Should I take my Chameleon IHD apart? — Bulb Community

Should I take my Chameleon IHD apart?

No!


Despite the user accessible screws on the back, you should not take it apart.

Now that's out of the way, here's a picture of the internals of a Chameleon IHD3-PPMID (CA30117 Type 1)



The internal battery is 200mAh which, according to the booklet you should receive along with your new meters, will last you about an hour and a half. Enough time to carry the IHD somewhere else to check consumption (but not too far mind you as the wireless range on them is pretty poor) and then plug it back in again.

The gold pads in the middle connect with a spring on the back of the case as an anti-tamper switch.
If you take your device apart, it may cease to function properly/you may need to pay Bulb for a new one.

The USB port has pads for (presumably) direct connection to the main microcontroller for programming/direct data access, but this section remains unpopulated on consumer units like this.

If I get a bit of time, I'll remove the RF can over the interesting bits, desolder the main board from the screen mount section and probe around a bit with an oscilloscope to see what I can find.

If any data is accessible on the device locally, it potentially would be possible to cut a hole in the back of the case, solder the anti-tamper pads together and then remove the back to have a play but I really wouldn't recommend it.

If you want to wall mount the device, removing the casing to just revel the screen in some way (and remove some bulk) is also not possible without triggering the anti-tamper so I'd recommend a 3D printed case that fits around the existing one, and a right angle USB cable.

Comments

  • mowcius said:

    Now that's out of the way, here's a picture of the internals of a Chameleon IHD3-PPMID (CA30117 Type 1)

    Excellent! I've been thinking about taking apart my IHD3-MS. I did try connecting the USB port to my laptop to see if anything interesting would happen or if it was really just a power supply input. I can't remember now if Linux didn't see anything connected at all, or if it saw a device but didn't know what to do with it. I should try again. Either way, it didn't do anything simple like registering a virtual serial port and start outputting data locally as some sort of debugging channel. Shame.

    If the microcontroller isn't connected to the USB port, I did wonder about opening it up and seeing if I could connect directly to any UART/I2C/SPI pins on the board and log anything interesting. I might still have a go, but if you're going to try it @mowcius I might wait and see what you find first =)

    There's got to be a way of hacking one of these and getting the data from it.
  • Dont know if this will help, I dont understand electronics but find his videos interesting. he has done quite a few teardowns.
  • edited February 12
    scudo said:

    Dont know if this will help, I dont understand electronics but find his videos interesting. he has done quite a few teardowns.

    Big Clive is awesome. The video where he finds out what meths tastes like is a particular YouTube highlight.

    I think it's safe to say neither of us are going to be taking our actual smart meters apart. Messing with the IHD is fair game but not the meters themselves.
  • Hooloovoo said:

    Excellent! I've been thinking about taking apart my IHD3-MS. I did try connecting the USB port to my laptop to see if anything interesting would happen or if it was really just a power supply input. I can't remember now if Linux didn't see anything connected at all, or if it saw a device but didn't know what to do with it. I should try again. Either way, it didn't do anything simple like registering a virtual serial port and start outputting data locally as some sort of debugging channel. Shame.

    If the microcontroller isn't connected to the USB port, I did wonder about opening it up and seeing if I could connect directly to any UART/I2C/SPI pins on the board and log anything interesting. I might still have a go, but if you're going to try it @mowcius I might wait and see what you find first =)

    There's got to be a way of hacking one of these and getting the data from it.

    Does the IHD3-MS also have an internal battery? If not, it may be safe to take off the back when disconnected from power (although there could still be a coin-cell in there) without risk of triggering any tamper detection.

    Big Clive is indeed awesome.

    I've been looking on eBay for an SMETS2 meter to see what I can pull directly from the communication port designed for connecting the communications hub to but everything I've found so far seems to be SMETS1.
    The communications port standards can be found easily online.
    I could then potentially have a second meter after my isolator that's mine and I can do what I like with.
    Realistically I'll probably just end up installing a DIN mount meter or two for circuits I'm interested in. You can get plenty of those with data outputs.
    I think it's safe to say neither of us are going to be taking our actual smart meters apart. Messing with the IHD is fair game but not the meters themselves.
    The meter is most definitely owned by the supplier and it would be very illegal to fiddle with it directly in any manner. The In Home Display is a little bit more of a grey area but to be honest I never bothered to look it up. I just found out approximately how much it might cost me to buy a new one, and went for it. You can buy new ones from Lithuania on eBay and as previously discussed, Bulb should just link it up if another was purchased. It might be handy to have two in the house.
    I also presume that if you had two or more, being that the HAN is a mesh network, the additional ones should be able to communicate with the first rather than having to communicate with the CH directly.

  • edited February 13
    Also, once I've finished playing with this IHD, if it can't work I'll send it to Big Clive :)
  • mowcius said:

    Does the IHD3-MS also have an internal battery? If not, it may be safe to take off the back when disconnected from power (although there could still be a coin-cell in there) without risk of triggering any tamper detection.

    Yes, it has a built in battery with about 1 hour of run time, the same as the PPMID. As far as I can see the PPMID is the same device with some mildly upgraded features - colour, slightly better UI.
    mowcius said:

    The meter is most definitely owned by the supplier and it would be very illegal to fiddle with it directly in any manner. The In Home Display is a little bit more of a grey area but to be honest I never bothered to look it up.

    I recall when Scottish Power installed my meters, the information that came with the IHD seemed to say they were selling it to me at £0. The implication being that if the meters fail, it's their job to replace them at their cost, but if the IHD fails it's up to me to buy a new one. I did spend a little time looking into this, but as you say it's a grey area and I'm not sufficiently curious to spend any time trying to properly figure it out.
  • edited February 15

    Please do not take your meters apart.


    Smart meters and IHDs are owned by your supplier. There could be serious safety consequences so only a trained meter engineer appointed by Bulb should carry out any work on your meters. Members should never fiddle with their IHD, and certainly not take them apart.

    As you have intentionally taken apart your IHD, if it does need replacing, Bulb will not cover the costs.

    And if you do buy one yourself, we won't be able to link it up for you.

    In theory, it is possible to have more than one IHD on the HAN network. We need to have a think about how to charge for this as we'd need to set up the extra device with the member and the DCC.
  • edited February 13

    And if you do buy one yourself, we won't be able to link it up for you.

    Are you sure about that?

    I'm going to be extremely disappointed if Bulb decide that they're not going to pair user owned devices. If I purchase a device which is certified to be used on the DCC network, there should be nothing stopping me.

    As per the government information on smart meters:
    Accessing data via the Home Area Network
    Smart Meters will establish a wireless ‘Home Area Network’ in a consumer’s home. This will be a local ZigBee wireless network (the SM HAN) which gas and electricity smart meters and in-home displays will use to exchange data. Consumers will also be able to pair other devices that operate the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile (SEP) to this network; such devices are typically known as Consumer Access Devices (CADs).
    We had a discussion about this previously here.
    In theory, it is possible to have more than one IHD on the HAN network. We need to have a think about how to charge for this as we'd need to set up the extra device with the member and the DCC.
    I give you the GUID of the (CPL approved) device, you add it on, it connects....?
    Admittedly I don't completely understand the new DCC network setup and how you control the Smart Meters at your end, but surely IHD/CAD connection is not something that you have to pay anyone at the DCC to do?
    Could someone explain the procedure/what you see at your end?
  • edited February 13
    Scrap that last bit, I found it:


    I give you (or another DCC user - anyone got a list?) the device detals and my details, you confirm that it was me who gave you those details, then you tell the DCC to allow it.
    2.JPG 77.5K
  • Smart meters and IHDs are owned by your supplier. There could be serious safety consequences so only a trained meter engineer appointed by Bulb should carry out any work on your meters. Members should never fiddle with their IHD, and certainly not take them apart.

    Just to clarify, are you confirming that the IHD is owned by the supplier? By which I mean if it fails at any point, even if it's say 5 years old and well outside and any typical warranty period, then Bulb will replace the IHD at no cost to the customer? Even if initially provided by a different supplier? In exactly the same way as the meters themselves?

    As you have intentionally taken apart your meter, if it does need replacing, Bulb will not cover the costs.

    Mowcius hasn't taken apart his meter. Clearly that would be tampering with supplier-owned and sealed equipment. Mowcius has taken apart his IHD, which according to what Scottish Power initially indicated to me was a device owned by the customer, meaning Mowcius is entirely with his rights to do whatever he wants with it. Of course Scottish Power could well have been wrong or given me incorrect information.

    There are no official supplier-seals on the IHD as there are on the supplier-side of the meters, which to me indicates it is customer-owned equipment. In exactly the same way as the unsealed side of my supply isolator is customer owned/accessible.

    In theory, it is possible to have more than one IHD on the HAN network. We need to have a think about how to charge for this as we'd need to set up the extra device with the member and the DCC.

    I have a service desk ticket open with exactly this question ... three months of thinking time so far :)
  • mowcius said:

    And if you do buy one yourself, we won't be able to link it up for you.

    Are you sure about that?
    @mowcius you've confused matters a little here by mentioning buying your own smart meter and installing it in addition to the supplier-provided meter. What you've discussed in Comment_27888 relates to adding additional consumer access devices.

    What @Eleanor at Bulb meant when she said they wont be able to link it up for you relates to if you were to buy your own additional smart meter. If you did buy one, how would you connect it up to the communications network and control it? You'd have to become your own meter operator somehow.
  • @Eleanor at Bulb I wrote an additional quite long post on this thread, but it's got sent off to the moderation queue when I edited something on the post. Could you please fish it out and re-approve it?
  • Hooloovoo said:

    @mowcius you've confused matters a little here by mentioning buying your own smart meter and installing it in addition to the supplier-provided meter. What you've discussed in Comment_27888 relates to adding additional consumer access devices.

    What @Eleanor at Bulb meant when she said they wont be able to link it up for you relates to if you were to buy your own additional smart meter. If you did buy one, how would you connect it up to the communications network and control it? You'd have to become your own meter operator somehow.

    It was not clear from the post. What I have taken apart is mentioned (as a meter even though it's an IHD), then there's the comment about buying a new one.
    But you're probably right there.


    Regarding buying a meter, I would either try and modify the communications hub to do my own bidding (and not connect to the DCC network), or just use it without a CH, extracting the information directly and locally from the Smart Meter interface.
    Hooloovoo said:

    @Eleanor at Bulb I wrote an additional quite long post on this thread, but it's got sent off to the moderation queue when I edited something on the post. Could you please fish it out and re-approve it?

    Ahh, I hit that issue many moons ago, and someone made the mistake of making me an approved poster so I can post whatever nonsense I like now :grin: I wonder if they regret that when I create threads like this.
  • edited February 15
    mowcius said:

    Regarding buying a meter, I would either try and modify the communications hub to do my own bidding (and not connect to the DCC network), or just use it without a CH, extracting the information directly and locally from the Smart Meter interface.

    As you've said elsewhere, just buying a basic meter that has a local data connection would likely be easier than messing about with a non-commissioned smart meter. The smart meter in that case wouldn't give you any advantage anyway, such as automatic tariff information.
    mowcius said:

    Ahh, I hit that issue many moons ago, and someone made the mistake of making me an approved poster so I can post whatever nonsense I like now :grin: I wonder if they regret that when I create threads like this.

    I've got into the habit of copy-pasting a post before I submit an edit, because getting redirected for moderation happens quite a lot if you edit too frequently or too often. Unfortunately this time I forgot. The post in question has reappeared here.

    I think any solid answers to our questions will be a long time coming, because, well, nobody at Bulb knows the answers yet.

  • edited February 15
    Hooloovoo said:

    Just to clarify, are you confirming that the IHD is owned by the supplier? By which I mean if it fails at any point, even if it's say 5 years old and well outside and any typical warranty period, then Bulb will replace the IHD at no cost to the customer? Even if initially provided by a different supplier? In exactly the same way as the meters themselves?

    Interested to hear if anyone actually has worked out an answer to this.

    I can appreciate that if you get an IHD from a supplier then it could belong to the supplier, but when you switch suppliers, does the new supplier get information on what IHD has been supplied? Does the ownership get transferred to the new supplier?

    If I pay Bulb for another IHD, am I paying to own the second IHD, or am I paying for Bulb to send me another which they will still own.
    They are all tagged CA30117 which shows they initially came from Bulb... Other suppliers have different model numbers (such as the CA30110 IHD3-PPMID that you can buy on eBay)

    If I move to an address supplied by Bulb and there is no IHD at the property, do I have to pay Bulb for a new one (in which case is it then mine?), or would I be provided one for free?
  • Hi @mowcius ,

    Strangely enough in response to:
    Does the ownership get transferred to the new supplier?

    It looks like https://bulb.co.uk/terms/ has been updated with:
    6.3.1 Any in-home display installed along with that meter remains our property or the meter provider we have contracted and may not be removed..... 6.5 If this Agreement ends, we may recover any metering equipment we have provided to you and you agree to provide us all the access we need to do this


    Whether they'll enforce 6.5 for an IHD is unknown (cost of postage etc) but I guess it may be there to cover them for unusual circumstances: but it might be a 'standard procedure' that from now on when you switch suppliers they send out their own branded IHD (I hope not as it'll be a waste of resources/postage, but I don't know one way or another).
  • RichyB said:

    Whether they'll enforce 6.5 for an IHD is unknown (cost of postage etc) but I guess it may be there to cover them for unusual circumstances: but it might be a 'standard procedure' that from now on when you switch suppliers they send out their own branded IHD (I hope not as it'll be a waste of resources/postage, but I don't know one way or another).

    The IHD3-MS I received from Scottish Power is branded Scottish Power on the back. The information from SP did say that if I were to move house, the IHD has to remain with the property and not take it with me. I had assumed this was because (for normal people, not us geeks) it will only work with the meter it's paired with. Of course this contradicts the expectation that if it's mine I should be able to take it with me, even if I do need to handle considerable faffing to get it paired with a new meter.

    The concept of having to pay to get a device paired on the HAN network concerns me. As mowcius showed in the diagram he posted the intention is not just to have IHDs on the HAN but also other appliances as well. So we'd have to pay to pair our fancy new IHD, our logging gateway CAD, our washing machine CAD, tumble drier CAD, EVSE CAD. That's five devices already without even thinking about it too much. It needs to be easier than this.

    Personally I would have expected that my local appliances would have connected to my gateway device (CAD 3 in the diagram) rather than be devices on the HAN themselves. That way I only have to faff getting the gateway paired and everything else after that is under my control. It does beg the question why the gateway device isn't a built-in feature of the smart meter communications hub. I can only assume it's a matter of liability control. If I buy a gateway device and some vulnerability means my house gets hacked, my data lost, and my power turned off, then it's my fault for asking for the device to be attached and responsibility falls to the manufacturer of the device for their crappy firmware. That way the meter itself, the manufacturer, and the supplier is off the hook. Liability control makes things considerably more complicated.


  • RichyB said:

    Strangely enough in response to:

    Does the ownership get transferred to the new supplier?

    It looks like https://bulb.co.uk/terms/ has been updated with:
    6.3.1 Any in-home display installed along with that meter remains our property or the meter provider we have contracted and may not be removed..... 6.5 If this Agreement ends, we may recover any metering equipment we have provided to you and you agree to provide us all the access we need to do this
    So Bulb haven't even decided whether it's theirs or Siemens'?

    Also, may not be removed from where?

    Also, it says nothing about not taking it apart :grin:
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