Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

News:

The New WIFI Module is now available!
                   *****Here's the link******

Author Topic: XTB Background  (Read 18092 times)

JeffVolp

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Helpful Post Rating: 104
  • Posts: 1969
    • XTB Home Page
XTB Background
« on: August 12, 2007, 12:27:09 PM »

We have been using X10 for automation control since it was introduced in the 70’s.  I still have the Radio Electronics issue that first described how it works.  We replaced a couple of failure-prone mechanical timers with lamp modules and that old blue electro-luminescent timer with the slide switches.  No more worn out mechanical timers!

As with most people, our system gradually grew.  We added a few wall switches to control exterior lights, X10 floodlight, and motion detectors.  The palm-pad RF link gave even greater convenience.  Automation was becoming part of our lives.

Like most good stories, there has to be a bad guy.  In our case it was the Sony XBR TV we bought over a decade ago.  A lamp module in the family room became cranky.  And the exterior post light sometimes did not switch.  Replacing the wall switch appeared to help marginally.  Eventually, adding an old Leviton 6201 repeater did solve the problem with the post light.  And a lot of troubleshooting showed that unplugging the Sony TV made the lamp module work better.  The solution was to put a filter on the TV.  Around that time I beta tested the CM11A and CM14A, and our house grew smarter.

During those years I learned a lot about how X10 really worked.  I learned about phase coupling, noise sources and “signal suckers”.  Back then everybody said X10 problems were due to interference from noise sources.  Well, that isn’t really true.  Most problems are due to low signal levels caused by electronic devices that attenuate the signals.  I bought an ESM1 signal level meter before it became the “Elk” ESM1.  Any problem was quickly isolated, and resolved with an appropriate filter.  That was when I learned how to deal with the early compact fluorescent lights.

Fast-forward a few years…  We built our “retirement” home.  Having had good luck with X10, I planned it to be fully X10 controlled – lights, irrigation, ventilation, etc.  Knowing about phase coupling issues, I connected all “X10” circuits to the same phase.  No coupler was needed.  A single circuit was run throughout the house to power “unfriendly” devices, such as computers, TVs, and some other electronic equipment.  That is run through a 20A X10 XPF filter, and can be powered by a huge UPS.  To prevent possible future problems, I installed Leviton 6287 "noise blocks" on all circuits feeding CFL ceiling lights.

OK, so I did everything right here.  Except for the XPF, 6287s, (and a whole-house blocking coupler), no other X10 filters were used.  We upgraded to Leviton wall switches throughout for full rocker action, and added several 16400 indicating controllers.  Since X10 had dropped development of the CM14A, I also upgraded to the Ocelot.  Things were good.

After a couple of years, we began to notice one light sometimes did not turn off.  Electronic devices continue to proliferate.  Digging out the ESM1 showed X10 levels were low on one central circuit even with all other devices unplugged.  The sheer number of X10 loads (especially transmitters) was now loading down the signal levels.

After some thought, I decided I had to boost the output of my TW523 powerline interface.  The XTB was originally designed for just that application.  In fact, an early version needed a wire connection between the two units.  That evolved into the units that are available to all today.  More info on those units is available here:

http://jvde.us/xtb_index.htm
« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 11:51:32 PM by JeffVolp »
Logged
X-10 automation since the BSR days

Boiler

  • Guest
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2007, 12:53:27 PM »

Jeff,
Nice synopsis and timeline.  This should really be read by everyone who is posting that their XX year old system suddenly stopped working.  In most cases the systems didn't suddenly stop.  It was a slow accumulation of loads that degraded the X10 signals to the point where they are now unreliable. 

This is one of the toughest problems to solve.  There is no one obvious culprit to filter (due to the slow accumulation of devices over time).  The entire system needs to be mapped and measured.

As you indicated, even with a well thought out installation with couplers and filters, X10 devices themselves can produce enough line loading to pull the X10 signal below a reliable level.  I have been slowly switching over to Insteon (X10 compatible) 2-way devices.  These units absorb more X10 signal than the standard receivers.  I've run into a few cases where, even with the appropriate filters installed,  the X10 signal is degraded to the point where it is not reliable. 

The only solution in this instance is removal of the transmitters (signal absorption) or active boosting of the X10 signal. 

 
Logged

JeffVolp

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Helpful Post Rating: 104
  • Posts: 1969
    • XTB Home Page
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2018, 07:46:16 PM »

After producing XTB products for over a decade, I'm contemplating phasing down in another year or so.  All XTB products will be available throughout 2018, but after that products may be discontinued as the existing supply of PCBs is used up.  Continued availability will depend on whether someone else steps up to take over the production.

Jeff


Logged
X-10 automation since the BSR days

bkenobi

  • PI Expert
  • Hero Member
  • ******
  • Helpful Post Rating: 11
  • Posts: 1324
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2018, 05:37:36 PM »

Hopefully someone will step in because your products are simply amazing.
Logged

brobin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Helpful Post Rating: 2
  • Posts: 97
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2018, 03:47:53 PM »

I'm surprised Authinx hasn't been knocking on your door already.
Logged

JeffVolp

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Helpful Post Rating: 104
  • Posts: 1969
    • XTB Home Page
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2018, 04:49:35 PM »

I'm surprised Authinx hasn't been knocking on your door already.

I contacted them in late 2015 after Authinx took over X10 production, and even sent them samples of the XTB-ANR and XTB-IIR with links to the schematics and parts lists.

The factory received your products and their engineers are asking for why there is a need for these two items. They are comparing your noise reducer with the XPNR and the signal booster to the new PLC repeater.

I responded with comparisons between the X10 and XTB products, and never received a reply.  But they must have recognized the need for stronger signal strength because the WM100 has a much more powerful transmitter than prior X10 controllers.

Jeff
Logged
X-10 automation since the BSR days

toasterking

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Helpful Post Rating: 7
  • Posts: 246
  • We adore chaos because we love to produce order.
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2018, 08:35:49 PM »

This news could mark a milestone event in X10's history.

Jeff, I must thank you again for designing and building such excellent products and investing the effort to share them with the world at such reasonable prices for as long as you have.  The workmanship, attention to detail, and seemingly limitless support make it clear that this has been a labor of love for you.  The XTB-IIR and XTB-232 are the heart of my X10 installation, which would not be nearly as successful without them and the XTBM Pro.  I must thank you also for the early warning about the end of production so that we can start making plans early.

I have that sickening feeling again that I may need to buy up and hoard stock of JVDE products in case I am in need of parts and availability does not resume, just as I did when the factory in China manufacturing many of X10WTI's products closed years ago.  At least JVDE products have a much lower failure rate.  Maybe if enough customers contact Authinx about the sudden lack of these essential products (especially the XTB-IIR) that are keeping X10 PLC working in the 21st century, Authinx will give them a second look and find that they are necessary for long term success with new customers.
Logged

JeffVolp

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Helpful Post Rating: 104
  • Posts: 1969
    • XTB Home Page
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2018, 09:05:23 PM »

Jeff, I must thank you again for designing and building such excellent products and investing the effort to share them with the world at such reasonable prices for as long as you have.  The workmanship, attention to detail, and seemingly limitless support make it clear that this has been a labor of love for you.

Wow, thank you very much for the feedback!  And yes, I take the same pride in these products as I did when designing systems for military and aerospace applications.

Jeff
Logged
X-10 automation since the BSR days

brobin

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Helpful Post Rating: 2
  • Posts: 97
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2018, 09:49:26 PM »

Ditto on everything Toasterking said. Without the XTB-IIR and other things I've purchased from you my X10 days would be ancient history.  Instead, I have two homes with rock solid X10 based systems.   
Logged

Brian H

  • Community Organizer
  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Helpful Post Rating: 285
  • Posts: 12439
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2018, 09:10:34 AM »

My system is also rock steady.

With my XTB-IIR.
I have at least 1 volt of X10 power line commands. Even in areas with known signal suckers. That did not need an X10 filter due to the strong enough signal to eliminate the filter.
Logged

JeffVolp

  • Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Helpful Post Rating: 104
  • Posts: 1969
    • XTB Home Page
Re: XTB Background
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2018, 04:26:47 PM »

I'm working on another kitting cycle, and it was rather unusual to see just one piece left in the bag after that item had been kitted.  This kitting cycle will use up all the remaining XTBM/Pro PCBs.  So if you want one, don't wait too long.

Jeff
Logged
X-10 automation since the BSR days
 

X10.com | About X10 | X10 Security Systems | Cameras| Package Deals
© Copyright 2014-2016 X10.com All rights reserved.