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Mighty Mule Hack, WIFI Setup

You have an electronic gate and would like to automate the opening/closing using your phone and your WI-FI? Then my friend, acquittance, unknown person of the planet, this article will tell you and in details.

a year ago

Latest Post 30 years and counting by Victoria Esposito public

If you have an automatic gate like Mighty Mule or any other that works on the same principle as all others: signal on/off to open and close the gate; this post is going to save you money and time. Most of our audience isn't techno extreme geek so I will keep this very straightforward and as little techy as possible. Sure enough, if you have more technically inclined questions, just contact us, we will be happy to share what we know.

Our gate is a 562 model, all I have seen on the island have a gate's model by the same company therefore if you happen to read this article and want help in setting this up, reach out and we will have even a glass of wine and some deer burgers 🤙🏽. A strong community is the soul of Molokai and is critical to keep Molokai, Molokai. Another example of us doing our part in every opportunity.

The company that makes the gate offers for some gates models a module that you can connect to your WI-FI and enable the open/close of the gate via a mobile application which has by the way terrible reviews.

A reviewer says it all and the price point is also less appealing.

At which point I figured let's open the main box and see what magic they have inside, we might find a way to make it work with alternative options or building some IOT thingy, yep, technical scientist jargon here... 😎

Principles

The motherboard of those gates has a logic where when a signal is received, the system does the opposite of the last command that was executed.

The signals sent to the device are interpreted following this logic/workflow

I did tell you that I was going to keep it simple!

When the signal is detected by the radio module, it is processed by the motherboard which ultimately executes the request powering (cycling) the motor.

If you could inject something that sends the on/off signal to the motor, the same as the remote would do after the radio received it, then it would be like having someone physically by the motherboard pushing a switch.

That electronic switch (power relay) is a very common piece of electronic and it doesn't need any intelligence on what to do. He follows the same principle of a wall switch. Just a bit more noisy, like tac-tac sound, like your grandma's knees.

A power relay is the essence of the mechanism but naturally, you need a WI-FI module and a few electronics pieces to complete the recipe but don't fret. You don't need to become an electronic engineer overnight or at all to assemble what is needed together.

Step One

Head to Amazon and purchase this very Chinese and very generic WI-FI switch. You can literally use it for anything you want to power on/off via WI-FI and works with Alexa or Google without any particular fuss.

Step Two

Configure the device. Now, this is really the only tricky part because the app has the same issue as most Chinese-focused devices, sold elsewhere than China. It works but it's a mess for most humans. Here is a basic guide to surviving the configuration process. I promise you that the issue isn't much with the product itself but with the poorly translated messages or UI overall.

  1. Download the app eWeLink (Android, iPhone)
  2. Create an account (bottom right, tiny fonts)
  3. You don't have to use a phone number, as matter of fact don't. Just use your email
  4. Using a USB cable power the device (a regular computer or your phone charge will do the job)
  5. Now you can add the device and configure it using the Quick Pairing feature
  6. The default password for the device is...wait for it....hold it... 12345678 😄
  7. On how to exactly do it, this video will guide you. It doesn't reflect the most current app UI but the general principle will be clear

There's one thing to know BEFORE you even start. Most new routers broadcast at 5 gigahertz and 2.4ghz, and most of us use 5ghz as our preferred setting. Because it's faster. The device clearly indicates in its microscoping font 3 size pamphlet that it is 2.4 ghz only. This is the common for IOT devices however most phones, iPhone for sure, when configuring will roll back and forth on SSIDs (the name of the wife connection). So even though you are starting on 2.4 Ghz when setting up the device, it would then do a Direct Connection to the device's SSID, and then roll back to whaterver is your default phone WIFI, which is a 5 GHZ. Which under these conditions cause the device and the registration to fail.

The solution is extremely simple and you can use it for every IOT device you will ever configure under this 2.4/5.0 GHZ conditions. For the iPhone turn off the auto join switch for your default wifi before you start configuring. You can turn it on when it is all done.

there it is

On Android the principle is the same and if you can't find the equivalent option, just forget the network, more painful but when a person needs to do what a woman must have. So, step up and buy an iPhone! 😎 Or find the option that out of lazyness I don't want to find on Android because I use it occasionally he he.

Once it is all configured remember to change this setting for the newly added device. By default it is set to OFF which will not refresh the button status to what the last state that was known to the app (e.g. gate closed). Changing to "Last State" will improve that situation

Step Three

And now, to the gates of hell. Or in other words, let's put the now configured module into the Mighty Mule box.

Turn off power. For my module that on/off switch at the bottom was a clue. Then add the module and the configuration is very straightforward. I will walk you through.

What you need

  1. 4 low power wires
  2. small screwdriver
  3. bigger screwdriver
  4. glue gun (optional)
  5. wire stripper (optional)

Low power wire is typically found in toys or low voltage electronics like DVDs (do they still around?!). If the wire is too thick you are going to have energy loss and not enough electrons to push through, that means it's not good for your first ever DYI electronic project. I found mine in a vacuum cleaner that was left at the house. That little toy had so much electronics in it that has been months and keeps giving 😅

Strip head and tail of each wire and insert one wire (black) in the negative and another one in the positive (red). Colors are for read sake, use whatever color you have at disposal.

This is not the time to test your lack, the sign of each pole is at the bottom of the board.

Then place one wire (green) into Normally Opened (NO) and another one in Common (COM). If you use Normally Closed that works too, but you should only use one or the other.

When it is all done, it will look like this

Ready for the excitement?! Let's install the module. Oh, before I forget, make sure that your WI-FI is reachable at the gate's point and that the device has been firmware upgraded before installing. It will save you time in troubleshooting if at all necessary. In my case worked at the first try and I expect to be the same for you if you follow diligently the instructions.

The bigger screwdriver is to detach the cover of the panel and the smaller is for the JSTs (the holders of the wires).

Unplug the battery and place somewhere safe and sound. Then release the screw on the COM and CYCLE. If you have two COM, you just need to connect to one of them. It doesn't matter which one.

Connect COMMON (COM) from the board to COM on the Mighty Mule. Then Connect NC/NO to Cycle.

forget to remove the wires when I took the picture

Now put the battery back and place the black (negative) wire in the lug's hole (the peg where you attach the connection, then place the connection back on the lug. Repeat the same for the positive wire. MAKE SURE that while you do those operations that no other wire is dislocated from its position or worse that your wire touch the board of the unit. This will fry your day and your wallet.

Test it. Scream a fuck yeah and a thank you to this unknown dude that took the time to document this hack, double bonus if you subscribe to our blog.

For a magic of 10 USD you now feel the pride going to the roof.

After testing it, unless you have purchased the version with the enclosure, I didn't because the electronics are already "naked" in the unit and our weather is all year around in the 65-84F so I don't have to deal with humidity or rain.

I placed some hot glue on the top of the compartment where there's space for another battery and then placed the board on it, so that strong winds or vibration aren't going toss it. Close the lid, go inside and using the eWeLink app follow the instructions to add the support for Alexa/Google.

After you connected to the assistant of choice, you can say "Okay Google/Alexa turn ON <gate-name>". Notice that since Amazon/Google have to reach eWeLink server and obtain a special key (token) to work in future, the operation could take some time (between nothing and 10 minutes) so don't worry if at the first try it doesn't work, that just means "wait, the token hasn't propagated yet".

I might build an app for the Apple watch in coming weeks, depends how crazier work gets but in the meanwhile have a fantastic bLife moment, every moment.

UPDATE:

To whom is subscribed and read the post in the mailbox, I had an errata corrige that my friend Rocco spotted. The default password was missing, in the original post a digit. Thank you, my friend!

Mario Esposito

Published a year ago