MiscellaneousThe Build

Propex HS2000 remote control from iPhone using SMS text messages

Having a gas heater in the van is a great addi­tion, in fact, essen­tial when stay­ing away dur­ing cold win­ter nights. I have been using the Propex HS2000 heater for a cou­ple of years now and am very pleased with it. While away it keeps the van nice and warm and is not very loud so I can sleep fine with it on.

As my van is also my dai­ly vehi­cle it made sense to use the heater to get rid of any ice on cold and frosty morn­ings. I had pre­vi­ous­ly fit­ted a Heat­miser house­hold ther­mo­stat which would trig­ger the heater when the tem­per­a­ture was below a set lev­el, it also has a timer fea­ture. One prob­lem with the Heat­miser is that the min­i­mum tem­per­a­ture to trig­ger the heater is 5°C which is not real­ly cold enough to jus­ti­fy using the heater, I only real­ly want­ed to use if there was a frost or snow. The oth­er prob­lem is that the timer comes on every day, this is not need­ed as I do not always use the van.

I start­ed look­ing at how to use some kind of remote con­trol which would oper­ate a relay with­in the van and turn the heater on, the idea being that if I knew it was a cold frosty morn­ing and I would be using the van then I could switch the heater on when I woke up. Many remote con­trols work up to 50 meters which may be fine in most cir­cum­stances, but there was one sce­nario I knew this would be no good and that’s when I occa­sion­al­ly go and watch a foot­ball match on a cold winter’s day. I want­ed to be able to switch the heater on before I got back to the van so it’s nice and toasty, the same if I’m out on a bike ride or a hike, or maybe just out and about when stay­ing away. With this in mind, it made sense to be able to oper­ate over the mobile phone net­work.

The device I opt­ed for was a sim­ple GSM Con­troller. These are read­i­ly avail­able via the Inter­net, I bought the Quark-elec QK-G022 on eBay for £40. The con­troller has up to three relays and one RF switch. I have future plans to install a Rasp­ber­ry Pi sys­tem with­in the van so will like­ly use one of the oth­er relays for that. The con­troller needs a sim card which are freely avail­able from com­pa­nies like gif­f­gaff where I bought mine. The only cost encoun­tered are the texts sent back from the device but this is min­i­mal.

The Quark-elec QK-G022 GSM Remote Controller
The Quark-elec QK-G022 GSM Remote Con­troller

The con­troller needs its own fused 12v sup­ply, an earth and a pos­i­tive fused feed for each device being used, this is con­nect­ed to the cen­tral ter­mi­nal of each relay. The oth­er con­nec­tion on the relay (open cir­cuit) goes to the orange wire con­nec­tion on the heater’s ther­mo­stat con­trol box, so basi­cal­ly over­rides the switch when the relay is opened. The ther­mo­stat used to con­trol the tem­per­a­ture can­not be remote­ly con­trolled but I don’t think that’s impor­tant as it’s rarely changed any­way.

The QK-G022 has its own soft­ware avail­able called GSM SMS Remote Con­trol, but frankly it’s not the pret­ti­est of inter­faces and all it is effec­tive­ly doing is send­ing SMS mes­sages to the device, how­ev­er, you will need to use this soft­ware to first set up the device as you need to know the com­mands to send, the first thing to do is reg­is­ter the mas­ter con­trol tele­phone num­ber (your phone). Once set up, I installed anoth­er App from the App Store called My Com­man­der which can be cus­tomised to use any SMS com­mands and looks and feels much bet­ter.

Setting up a GMS Commander control button
Set­ting up a GMS Com­man­der con­trol but­ton

Main Screen
The home screen of My Com­man­der App

Tapping the "Heater On" button will activate the text message to send
Tap­ping the “Heater On” but­ton will acti­vate the text mes­sage to send

When a com­mand is sent to the con­troller, it will auto­mat­i­cal­ly open/close the relay and then con­firm back to your phone by SMS mes­sage, you could also set up anoth­er com­mand to check the sta­tus of any relays, timers are also an option with this par­tic­u­lar GMS Con­troller.

Text confirmation that the command was received
Text con­fir­ma­tion that the com­mand was received

Now I can switch the heater on if I know I’ll be using the van, I hope this will be of use to any­body else who wants this.

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The Author

sharkbait

sharkbait

A complete self-confessed VW nutjob. My VW T4 is actually my first and only VW I have ever owned but I love it. Having bought my van as a straight forward panel van, I enjoyed the process of converting it how I wanted. Now the van is all done, it's getting out and exploring I love to do.