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Author Topic: Lights turning on and off by themselves  (Read 34064 times)

azzar0

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Lights turning on and off by themselves
« on: May 17, 2007, 03:16:49 PM »

Hello,

I had X10 for the past few years. Most of my house uses X10 light switches. I also have a few lamp modules, appliance modules, motion sensors, security console and components, etc, all running with ActiveHome Pro. For the first few months I ran into flag issues and timer problems. I decided AHP is too unreliable without keeping it plugged into the computer all the time, so I keep it running at all times. After the first year I pretty much understood all of the issues I had and was OK with them, for the most part. Lately, however, the system started switching lights on and off without user interaction. My wife and kids call it the "ghost effect", because sometimes our lights go off and then immediatelly back on. This can happen once in the morning, three times in a row, in the evening, it is completely random. My question to the experts is this: Are these signs of bad hardware components? If so, how can I find the culprit? Remember, I have over 50 modules in various shapes and forms. Could it be a motion sensor going nuts? I replaced all the bateries on all motion sensors, but it didn't help. Is lights blinking on and off like this a sign of noise in the electric system? Any help in diagnosing this issue is highly appreciated.
Thank You!
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Oldtimer

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2007, 05:05:53 PM »

You obviously are an experienced X10 user but I'm surprised you have to keep the computer connected all the time to get the system to work.  Is there a chance your CM15A has been defective all along?

Another possibility is to check the batteries in the CM15A.  Mine behaved erratically when they dropped below the "good" point on a battery tester although the symptoms weren't the same as yours.

Do lights that aren't X10 operated go off and on when the X10 operated lights do?  That would point to a power line problem somewhere.

Finally be aware that power company switching transients can interact with X10 modules to induce erratic behaviour in them.
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HA Dave

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2007, 07:09:53 PM »

Wow a large set-up. 50 modules, motion sensors and AHP.

Could it be a motion sensor going nuts? Yes

I replaced all the batteries on all motion sensors, but it didn't help. Did you check the house unit codes? Motion sensors can default to the "A1" house/unit codes when the batteries go dead.

Also the .ahx files (AHP) can become corrupt. If it's the files stored on your AHP interface, reloading the file could help.

Do you have a re-sender somewhere in your system.... could it have been moved (even placed up higher) and it is now causing signal collisions?

Have you logged or checked the log in AHP.... to read what it says is happening, and compare that with what is supposed to be happening?
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steven r

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2007, 09:09:23 PM »

I have "60 modules" though several are just virtual ones to let some of my 48 macros call each other.  ;) Also 15 of them are just to get around an AHP bug so that AHP will monitor the right house code. So I guess you still have me beat.

David made some good suggestions. I'd also be interested to know if the events are showing up in the AHP log. I've had "ghost signals" that weren't recorded by AHP!


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philliec

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2007, 01:20:53 AM »

Interesting problem. I had a period of time when all this x10 paraphernalia just would not work correctly too. It ended up being an old CRT monitor that was going bad. After I removed the monitor from the system, everything was back to normal almost instantaneous.

Another issue. A while back the hard disk crashed on the main computer that controls AHP. In the process of reinstalling AHP, drivers, registration, writing new macros ..., I suffered a lot of the problems that many of our newcomers suffer as they try to get this stuff up and running. In this process i noticed that some modules just would not work after a a AHP software crash. So after attempting a number of potential solutions I found that if I unpluged the module and pluged it back in, then I had instant success. Since that worked then i tried for a clean boot of the entire system where I shut down the computer, pulled the batteries from the CM15A (I tried this many times before this instance) and then shut down all of the power to the house. Maybe it is coincidence, but everything worked well after that. no more dead modules and no more transient commands. I am a Petrophysicist (non-electrical) so I am sure that one of our electrical engineering types will have a good explanation for this including just a coincidence. I have used it twice and have had complete success each time.
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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2007, 06:38:44 AM »

azzar0

All of the previous suggestions are good ones.

Is it possible that you have a nearby neighbor that is using X10? Have you lost any remotes lately?If so could one of the neighbor kids have found it and having fun at your expense? :-\
 ;) :D ;D

Jim
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azzar0

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2007, 10:07:27 AM »


Did you check the house unit codes? Motion sensors can default to the "A1" house/unit codes when the batteries go dead.

Also the .ahx files (AHP) can become corrupt. If it's the files stored on your AHP interface, reloading the file could help.

Do you have a re-sender somewhere in your system.... could it have been moved (even placed up higher) and it is now causing signal collisions?

Have you logged or checked the log in AHP.... to read what it says is happening, and compare that with what is supposed to be happening?

All good suggestions, thank you.

  • I checked the motion sensors and re-programmed to eliminate the A1 possibility. (I also have a lamp set to A1 to 'inform' me when I need to change batteries).
  • I cleared the interface, reloaded a blank .ahx file to make sure I eliminate any lingering bugs, reloaded my 'real' file, same issues.
  • I DO have a re-sender AND a phase coupler. I took out the re-sender - same issues, so I plugged it back in. I have to keep the phase coupler for obvious reasons.
  • I also remember checking the log and none of these actions are recorded. It seems as if AHP is not aware of anything happening. Lights just go nuts and AHP thinks everything is cool.

Oh, and get this: I also noticed that my satellite signal is pixelated when I turn the (x10) lights on in the bedroom. Turn the lights off - perfect picture! I will have to unplug all my computer equipment (and I have a lot of those) and try to find the culprit that way. The problem is that these issues happen sporadically, so it's not like I can unplug everything, run a sequence, and be able to come to a conclusion. I have to wait and see how the system behaves after I make changes and, because I have to move slowly, I can only make one change at a time, otherwise I won't know what fixed the problem (if somehow the problem goes away).

I suspect noise on the electrical lines, but I just find it strange that it would happen all of a sudden, after so many years of running. I will report back with my progress.

Thanks again!


[TTA Edit: Added WHITESPACE and formatting to improve readability.]
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 11:41:23 AM by TakeTheActive »
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azzar0

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2007, 10:11:07 AM »

azzar0

All of the previous suggestions are good ones.

Is it possible that you have a nearby neighbor that is using X10? Have you lost any remotes lately?If so could one of the neighbor kids have found it and having fun at your expense? :-\
 ;) :D ;D

Jim

Actually I went to my neighbor's house, installed a couple of modules & a transceiver and tried to see if I can mess up my setup. The remote signal dosen't even reach my house. I setup his house on a different house code, just in case. I am taking 4 house codes, but his is set on a different one. I think I can safely say that this is not an issue. As for the remotes - my family can't even use them, leave alone sneaky neighbors, even if I did lose one ;)
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azzar0

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2007, 10:15:29 AM »

Is there a chance your CM15A has been defective all along?

Another possibility is to check the batteries in the CM15A.  Mine behaved erratically when they dropped below the "good" point on a battery tester although the symptoms weren't the same as yours.

Do lights that aren't X10 operated go off and on when the X10 operated lights do?  That would point to a power line problem somewhere.

Finally be aware that power company switching transients can interact with X10 modules to induce erratic behaviour in them.

Thanks for your comments. This is my 3rd CM15A. Of the three I tried, this one seems the more "robust" one, but it is still a couple of years old. I don't think the design has changed since then, so I see no need to 'upgrade'.
I didn't switch the batteries in the interface. Hmmm, what symptoms did you run into with low batteries? I will try that, it can't hurt ;)
It is only the X10 lights that go nuts. Honestly though, I wouldn't really know - most of them are X10 controlled hehehe. But there are a couple that are not and they don't seem to be affected by this issue.
If the power company does that - is there anything I can do to reset my system to work normally again?
Thanks for your input!
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azzar0

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2007, 10:19:03 AM »

Interesting problem. I had a period of time when all this x10 paraphernalia just would not work correctly too. It ended up being an old CRT monitor that was going bad. After I removed the monitor from the system, everything was back to normal almost instantaneous.

Another issue. A while back the hard disk crashed on the main computer that controls AHP. In the process of reinstalling AHP, drivers, registration, writing new macros ..., I suffered a lot of the problems that many of our newcomers suffer as they try to get this stuff up and running. In this process i noticed that some modules just would not work after a a AHP software crash. So after attempting a number of potential solutions I found that if I unplugged the module and plugged it back in, then I had instant success. Since that worked then i tried for a clean boot of the entire system where I shut down the computer, pulled the batteries from the CM15A (I tried this many times before this instance) and then shut down all of the power to the house. Maybe it is coincidence, but everything worked well after that. no more dead modules and no more transient commands. I am a Petrophysicist (non-electrical) so I am sure that one of our electrical engineering types will have a good explanation for this including just a coincidence. I have used it twice and have had complete success each time.

Interesting. I would like to hear an expert's opinion regarding this remedy. I will definitely try it ;)
The only CRT equipment I have in the house is my SONY WEGA tv, which I've had since before X10. The rest of my monitors and TVs are LCDs, anywhere from 17" to 46". I actually suspect my master bedroom TV (or entertainment system) to cause some problems, but I am not sure. I will unplug and see what happens.
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steven r

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2007, 10:33:01 AM »

...I also remember checking the log and none of these actions are recorded. It seems as if AHP is not aware of anything happening. Lights just go nuts and AHP thinks everything is cool....
I guessed they might not be showing up. Do any of your macros have dim commands? It's good to follow dim commands with a 2 second delay. AHP has a bug that has been known to cause stray signals. The delays work kinda like fairy dust to solve the problem. Search for more discussion on this.

...I also noticed that my satellite signal is pixelated when I turn the (x10) lights on in the bedroom....
I love a good mystery but that is really weird. Is the cable to the satellite free from other cables? If you have a power cable wrapped with it, it might be picking up some inductance.

...I just find it strange that it would happen all of a sudden, after so many years of running....
My system worked fine for years in spite of 6 or 7 UPS units in the house. Then one day the signal just went poof. I had to go around the house adding filters everywhere.
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HA Dave

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2007, 05:11:15 PM »


 Maybe it is coincidence, but everything worked well after that. no more dead modules and no more transient commands. I am a Petrophysicist (non-electrical) so I am sure that one of our electrical engineering types will have a good explanation for this including just a coincidence. I have used it twice and have had complete success each time.



Interesting. I would like to hear an expert's opinion regarding this remedy. I will definitely try it ;)
The only CRT equipment I have in the house is my SONY WEGA tv, which I've had since before X10. The rest of my monitors and TVs are LCDs, anywhere from 17" to 46". I actually suspect my master bedroom TV (or entertainment system) to cause some problems, but I am not sure. I will unplug and see what happens.


NOT AN EXPERT

But I once wired a new circut for the in-laws. Just as I finished the lights went out. I knew I couldn't have caused the problem... but was looking over everything with a flashlight ... when they noticed the entire neighborhood was dark.

After the power outage, and power was restored, only half the house's power returned. The phase I had been working on, still didn't have power.

We called the power company, and they said it sounded like the power was out-of-phase. I've twisted a lot of wires, and my first thought was Bull$#&*. But I followed their directions and flipped off every breaker, then the main breaker. then all breakers back on, then the main breaker on. It worked.

« Last Edit: May 18, 2007, 10:05:27 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2007, 09:53:34 PM »

NOT AN EXPERT

But I once wired a new circut for the in-laws. Just as I finished the lights went out. I knew I couldn't have caused the problem... but was looking over everything with a flashlight ... when they noticed the entire neighborhood was dark.

After power outage, and power was restored, only half the house's power returned. The phase I had been working on, still didn't have power.

We called the power company, and they said it sounded like the power was out-of-phase. I've twisted a lot of wires, and my first thought was Bull$#&*. But I followed their directions and flipped off every breaker, then the main breaker. then all breakers back on, then the main breaker on. It worked.



Seems even the power company uses; "When all else fails, re-boot!"   ;D
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azzar0

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2007, 01:31:16 PM »

Quick Update - I followed your advices and did the following:

  • 1.) Eliminated noise from power strips (by replacing power strips with extension cords for the time being, until I get more noise filters)
  • 2.) Turned off all brakers and main braker at the power panel, then turn them all back on
  • 3.) Added a 1 or 2 sec delay after each 'dim' macro
  • 4.) Cleared the Interface and re-loaded it

So far I haven't seen any more on/off/on behavior. One of the lamps that didn't work (on A10) because of the power strip noise is now working. I always knew that was a problem though, so no surprises there. I will let you know if I run into other problems.

Now I have questions regarding video recording macros, but that's a different thread, in a different area ;)

Thank You All for your input!


[TTA Edit: Added WHITESPACE and formatting to improve readability.]
« Last Edit: June 14, 2007, 11:44:32 AM by TakeTheActive »
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TakeTheActive

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Re: Lights turning on and off by themselves
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2007, 07:00:15 PM »


...1) Eliminated noise from power strips (by replacing power strips with extension cords for the time being, until I get more noise filters)...

Just a small clarification here:

  • Power Strips are Signal Suckers - like a sponge or a female mosquito, they 'grab' all the available X10 signal and leave none, or very little, for your modules to 'hear'.

  • Power Supplies are Noise Generators - like not being able to hear the phone or the door bell when the vacuum cleaner is running, they 'pollute' the power lines with noise making it very difficult for your modules to 'hear' actual X10 signals.

  • Filters are 'Open Circuits' to X10 signals - Power Strips / Signal Suckers cannot SUCK the X10 signal away and Power Supplies / Noise Generators cannot OVERPOWER the X10 signal.

HTH... ;)


Be sure to read JeffVolp's *EXCELLENT* Tutorial Series for future information on this subject (included in the following Newbie Boilerplate LINK). ;)

MAP / MEASURE / CORRECT - be sure to read the EXCELLENT articles written by JeffVolp and Puck
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