accelerate the introduction of the ARM Z-Wave microcontrollers which in turn will bring more Z-Wave products to market faster and cheaper. The soon to be announced next generation transceivers are expected to utilize modern ARM processors and make a significant leap forward in debug capabilities that are not present in the current 8051 8-bit CPUs. Z-Wave developers will finally be able to single step through their code instead of relying on printf to output a few cryptic characters giving you meager clues where your code has gone wonky.


The acquisition of the Z-Wave portfolio by a financially strong IoT silicon manufacturer is a “good thing” for the future of Z-Wave.