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💬General Category => General Discussion => Topic started by: James G on March 05, 2019, 07:05:31 PM

Title: Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or Smart controller system?
Post by: James G on March 05, 2019, 07:05:31 PM
I set up my large home decades ago. I still use my Plato controller box that is programmed by Windows. I just had to buy a serial to USB converter cord and a used Dell laptop with Windows 7 32 bit (with a small SSD) as the program will not run on my Windows 10 64 bit OS. I still love the simple yet powerful GUI. I just hope it does not fail. I still have the original floppy disks but have converted them to 3 separate folders in case anyone needs them.

I control most of my lights and many appliances including my water heater. I have the electronic barking dog.

Unfortunately, my wired external motion sensor with floodlights failed. I wish I could find a new one to send out X-10 codes but I cannot find one. I wish X-10 would build it again but with an improved motion sensor.

Is there a similar X-10 controller available with the simple yet powerful GUI?
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato contoller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 06, 2019, 09:03:45 AM
There are a few different x10 controllers out there.
Probably the most versatile is the CM15A which came with ActiveHomePro (AHP) a Windows Program to allow programing timers and simple macros directly to the unit so it could be run independently.

Many users still use the CM15A but with other software and even different OS enviroments. However only AHP can program the CM15A.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato contoller system?
Post by: James G on March 06, 2019, 10:36:02 AM
Hi Tuicemen! Roger at X-10 tech support suggested that I contact you. This is an excellent article on the Plato with excellent screenshots of the computer interface:

https://www.hometoys.com/article/1997/10/plato-houselinc/217/ (https://www.hometoys.com/article/1997/10/plato-houselinc/217/)

What would you recommend replacing it with? The ActiveHomePro and CM15A? Where do I purchase them?

Thank you!
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato contoller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 06, 2019, 10:51:38 AM
The CM15A can still be purchased from Authinx (x10.com) https://www.x10.com/catalogsearch/result/?cat=0&q=cm15a
The (free) AHP software can also be downloaded from them.
Unfortunately AHP is no longer being maintained and band aid workarounds are required for it to work with newer 64 bit Windows.
 There are several third party software options that will work with the CM15 and provide more automation possibilities then AHP ever could.

My recommendation should you decide to move away from what your using would be to go the Pi route with HomeGenie. The Pi is a mini computer that (depending on model) is smaller then the CM15A. These can be placed in an out of the way place and accessed by any internet capable device for configuring and maintaining.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato contoller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 06, 2019, 10:58:56 AM
I don't know a Roger at X10 but glad to see X10 support is directing users to the forum.
Though I'm unsure why they would suggest me specifically to get in touch with.
you can get more info on HomeGenie here http://homegenie.it
>!
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato contoller system?
Post by: brobin on March 06, 2019, 11:39:15 AM
I looked at that link & it brought back memories as I considered the Plato but went with the very similar JDS Time Commander at the time and later upgraded to the JDS Stargate which I still use today.  I too keep a 32 bit Win7 laptop connected as the programming is done the same way.  If you're happy with the Plato box and it does what you want there's really no reason to change it and go through a new learning curve. Using TeamViewer from my 64 bit Win10 PC I can work with Stargate right from my desk - or anywhere. If you want to add voice control with Alexa you can do that economically with Tuicemen's Pi Alexa Hub image using a Raspberry Pi ($10), a CM19A ($18) and any X10 Transceiver (~$30).  That's exactly what I've done and it's working great. Just my 2.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 06, 2019, 11:57:31 AM
@James G, do you realy need to replace the old Plato controller?
Or just do you just wish to expand its capabilities?
If your just looking to expand the capabilities there are a number of options depending on what your looking to do.
The option brobin provided for Alexa control is just one example of what can be done.
I do believe no matter what your looking to do, a Pi board is the route to move forward with.
 >!
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: James G on March 06, 2019, 12:06:52 PM
Hi brobin! Thanks so much for the tips!

I am very happy with the Plato. I am concerned that at some point it will fail because of its age. I do not want to go through a new learning curve. There is only so much time. The Alexa control would be nice. Your setup sounds ideal to me. Sometimes things become unavailable. Perhaps I should purchase it all as a backup now.

Would it be too much trouble to send me a list of everything and where to purchase each item?

Thank you!
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: James G on March 06, 2019, 12:48:41 PM
Hello again Tuicemen! I am really looking for a backup. The Plato is old and may fail. I had a severe hit to the system last fall when the hurricane that went through the panhandle also went through SC close to me. It knocked out my wired exterior motion sensor with the floodlights. I could not find a new one anywhere. (The motion sensor was not that great anyway.) I ordered X-10's wireless motion sensor and I think I threw it out. I ended up going with the Ring system. It has internal chimes that can be programmed for the sound one wants. It also works with my Echo Dot and Alexa. Alexa tells me which camera detected the motion and the motion sensors are far superior. I had to buy a Google mesh wireless system for the Wi-Fi to reach the camera on the garage which shows the front of the house.

I am not really trying to expand the system much such as remote access. Alexa control would be nice.

Thank you for the tips! I am always open to new ideas.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: brobin on March 06, 2019, 01:37:50 PM
I assume you're asking for the Alexa stuff so here goes.

The image and installation instructions are on Tuicemen's site: http://forums.tuicemen.net/index.php?topic=1332.0

You can order the X10 CM19A transmitter and an X10 transceiver (RR501 or PAT03) directly from X10.com or Amazon.
https://amzn.to/2ESImKh and https://amzn.to/2VCRWXa or https://amzn.to/2XDNLMN

If you live near a MicroCenter store you can get the Raspberry Pi Zero W for just $5 otherwise I recommend buying this kit on amazon for $27 that includes the PiZW, a case, power supply and a USB adapter (OTG) plus a few other items you won't need for this project.
https://amzn.to/2ESLGFq

The only other thing you'll need a 4GB or larger micro SD card. Bigger isn't better as backups will take longer. It's hard to find 4GB cards anymore so here's a link to an 8GB 3 pack with a card reader (you'll want the extras for backups): https://amzn.to/2TxaKJZ

Once you have everything in hand, if you follow the installation instructions step-by-step, you'll be up and running in under an hour.

In addition to using Alexa to control individual X10 devices you can use it to trigger macros in your Plato using an otherwise unused X10 address.

Regarding my comment about using Teamviewer to remotely access the laptop connected to your Plato, you can install the free version of Teamviewer on both PC's from teamviewer.com and follow the setup instructions.

Regarding the potential failure of the Plato, it might pay to monitor ebay or any Plato user groups to try and buy a spare unit.  I have two spare Stargates that I've picked up over the years from ebay that I bought for a song.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: James G on March 06, 2019, 01:54:19 PM
brobin, from what I have read thus far, this looks like the direction I want to go. I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to do this! The Plato controller is no longer available so I will have to replace it as well.  :)
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 06, 2019, 02:14:36 PM
@ James G if you go the Pi route (which I recommend) for Alexa control you'd be better off with the PiX10Hub image instead of the Alexa Hub image.
It has Home Genie in it so you could slowly migrate your system over to it in case the Plato controller ever does fail, serving as a back up system.
You can also try your HA setup with other things besides Alexa control it will also allow you to bridge other protocols with X10.
The nice thig with a Pi board is there are many addon expansion boards to increase there usability.
 >!
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: bkenobi on March 06, 2019, 04:57:07 PM
IMO, unless you are trying to out the RPI in a space limited location, I would recommend the RPI3 over the RPiZW.  The 3 is faster, has more memory, and has more connections. It is still very compact and uses close to no power. The Zero W is slightly smaller but lacks extra USB ports and computing power that IMO you will miss eventually.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: racerfern on March 06, 2019, 05:38:01 PM
IMO, unless you are trying to out the RPI in a space limited location, I would recommend the RPI3 over the RPiZW.  The 3 is faster, has more memory, and has more connections. It is still very compact and uses close to no power. The Zero W is slightly smaller but lacks extra USB ports and computing power that IMO you will miss eventually.

Agreed! I have HG on a Pi 3B+. With four USB ports, RJ45 connector, etc. it is a much better bet for any HA project. I even have a https://www.amazon.com/RaspBee-premium-ZigBee-Raspberry-Firmware/dp/B00E6300DO (https://www.amazon.com/RaspBee-premium-ZigBee-Raspberry-Firmware/dp/B00E6300DO) for zigbee access although it's not talking to HG yet and I also have an Aeotec z-stick plugged into a USB port which does talk to HG.

There's lots of potential with a 3B+.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: bkenobi on March 06, 2019, 05:47:10 PM
I don't think zigbee will work on HG as last I checked there was no interface programmed in. If it's been added, pretty much anything will work!
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 06, 2019, 05:47:36 PM
IMO, unless you are trying to out the RPI in a space limited location, I would recommend the RPI3 over the RPiZW.  The 3 is faster, has more memory, and has more connections. It is still very compact and uses close to no power. The Zero W is slightly smaller but lacks extra USB ports and computing power that IMO you will miss eventually.
I also would recommend a different RPI board if going that route. The latest version 3B+ would be my recommendation also for all the reasons bkenobi and racerfern stated.
However the price of Zero W board makes playing in the Pi world so much more affordable to experiment with.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: racerfern on March 06, 2019, 05:50:02 PM
Hue works with HG and that's zigbee. The Dresden board with their software sees Hue bulbs so if HG doesn't see it, it shouldn't take much to get it to work. IMO

Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: bkenobi on March 06, 2019, 06:25:11 PM
Can Hue hubs see all zigbee?

I agree I'd you can get a zero W for $5. If not and you pay $27 for the package, you are close to the 3 price ($35ish). Yes, you will need a usb charger (any phone module works for testing at least) and a micro SD card (most people have one laying around from an old phone). Either works though.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: racerfern on March 07, 2019, 07:05:41 AM
Hue hubs do not see all other zigbee devices. I believe Smartthings does see all zigbee (or nearly all) and z-wave devices FWIW.

HA is not cheap no matter what system you use. If the deal breaker is the difference between the price of a zero and a 3B+ then I wonder if that person should even be entertaining implementing HA. For someone who has an up and running system they want to improve, $35 would probably be the least spent in a very long time.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: bkenobi on March 07, 2019, 08:35:23 AM
Correct. The RPI3 is better in every was except size and price (sort of). There are cases where the zero W would be appropriate, but if you are going to get a case, the 3 is a better choice. Tuicemen was looking for a solution that would fit inside the CM15A battery enclosure which is why the zero W is appropriate. If you aren't using it there, it's not the right choice.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 07, 2019, 08:36:16 AM
Quote
For someone who has an up and running system they want to improve, $35 would probably be the least spent in a very long time.
So true!
HA doesn't need to be expensive! I know of one user that fried several Zero W boards attempting to set them up for HA @ $5 a pop it wasn't as big a hit to the pocket book as using 3B+ boards would have been.
A HA setup is as cheap or expensive as you make it and despite all the success stories of SBC running HA setups many are still on the fence about trying one. That was one reason for selecting the Zero W board for the PiX10Hub.
There are several SBC out there that will far out perform the RPI 3B+ however they are also more expensive. Some have moved to using these after playing with the inexpensive Pi boards.

My first RPi was the 3B+ but I use the Zero W for my city HA (I actualy use 2 here). Both Zeros I got for $7 CD and I'm very happy with them.
 >!


Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: bkenobi on March 07, 2019, 09:27:56 AM
Expensive is an opinion really. I recall people chastising the opinion that $15 for a smart LED was expensive. I was saying it was way more than a $5 WS467 (at the time) and a $0.25 incandescent bulb. Others claimed it was cheap because the LED bulbs were $45/ea when they were initially released.

IMO, you can get an automation system running (a few lights and outlets including a controller) for less than $100. If you pick other systems, that's maybe a couple modules.  Neither is wrong, but HA doesn't have to empty the wallet completely unless you want it to.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: James G on March 07, 2019, 01:57:24 PM
I installed a large X-10 system decades ago using the Plato HouseLink system. Last fall the hurricane that went through the panhandle went through SC close to me and caused a fair amount of damage. It took out my wired motion sensor and my front porch lights. The sensor is no longer available. The front porch lights went out due to a short. All is fixed now but I became concerned about my Plato controller because it is no longer available. I am looking for an X-10 controller that one can still buy.
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: James G on March 09, 2019, 12:14:07 AM
My great appreciation for someone on the Forum who was able to locate a used Plato HouseLink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
He has also helped greatly in other areas. Can't thank you enough!
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: HA Dave on March 09, 2019, 03:59:54 PM
….. So true! HA doesn't need to be expensive! …..

Expensive is an opinion really. ………..
…. IMO, you can get an automation system running (a few lights and outlets including a controller) for less than $100...……... HA doesn't have to empty the wallet completely unless you want it to.

I agree with you both.... to a point. I am pretty frugal myself. so...... I guess you could call dinner out with the wife..... coffee taken from home in travel mugs... and taco's from a drive thru. That would be like 2 bucks and done! But.... that's not how we do things around here.

Although.... my earliest setup was 5 each, X10 light switches, a Palmpad, and a TM751 transceiver. I only considered that a part of my Home Theater (I was hoping for a little convenience and some WOW factor. Only later..... after I added cameras did I start to see my setup as actual "automation". And by then I was hooked and added much more..... including, of course a Security alarm, CM11A, PC connected CM15A (and software's) IR control and on, and on.

But that.... was all a dozen years ago. Today.... anyone can start a basic setup... and maybe not even include remote lighting control. Lighting control after all...... is pretty much 1970's technology. I built a couple Home Theaters with NO remote light control what-so-ever. Plain old-fashion switches on the wall.

I mention Home Automation to people today..... and they say things like: "My Mom has one of those Google things in her kitchen... she says she gets receipts on it". Or.. "I got a Alexa thing for Christmas.... but it's speakers weren't that good... so I mostly still listen to the radio". I know... not positive replies. But never the less... the predominant and relevant attitude about Home Automation.

I don't think the average person who buys a package of remote controlled LED's see's that as "automation". I think most people look towards more modern (AI?) technology for "automation".
Title: Re: Is there any replacement for the old Plato controller system?
Post by: James G on March 14, 2019, 03:05:50 PM
HI Tuicemen,

Can you change the title of this thread by changing the word "Plato" to the phrase "Plato HouseLink or SmartLink"?

Thanks,

James
Title: Re: Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or Smart controller system?
Post by: Tuicemen on March 14, 2019, 03:12:28 PM
Can do However title space meant I had to shorten it a bit. All previous responses will have the old subject only new posts will have the new subject.
Title: Re: Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or Smart controller system?
Post by: James G on March 14, 2019, 03:52:37 PM
HI Tuicemen,
The keywords are important for searches. Probably better, "Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or SmartLink?
Thanks!
Title: Re: Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or Smart controller system?
Post by: HA Dave on March 14, 2019, 04:59:44 PM
HI Tuicemen,
The keywords are important for searches. Probably better, "Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or SmartLink?
Thanks!

You know.... the web crawling robots and search algorithms rarely look at titles. I'd guess my copy/paste "Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or SmartLink" show up in the search results as quickly/easily as from anywhere else. I think you're covered. 
Title: Re: Any replacement for the Plato HouseLink or Smart controller system?
Post by: racerfern on March 14, 2019, 06:24:18 PM
I search by specifying the forum on the Google home page, for example:

site:forums.x10.com plato
or for giggles
site:forums.x10.com artificial intelligence

It is restricted to that forum but might help you find useful info in a specific forum or website.