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Author Topic: The Future of X10  (Read 105134 times)

beelocks

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #30 on: March 25, 2012, 07:08:14 PM »

I don't know what price X10 considers too high for people to buy the CM15a.

My point exactly
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csnet

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #31 on: April 08, 2012, 01:58:53 AM »

I have been out of the loop too long too.  After replacing the CM15A antenna with a Radio Shack 270-1405 back in 2009  (http://forums.x10.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=81oukq1naeooagqg9a5m7ffa41&topic=16184.45), I became too complacent because the CM15A has been working like a dream to control irrigation (http://forums.x10.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=81oukq1naeooagqg9a5m7ffa41&topic=14214.0), lighting, and appliances both from RF signals and from its internal memory and clock when the computer is shut down.

Last night, all RF failed in our CM15A.  I immediately sought to order a replacement CM15A, because even if somehow I could get RF working in this one again, it would be good to have a spare. In searching for a replacement, I first became aware of product availabily issues with several mission critical X10 products.  The only CM15A I could find was a used one on eBay, with the disclaimer along the lines of "a friend asked me to sell this for them and I have no idea if it works or not" yet it was receiving strong bids.  In complete panic, I ordered 2 TW523 Power Line Interfaces and 1 TM751A RF Transceiver from X10.com and a WGL V572 RF Whole House Transceiver. Never mind that today, after a good nights's sleep, I found this CM15A RF Mod thread (http://forums.x10.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=csk1m4048dv4dn8m6jt1enjf21&topic=21000.0) and ordered the RM1SG board for a whopping $6.00 including shipping.

I had no idea about the unfortunate shut down of the Chinese factory that produced the CM15A and other X10 products until reading this topic posted by X10 Repair Depot.  While I understand that X10 may have built their business in the past by providing high value products at extremely low cost, the decision makers at X10 should be aware that their customers, while thoroughly enjoying good bargains, are also willing to pay up to get the products they need. 

And they should make no mistake, a product like the CM15A, that can store all timers and macros from a PC running ActiveHomePro, and generate X10 signals on the power line using its built in clock, is a hands down winner that so totally frustrates the competition that they resort to desperate attacks along the lines of "it does too many things and none of them well".  Well pardon me, but the CM15A and ActiveHomePro have done very many things extremely well for us since 2007.

EDIT 4/8/12: Today the RF of the CM15A is now working fine.  There was no RF activity recorded in the ActiveHomePro activity log all the time when it was not working.  Maybe some kind of interference was overloading the CM15A receiver preventing it from processing signals from all of our remotes?  Full moon? Solar storms? :)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2012, 07:45:09 PM by csnet »
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collinsej

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #32 on: April 29, 2012, 08:41:19 AM »

The CM15A had a range of functions which are not available on other interfaces (such as send and receive PLC, as well as receiving RF).  Furthermore my software is coded around the CM15A.



I have a workable system based on the CM15A, X10 Dispatcher software, and my own C++ code.  For example, it brings up the display of my IP camera when a motion detector detects a car or person in the driveway.  Currently my CM15A is working OK, but it won't last forever.  The lack of commitment to have a compatible replacement has had me rethink the whole X10 thing for home automation.
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HA Dave

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #33 on: April 29, 2012, 08:04:45 PM »

.... Currently my CM15A is working OK, but it won't last forever.  The lack of commitment to have a compatible replacement has had me rethink the whole X10 thing for home automation.

All that is true. But don't assume the other flavors of Home Automation devices are stable or have static product lines ether. This is a global problem... not an X10 only problem. The very electronic parts used to create the devices used for HA are in greater demand than supply... and so are the Assembly workers that put them together.

Just when the technology arrives at the point where Jetson's style automation is nearly possible. The economic systems that our governments regulate fail us. If it isn't one thing.... it will surely always be the other. Imagine trying to buy Chinese made electronics with a 1/8 pie shaped piece of a old silver dollar.

If you don't have a spare CM15A... pick up a fallback device (like a tabletop remote, CM19A, or a CM11A) and look for other directions to expand your setup (like audio-video or tablet integration).  
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 11:03:33 AM by HA Dave »
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mike

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #34 on: May 06, 2012, 08:54:43 PM »

It may be x10 sees the writing on the wall;  zigbee's RF4CE is stating to show up.  as the cable company, sat tv folks, and others who make STB (set top boxes) begin incorporating this for HA, X10 won't be able to compete anymore.  THEY won't be able to get away with any products that only work some of the time and are finicky. no more screwing with power line sigs.  they plan to increase their business offering not just tv but HA next.   I think it will finally take home automation, security, and climate control into the common home.  I expect to start seeing remotes for tvs, cable etc, out within months, and they probably will begin offering light control, and other HA control soon after or at the same time.
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HA Dave

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #35 on: May 07, 2012, 01:07:18 AM »

It may be x10 sees the writing on the wall;  zigbee's RF4CE is stating to show up.

I [myself] haven't read anywhere that the other flavors of Home Automation devices... are significantly better than X10 as far as reliability. What I have read is that professionally installed setups are more dependable than setups installed without proper planning, tools, and testing.

as the cable company, sat tv folks, and others who make STB (set top boxes) begin incorporating this for HA, X10 won't be able to compete anymore.

Most manufacturers would prefer their products be leasted, rented, or made useful as part of a month fee.... and I don't blame them for that. And that is what the cable and security companies are selling(?)... via a monthly fee (AKA the forever payment plan). But I think there will always be a market for a DIY owner operated "valued priced" home automation product line. That is where X10 has always been.
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ps653

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #36 on: July 12, 2012, 08:30:54 AM »

It would be nice to hear an update from X10 Repair Depot now that we are in the second half of 2012 to see if the things he discussed int he first post are still on track.
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Alan V

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #37 on: July 12, 2012, 11:51:19 AM »

It would be nice to hear an update from X10 Repair Depot now that we are in the second half of 2012 to see if the things he discussed int he first post are still on track.

I had the same thought.
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X10 Repair Depot

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #38 on: July 12, 2012, 02:17:44 PM »

It would be nice to hear an update from X10 Repair Depot now that we are in the second half of 2012 to see if the things he discussed int he first post are still on track.

The new CM15A is still in development and it is scheduled to be released around December. There are still issues, primarily regarding cost, that we are working through.
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dave w

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #39 on: July 12, 2012, 02:58:00 PM »

$0.02
If X10 can make a significant improvement in RF receive range, and general CM15A/AHP reliability/depndability I think people will be willing to pay more.
49 bucks for the original CM15A with AHP was a fantastic deal, until it became appearent that the CM15A had some serious RF receive problems and wouldn't reliably pick up a Palm Pad or Active Eye even in 20 foot direct line of sight transmission.  Look at how many "antenna mods" and "remove battery reset" comments there are on this forum all the way back to the beginning. Customers were re-engineering and fixing the products shortfalls. IMHO both of those faults were caused by trying to save a penny. "Build it right, and they will come" or something like that.  ;D 
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Noam

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #40 on: July 12, 2012, 03:03:22 PM »

$0.02
If X10 can make a significant improvement in RF receive range, and general CM15A/AHP reliability/depndability I think people will be willing to pay more.
49 bucks for the original CM15A with AHP was a fantastic deal, until it became appearent that the CM15A had some serious RF receive problems and wouldn't reliably pick up a Palm Pad or Active Eye even in 20 foot direct line of sight transmission.  Look at how many "antenna mods" and "remove battery reset" comments there are on this forum all the way back to the beginning. Customers were re-engineering and fixing the products shortfalls. IMHO both of those faults were caused by trying to save a penny. "Build it right, and they will come" or something like that.  ;D 

Any while you're at it, PLEASE CHANGE THE MODEL NUMBER. ;)
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #41 on: July 12, 2012, 05:13:56 PM »

$0.02
If X10 can make a significant improvement in RF receive range, and general CM15A/AHP reliability/depndability I think people will be willing to pay more.
49 bucks for the original CM15A with AHP was a fantastic deal, until it became appearent that the CM15A had some serious RF receive problems and wouldn't reliably pick up a Palm Pad or Active Eye even in 20 foot direct line of sight transmission.  Look at how many "antenna mods" and "remove battery reset" comments there are on this forum all the way back to the beginning. Customers were re-engineering and fixing the products shortfalls. IMHO both of those faults were caused by trying to save a penny. "Build it right, and they will come" or something like that.  ;D 

Any while you're at it, PLEASE CHANGE THE MODEL NUMBER. ;)

ABSOLUTELY!!!!!   If Microsoft can change the number on every Windows release, then X10 should use a a new model number for the next interface.  They did when Active Home and the CM11A was replaced by AHP and the CM15A.
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dhouston

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #42 on: July 12, 2012, 08:03:39 PM »

49 bucks for the original CM15A with AHP was a fantastic deal, until it became appearent that the CM15A had some serious RF receive problems and wouldn't reliably pick up a Palm Pad or Active Eye even in 20 foot direct line of sight transmission.  Look at how many "antenna mods" and "remove battery reset" comments there are on this forum all the way back to the beginning. Customers were re-engineering and fixing the products shortfalls. IMHO both of those faults were caused by trying to save a penny. "Build it right, and they will come" or something like that.  ;D  
Actually, the RF problems were external to the CM15A. X10 used a quality superheterodyne receiver. But, whoever decided on that overlooked the fact that most of their transmitters were poorly tuned (LC frequency control) and they did not play well with the very narrow bandwidth of the superhet receiver module. Had they used a cheaper wideband superregenerative receiver there would have been few reception issues as verified by those who have replaced the superhet with the RM1SG. It was just poor design, not penny pinching.

That said, I can design (actually have designed) a transceiver that outperforms the CM15A for RF in, RF out, PLC in & PLC out, has more memory and a batterybacked RTC. Using off-the-shelf retail components it costs $25-30 to build. Since I cannot afford UL and FCC testing, it's likely to remain for my use only.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 08:05:23 PM by dhouston »
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dave w

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #43 on: July 13, 2012, 05:00:21 PM »

Actually, the RF problems were external to the CM15A. X10 used a quality superheterodyne receiver. But, whoever decided on that overlooked the fact that most of their transmitters were poorly tuned (LC frequency control) and they did not play well with the very narrow bandwidth of the superhet receiver module. Had they used a cheaper wideband superregenerative receiver there would have been few reception issues as verified by those who have replaced the superhet with the RM1SG. It was just poor design, not penny pinching.

I understand what you are saying but it does not hold up well. Everyone who added the "F" connector rework, with a better antenna (even a a crude 1/2 wave as I did), or any type of antenna improvement such as your egg beater,  saw significant range increase.

IF the poor receive problems were all caused by excessively tight receiver band pass in conjunction with transmitter slot, a better antenna would not have produced the  performance increase evidenced even by users who wrapped a ball of aluminumi foil around the CM15 antenna. But what you state makes my point. If X10 would have spent 20 seconds more to better tune (all) the module receivers and transmitters 10 years ago, the product would be a lot more successful than it is today. X10 shot themselves in the foot too many times by saving a penny here, a penny there, at the detriment of product performance. Greed or simply trying to stay aloat? I don't know.
I think the original design was good. Just too many "cost reductions" crapped it up.

Actually I think we are saying the same thing.
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dhouston

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Re: The Future of X10
« Reply #44 on: July 14, 2012, 11:54:27 AM »

I understand what you are saying but it does not hold up well. Everyone who added the "F" connector rework, with a better antenna (even a a crude 1/2 wave as I did), or any type of antenna improvement such as your egg beater,  saw significant range increase.

IF the poor receive problems were all caused by excessively tight receiver band pass in conjunction with transmitter slot, a better antenna would not have produced the  performance increase evidenced even by users who wrapped a ball of aluminumi foil around the CM15 antenna. But what you state makes my point. If X10 would have spent 20 seconds more to better tune (all) the module receivers and transmitters 10 years ago, the product would be a lot more successful than it is today. X10 shot themselves in the foot too many times by saving a penny here, a penny there, at the detriment of product performance. Greed or simply trying to stay aloat? I don't know.
I think the original design was good. Just too many "cost reductions" crapped it up.

Actually I think we are saying the same thing.
No, I still disagree (although not emphatically).

The antenna increases the signal strength seen by the receiver significantly. But the bandwidth of the receiver does not have sharp cut-off points (it's usually based on -3bB) so increasing the signal strength of a marginal signal slightly out-of-band would still give better reception.
 
And while it's hard to judge the skills of the antenna builders (and I disagree with the F-connector plus groundplane antenna approach), there have been those who said the antenna mod did not help but changing to the RM1SG did. Those were probably people with transmitters a little more out-of-band than those whom the antenna alone helped.

Better initial tuning of the LC controlled RF remotes probably would not have helped (and I suspect they left the factory in tune) as the frequency will shift from temperature changes and from component aging. They could have used relatively inexpensive SAW resonators (and did so for Europe) so I will agree with you that cost-cutting in the design on remotes made for N. America was at the root of the problem but not that they took a similar approach with the CM15A (which is frequency stable).

As far as CM15A cost cutting, they went outside for both the receiver and transmitter which probably cost more than reusing there oft-reused LC designs.

I suspect they went that way in order to meet European regulations which are much tighter for frequency (but allow far more power - about 10x). At the time it was designed, FCC regulations required the same testing and FCC ID whether using superhet or superregenerative so that would not have been a cost consideration. About 4-5 years ago the FCC changed its rules allowing self-testing and a Tested to comply with FCC requirements label so there is a difference in cost now. But given X10's volume, even a few K for FCC tests might not be all that significant.

As far as I'm concerned, X10's biggest problem with the CM15A (and probably with its successor) is their absolutely atrocious software (their entire approach is idiotic) and failure to publish the communications protocol.

But, with no more RR501, no more TW523/PSC05 they have pretty well destroyed their market and I doubt a new model of the CM15A will make any difference.

A lot of people, myself included, had been using Smarthome modules/switches because they did a better job with X10 and offered a simple way to gradually shift to Insteon. I'm disappointed to see them discontinue the X10 feaures and, initially, thought it made no sense but now I suspect SH realized their products' support for the X10 protocol were helping keep X10 afloat and pulling X10 support would hasten X10's demise.

My views are colored by the fact that I had an FCC radiotelephone license in 1962 and many years later managed a multimillion dollar international operation (although we made/sold capital equipment, not inexpensive mass market consumer items).
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