The GR-Connect control unit and the companion app (also named 'GR-Connect', free to download for both Android and iOS/Apple devices) provides an easy way of operating electric actuators and other DC (direct current) motors via your smartphone, tablet, or via the gr-connect.co.uk website. When using the standard app (a 'GR-Local' app version is also available with stripped-back features), you are able to monitor and control your connected device from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
Many different inputs and outputs are available and the GR-Connect can be set to automatically trigger based on temperature changes (using the temperature sensor probe) or at particular times of the day/week. Please read on below for more information.
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The GR-Connect, exclusive to Gimson Robotics, is the first internet connected device designed specifically for the control of DC electric motors and actuators. We have spent a long time developing the controller and the companion app to be as configurable and adaptable as possible, allowing it to be used for many different applications. For example by using the controller you could close a window after having left your house, water your plants from the other side of the world, or automatically regulate your greenhouse or aquarium temperature, just to name a few potential use cases. You can connect brushed electric motors, pumps, winches or actuators rated anywhere between 10V and 36V (including 12V and 24V motors), controlling loads of up to 10A.
The controller is able to operate with a minimum of just four wired connections, via screw-terminals inside the controller casing (as shown above). Two leads should be connected to a DC (direct current) input supply (positive and negative), and two leads to the DC motor or actuator that you wish to control. Please see section 3.2 (page 6) of the GR-Connect Instruction Manual for more information on these connections.
The controller has three output states; to operate a motor or actuator in one direction, the opposite direction, or off. The complexity and configurability of operation comes with the controller deciding when and for how long it switches between these states. There are connections on the board (see Instructions section 3.4) for wired control switches, limit switches, and stop switches or sensors, as well as a temperature sensor probe which extends from the controller housing. It is not necessary to use these additional wired inputs, but for many applications it can be useful to have feedback of the device state, for example by using the 'limit switch' signals you could check with a glance of the app whether an actuator-operated hatch were open or closed.
Two controlling app versions are available, the main app is named 'GR-Connect' and has a blue icon. This app enables all of the device features, including remote operation through the 'cloud' (our servers), automatic updates and is also much easier to use. It is available as a free download for both Android and Apple/iOS devices. Scroll down for information on the 'Local' version of the app.
As we have illustrated to the right, when using the 'GR-Connect' app commands are sent first to our servers and then to the controller itself. This connection relies upon an internet connection for both devices, including a connection to a Wi-Fi router at the controller end. You do not have to have the app open at all times, the device will happily respond automatically to stored thermostats (temperature change triggers) and timers without intervention. Even if the controller's internet access goes down it can still be operated via wired control inputs.
Since the controller and the standard app are connected to the internet we are able to send 'over the air' updates to improve device functionality and options over time, these updates are completely free. For example we eventually hope to update with features such as custom device control groups (for operating multiple controllers simultaneously), and IFTTT compatibility.
When using the GR-Connect app there is an ongoing cost for us to maintain connected controllers on our servers. The first year of use is completely free while subsequent years are charged at a minimal rate, currently only £12/annum including UK VAT, equivalent to £1/month.
Here are some of the key features of the GR-Connect app:
Specialist applications only. A second app version, GR-Local, is intended for areas where there is poor or no Wi-Fi access available, or for some entry/access applications. It is also available as a free download for both Andoid and Apple/iOS devices. When in Local mode the app device (smartphone or tablet) connects directly to the GR-Connect controller's own local Wi-Fi network and sends instructions directly between the two devices, rather than via the internet. This type of connection does mean that the app device is likely to lose internet connectivity while you are operating the controller, and as such firmware updates, temperature tracking and other features are not possible in Local mode. The operating range when in Local mode is limited and may be only 15-20m line-of-sight at best. If you configure your controller with the GR-Local app it is possible to later 're-provision' (see instruction manual section 7.9, page 19) with the GR-Connect app, so you could experiment with both control modes and settle on the one that works best for you.
Below is an example of how a GR-Connect controller can be connected to an actuator, in this case a GLA750 model (100mm stroke size).
Each controller is supplied boxed with: 2pc reset pins (one spare), 3pc connector leads (which are useful if you wish to add limit switches, a wired control switch or a stop sensor), 1pc temperature sensor probe, and a 36 page instruction booklet.
|Model name||GR-Connect (V1.0)|
|Operating voltage||10-36V DC (absolute limits 9V-40V)|
|Max. control current||10A at up to 24V, 8A at 24V or more|
|Control method||Two SPST relays, output polarity switching|
|Operating power||From 0.7 to 2.2W (higher when a relay is on)|
|Operating temperature||0°C ~ +45°C (temp sensor probe -50°C ~ 120°C)|
|On-board fuse||Slow-blow ‘Low profile mini’ / Micro blade fuse, 20A|
|Dimensions||Enclosure 125 x 70 x 40mm, excluding sensor|
|Enclosure||ABS plastic. With 2pc 5mm mounting holes.|
|Weight||220g including temperature sensor|
|Suitable wire size||At least 1mm2 >105°C rated|
|Wi-Fi Module||ESP8266EX, with PCB antenna, metal shield|
|Protocols / Freq||802.11 b/g/n (HT20) / 2.4GHz ~ 2.484GHz|
The controller is normally supplied without input or output leads so that you can connect your own leads via the screw terminals inside the casing. We offer options (via a drop down box at the top of this page) to add either 1m long silicone rubber insulated cables (with bare lead ends), or 260mm long female DC plug leads, to the input and output. If you are planning to buy a linear actuator with a male DC plug fitted and to power it with one of our 12V or 24V power supplies with a male plug on its output, then it would make sense to add the female DC leads option in order to have a complete 'plug and play' set. If you require any custom leads options then please get in touch and we'll let you know what we can do.
If you have any questions about this item or about compatibility with other items then please contact us.