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Author Topic: Troubleshooting Assistance  (Read 385 times)

CHSLawnGuy

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Troubleshooting Assistance
« on: September 09, 2018, 12:58:43 PM »

I moved into a home that was built around 2001. The previous owner installed a landscape system which uses 2 PHT02 Mini-Timers to turn it on/off.

A year or so ago, I noticed that the lights would be on or off at odd times. I eventually narrowed it down to the timer in the garage (tucked away above the transformer) losing time. I unplugged it and the issues went away.

A few months later, I observed a similar pattern. However, this time it was the wall outlet to which the timer was connected; it wouldn't even manually change the state of the lamps. Eventually, I found an outlet that worked and relocated the timer.

Two weeks ago, I noticed the same thing but can't seem to find a wall outlet that will work anymore that isn't in the garage. I'm in a raised home due to flood zones and all the outlets are on the ceiling down there. It's also semi-exposed to the weather, so I would prefer not to keep it down there.

Any general thoughts around troubleshooting this type of behavior? I'm assuming either the timer is failing--it is discontinued--, the switching module is failing, or there is enough signal loss between the point of origin and the destination to keep it from working.

I don't have another unit I trust, so I've tried to find the switching module. I can't find anything obvious though. I've seen a post on this forum recommend the AM466 Appliance Module to control this type of application. However, when I look at my transformer, I don't have one in between my transformer plug and the outlet. The outlet doesn't seem to be special, but I haven't' pulled it out of the gang box to check.

Eventually, I'd like to get this into a smart hub or daylight-aware setup. But getting my basic timer functionality fixed is top of my current list.

TIA for any guidance you all have!
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Knightrider

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2018, 02:48:34 PM »

I'd say you have a noise issue on the powerline, which can be attributed to almost any electrical device made in the last 20 years.

The easy solution is to get a signal analysis device from JVDE.us, locate the offender(s) and filter out the noise.

The harder solution is to unplug every cell charger, TV, computer, etc and try remotely turning an x10 device on or off while systematically reinstating each electronic device until the x10 no longer works.

Searching this site for words like noise, signal sucker, phase couplers and signal boosters will assist in your education.

Also, JVDE.us is an invaluable resource.
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Brian H

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2018, 06:39:37 PM »

Here is the link to Jeff's good set of troubleshooting tutorials.
http://jvde.us/x10_troubleshooting.htm

Jeff's main site.
http://jvde.us/index.htm
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dave w

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 08:46:10 PM »

I moved into a home that was built around 2001. The previous owner installed a landscape system which uses 2 PHT02 Mini-Timers to turn it on/off.

 However, when I look at my transformer, I don't have one in between my transformer plug and the outlet. The outlet doesn't seem to be special, but I haven't' pulled it out of the gang box to check.

Eventually, I'd like to get this into a smart hub or daylight-aware setup. But getting my basic timer functionality fixed is top of my current list.
IF you do not have an Appliance Module between the outlet and the transformer and the PHT02 is controlling the lights, then the outlet must be a X10 outlet. You can tell by the House Code and Unit Code dials on the face of the outlet (a small red and a small black dial). 

I agree, it sounds like a source of electrical noise in the house is causing your problems and the JVDE troubleshooting should help you find it. Any new "wall-wart" power supplies (new cell phone charger, etc) or new LED bulbs or CFL bulbs when this started?   If you do not require remote control of the landscape lights it might be less of a headache just to use a plug-in timer to run the lights, at least until you find the noise source or switch to WiFi hub system.

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bkenobi

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2018, 11:11:54 AM »

You can tell by the House Code and Unit Code dials on the face of the outlet (a small red and a small black dial).

You will have to pull the cover plate off in order to see the dials on an outlet module.  If it's a SmartHome branded unit, it will say "Controlled" on one of the outlets.  If it's X10, the bottom outlet will be controlled and the top will always be on.  I don't recall if X10 outlets have anything on them to indicate to the user which is controlled (I think they do though).
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dave w

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2018, 03:48:10 PM »

You will have to pull the cover plate off in order to see the dials on an outlet module.
I think that is for the wall switches. For the X10 outlets the dials should be visible between the two outlets.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2018, 03:49:47 PM by dave w »
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bkenobi

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2018, 11:23:23 AM »

I haven't looked at mine recently (mine are installed outside under weatherproof covers).  I was sure they were behind the plate, but looking at the pictures you are correct.  The SmartHome outlets have a button and LED on them that can be used to assign an X10 address.

https://www.x10.com/sr227.html
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dave w

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2018, 06:56:22 PM »

Doesn't matter, I don't think lawn guy has come back. Maybe he unplugged a wall wart and everything started working.
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CHSLawnGuy

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2018, 08:21:01 PM »

I left this page up and forgot to come back to it. I did unplug the timers the next day and have just left the lighting off in the meantime. I'm going to take the outlet face cover off in a bit and see if it's an X10 unit.

Re: Noise
Will check out JVDE. That circuit is on a separate sub-panel, so I could start with peer outlets and see how far I can get away from it before I lose connection. If I can get to it on the same sub-panel, but not the master, it may be possible that I've introduced something in the system.
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CHSLawnGuy

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Re: Troubleshooting Assistance
« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2018, 08:59:21 PM »

Checked the outlet last night and it's just a regular outlet.

I tried both timers in a variety of spots around the garage and now neither control the lights anymore no matter how close I am to the outlet. Will dig around on jvde.us in the coming days.
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