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Author Topic: XTBM - Operation questions  (Read 21778 times)

Delboy

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XTBM - Operation questions
« on: June 02, 2010, 09:15:10 AM »

As my other posts state the XTBM (and XTB-IIR) has improved the stability of my system a hundred fold and I have only had it for 48hrs.

A couple of questions in regards to its use, today I used the XTBM to determine the best location in my house for the XTB-IIR, whilst working in an area where the Vpp was around 3.0 I noticed that when I plugged in a mini control (MC10 8 address wired) I immediately saw a 0.7Vpp drop on the XTBR. I experimented with a couple of other 'Win Home' low cost controllers and noticed all had a similar effect.

Is the XTBR accurate to the point where this means these 'X10' devices are also signal suckers or are there other reasons why the XTBM may display a reduced Vpp?

During the testing of where to place the XTB-IIR I had one location where Vpp was very low, below 0.2V, at the same time I noticed the frequency was ranging from between 110-120KHz, everywhere else it was a steady 120KHz. In general what would a low frequency indicate?

The final location of the XTB-IIR has resulted in 2-9.9Vpp throughout the house and a steady 120KHz. No noise at this stage, although I anticipate i may have a few more devices that I have not powered on whilst monitoring that will appear over the coming weeks.
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Brian H

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2010, 10:20:12 AM »

Yes any X10 device that has a power line transmitter in it can absorb X10 signals. Including X10 Two Way Modules that can report their status when interrogated.

To some extent even the X10 power line receiver in a module can absorb a small amount of signal. I found my X10 compatible; receive only; Smarthome 2001SHL ApplianceLincs where very bad signal absorbers. Traced to their cheap broadly turned receiver circuit. Where the normally installed transformer. Was replaced by a seres tuned coil and capacitor.  ???

I did a test on a known low signal area in my home. Took 7 two way modules {Insteon 2456S3 ApplianceLinc} off the circuit and it went from 1.10 volts to 7.00 volts with all modules removed. I even found a rechargeable flashlight that was sucking up some of the signals.  ::)

Jeff will probably have better information, but I think your 110-120KHz varied reading maybe the frequency counter missing some of the signal. 0.2 is relally low.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2010, 12:24:45 PM by Brian H »
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JeffVolp

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2010, 12:40:20 PM »

As Brian said, all X10 transmitters are also signal suckers.  The XTBM is sensitive enough to clearly indicate the loading caused by X10 transmitters.

Brian is also correct in the cause of the unstable frequency reading.  The XTBM measures frequency by counting the number of cycles inside the X10 reception window.  If it misses a few of those cycles due to a marginal signal level, the frequency will read low.  However, the X10 spec requires a receiver to recognize only about half of the 120KHz pulses inside the reception window to detect a logic "1".  So, even if a few are missed, it will still decode as a solid logic "1".

I'm glad that the XTBM has proved itself as a valuable tool.  My original intent was to just replace the discontinued ESM1, but I guess you fellows know by now that I like to offer the best product I can.

Jeff
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Delboy

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2010, 06:04:47 AM »

Jeff,

As I am rapidly learning not only are you products superb but so is your support - thank you again.

Brian's explanation make sense and are aligned with my experience when using the XTBM so far.

One suggestion for an XTBM enhancement would be to provide a push button that triggers the initial test signal, this would save myself carrying a remote around to continually trigger a signal when experimenting, even better would be an option to use a push button that could be programmed to issue user defined house code!
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dave w

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2010, 08:33:00 AM »

One suggestion for an XTBM enhancement would be to provide a push button that triggers the initial test signal, this would save myself carrying a remote around to continually trigger a signal when experimenting,

Jeff may not appreciate me modifying his excellent design, but I added such a switch on my XTBM.

It is nothing more than a C&K brand (good quality switch) SPDT momentary push button and I am using the N.C. contacts for power to the XTBM.  A quick push of the button interupts power to the XTBM board so it will re-initialize and send a ping to the repeater.

I just found it hard to plug the XTBM to a hard to reach/see outlet and watch the XTBM display at the same time for the repeater level.
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JeffVolp

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2010, 09:43:54 AM »

Thank you for the feedback.  Those of you who have opened it up may have wondered about the unused footprints on the printed circuit board for two switches.  It was my original intent to have at least two operating modes one for signal level, and the other to display noise.  However, the switches, cost of machining the case, and silkscreen labels would have added at least $10 to the price.  Since the price was already above my target due to a number of expensive components, I opted to provide as much functionality as I could without requiring switches.

If Microchip ever begins production of the enhanced version of this PIC (more memory), I hope to introduce a "Pro" version of the XTBM.  That will include a logging history of X10 commands and related signal strength.  The two switches will be used to access and scroll through that information.  I could certainly include a feature to ping a remote repeater or issue a particular command in that unit.

For those of you who may want to update to the "Pro" version should it become available, it should only involve changing the PIC microcontroller, and adding the switches and a few resistors to the PCB.  And, obviously, there will need to be holes drilled in the cover for the switches.

Jeff
« Last Edit: June 03, 2010, 11:28:56 AM by JeffVolp »
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Brian H

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2010, 10:01:27 AM »

OK now we know what the switch pads where intended for.  ;D
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Delboy

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2010, 03:59:34 AM »



For those of you who may want to update to the "Pro" version should it become available, it should only involve changing the PIC microcontroller, and adding the switches and a few resistors to the PCB.  And, obviously, there will need to be holes drilled in the cover for the switches.

Jeff


If you are taking orders, mine can now be registered! Understand you are dependent on an upgrade to the controller so just kidding, although I would want to add the 'ping' trigger option if it became available..

Meanwhile I will look at Brian's option of a momentary switch on the power rail.
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JeffVolp

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2010, 08:55:25 AM »


If you are taking orders, mine can now be registered!

I believe that PIC has been listed in the Microchip selector chart for at least a year, so who knows when (or if) it will become available.  Components are becoming a big problem for me.  A year ago everything I used was pretty much stock.  A backorder was rare.  Now I'm running into estimated deliveries stretching out as long as 11 months, and have to find substitutes.  Even the PIC used in the XTB-IIR and XTBM was out of stock at all the suppliers I normally use.  The economy is obviously driving down inventory levels, and may also be impacting development schedules.

Jeff
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Brian H

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2010, 11:09:46 AM »

Yes Jeff; The Purchasing Department where I worked. Was getting LONG Lead Times for many parts.
I have also seen a rise in Grey and Black Market parts.
The company my Brother works for got Bogus Power FETs. Properly marked with a Date Code that was shown to be correct format but not one used by the manufacturer.  Thought was they where factory rejects moved out the back door instead of being recycled.
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JeffVolp

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2010, 11:39:56 AM »


I have done searches looking for any inventory, even at lesser known industrial suppliers.  Often places in China pop up with inventory, but I wouldn't trust a source like that.  There have been too many reports of counterfit devices.

Jeff
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Crusty

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2010, 10:07:02 PM »

Count me in for the PRO version and for a button to send a housecode (either settable or perhaps fixed for P-1 P-ON). 

I actually wouldn't mind a button on the end of a cord that sent P-1 P-ON.
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JMac

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2010, 09:40:10 AM »

"I want one too!", said the kid at Christmas.....
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JeffVolp

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #13 on: December 11, 2010, 10:05:51 AM »


The PIC with more RAM needed for the "Pro" version is now listed by Mouser, but they are special order with no specified delivery date.  So, they are coming.  I have had the smaller RAM version of that PIC on backorder for months with the intent of porting the standard firmware over to that PIC.  It runs at a higher clock speed than the 16F684 now used, so it may give a little more stability in the readings from a higher A/D sample rate.

The new PIC also includes a serial port, so it is conceivable to include a RS232 computer interface.  However, that would require a major re-layout of the PCB, and I don't see how useful that would be in a portable instrument like the XTBM.  It might be used to provide the XTB-IIR an alternate RS232 compatible interface.

In any case, my target for development of the XTBM "Pro" is to have it available next fall.

Jeff
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dave w

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Re: XTBM - Operation questions
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2010, 12:49:11 PM »

In any case, my target for development of the XTBM "Pro" is to have it available next fall.
A-a-w-w RATS! That puts a big hole in my Santa list for this year.  rofl
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