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🔌General Home Automation => Automating Your House => Troubleshooting Automation Problems => Topic started by: snarksdad on December 24, 2018, 09:30:32 AM

Title: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: snarksdad on December 24, 2018, 09:30:32 AM
Hi,
I am having a really strange issue with a ws12a/ws14a circuit. It was working fine for 18 years and then last week the ws12 stopped working while the ws14 would still operate the fixture. I swapped the ws12 with a spare I had and then BOTH master and slave failed to operate the fixture. I figured great, my spare was dead too. I reinstalled the original ws12 so we could at least use the light and I ordered 2 new ws12s. So last night I  installed a new one and it acted the same as my spare. Both switches failed to operate. What??? At a loss, I put the original back in as I was not risking a 2nd new one. (BTW at no point did the circuit operate from any x10 remotes). This worked fine from the ws14 slave for several hours. I went to dim it at the slave and it went off and would not come back on from either side. This was in the middle of dinner prep and this light happens to be over the kitchen island so I ended up removing the ws12 and wire nutting the wires to operate the light. Needless to say the Mrs. is pi**ed - it’s Christmas Eve and she wants it fixed and dimmable NOW.

So has anybody experienced this situation? Could it have been the ws14 all along? I don’t recall ever having blown a ws14 slave before and I don’t have a spare. I will be bench testing the circuit today. What does a ws14 slave do? I mean does it have intelligence or could I just replace it with a standard 3 way switch and see if the ws12 would work then? I really don’t want to buy 2 standard decorator style dimmers just to install until I figure this out...

Help.
Snarksdad
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: Noam on December 24, 2018, 10:00:17 AM
Out of curiosity, what type of bulb(s) are in the fixture? If it is a CFL and/or LED, one that is starting to reach the end of it's useful life could cause all kinds of issues with X10 switches (I've seen it happen before).
Have you tried with a (different) incandescent bulb, to see if that makes any difference in the behavior?
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: Brian H on December 24, 2018, 10:01:08 AM
It maybe possible the WS14A has a bad internal connection.

The X10 site shows the WS14A connections.
The two Live connections should be connected together inside the WS14A and the Switch connection should connect to either Live Connection when the button is pushed.

So if you test it with the power off. The two Live connections should be connected together all the time and connect to the Switched connection when the button is pushed.
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: snarksdad on December 24, 2018, 10:52:47 AM
Thanks for the replies. The bulbs are all incandescent. Wife hates led and cfl colors.

Update. Bench tested all 3 ws12s in 2 way mode and results are my spare and the new one are (mostly) fine. I say mostly because these newer ones often have mechanical issues with the push buttons and I really donít like the soft start feature. The original worked on the bench for a minute or 2 and then quit. Probably is actually bad. So I installed my spare in circuit again and it worked. However now the ws14 is not working. I canít remember how to pull the button off of these to see if it is a mechanical issue. Donít wanna break it.
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: Noam on December 24, 2018, 11:23:34 AM
Thanks for the replies. The bulbs are all incandescent. Wife hates led and cfl colors.

Update. Bench tested all 3 ws12s in 2 way mode and results are my spare and the new one are (mostly) fine. I say mostly because these newer ones often have mechanical issues with the push buttons and I really donít like the soft start feature. The original worked on the bench for a minute or 2 and then quit. Probably is actually bad. So I installed my spare in circuit again and it worked. However now the ws14 is not working. I canít remember how to pull the button off of these to see if it is a mechanical issue. Donít wanna break it.

I don't think I've ever taken a WS12a apart (and I've never owned a WS14a), but my Smarthome switch failures tended to be caused by the large capacitor on the board. I successfully replaced the capacitor in a few of them, and they are back in my "spares" box. In those cases, however, the unit failed entirely - but I can imagine that a degraded capacitor might work for a short while before dying.
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: snarksdad on December 24, 2018, 01:02:59 PM
Interesting. If I feel ambitious someday I may tear into my blown ones and see if thatís the problem with them.

At any rate, my current problem appears to be the ws14a. I tore it down to the raw switch actuator shaft and bench tested it in a 3 way circuit and it is not functioning. The rest of the case is riveted shut so Iíll leave it alone until I get a replacement.
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: snarksdad on January 20, 2019, 12:28:57 PM
OK. Here's an update. I said it was bizarre from the getgo…

After replacing *both* ws12a and ws14a with new ones the problem returned in reverse - The ws12a (master) would control but the ws14a (companion) would do nothing. I did due diligence and traced out the entire circuit and identified hots and travelers. Lo and behold the ws14a was installed in the wrong side of the circuit. The schematics and instructions say the ws14a companion MUST be installed in the side where the HOT wire is so I swapped them and now both are working fine.


So how was the circuit working if wrongly installed for 18 years??? And then stopped working suddenly (and yes I am sure about the positions since the ws14a differences are obvious).

Snarksdad
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: Tuicemen on January 20, 2019, 01:34:11 PM
X10WTI was notorious for changing modules inner workings and not documenting them or giving the modules new IDs. It is possible when you swapped out the failed ws12 the replacement may have had its internals changed. ::) :'
Title: Re: Bizarre issue with ws12a/ws14a 3-way circuit
Post by: bkenobi on January 21, 2019, 10:18:54 AM
I'm not sure how it worked for you if it was installed backwards.  I added a soft start enabled 3-way a few years ago without reading the schematics.  I wanted the master located in one location and didn't care which way it was supposed to be installed.  Well, it didn't work...so I read the manual.  Once I installed it the way it was designed, it worked and has been for years.   rofl