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Author Topic: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore  (Read 10332 times)

abc1667xxxxx537

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I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« on: May 22, 2010, 12:50:38 PM »

For those interested, I posted earlier on an XPR receptacle that was working fine for a while but then quit working.

Well, I got the nerve to go inside and saw how a plastic pusher arm, different in construction from earlier versions, broke. That, of course, tells me that the failure is a mechanical one vs. an electrical one (at least on the surface it does).

One thing that had been bugging me, however, was the fact that I have another XPR receptacle and it has been working fine for almost a year and in my earlier post I quoted the fact that this latest failing XPR is the second such XPR used in this application (providing power to a garage door opener motor as a security feature). The fact that two such devices failed in the same application and another is working fine in another (albeit the electrical situations are totally different with the other just powering a lamp) was kind of fishy to me. I know motors have inrush current which is many times the steady state run current and they can't go to zero instantaneously in the event that the contacts force open while said  motor is running so, at the time, I couldn't rule out electrical damage to the unit.

Well, as stated earlier it would appear to be mechanical failure because I didn't see any signs of electrical damage, to include anything wrong with the contacts (this doesn't necessarily mean anything because I haven't torn the board apart to measure the operation of anything). One thing still puzzles me and I figure I would vent it here. The question remains, "Why failure in the same application?"


There is one difference in the two XPR applications I have. It is very simple. The one that has worked for almost a year is a typical vertical application while the one which does not work and has claimed two XPRs is essentially a horizontal application with the plugs facing straight down into the floor (receptacle box is in the ceiling for plugging the garage door opener into and mounting of the receptacle places the plugs facing down into the floor). What I noticed in taking the XPR apart is the fact that, although they have what appears to be a return spring (least ways I guess that is what it is), it isn't very robust. In a vertical application, gravity does a good job of resetting the striker arm which goes up to hit a cam that actuates the device. Obviously, in the horizontal position this gravity assist won't exist (assuming they don't reverse the flow through the coil and that somehow moves the striker arm back down but I don't see how that would work because the arm isn't magnetic). So, if they are expecting the device to reset by virtue of this spring, perhaps with a little gravity assist, I don't know, then they may be setting themselves up for failure in other applications (horizontal vs. vertical). A better way perhaps would be to use DC and a magnet to actuate the striker arm by reversing the flow of current through the coil and, in effect, have the striker arm be pulled up to change the status of the device and then reverse the flow and repel the magnet and send it back down. They don't have anything that appears to be magnetic in the device and thus would hang things up and thus would clear the use of something that is magnetized to create a situation where we could get some push-pull action going on here. Just a thought.

So, a few questions:

1) Do they apply AC or DC to the coil in the device (I assume DC but await the answer)?

2) Do they just apply voltage one way or do they hit the coil both ways creating a reversal of the flow and thus the magnetic flux reverses to create a kind of reset pulse that resets the striker arm (want to make sure my weakness in ferrous material knowledge and electromagnetic knowledge isn't sneaking up on me here and the striker arm is somehow being repelled down and out of the coil in a kind of resetting function which can be accomplished either by using AC or via some other electrical action)?

I ask these questions because I can see how the cam when pushed far enough will, by default, lock itself into proper position, awaiting for the next strike to occur and change the status of the device. In all honesty, all they would need is gravity in a vertical setup which would make coming up with a fix easier (gravity provides the reset of the striker arm) but if they are already applying a reset pulse then everything should be good to go there as it is.
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Brian H

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2010, 01:56:25 PM »

I can't say exactly on the receptacle, but can comment on the Appliance Module, TM751 and RR501. They all use the same ratchet switch. The white coil is about 50-55 Ohms and an SCR hits it from AC Line to AC neutral. One large half cycle DC surge pulse. It has a spring to pull it back.

The DC is always the same polarity with the positive side of the coil being the one connected to Neutral buss. The other side of the coil is connected to the SCR that when fired connects to the Line Buss for one half cycle then turns off.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2010, 02:40:30 PM by Brian H »
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abc1667xxxxx537

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2010, 05:03:21 PM »

Thanks.

Kind of figured it was DC and with no electrical reset pulse (reset accomplished mechanically) but wanted to be sure.

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Brian H

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2010, 06:39:15 PM »

Too bad it was not like the low voltage rated PUM01 or UM506 Universal Modules.
It has a heavy slide switch in it and two coils. One pulls it on the other pulls it off.
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paizano1

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2010, 10:55:52 PM »

I think i have seen other posts about issues like this. I think the problem could be that it is in the garage. If the garage is not heated (which most aren't) during the winter months it can get rather cold and would cause undue stress on the plastic plunger. It could cause cracks to occur in the plunger which might cause it to fail rather fast.

I have a wall outlet outside that controls my pool pump, during the winter it isn't used. I have hit the button accidentally during the winter and can hear the click because the outlet is mounted against the house, and it does sound different. 

I live in a colder climate and garages can drop to 20-30 degrees with the door shut. Maybe this is your problem.
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abc1667xxxxx537

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2010, 12:14:52 AM »

Definitely a possibility, even though I live in the deep southeast, this past winter was unusually cold for pretty much everyone and I am not 100% sure when the failure occurred as I was overseas but it had to have occurred sometime during the October to April timeframe.

On the one hand, it would account for why the one XPR has worked all along (it was inside the house while the two that failed were in the garage). Although my memory isn't what it used to be, the only problem with that theory is that the first XPR failed sometime during the April-July timeframe of last year. With that failure, I returned the unit and got a second one which was installed in the same location. You see, I couldn't rule out the possibility of an infancy failure or since the receptacle was installed in the receptacle box which in turn was in the attic that maybe heat (120-140F) didn't cause it to fail. That is why I installed extension boxes on my ceiling to move the whole works down and into the garage space more. So, unless, it was a defective unit I received in the first XPR, and/or a confluence of different factors caused that first and now the second unit to fail (certainly can't be completely dismissed) it shouldn't have been that cold when the first XPR was used, much less when the failure occurred.

This then begs the question, how would an AM466 fair in driving a relay with the AM466 plugged into the receptacle out in the garage (appliance module would be horizontal and up on the ceiling)? Same potential for failure? Perhaps, a better question would be do we have the same mechanical construction in the AM466 as is the case with the XPR?

I bring this up because despite the failure occurring within the 1 year warranty, X10 wants me to pay shipping both ways to return this thing and that would pay for 1/2 of another switch and I have already done that. So, I think I will try to cut my losses and shift to another control scheme.

In the mean time, since I don't trust this type of device anymore and having a need elsewhere which is more "traditional" in terms of installation I was thinking literally of whittling out a replacement striker arm, maybe out of wood, and see I can't repair the unit I have. Any thoughts or inputs here?

Sitting here thinking about, before I took the current XPR down and took it apart I tried a variety of things to include loading the unit down with a nightlight (along with various other loads) and making it the only device in the house with a particular address and tried operating the device (wanted to be absolutely sure it wasn't something else bothering the thing). Every time the device operated, it started in the ON position, generated an audible set of double clicks and ended up still in the ON position. It was then that I decided it was time to operate and go in and see what was ailing the device. I saw the local sense functionality work by virtue of seeing the nightlight glow, among other things.

Given the unit is suffering from a mechanical breakdown, what would account for the double set of clicks?

I ask because the actual latching is pretty straight forward and if the striker arm (I call it a striker because that is what it looks like to me, although a better, more literal wording would be a pusher arm as that is what it looks like what it does) was not moving the cam then the device shouldn't have moved anything to cause a click and if somehow something was moving, then the device should have seen a break and stopped re-trying, correct?Unless, it was subsequently falling back open or the device never moved far enough to cause a break but having played with this thing by hand, once the device transtions it pretty much locks/stays in that position by itself and so the game is moving the cam far enough for this natural lock action to occur and so, what was clicking and why two sets of clicks?
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abc1667xxxxx537

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2010, 06:09:51 AM »

After sleeping on it last night, it is possible that environment either hot or cold is what did the XPRs in.

In the case of the first one, it was probably heat that made the striker arm soft while cold probably got the second.

This still raises the question of how an AM466 would fair in a similar application?
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Brian H

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2010, 08:09:40 PM »

I still have not found any data on temperature ratings for an appliance module.

There where some links to photos of the insides of the new style appliance modules but they seem to be broken.
You can see the older style here. In the appliance module mods area: The basic mechanical switch looks the same in both versions and has the same resistance.
http://www.idobartana.com/hakb/index.htm

I did find one for a Black and Decker FWLROD that was made by X10 as an OEM part.
It is a hybrid. Called a lamp module. Acts; sounds like and is rated like a appliance module. Programs like a Socket Rocket [no dials] and is a black box in the center of a 1' extension cord. For outdoor use. It is rated at -4F to 122F.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2010, 08:15:33 PM by Brian H »
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IPS

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2010, 06:14:37 PM »

abc1667xxxxx537

I have three XPR. One in the basement almost burnt down the house. It was on a timer to run shop vac. after few cycles ( in my absence) it quit with the vac running and that melted the vac and floor tiles. the other two, when turned on makes quite a chatter specially if 75W plus bulbs are plugged in.
IPS
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abc1667xxxxx537

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Re: I See Now Why My XPr Receptacle Won't Work Anymore
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2010, 12:41:58 AM »

What it is worth, I got the following temperature ranges for the XPFM and the AM466 from X10's engineering department (actually, got it indirectly by corresponding with a tech who allegedly got the data from engineering):

1) XPFM - -10 to 60C (14-140F)
2) AM466 - -10 to 50C (14-122F)

I then asked the really difficult question of whether or not this takes into account the weakest link in the proverbial chain as failure doesn't have to be electrical or electronic but could be a mechanical component failure (hint, hint with these XPR arm failures). As I expected, I got back what I consider to be typical in that, that is what was officially provided by the engineering department.

So, I doubt if they really have a clue what their weakest link is in the various devices and therefore what the equipments practical limits are. However, from what I have seen in the XPR it is the pusher, striker, plunger, or whatever you want to call it, arm inside the device. Where I can't say where exactly the limits are, I would say mechanical faliure in both cases was caused in both cases within these stated limits. So, a user is going to want to give themselves a pretty healthy safety margin in applying the XPR in anything other than "living space"/"interior" environments where the temps are reasonably expected to stay within certain limits.

I would stay at least 15 or more degrees below the upper limt, 107F for the AM466 and 125F for the XPFM, and as much above freezing as possible (wouldn't trust that lower limit on devices with plastic actuator arms inside which I know both the XPR and the AM466 have) or set your application up to where you don't operate the device in extreme conditions (stabbing at some possibilities here, perhaps ceasing all operations come wintertime and resuming when the weather gets warm or vice versa for hot weather cases or plugging in a nightlight, not for current sense purposes, but a source of heat nearby the device that you plug in when the weather gets cold and unplug when the weather gets warmer, etc.).

All of this being said, their problem would be solved if they changed their design and used metal for their actuation arms instead of the plastic they currently choose to use. I understand there are space issues and someone, somewhere may be paranoid over electircal shorting occurring or perhaps the magnetic fields from the actuation coils interacting with the metallic arms but such problems have long since been worked out elsewhere and should be incoprorated here.

If the last post is any indication, it might help to have something that doesn't get stuck in one position or the other due to these types of mechaincal failures.
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