Myths About the Micra

I have been involved with the development and use of the Micra since 2002. It was originally introduced at the 2003 ISC West show in a DSC format and won best residential product in show. Ademco (now Honeywell) negotiated an exclusive marketing agreement with Ion-Digital to market the switch exclusively for use with Honeywell Security systems using the Ademco 5800 wireless format. Ion -Digital has continued to improve the Micra since its initial release.

In December of 2004 ADI started to sell the 5800Micra. The roll-out by ADI Distribution had some price specials but had little technical assistance available for the security installing companies.

As a technical representative for Ion-Digital, I have worked with technicians from all over the US and addressed the problems they have encountered with the Micra. Below is a compilation of the feedback that I have received and the myths that were generated due to a failure to understand the physical properties and best practice policies for installation. In no instance did I encounter a problem with the 5800Micra where the technician was not able to correct his installation technique and make the 5800Micra work properly.

I, personally, have installed over 1000 Micra switches over the last 24 months. I have had 2 bad switches (out of the box – found to be defective reed switches) and have never had a location where I installed one that would not work and where a 5816 would work. To this date all the switches I have installed are working flawlessly.

The comments below cover the whole range of Ion-Digital wireless transmitters:
5800Micra    Micra-G       Plunger-G      Micra-D         Plunger-D   
5800RPS.     Micra-HAI   Plunger-HAI   Micra-2GIG   Plunger-2GIG

Myth – The Micra doesn’t have the range of a big box transmitter.

Why do people think this is true?

  • Because it is so small.
  • Because they installed it without fully extending the antenna.
  • Because it has such a small battery and  other small transmitters (5814, 5818 and 5820) have a much shorter range. 

What is the reality?

The Micra has a range that is equal to the 5816 and in some applications better.

Myth – The Micra has battery problems. 

Why do people think this is true? 

  • The initial production of 5800Micra used the battery manufacturer used by Honeywell (Renata). The Renata 1620 Lithium battery was unstable and had a 5% failure rate. The manufacturer was replaced with Panasonic and Eveready and no further problems have occurred.
  • People don’t believe that the small battery can deliver 5816 range and have a 10 year battery life.

What is the reality? 

The early production that went out with the Renata battery had about 5% that went into “Low Battery” in the first 2 years. Ion Digital's engineer ran extensive tests on the transmitter and the batteries and determined that the cause was poor quality control on Renata’s production and testing line for their 1620 Lithium coin cell battery. The engineer ran tests on 10,000 coin cell batteries in inventory and found about 5% not meeting factory specification. Ion Digital replaced all the batteries in Honeywell's 5800Micra inventory and offered dealers an incentive to replace batteries that were defective and needed to be replaced in the field. No low battery problems have been reported with the new Panasonic and Eveready 1620 Lithium coin cell batteries that have been supplied with the Micra since May of 2005, when the change was made.

The power consumption of the Micra is very low compared to the traditional “box transmitter”. The reason is threefold.
 
  • The external antenna has such size advantage on the small antenna in the box transmitter, that it only needs a fraction of the power to achieve a comparable signal.
  • The processor used in the Micra uses much less power than the traditional box transmitter processor.
  • The software in the Micra puts the transmitter to sleep 85% of the time, waking up 32 times per second to sample the reed switch. This processing greatly reduces power consumption.

Myth – The Micra is intermittent and doesn’t always work

Why do people think this is true?

  • Installers treat the Micra like a hardwired switch and do not install the magnet properly.
  • Installers often don’t extend the antenna properly.
  • Since the switch cannot be tested with a meter like a traditional hardwired switch, they don’t know how to test it.

What is the reality? 

The Micra has a reed switch that is mounted on the circuit board with the wireless transmitter. Unlike a hardwired switch, where the reed switch is perpendicular to the face of the switch, the Micra reed switch runs horizontally across the face of the switch.

Almost any type of magnet can be used. It is important to understand how the reed switch is oriented on the Micra to know how to mount the magnet you decide to use. The reed switch is parallel to the oval surface of the Micra and is located halfway between the center and the antennae side of the switch oriented perpendicular to the antennae. If you are using a standard 3/8" magnet you want to line up the magnet with either of the poles as opposed to centering the magnet to the face of the switch. The Micra is supplied with a special flat magnet that works especially well in vinyl windows. The magnet is an oval shape that is polarized across the short diameter and lines up easily with the oval face of the Micra.