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How to reset Philips Illuminate Lights

Posted in holiday, Household Tips, howto, repair by commorancy on December 1, 2018

img_4242When trying to connect to my Philips Illuminate strand of lights this year, for whatever reason the Philips Illuminate iOS app is no longer finding them. It took me a while to find these instructions to reset the control box. Here’s how I solved the problem. Let’s explore.

Philips Illuminate

This product had great beginnings, but unfortunately Philips has decided not to continue developing and improving either the app or the product. It is an expensive product which required the purchase of a control box and a strand of lights (startup kit)… the control box being the most costly item to buy. Typical strands of LED lights cost around half or less (even cheaper if you pick them up on clearance) compared to the Illuminate strands. However, the Illuminate strands of lights offered chasing lights and many colors, similar to Philips Hue. I think I may have spent $60-$75 or so to buy into the starter kit product with a small strand of lights. Pricey for the strand size. It also offers the ability to chain light strands together making the system expandable.

At the time, I invested into the Illuminate product because Philips had also created the Philips Hue system and I thought they might eventually merge the two product lines together. No such luck. Worse, the light programming options of the strand is far less programmable than one might hope. I was expecting improvements that just never materialized.

Improvements and Features

If you’re just hearing about Illuminate lights this year, then let me explain some of the gripes for this product. While the starter kit does come with the control box, the control box does not offer any kind of networking interface with IFTTT, Amazon Alexa or any other similar control systems. The control box is just a “dumb” box. Its purpose is only to allow for connectivity for the Illuminate app and to provide light effects for the connected strand(s) . The control box has no ability to turn the lights on or off. When power is applied, the lights always turn on.

You can still find the Illuminate lighting on sale at Target. However, the add-on strands themselves cost around $30-$50 per strand. If you need a starter kit, expect to spend about $75 or more.

To add the ability to control the power to the lights remotely, you’ll need to purchase a WeMo smart plug or similar networked plug sold separately. These plugs support Alexa, Apple HomeKit, IFTTT and other networking features. Adding a smart plug lets you control the lights on a schedule via their apps or by voice via a home assistant like Alexa.

Control Box

The control box itself is the heart of this system and allows for WiFi connectivity so the Illuminate app can control the light programming. It also handles the LED light sequencing. When the app was first released, they offered 17 different light patterns which include a variety of chasing options, fading options, twinkling and steady options. Today, we still have those same 17. There is a customize option, but it’s limited to Twinkle, Fade and Chasing.

Unfortunately, the one light programming option I wanted doesn’t exist. Specifically, I want the lights to each change from one color to the next individually and randomly rather than all at once. This one doesn’t exist. A small problem compared to what I faced when attempting to reprogram my strand this year.

For the last two years, I have been able to launch the iOS app and have it find and see the control box just fine on WiFi. For whatever reason, this year it no longer works. As a result, I can no longer program the lighting strand from my phone. I had also lost the instruction guide for this product long ago. Here’s what I saw when I attempted to control my light strand:

img_4243

I’m all, WTF? Rescanning does nothing. As there is no physical reset button on the control box to factory reset with a paperclip or similar method, I had to resort to scouring the Internet to find a solution. Unfortunately, the search engines didn’t turn up much right at the top for how to factory reset the Illuminate lights.

If you have run into the issue where your control box can no longer be found by your iOS or Android app, it’s likely that the control box is not registering itself properly on WiFi. Because there’s no troubleshooting as to why this is happening and after finding the reset instructions, I decided to use the Direct connection approach to control my lights. At least it works for the few times I need to make changes. It’s not handy for the audio/music feature, but it works for the standard light programming.

Resetting the System

To reset a Philips Illuminate control box, you’ll need to perform the following actions:

  1. Turn off or disconnect the power to the control box… wait 3-5 seconds
  2. Apply power to the control box… wait 3-5 seconds
  3. Perform steps 1 and 2 three or four times successively until the light strand begins flashing on and off. This signals that the control box has factory reset and you can stop this process.

If you find that after performing steps 1 and 2 multiple times doesn’t cause the strand to flash on and off, keep performing it until it does. If you can’t get the lights to flash, then you may not be waiting long enough or you are waiting too long between power off and on. Try waiting longer or shorter intervals between power toggling.

Note that factory resetting the device loses its knowledge of any WiFi devices it knew about including passwords. This means you’ll need to set this up again from the Illuminate app (instructions below).

Factory Reset

At this step, you’ll want to make sure you have the Philips Illuminate app installed on whatever device you’re wanting to use to control your lights. For Android, go to Google Play and search for and install Philips Illuminate. For Apple, navigate to the App store and install it. You’ll need this app for the next steps.

Once the control box is factory reset, it no longer attempts to connect to whatever previous WiFi network it once knew. The control box now goes back into initial setup mode and it creates an access point of its own. The new access point SSID will look like PhilipsACCF235B6838 or similar. For this article, I will assume the access point ID to be named PhilipsACCF235B6838. When you are performing this on yours, it will obviously be named something different. You can rename this SSID if you want, but I left it as it is because it doesn’t identify what the product is. It also doesn’t broadcast this SSID very far anyway, which is why you need to be close to it.

If you have installed multiple control boxes all handling different strands of lights around your property, then it would make sense to rename each SSID to a name that identifies which strand it is and where it is located. Renaming in this instance makes sense. For a single control box handling a single strand like mine, renaming is not important.

At this point, you’ll want to open your iOS or Android phone and navigate to the Android or iOS settings area where you can connect to a WiFi access point. Once in settings, wait for your device to scan looking for new access points. Once it finds PhilipsACCF235B6838 (or however yours is numbered), click on the it to connect. Note that you may need to be within a few feet of the control box for this to work. Don’t try to do this from a different room in the house.

Once connected, it will prompt you for a password. The default password is 12345678. Depending on which method you choose to try next will determine if you need to change that password.

WiFi Network Setup vs Direct Setup

There are two ways to go at this point. You can have your Illuminate control box connect to your local WiFi lan network or you can use a direct connection. I couldn’t get mine to connect to my local WiFi network for whatever reason. I think someone has set something up in my complex causing massive interference. I fill in the correct WiFi network details, but the app is never able to find the control box on my local WiFi network. So, I reset it again and this time I chose the Direct connection method to manage the lights. Slightly more of a hassle, but it at least works.

Network Setup

After connecting your phone to the WiFi access point PhilipsACCF235B6838 from your device settings, launch the Illuminate app. Once the app loads, it should find control box, the app may show you the control box screen (below) or it may jump into the setup screen. This screen below is what you should see each time you start the Illuminate app regardless of whether you choose Direct WiFi or connect the control box to your local lan via WiFi.

control-box

If not in the setup screen already, select the menu icon in the upper left of the screen and choose ‘Setup Wizard’. From here you can either setup the device for Direct connection or WiFi lan connection like so:

img_4237

If you want to use a WiFi lan connection, then click CONNECT CONTROL BOX TO LOCAL WI-FI. On the next screen, scroll the screen to find the access point you want to connect to and click it.

Illuminate-WiFi

Next, enter the password for the SSID you’ve chosen.

img_4240-1

Make sure the password you enter is correct. The Illuminate App should verify the correctness of the password you enter in this field, but if the password changes on the access point, it will no longer work. I can’t guarantee that the app will verify the password you enter here, so make sure it’s correct.

If you want to use the direct connect method to manage your light strands, then click USE A DIRECT CONNECTION and then follow the screen prompt that comes next:

direct-connect-control-box

From here, you’ll need to change the password you want to use on your control box going forward. This is the password change screen. It changes the password on the WiFi password you will use to connect to the SSID WiFi access point in the control box. You can also change your SSID for your control box on this screen, but I left mine as it is. After you CONFIRM the password, as the screen states, the control box will restart. Once the control box restarts, you’ll need to reconnect to your Philips SSID via WiFi settings on iOS or Android. You may need to forget the old network as it may have remembered the older 12345678 password. Then, reconnect and enter the new password you just entered in the screen above.

Security Tip: you should always change default passwords included with devices because anyone can easily find the default password on the Internet.

Once your WiFi has connected to the access point, relaunch the Illuminate app and it should take you to the screen that looks like so which should immediately find your control box:

control-box

Click the check box like above and press Enter to manage your light strands like normal.

Failure is not an option

If after going through the above steps to reconnect the control box to your local WiFi network, you find that your Illuminate app still cannot locate the control box on your local WiFi network on startup (what happened to mine), you’ll need to use the direct connection to control your lights. If you cannot connect to the control box after a factory reset, your control box may be damaged.

As always, if this article was helpful to you, please consider leaving a comment and following my blog for future helpful advice. If you could please share this article on Twitter and other social media, it would help me out ūüĎć.

‚Ü©Ôłé

 

 

 

 

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Useless excess: Fashion Victim Edition

Posted in Apple, computers, iphone, ipod by commorancy on December 8, 2010

For whatever reason today, a lot of people can’t seem to temper their purchasing of useless things. ¬†I have to admit that I’ve been guilty of this on occasion myself, but I try to exercise restraint with purchases by asking, “Do I have a real need?”

Purchasing excess

I see lots of people buying things where they haven’t really justified a need in their lives. ¬†I’d say the most egregious example of this useless excess is the iPad. ¬†So many people walked into the purchase of this device not knowing how it would enrich their lives, how they might use it or what it benefits it might offer. ¬†Is the iPad useless excess? ¬†I’d say so. ¬†I still haven’t yet fully justified the purchase of this device for myself. ¬†The only justification I have right now is the larger screen and reading email in a portable way. ¬†Those are the justifications I’ve been able to come up with. ¬†Since a I don’t avidly read digital books, that part isn’t really overall that useful me. ¬†I do have an iPod Touch and have found this device to immensely enrich my life, though. ¬†It solved my portable music need, it has a browser, a Kindle app and email and a few admin apps for in-a-pinch situations. It has a long battery life so I have something to use pretty much anywhere, again, in-a-pinch. ¬† So, the cost and use for this isn’t useless excess for me. ¬†On the other hand, the iPad isn’t that portable, so really doesn’t work for things like portable music.

Is an iPad worth $500? ¬†Not yet for me. However, there are times where I’m walking around the office and having an iPad in hand could come in handy for spot email reading or forwarding an email. ¬†Since it also supports some administrative tools, I might even be able to justify it for the use of those tools. On the other hand, a netbook is a more powerful hardware tool (i.e., usb ports, networking ports, SD card slot, etc). ¬†So, hardware-wise, a Netbook is much more justified for what I do. They’re just a bit more cumbersome to use than an iPad. ¬†On the other hand, composing email on an iPad is basically useless. ¬†I’d much rather have a real keyboard, so I’d definitely need a dock for extended use of an iPad.

Keeping up with the Jones’

A lot of useless excess stems from ‘social’ reasons. ¬†Some people just want to show off their money. ¬†The reality is, I find this disturbing. ¬†Why would you want to buy something just to walk around and flaunt it? ¬†I really don’t relish the thought of being robbed or mugged. I mean, I can somewhat understand fashion. ¬†Not so much fashion excess (i.e., diamond studded bling), but wearing fashion to accentuate yourself we have become accustomed to. ¬†I don’t personally go for high fashionista, though. ¬†Useful fashion yes, excess fashion no. ¬†Unfortuantely, an iPad is not a fashion accessory. ¬†No computer or electronic device is (other than those trashy flashing earrings). So, why must people treat Apple products (and some computers and phones) as fashion when it clearly isn’t. ¬†You should always buy a computer for a need in your life, not because your next door neighbor has one or you ‘think’ it might be useful.

Coffee table paperweights

Now that the iPad has been out for about 9 months, I’m still not finding a solid use for the iPad in my personal life. For business use, I have a couple reasons (cited above), but these reasons are not yet enough to justify a $500 expense. ¬†In fact, I would think there’s going to be a growing used market for iPads very quickly here. ¬†People will realize they don’t need or use them and will need the money more. ¬† Especially when it is no longer the ‘chic’ device (and that’s quickly approaching). ¬†Right now is also the prime time to get rid of your iPad, not before it goes out of ‘fashion’. ¬†Additionally, it’s almost guaranteed that by spring 2011, Apple will have a new model iPad ready to ship. ¬† This will majorly devalue the resale value of the 2010 iPad. ¬†So, if you want to sell your iPad for any decent amount of change, you should consider doing it now. ¬†Otherwise, sitting on it will only devalue it down to probably the $150-200 range by end of 2011 and less then that by 2012.

By now, people should really know if the iPad has a use in their life. ¬†Only you can answer that question, but if the most you do is turn it on once a week (or less), it’s a paperweight. ¬†You should probably consider selling it now before the new iPad is released if you want any return on your investment. ¬†Granted, you may have paid $500, but you’re likely only to get about $200-250 (16GB version) depending on where you sell. ¬†If you put it on eBay as an auction, you might get more money out of it ($450, if you’re lucky). ¬†By this time next year, though, you probably won’t get half that amount on eBay.

As another example, see the Wii. ¬†Now that the Wii has been out for several years, it is no longer the ‘chic’ thing to own. ¬†Today, people are likely purchasing it because they want to play a specific game title. ¬†And, that’s how it should be. ¬†You should always buy computer gear for the software it runs, not because it’s the ‘thing to have’. ¬†Wii consoles are now in a glut and easy to find. ¬†So, if you want one today, it’s very easy to get them.

Gift excess

I know people who buy gift items not because it’s a useful gift, but because it’s the thing to have. ¬†Worse, though, is that the person who receives the gift doesn’t even use it or carry it. ¬†In this example case, it’s an iPad 64GB version. ¬†Yet, this person doesn’t carry it around or, indeed, even use it. ¬†Instead, they prefer to use their 2-3 year old notebook. ¬†What does that say about the usefulness of such useless excess?

Is the iPad considered useless excess? At the moment, yes. ¬†There may be certain professions that have found a way to use the iPad as something more than a novelty, but I’ve yet to see a business convert to using iPads as their sole means of corporate management. ¬†For example, it would say something if FedEx would adopt the iPad is their means of doing business. ¬†Instead of the small hand scanners, they could carry around the iPad to do this work. ¬†Oh, that’s right, there’s no camera on the iPad, so scanning isn’t even useful.

While this article may seem to specifically bash the iPad, it isn’t intended to focus solely on them. ¬†The iPhone is another example of useless excess. ¬†You pay $200 just to get the phone, you’re locked into a 2-4 year contract with at least $80 a month. ¬†And, the worst part, the iPhone isn’t even a very good phone. ¬†Dare I say, Nokia and Motorola still make better quality phone electronics than Apple ever has. ¬†Apple is a computer maker, not a phone maker. ¬†So, they still haven’t the experience with phone innards. ¬†So, when talking to people on the iPhone, the voice quality, call quality and clarity suffer over better made handsets. ¬†Again, people justify the purchase of an iPhone 4 because of the ‘Apps’, not because of quality. ¬†Worse, though, is that many people buying iPhones are doing so because it’s ‘the thing to have’, not because it’s actually useful in their lives. ¬†If the only thing you find yourself doing with the iPhone is talking on the phone, then you’re a victim of useless excess.

How to curb useless excess

Ask yourself, ‘How will this thing make me more productive, or solve a problem?’ ¬†If you cannot come up with an answer, it’s useless excess. ¬†Once you find at least one real need for a device, then the purchase is justified. ¬†If you just want it to have it, that’s useless excess. ¬†Just having something because you can doesn’t make you a better person. ¬†It just makes you a victim of useless excess. ¬†Simply because you can afford something doesn’t mean you should.

How do you justify an iPad purchase? ¬†For example, if you intend to mount it into a door of your kitchen as an internet recipe retrieval device and you bake or cook every day, that would be one way it could enrich your life. ¬†Although, it’s also not impervious to water or other wet ingredients, so you might want to cover it to avoid those issues. ¬†In other words, for a computer to not be considered useless excess, it would need to be used every day to provide you with useful information you can’t otherwise get.

If you’re looking for a holiday gift, don’t just buy an iPad because you can, buy it because the person will actually use and actually needs it to solve a problem.

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