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Author Topic: Newbie question of XTB-IIR  (Read 7729 times)

x10widgets

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Newbie question of XTB-IIR
« on: September 13, 2011, 03:40:13 PM »

Seeing as I am new around here, first a bit of background.
After using X10 & Activehome for some years with reasonable success (and some ongoing annoyances) some more serious reliability issues with turning certain lights on and  off have crept up.

Some time ago, when my latest PC came without serial ports, I switched from the old CM11A to the latest CM15A along with its new software.
Things were never perfect, but the overall system was usable for the most part - aside from power bumps and outages.

Lately things were getting a bit more unreliable, particularly one outside light, which had been cantankerous all along, was getting worse.

As a result I started looking around and finally found XTBM & XTB-IIR.

After reading up on the requirements for the XTB, I am wondering how I would use it. Adding a 220V plug near my main panel would not be much of a problem, but I see problems with using either the CM11A or CM15A interface. (At present all of the X10 circuits are on the same phase, but I'm still prepared to make the best use of the XTB-IIR and feed both)

The CM15A has only a USB interface as does my current Windows machine, which is just barely within range distance wise - if I move it to the end of my current workspace - for a long USB cable. (I haven't tried to find out if the latest ActiveHome Pro can handle a separate plug-in serial card)

The serial cable for the CM11A would not be a problem, but it would mean running a separate machine with a proper serial port - something harder and harder to come by in a new machine.

Any comments on the best/preferred way to handle this scenario and any good or bad experiences will be greatly appreciated.

TIA,

Arnold
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Brian H

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Re: Newbie question of XTB-IIR
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2011, 03:48:49 PM »

You don't have to plug the CM15A or CM11A into the outlet on the front of the XTB-IIR.
I have my XTB-IIR near the breaker box but the controller is at the other end of the home. On one of the branch circuits.
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Noam

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Re: Newbie question of XTB-IIR
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2011, 04:02:59 PM »

You don't have to plug the CM15A or CM11A into the outlet on the front of the XTB-IIR.
I have my XTB-IIR near the breaker box but the controller is at the other end of the home. On one of the branch circuits.
Yes, it would work this way, too. However, if there is noise between the CM15A and the XTB-IIR, the signal might not make it far enough to get repeated properly.

I had a similar problem - CM15A needs  to connect to a PC that is more than about 16 feet away (the limit of USB).
I tried a number of USB-over-CAT5 extenders, and they all had issues. They were prone to interference, which would momentarily interrupt the USB connection. Enough of these interruptions in a short amount of time would cause the CM15A to lock up in an "error" mode (as verified by my many conversations with the developers over this issue).

After consulting with Jeff Volp (the genius who created the XTB-IIR), I used an extension cord to extend the outlet on the front of the XTB-IIR, to be able to plug in the CM15A closer to the PC.
That worked, and I haven't seen any side effects (other than the orange extension cord running the length of my laundry room ceiling, marked "X10 ONLY" every few feet).
For testing, I started with a 100-foot extension cord (3-prong, the "orange" one from Home Depot). I used a 2prong-to-3prong adapter to plug it into the front outlet of the CM15A, and ran it (along the floor at first) over near the PC. I plugged the CM15A into a "standard" USB cable (I think it was about 10 feet long), and into the extension cord. I tested, and everything worked great!
Once I knew it was working, I pulled out the extension cord, and ran it across the ceiling, and down the unfinished side of the wall, to poke through into the room with the PC (I did my best to keep it neat and out of the way).
I also cut nearly all the slack off the "plug" end, and wired up a right-angle 2-prong plug. This step was also purely cosmetic. I wanted it to look more finished.
My system has been working great ever since, and I haven't had the horrible CM15A lockups I used to have.

(BTW: the outlet on the front of the XTB-IIR is two-prong, so you'd need an adapter if you want to plug the 3-prong CM11A into it. )
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x10widgets

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Re: Newbie question of XTB-IIR
« Reply #3 on: September 13, 2011, 07:59:51 PM »

Thank you both for your comments.
They did confirm to me that my understanding of the basic requirements and configuration was more or less accurate.

As well they gave me a couple of ideas to go with what I had considered already.

Seeing what I have read of the ActiveHome Pro software B:(, what hardware I have on hand already and a few other things, I am currently inclined to add the Heyu LEAF module to my already existing print server running Linux, as the rest of my system is running Windows.

In any case, it looks like I have to sift through a fair number of potential error/problem causes which will take some time once I get a reliable tool to measure and evaluate the effects my changes will produce.

Above all, I'm sure I'll have to keep my eyes on this forum :-)
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