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Author Topic: Two home external lighting projects  (Read 16682 times)

ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2009, 01:09:27 PM »

[snip] ... So having a lot of 220V appliances does not guarentee good phase coupling. [snip]

Sorry if my post was confusing in that regard ... I didn't mean to imply that that was my understanding (because it is not).

When I get it all set up, my intention is to disconnect all of the 220V stuff and see if everything works ... if so, then I will feel pretty comfortable that I don't need a coupler so I will test again with everything running just to watch for noise or other possible issues ...

And I will definitely take you up on recommendations for a good coupler if it turns out that I need one ...  :'
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ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #16 on: August 04, 2009, 09:57:26 PM »

All of my stuff arrived in the past few days, so I'm ready to get at my two original outdoor lighting projects ... but first ...

You guys will laugh at me, but I'm pleased to report that I successfully replaced a 4-way setup in my living room with a WS12 and two WS14's tonight ... controlling 4 can lights that are perfect for many activities but too bright for watching TV ... and it works great!  I must admit that I don't much care for the "feel" of the switches, especially since they look like rocker paddles but aren't, but I assume that I will get used to that with time.

Not being an electrician, I did a little research on 4-way switches ... that "ask the builder" guy did a good job of explaining what I was looking at, and the doc I got off the X-10 ftp site had a couple of good tips for performing the installation ... ftp://ftp.x10.com/pub/instructions/4-way-wiring.pdf ... everything worked perfectly!

I probably need to get a remote or two, but I'll wait until I have everything put in to see which kind I should get ...

Next up, the outside down-lights!
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ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2009, 10:49:17 PM »

Update (sorry in advance for the length).  Over the past few weeks I've come to the realization that I have to scale back my X-10 projects unless I want to pick up X-10 as a new hobby ... it's interesting and all, but I already have too many hobbies.  So here is my new plan:

Outside down lights.  I purchased seven 16W CFLs and they are working great.  After 3 days the new XPS3 seems to be working fine.  I'm running manual timers right now because I cannot change my time zone in AHP without crashing it (Dan suggests a reinstall, which I hope to attempt this week) ... the CM15A failed to turn the lights on last night, but has otherwise worked correctly ... if it fails again, I will turn on the repeat feature.  Once I am able to run the dusk-dawn timer on the CM15A, I will use that feature instead of messing with the ActiveEye dusk-dawn feature (which was my original plan).

Living room lights.  I installed a WS12A and two WS14A switches to control the 4 can lights in the living room.  I cannot control them with my CM15A, which I presume to be a phase issue (although it doesn't with my oven on either), but I mostly bought them because it was cheaper than other dimmable 4-way switches ... the switch operation is somewhat counterintuitive, but we're used to it now.

Entrance lights.  I've scaled back from 7 entrances to 3, but I'm not sure I'll even be able to pull that off.  All I want is for the motion sensor to turn on the light when it sees motion and then turn it off afterwards.  In my initial setup (front door), my ActiveEye sends the correct signals, and my CM15A turns on the light (WS467), but will not turn it off (although it is indeed sending the command) ... in fact, I cannot turn off the WS467 remotely at all and can only turn it off at the switch.  I've also tried it set to 2-way appliance module with no results.

My projects are uber-basic ... most of the projects you guys do are orders of magnitude more complicated than this ... and so I hope you can see why I don't understand how a company can sell products like this for so many years and yet they still don't work, even in simple situations like mine ... so I'm certainly not going to be looking at any of their higher end products (e.g., TV remote, cameras, etc.)

Anyway, rather than toss in the towel just yet, I ordered an RR501 to see if it will allow me to control my living room lights ... and I'm considering the coupler/repeater/amplifier just to see if it might help me punch through whatever's causing my WS467 to go deaf ... but I'm not sure how much more patience I'll have with it before I revert to wired controls (I have a ranch-style house with unfinished basement, but I thought this stuff would be much cooler).

Thanks so much for all you guys who post in this forum ... I know I've been a newbie pain in the butt, but without you I would have sent back my whole shipment after two days ... I've been clicking "helpful" when I can ... and please keep posting that great info for those other guys out there who have more patience and persistence than me   >!
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HA Dave

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2009, 07:33:25 AM »

............  I don't understand how a company can sell products like this for so many years and yet they still don't work, even in simple situations like mine ...

Anyway, rather than toss in the towel just yet, I ordered an RR501 to see if it will allow me to control my living room lights ... and I'm considering the coupler/repeater/amplifier just to see if it might help me punch through whatever's causing my WS467 to go deaf ... but I'm not sure how much more patience I'll have with it

I think your on the right track. Resolving phase and noise issues will make X10 a heck of a lot more fun... I know.

For many X10 users... they're setup and home size means problems are greatly reduced. So X10 uses ad's that makes it sounds like everything sets up in five minutes (or LESS). I've sometimes called those X10 minutes. Five X10 minutes is equal to an entire weekend... in normal minutes. X10 isn't out-of-the-box useful... it requires a little learning and a little engineering... but its well worth the effort.

I love X10 and Home Automation in general. I regularly strain my brain searching for new projects.... it really is THAT cool.
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ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2009, 05:25:04 PM »

Quick update ... I received the RR501 and plugged it into an outlet on the same side of the panel as my living room lights, and I can now control those lights with a remote (HR12A), so I do indeed have some phase separation issues (or whatever the correct term is).

I haven't tested it yet, but I wonder if the CM15A will talk to the RR501 as a way to skirt the phase issue, or will I still need a coupler / repeater / amplifier?  If the latter, which brand/model do you recommend?  Looking on Smarthome, the X-10 model seems to garner higher user ratings than the Leviton or Homepro.

As you can see, despite my rantings I have not yet given up.   :'  Thanks!

(Quick background ... I'm a mechnical engineer and have a rudimentary understanding of household power distribution, but I'm more of a practical hands-on type so the high-end EE explanations that I've tried to read on this subject have not been helpful in answering the above question.)
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HA Dave

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2009, 07:04:50 PM »

......  If the latter, which brand/model do you recommend?  Looking on Smarthome, the X-10 model seems to garner higher user ratings than the Leviton or Homepro.

No two setups are the same. What works well in my home, with my powerlines, and the devices I have plugged in.. may not be fine at your home.

All I use to couple the phase's is this: http://www.smarthome.com/4816B2/SignaLinc-trade-Plug-In-Phase-Coupler/p.aspx

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ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2009, 09:06:04 AM »

Yeah, that was my first thought ... but I still need a solution for my dang WS467 that will turn on remotely, but not off ... I was hoping that the "repeater / amplifier" portions of the hardwired devices might help blow through the noise or whatever is causing that issue ...

I'm out of town this weekend, but I'm hoping to install the other two WS467's next weekend to see if they act the same ... if they do, then I think I'll try the coupler / repeater / amplifier ... however, if they work fine, then I might venture down the path of trying to sort out what's happening at the front door ...

Thanks for the feedback!   #:)
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HA Dave

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2009, 09:37:58 AM »

... I was hoping that the "repeater / amplifier" portions of the hardwired devices might help blow through the noise or whatever is causing that issue ...

I don't know what your noise problem is exactly... you've never really said. If you don't know for sure... finding the source of the problem... could be a big step towards the solution. But ether way the phases do need to be coupled also. A good coupler repeater would be great. 

From what I've read and understand JeffVolp makes the best solution on the market:  http://jvde.us/xtb_index.htm
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ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2009, 10:46:57 AM »

Yeah, that's my problem ... I don't know what the problem is ... but others (in other threads I have read about the WS467 turning on but not off) have hinted that the problem must be that the WS467 turning on increased the noise in the circuit just enough so that the "off" command was not being heard over the din ... that's what made me think that an amplifier or repeater of some sort might be a good solution (as opposed to purchasing a bunch of testing and analysis equipment and installing filters ... remember that I'm not really looking for a new hobby here).

Thanks for the link ... I will definitely give that a look ... based on a number of posts that I read of Jeff's, I can tell that "the dude has it going on" (as the kids say) ...
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dave w

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2009, 12:08:05 PM »

Thanks for the link ... I will definitely give that a look ... based on a number of posts that I read of Jeff's, I can tell that "the dude has it going on" (as the kids say) ...
FWIW ...or my $0.02
There are two schools of thought and the best results are probably if you "walk down the middle".
1. When you find noise, filter it out of the system.
This works, but with the preponderance of wall wart switching power supplies and CFL bulbs, it is getting more difficult and expensive to filter all the noise sources.
2. Boost your X10 signals above the noise with a good repeater.
Probably the most effective solution is a combination (if needed) which is to boost maximum,  and filter only the worst offenders.

I use an ACT 234 repeater which is an excellent repeater, but I believe Volp's XTBIIR will out perform the ACT 234 with ease (sorry Phil, if you are reading). I have MANY noise sources in the house as identified using a X10 signal level meter. The only sources I have to filter is a big Toshiba TV and a Panasonic Microwave. Everything else is over ridden by the stronger repeater signal, and this includes a ceiling fan with four CFLs which peg the level meter when they are on.

So I vote for an XTBIIR with additional filtering ONLY if really needed.
FWIW #2, a new signal level meter from Jeff Volp is coming soon which will provide both X10 signal and noise levels in numeric form (not bar graph as the old ELK meter).
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Brian H

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #25 on: September 16, 2009, 12:38:06 PM »

My XTBIIR works much better than my ACT CR134 [same as a CR234 but can be set to split or three phase use]
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dave w

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2009, 04:49:22 PM »

My XTBIIR works much better than my ACT CR134 [same as a CR234 but can be set to split or three phase use]
Yeah I gotta get me one. The only reason I have not as yet is; the ACT has all the LED status indicators which I use for system trouble shooting but the XTBIIR does not.  I like the TX and RX indicators. I wired piezo alarms across both LEDs and when enabled, the two beepers can be heard through the house so I can "hear" the repeater and know whether receiving or transmitting. Nice for testing.
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ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2009, 06:11:11 PM »

Great stuff ... I've been clicking a button and walking across the house to see if the light went on or off ... pretty low-tech ... and definitely hurting my WAF, but she's used to this type of thing after almost 28 yrs ...

Thanks for the info, guys ... I'll be reading up on it over the next several days ...
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ggrote

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2009, 03:50:09 PM »

Update ... I installed a second WS467 (lights near sliding glass door leading to the deck) and slaved an MS16A to it ... it turns the lights on every time, but it only turns them off about half the time.

I also tested both WS467 (front door and deck) with my HR12 and both are responding to all "on" commands and most (but not all) "off" commands (contrary to my previous tests of the front door, during which I could only turn the WS467 off by pressing its button).

I've read up on the XTB-IIR, and am sending Jeff a note requesting a bit of clarification on installation of the unit, but I believe I will give it a shot to see if it will make the difference ... the cost of the XTB-IIR (assembled and tested) will represent over a third of my total investment in X-10, but if it gets me over the hump to consistent, reliable performance it will be worth it.

Side note:  I think the article in Home Toys mag (http://www.hometoys.com/ezine/08.04/green/xtb.htm) concerning the XTB-IIR should be required reading for anyone considering employing X-10 devices in their home ... it may scare some folks away, but it will allow everyone to go in with their eyes open and will greatly diminish the potential for disappointment.
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HA Dave

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Re: Two home external lighting projects
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2009, 08:19:22 PM »

....... the XTB-IIR (assembled and tested) will represent over a third of my total investment in X-10, but if it gets me over the hump to consistent, reliable performance it will be worth it.

ggrote your so right! Of course every home is different... and the amount of effort and money required to make a system relieable can vary greatly. But As much fun as automation is... its a heck of a lot better when its relieable.

I've only heard (and read) good about JeffVolp's works (http://jvde.us/xtb_index.htm).
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 08:25:31 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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