Ability to disable Wireless Flow Meter radio? Australian usage

a firmware update which both sets frequency to location might solve all issues? or does the hardware not work that way?

If there isn’t currently a way of disabling the transmitter with software, how about a hardware solution. It may be as simple as snipping one wire on the board. Rachio could help us out with a clue. Maybe even just post a board schematic.
I realise that it may void the warranty, but I don’t care about that. I’d rather it be legal. It seems like a great product apart from that one minor flaw which limits its use outside of North America.

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Has anyone made any breakthroughs on this?

I desperately want to get the gen 3 (for obvious reasons), but would like to know if there is a way to disable/remove/block any transmissions that could interfere with Australian mobile phone frequencies.

Is there something as simple as removing antenna? Does anyone have pictures or schematics of the transmitter?

Fcc (link) has the picture of the Gen 3 with antenna’s marked.
Look for the attachment: InternalPhoto-w-antennas (couldn’t hotlink directly to the file)

There are also better / close up pictures, but without the label for the antenna.
Look for the attachment: Internal Photos_16 zone

Keep in mind that 8-zone version is identical as far as this topic is concerned.

If you wish to go with the hardware modification route, than it seems you can either remove the antenna itself (marked ANT2 on the board) or the smaller C78 cap (closest to the antenna) which is in line on the signal path.

Cheers,
Gene

P.S. As always, attempt this at your own risk. Without buying / using the wireless leak sensor, the 900MHz radio will likely remain idle so the hardware modifications are unlikely to make any real difference.

Ok, I’m willing to give this a try. I have an R3 sitting on the shelf, and I’m not going to be able to sell it on, so I might as well see if I can disable the water flow antenna.

From my reading of this forum, the base station broadcasts via that antenna whether or not the flow meter is configured.

I have one question. If I remove the antenna chip, will I need to put something in it’s place in order to maintain a circuit, or can I just desolder it and remove it?

Removing antenna, or the cap leading up to it, would have a similar effect to removing a detachable antenna from the router, at least on the models which support it. The wireless controller will continue sending the data, but the signal gain will be negligible. Be sure only to remove either ANT2 or C78 components.

Frankly, I would simply wrap an aluminum foil aver the left top side of the Gen 3 controller. This will reduce the signal gain quite a bit, for an added effect a small copper wire can be run between the foil and any of the common terminals. You can buy the HVAC sticky allinum tape anywhere hardware supplies are sold, for an easy application.

Ok, so I took the plunge and the device seems to be fine!

I went all-in and removed the 900mhz antenna completely (a quick bit of soldering did the trick). We (in Australia) won’t be able to use that antenna anyway so it was entirely redundant.

Having put the Rachio back together, I ran through the setup, transferred my settings from my R2 and did a full test. It all seems fine to me.

DISCLAIMER:

I am aware that I have voided my warranty.

Please don’t try this yourself unless you’re willing to take the risk of bricking the device and/or losing any warranty on the device.

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@Wedgie congrats on being the first (as far as I know), legal, Gen 3 owner down under :wink:

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Fortune favours the brave :slight_smile:

Encouraging and commonsensical thanks @Gene. It would be nice if Rachio would simply confirm this, or provide any other information. I bought and happily installed my R3 here in AU before realising there was such an issue, but haven’t been busted by the spectrum police in the first 10 days anyway.

I bought a scalpel at Jaycar after discussion of the various alternatives with the guys there, and sliced and turned up the copper between the transmitter and the cap, which should do it. Didn’t trust myself with soldering iron or dremel tool. Rachio support did tell me that R3 users have been caught and fined in AU.

Ok. On the strength of this I’ll order a Gen3 and take the plunge.

Converting from a ‘Smartlink’ Weathermatic system with extortionate subscription fees.

To make this useful for potential Rachio 3 users in Australia, I’ll update this with the pictures showing progress of disabling the 900Mhx Radio

Guided by the FCC diagram

I opened the two star-drive screws on the rear of the case, allowing the unit to gently prise apart.

The updated board has the same apparent layout.

Noting the upper left corner (transilluminated to show what I presume is the antenna:

Some mini-cutting pliers employed to sever the antenna circuit.

Now to obtain a 24v AC Australian power supply and discover whether I have bricked the unit.

Will keep posted, if only for your bemusement.

Advice from people with actual electronics knowledge very welcome (eg. is this adequate to disable to 900Mhz signal?)

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@Wedgie has done the same adjustment back in December 2018. He did not have any issues :wink:

Antenna in this design is essential for a proper signal gain, you should not have any issues with your local authorities / cellular service. As an engineer I would steer away from cutting the parts of the board (preferring to use soldering instead), but it seems you’ve done a clean job. :cheers:

Cheers,
Gene

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Thanks Gene.

I saw Wedgie’s post which inspired trying this mod. Figured I’d document the process here for the next person coming and looking for information.

The component I have cut is thankfully very easy to access, away from other components, and cuts very easily.

Taking into account my lack of soldering-iron skill (probably shared by many others) I figured this was safer than subjecting the board to heat, etc.

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I do appreciate you taking the time to document your attempt, it will surely be helpful to others in the future.

As an engineer I can also point out an alternative way to disable the signal, that will be easy to undo in case Rachio ever develops a firmware fix. Unfortunately, one would need to be comfortable with putting a blob of solder onto the board.

Between the antenna and the rest of the circuit, there are two pads, meant for a load matching resistor, which (when shorted) would effectively dump the signal into the ground, thus preventing it from being transmitted. Using a bit of solder and/or a short bit of wire, these pads can be bridged, thereby temporarily disabling the radio signal. Later on the bridge can be removed, restoring the full functionality.

I’ve highlighted the connection which would disable the signal with red:

Anyway, just wanted to propose a less permanent solution which should work just as well until manually undone. Good job again @hcornea for sharing your work, it’s definitely a more universal solution to what I’ve proposed here.

Cheers,
Gene

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OK, so we’ve got two alternatives, both of which work. Out of curiosity, what about alternative #3, non-invasive, no patch, no surgery—why not just put a Faraday cage around the thing?

  • Kills signal

  • No warranty issues

  • Easy to undo when a FW fix comes through (this s/be able to be done in FW)

It’s an option, I’ve brought it up a few posts ago in this very topic:

This approach can make a difference, but there is simply no grantee that the signal would not escape. You also run into issue of potentially blocking your wifi signal from getting to your controller. This approach is perhaps better than nothing, but does not rate highly as others in terms of effectiveness.

So if you remove the antenna as outlined in the previous posts, wouldn’t this affect the WiFi connectivity? Or does this have a separate antenna for that?

The WiFi antenna is separate and located at the other end of the pcb (check the FCC link)

Wifi is working just fine.

In fact I couldn’t be happier with this device.