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Author Topic: New user - impressions of this product...  (Read 20215 times)

rd_taylor

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New user - impressions of this product...
« on: February 26, 2008, 05:52:36 AM »

Hi all...

I have owned AHP and a CM15A for around 2-3 weeks.

When I ordered the gear from an Australian online retailer, I had high hopes for a number of simple tasks I wanted to automate around my home, such as:

* Switch aquarium lights on and off at different times depending on whether it is a weekday or weekend.
* Switch on bedside lights as part of wake-up alarm.

Depending on my success achieving these tasks, I felt sure I could come up with some other simple tasks to automate.

HOWEVER...

My joy at receiving these packages in the post soon turned to dismay after using the software for a few days.

These are some of the issues I have found so far:

* Every time I start the software, the Intro Wizard runs - moderately annoying.

* AHP does not remember it's window status (ie. I want it to run maximised) - moderately annoying.

* Changing options under preferences does NOT survive program restarts - extremely annoying.

* I cannot detect any pattern to the timers I have setup for my aquarium lights. It seems fairly simple to me.

  I have four timers:
  - Two sets of on-off for each weekday (one morning, one afternoon)
  - Two sets of on-off for each weekend day (one morning, one afternoon)

My aquarium lights are connected via an appliance module.

Sometimes it seems to switch on the lights after 10-15 minutes, sometimes more than hour seems to elapse. I have stopped being surprised to find the lights either on when I expect them to be off, or off when I expect them to be on.

Now, the weird thing is that I changed the options under the program icon properties in Windows Vista to "Run Maximised", and now

* It does run maximised
* It does not run the Intro Wizard every time I start it
* It remembers SOME of the options selected under the TOOLS / PREFERENCES (It remembers that I don't want to "Use Animated Icons", but it doesn't remember that I don't want to "Colour Room Modules By Type".

The timers still seem highly bizarre however.

Config

Running AHP V 3.212 under Windows Vista Business.
CM15A is NOT permanently connected to laptop where AHP runs.

After my experiences so far, I will NOT be buying any further X10 gear, or software. After a bit of looking around here, seeing the problems others experience, and the lack of support and attention from the developers has convinced me that this promise of automated homes is a mere pipe-dream. Problems which have been apparent for a number of YEARS are still unresolved. It is a joke. The only thing keeping most users sane is the support from each other on this forum.

Being a system administrator and computer user for over 25 years, I am amazed that gear of such a shoddy nature is marketed with such grandiose and hollow promises.

Actually, after 25 years, I really shouldn't be surprised, should I?
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Rob

HA Dave

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2008, 07:50:56 AM »

CM15A is NOT permanently connected to laptop where AHP runs.

Yes... that may cause problems with the "clock" in the CM15A. But as you describe your problems it sorta sounds to me.. as if you used security timers.


After my experiences so far, I will NOT be buying any further X10 gear, or software. ..........................
....................has convinced me that this promise of automated homes is a mere pipe-dream.


I am NOT the most automated X10 user.. by any measure. But you should view my YouTube Video <link. My experience with X10 and AHP.... have been very much as advertised. And the results are very futuristic.


Being a system administrator and computer user for over 25 years.........


Being a computer user and hobbyist since 1982... and a network administrator since 2001... I am also not surprised with the AHP software. It is very much like every small user custom software... I have seen, installed, debugged, and used. As a system administrator.... I am sure you have heard users complain about NON-user-friendly software. AHP is like any other software. You get back... only what you put in.

Welcome to the forum rd_taylor. Stick with us! Many great forum contributors originally started out posting a complaint... or venting a frustration. Once all the little details are figured out.... X10 really becomes a HOOT.
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Home Automation is an always changing technology

Charles Sullivan

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2008, 07:59:04 AM »

rd_taylor:
Are your aquarium lights incandescent or fluorescent?  X10 modules often have problems with fluorescent lights.  Leave the CM15A connected to the PC and AHP running for a test of your downloaded program.  Check Tools > Activity Monitor to see if the operation of the lights is correlated with the signals reported in the Activity Monitor (and that the signals correspond to what you programmed).

If you haven't already done so, try reprogramming your timers and macros completely from scratch with a new file, taking care not to make mistakes requiring correction.  There have been AHP bugs where making corrections or changes to an existing program can screw it up.

The 230V, 50 Hz CM15A has only recently been introduced.  AHP 3.212 for it is different than the AHP 3.204 or 3.206 used for the North American model CM15A and the experience in this forum may be somewhat limited. 

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Yesterday it worked.
Today it doesn't work.
X10 on Windows is like that.

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rd_taylor

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2008, 03:50:31 AM »

Quote
X10 modules often have problems with fluorescent lights
Hmm...I must have missed the warning on the box when I bought my stuff...Is that because hardly anyone uses them?

Charles, I was going to take your advice about setting up my timers from scratch using a whole new file. Here is what happened:

If I start ActiveHome Pro, it autoloads the file "myhome.ahx", correct?
If I then try a "Save As..." (remember I am running Windows Vista), it tells me that the default save directory is C:\Program Files\ActiveHome Pro. I see a file called MyHome.ahx under this directory.

So I exit AHP, and then using Windows Explorer, I rename the file (F2) MyHome.ahx file to MyHome-OLD.ahx. Pretty straightforward so far.

Then I restart AHP. Now that's interesting, it has reloaded my config - complete with modules and timers (two modules, and four sets of timers). I do not see where it has loaded from. Remember, I renamed the file.

So I change the options under Vista that allow me to see hidden and system folders, and navigate to C:\Program Data\ActiveHome Professional (NOTE slightly different directory name than that under Program Files - not very consistent!), thinking that this must be where the phantom config file lives. No it's not there...there are only two of each ahpeeprom_r and ahpeeprom_w files (a BIN and a TXT). So I rummage around my system searching for another MyHome.ahx file. There isn't one.

So I fire up AHP again, and it dutifully loads up my "invisible" config from somewhere (I do not know where). I then do a "Save As..." again.

It shows me my renamed config file (MyHome-OLD.ahx) AND a file called MyHome.ahx in the C:\Program Files\ActiveHome Pro directory.

While AHP is still sitting with it's dialog box open showing me TWO config files, I examine the directory from Windows Explorer, and the MyHome.ahx file is not there!

If I click on the file in the Save As dialog box under AHP, it prompts me to overwrite the file!!!

This is just plain stupid! AHP thinks a file exists on my C:\ drive which Windows can not see. AHP is loading a config from this apparently non-existent file.

So I save the file as "MyHomecrap.ahx". I exit AHP. I check under Windows Explorer, and THE FILE IS NOT THERE.

I restart AHP, it autoloads my config file called MyHomecrap.ahx.

I do a search of my C:\ drive for MyHomecrap.ahx. The only reference to it is a shortcut under Recent Documents, this points to (you guessed it) C:\Program Files\ActiveHome Pro\MyHomecrap.ahx

Even the most poorly written shareware is not this bad. I feel like I am in an episode of The Twilight Zone, or Candid Camera has been resurrected...

I am off to try an install of AHP on my only remaining WinXPPro machine. I only hold out faint hope that the situation will improve...
« Last Edit: February 27, 2008, 03:56:41 AM by rd_taylor »
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Rob

rd_taylor

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2008, 04:14:03 AM »

Oh and another thing....

Every time I try to open Tools / Activity Monitor, it pops up my browser and attempts to open this URL:

res://AHP.DLL/203

WTF?
What is it trying to do?

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Rob

rd_taylor

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2008, 04:30:50 AM »

Okay I created a new file.

I added ONE of my modules (aquarium lights - flourescent)

I added ONE timer (switch on at 7:05 PM - off at 7:06 PM)

Activity log shows two MACROS (NOT Timers) going off:

One at 7:05:41 PM Switching Aquarium Lights ON

One at 7:06:53 PM Switching them OFF

I guess it's close.

I have now created another completely new config file with my one module and my original set of four timers. I will see what tomorrow brings timer-wise...

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Rob

steven r

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2008, 06:26:54 AM »

Are you renaming the *.ahx file by saving it as a different name from AHP?
Whatever you name your saved file from AHP becomes the default *.ahp file for AHP.
i.e. If you save to a file named WTFisgoingon.ahp, then the file WTFisgoingon.ahp is loaded the next time you load AHP.
If you haven't tried renaming the file outside of AHP, try that and let us know what happens.

edit: Ok it's early. I reread your problem and it sounds like you did rename it outside AHP. When the sun comes up more folks will see your post and may have a solution for you.
« Last Edit: February 27, 2008, 06:30:04 AM by steven r »
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2008, 08:19:44 AM »

Okay I created a new file.

I added ONE of my modules (aquarium lights - flourescent)

I added ONE timer (switch on at 7:05 PM - off at 7:06 PM)

Activity log shows two MACROS (NOT Timers) going off:

One at 7:05:41 PM Switching Aquarium Lights ON

One at 7:06:53 PM Switching them OFF

I guess it's close.

I have now created another completely new config file with my one module and my original set of four timers. I will see what tomorrow brings timer-wise...


I think perhaps you were trying too hard and thinking too much.  :-) 

AHP and the CM15A  have more bugs than fleas on a hound dog, but the following usually works:
   File > New
   Create your timers, macros, etc. 
   File > Save as  :  my_aquarium
   Tools > Download timers and macros
   Disconnect the CM15A if that's the way you want to run.

Creating a "timer" is just a simplified way of creating two simple timed macros.

The potential problem with fluorescents and appliance modules exhibits itself as the lamp coming back on a few seconds after it's been turned off, or the lamp flickering when it's off.  If you haven't seen this, you don't have a problem.

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Yesterday it worked.
Today it doesn't work.
X10 on Windows is like that.

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PajamaGuy

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2008, 09:48:34 AM »

If I read correctly, you're Aquarium lights are plugged into an APPLIANCE module?  If so, the type and wattage shouldn't matter, right?

AHP & Vista do some weird stuff with hidden files - I don't use the default folder (the default backup won't backup ProgramFiles folder) - I have an ActiveHome folder in My Docs where I have my AHX file and it works just fine.

The timer(s) can be off by 60 seconds either way - if it's that critical, buy/use the Mini-Timer - and make sure you don't set it to SECURITY (away) mode.

Actually - for what you're doing - I'd forget AHP altogether and just use the Mini-Timer - $13.99 +S&H on eBay.
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PajamaGuy
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2008, 10:35:40 AM »

The timer(s) can be off by 60 seconds either way - if it's that critical, buy/use the Mini-Timer - and make sure you don't set it to SECURITY (away) mode.

There was originally (and may still be) a bug in the CM15A firmware which caused some undisclosed problem when the CM15A clock was updated at the conclusion of downloading timers and macros.  X-10's workaround in AHP is to set the clock to the whole minute, ignoring the seconds.

If you want your timers to be accurate, after downloading timers and macros watch the PC system clock ticking in the status bar.  The instant it rolls over to 00 seconds, click Tools > Hardware configuration.  Then just click the Cancel button.  The CM15A clock will then be accurately set to within a second or two (depending how quick you are on the draw).

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Yesterday it worked.
Today it doesn't work.
X10 on Windows is like that.

HEYU - X10 Automation for Linux, Unix, and Mac OS X     http://www.heyu.org

Dan Lawrence

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2008, 05:37:46 PM »

Okay I created a new file.

I added ONE of my modules (aquarium lights - flourescent)

I added ONE timer (switch on at 7:05 PM - off at 7:06 PM)

Activity log shows two MACROS (NOT Timers) going off:

One at 7:05:41 PM Switching Aquarium Lights ON

One at 7:06:53 PM Switching them OFF

I guess it's close.

I have now created another completely new config file with my one module and my original set of four timers. I will see what tomorrow brings timer-wise...



My XP system put Active Home Pro under C:/Program Files/Active Home Pro. (No subdirectory is created).  All my .ahx files are there (I have 9 different files for use for the entire year) plus MyHome.ahx and Samples.ahx which are created by the install program for AHP.  No .ahx file should be anywhere else.

The file locations should be the same for Vista.
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rd_taylor

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2008, 05:48:28 PM »

Thanks for suggestions guys...

Charles, I haven't had any problems with the lights actually switching on and off (ie. flickering etc.) when the timer/macro activates, it responds perfectly. It also responds perfectly when I use my keychain remote to switch on and off.

Thanks PajamaGuy...I thought I was going nuts. I did try and use a network share (mapped drive) to save my AHX file to (I have a "home server" type setup, and it's where I store stuff I don't want to lose on a RAID-5 array of 4x 500Gb drives). That was another "interesting" AHP situation. It just would not autoload the previously saved AHX file from the network share (no read/access problems at all). I assumed AHP had some "issue" with reading it's default config off a network share, so I gave up and just started using the default config. I will try your suggestion of using another file under Documents...

Quote
AHP & Vista do some weird stuff with hidden files
- You're not joking! I can't envisage what type of "hidden" file is completely hidden from the operating system. I couldn't blame Vista - I don't have any other apps which hide files so well that they are invisible from Windows Explorer (with all it's "reveal hidden and system files" options switched off). It more likely to be the way AHP interacts (or doesn't interact) with Vista...

Any ways...thanks again for the assist...I will perservere...I noticed that my aquarium lights came on just after 6:00 AM this morning. This was with the laptop where AHP runs still connected to the CM15A (although it is in sleep mode). I will continue to monitor and report here...

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rd_taylor

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2008, 05:48:00 AM »

Happy to report that my timers appear to be much more reliable after creating a new clean config file.

Also, the issues with the invisible file I'm going to assign to Vista security quirks.

I saved a new config file in my Vista Documents folder, and all appears to work fine.

I still find that AHP won't save all options selected in the Tools / Preferences menu. I'm working on finding out what's going on here...

I'm running the Process Monitor tool under Vista (free download from MS). This tool is an amalgamation of the old Sysinternals tools Regmon and Filemon.

It allows you to filter (ie watch) a single process. I was watching the ActiveHm.exe executable, and I see it writes some of its config files to C:\Users\Robert\AppData\Local\VirtualStore\Program Files\ActiveHome Pro, whether this is a temporary storage area or not I don't know...

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Rob

rd_taylor

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2008, 02:59:02 PM »

Well...they seemed to work nicely for a day or so...now they are not triggering AT ALL.

This is not getting any better...I have created a new config file a couple of times now, cleared the interface memory, and re-downloaded, and nothing changes.

Back to the ole drawing board...
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Rob

rd_taylor

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Re: New user - impressions of this product...
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2008, 03:17:01 AM »

Okay...I tried clearing interface memory a number of times, and re-downloading macros and timers.

Suddenly today it seems to be working well again. I can't think of anything I did differently to make this happen, but for now, I'll leave well enough alone until I'm forced to mess with it again...

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Rob
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