My 2¢ worth on configuring iBeacons


#1

A complete iBeacon noob spent two hours trying to figure it out and it did work in the end.

Bought 3 dirt cheap Chinese iBeacon-compatible USB dongles so that I wouldn’t have to worry about batteries. There’s always a spare powered USB port in a any room. Two are plugged into Airport Extremes, one is plugged into an Apple charger, which I am sure all of us have plenty lying about.

Pack of three for US$20 delivered. Yes, that’s about $7 apiece, made by EBEOO.
Best price 3 pcs BLE 4.0 Base Station Ebeoo iBeacon USB China Fashion Genuine
Yes, go for the China Fashion kind :slight_smile:

Fortunately, it complies with whatever standards there are (iBeacon) and you use a rather comprehensive-looking iOS utility named LightBlue developed by a third-party. It is rather technical and not very novice-friendly (hence the two hours).

So, you only really need two things to program it - your SC BeaconID = LB Beacon UUID, and the number for each room on the list in SC = LB iBeacon Major.

  1. Your SimpleControl Beacon ID is found under Settings. Touch Copy Beacon ID to copy it to the clipboard
    Now, you can’t paste it directly into LightBlue because SimpleControl inserts dashes “-” into the hex code,
    So, Copy Beacon ID, paste into Notes (or any text field on your iOS device, like your safari address bar), then remove the dashes, select the code, copy again.

  2. Plug your Beacon into a powered USB port. Launch LightBlue. In the Lightblue explorer select your ebeoo-ХХХХХ beacon and look for BeaconUUID. Then Write Values and Paste your BeaconID from the Clipboard into the text box. Remember! - If you have any dashes/non-HEX symbols (0-9, A-F), you simply won’t be able to paste it into the box.

  3. Now go to Rooms in the Simplecontrol App and note the number of each room in the list as they are listed, for each room you will have an iBeacon for.
    Now, peculiarly, the Simplecontrol FAQ says the numbers to be configured into the beacons are Simplecontrol room number + 1.
    In this case it had to be exactly the same, and NOT plus one.
    This number is your iBeacon Major value in the LightBlue app. So, touch iBeacon Major, Write Values, punch in the number.
    This is where I encountered another time-wasting quirk. When you input your room number, make sure you precede the value with at leat two zeroes. So input 003 for 3, etc. Otherwise the accepted value ends up being 0301x or something like that, and God knows why. After you Write Values, doublecheck the result by pressing Read Values and make sure it reads 0003 in our example. Has to do with hex format input I guess.
    Leave iBeacon Minor as is - I assigned the same values as iBeacon Major, and it works, but I doubt it matters.

That’s it!

  1. Now, you may want to rename your iBeacons so you could find them easier in the LightBlue app, especially if you have several. That would be under BT name.

  2. Now install the beacons in your rooms and try walking around - give it up to ten seconds, but it will work. After all, in everyday use you don’t go running around rooms expecting the current room to change instantaneously, but it is nice to open the SC into the room you’re in.

  3. SC provides a really useful feature under settings - Show Nearby Beacons - it will appear once your new iBeacons have been detected - it gives you a distance meter. Now, mine is in meters and it is WAAAY off. It is a measure of the Bluetooth signal strength, really. But, play with the threshold to eliminate range overlap from two beacons in, say, adjacent rooms. Set the threshold (meters/feet) so that in each room only the current room is in range, and the others are out of range (shown in red, or a question mark if it is too far).

So. I hope this saves you a bit of time AND quite a chunk of cash!

Cheers from Moscow!