My IoT problem: the garage door opener

About 18 months ago, the motor in our garage door opener died suddenly. Ok, so it was 20 years old, hence no real surprise in a way, and it was fairly easy to get around until someone came to replace it: just detach the chain from the motor, and lift the garage door up and pull it down. Move over, exercise coach at the gym!

The motor was replaced after a couple of days with a brand new Genie model 3120 and everything ran perfectly again. Well, of course, I had to reprogram all the remotes we have, including the external keypad. (Fascinating fact about the external keypads: they run off batteries and are not connected to the electricity supply at all, which surprised me when I had to replace one whose keys no longer worked all the time. Anyway…)

The interesting thing about this particular Genie model is that it supports Aladdin Connect, which allows you to control the garage door opener from an app on your phone. Wheee! Basically you load the app on your phone, program the opener to connect to your WiFi, and suddenly you can get notifications when the door opens or closes, and even open/close it from your phone. The notification bit was of interest to this old geezer, because I have been known to drive off occasionally without closing the door. And then a mile down the road suddenly I worry about it (“is it closed or not?”), do a U-turn to go back to check.

All’s well. There were a couple of times over the next year where the opener decided that Aladdin Connect connection needed reprogramming, and I got pretty good at doing it. Basically there’s a reset button, press that, the opener starts up a WiFi connection, you connect to that with your phone, select the home WiFi router (plus entering the password) using your phone, and then the opener logs into that and everything is hunky dory.

Then in late August, just before we went away on vacation, the spring broke and in doing so the door became really hard to lift up. As in, I’m way too old for this. I managed to get the spring replaced within a couple of days, but, once it had been fixed the opener lost its internet connection and nothing I could do would get it to reconnect. Er, yikes. The opener still worked, it was just that I no longer had the ability to receive notifications or work it from my phone. Came back from vacation, tried again. No way. Over the next month, I tried various things, including pulling the power from the opener for an hour or so to try and get a hardware reset. I tried connecting to a couple of my other home routers. I even deleted my registration of the opener’s serial number and removed the app from my phone, and then reregistered it. I even gave up for a couple of weeks.

Suddenly, I got crabby about it, and tried one more time before I called the support center. The reason I hadn’t done this before is that I’d have to have two phones to do it: one to connect to the opener, the other to talk to the support people. And my wife works in Denver during the week, so it would have needed some coordination. But, wow, this time the entire registration process worked and the opener is again connected to the internet.

All I can surmise is that there was some issue at the Aladdin Connect server that took time to clear up. Maybe the deregistration locked the serial number for a while and then it was released. Dunno. But, fingers crossed, at least this old geezer no longer has to do a U-turn to drive home to check his garage door.

Disaster

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