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Author Topic: ReALLY starnge signal issue  (Read 393 times)

brobin

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ReALLY starnge signal issue
« on: March 04, 2019, 10:26:07 PM »

I'm at "my other place" and have a really odd signal issue.  I have a lamp on my desk plugged into a lamp module - been there for 11 years and always worked. Now it doesn't. Tried a new module & new bulb - no difference.  My XTBM is at the the other home but I do have a Monterey Signal Analyzer here which shows a continuous stream of BSC's (Bad Start Codes) when plugged into the outlet in question but is fine at every other outlet on the SAME or different circuit! I've tried unplugging different things and there is nothing new plugged in. No new chargers - nothing! After all these years I thought I'd seen it all and now this.  B:(  All thoughts are welcome!
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HA Dave

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Re: ReALLY starnge signal issue
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2019, 10:53:42 PM »

I'm at "my other place" and have a really odd signal issue. 

I have a lamp on my desk plugged into a lamp module - been there for 11 years and always worked. Now it doesn't. Tried a new module & new bulb - no difference. .Monterey Signal Analyzer here which shows a continuous stream of BSC's (Bad Start Codes) when plugged into the outlet in question but is fine at every other outlet on the SAME or different circuit!
I've tried unplugging different things and there is nothing new plugged in. No new chargers - nothing! After all these years I thought I'd seen it all and now this.  B:(  All thoughts are welcome!

Since the module and bulb has been replaced.... I'd rule that out (UNLESS it's a transformed lamp using a low voltage bulb) then it could be the lamps transformer has failed or is failing.

Or something else... or a combo of other things.... on that circuit could be a problem.

I'd shut the circuit down at the breaker box.... move the lamp and module to another circuit and see what happens. Should narrow it down quickly. If it is the lamp.... the problem will move with it. If the problem goes away with the lamp (and module) moved.... and the circuit shut down... then you'll know it is something else on that circuit.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 10:57:25 PM by HA Dave »
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JeffVolp

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Re: ReALLY starnge signal issue
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2019, 10:56:50 PM »

Bad start codes almost always indicate powerline noise.  Instead of the 1110 start pattern it gets either 1111 (continuous noise) or 1010 (noise on alternate half cycles).

Since it is the same with a new module and bulb, there must be something else on that circuit causing the problem.

Jeff
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HA Dave

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Re: ReALLY starnge signal issue
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2019, 11:05:19 PM »

Bad start codes almost always indicate powerline noise.

I am wondering is if an old or COLD CFL or just fluorescent lamp could be a source? 
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brobin

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Re: ReALLY starnge signal issue
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2019, 11:57:18 PM »

Bulb is a 40 watt incandescent. Different bulb or wattage no diff. With lamp and everything else unplugged  BSC's present but only on that one outlet. That's what so odd!
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brobin

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Re: REALLY strange signal issue - SOLVED!
« Reply #5 on: March 05, 2019, 02:29:18 AM »

AHA!  Some late night testing with the signal analyzer finally tracked down the culprit buried deep in a bedroom closet. The offending device was a wall wart for a Dirt Devil cordless vac that's been plugged into that outlet for at least a decade!  B:( Apparently it's gotten noisy after all these years. As Jeff knows, I've had some bad wall warts in the past but they reared their ugly heads on day one.  Usually, the cause of a new signal issue is found by asking what's new or changed. This is the first time it's taken 10 years to get noisy!  :o Why it caused problems in just one outlet on the other side of the house shall forever remain a mystery.  :'

As always, thanks to all for the valued input. And with that I shall ask Alexa to turn off the desk lamp and go to bed (me not Alexa).
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Noam

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Re: REALLY strange signal issue - SOLVED!
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2019, 10:17:00 AM »

... Why it caused problems in just one outlet on the other side of the house shall forever remain a mystery.  :'
Just because it is physically at the other end of the house doesn't mean that *electrically* it is, also.
Based on your descriptions, I'm going to make the following assumptions (please correct any that are wrong):
1. The outlet where the wall wart was plugged in is on a separate circuit than the "lamp" outlet where you saw the noise.
2. There are no other outlets on that circuit (or you would have seen the noise at those outlets, too) - or you don't have any other X10 stuff on that circuit, so you didn't test there.

Are those two circuits on the same phase in the breaker box (usually, either the same horizontal row, *or* both are in either "even" or "odd" alternating horizontal rows)?
I've seen very odd noise issues affecting only a single circuit, but which was originating *outside* my home. Wire length on the circuit can be just right to make the noise create problems - and shortening the wire (which you would think would amplify the noise) might actually make the problem better in some cases.
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HA Dave

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Re: REALLY strange signal issue - SOLVED!
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2019, 10:35:03 AM »

You found that fast.  #:)

..I've had some bad wall warts in the past but they reared their ugly heads on day one.  Usually, the cause of a new signal issue is found by asking what's new or changed. This is the first time it's taken 10 years to get noisy!

My home was struck by lighting (actually a near strike... in the backyard) years ago. It killed several devices immediately. Then within months... several others devices. The bad thing about X10 is it forces home owners to also be "automation technicians" of sorts. Not a problem for most of us... but daunting for many others.   

......And with that I shall ask Alexa to turn off the desk lamp and go to bed (me not Alexa).

Anything Alexa can do with a voice command.... she does better as part of a routine. I like [whispering] "bedtime" to Alexa. She turns ON a small light ( for 3 minutes before turning OFF) while turning OFF other devices.... and whispers back "nighty night".
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brobin

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Re: REALLY strange signal issue - SOLVED!
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2019, 11:30:56 AM »


Based on your descriptions, I'm going to make the following assumptions (please correct any that are wrong):
1. The outlet where the wall wart was plugged in is on a separate circuit than the "lamp" outlet where you saw the noise.
2. There are no other outlets on that circuit (or you would have seen the noise at those outlets, too) - or you don't have any other X10 stuff on that circuit, so you didn't test there.

Are those two circuits on the same phase in the breaker box (usually, either the same horizontal row, *or* both are in either "even" or "odd" alternating horizontal rows)?
I've seen very odd noise issues affecting only a single circuit, but which was originating *outside* my home. Wire length on the circuit can be just right to make the noise create problems - and shortening the wire (which you would think would amplify the noise) might actually make the problem better in some cases.

While they are on the same phase, the odd part is that both the offensive and offended circuits have at least one other X10 module on them that worked fine. The offended circuit also has an XTB with an RR501 plugged into it which receives all the signals from the Pi Alexa Hub which also worked fine. I've verified that the outlets are on the same circuit but I only saw the BSC's at the one outlet. THAT's what I find so baffling.
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brobin

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Re: REALLY strange signal issue - SOLVED!
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2019, 11:39:38 AM »


Anything Alexa can do with a voice command.... she does better as part of a routine. I like [whispering] "bedtime" to Alexa. She turns ON a small light ( for 3 minutes before turning OFF) while turning OFF other devices.... and whispers back "nighty night".
I do use some Alexa routines but mostly it just sends an X10 command that is used to trigger events/scenes in the Stargate. For example, "Alexa turn on alarm" sends an X10 command that triggers the Stargate to arm the alarm, turn off lights, make sure garage doors are closed, and adjust thermostats subject to other conditions in the Stargate events. It's just easier for me to manage all the bits and pieces in one place.
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dave w

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Re: ReALLY starnge signal issue
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2019, 12:30:42 PM »

BSC's present but only on that one outlet. That's what so odd!
Weird! Only the lamp module and XTBM in that outlet?
It isn't GFI is it? Tighten the screws on the outlet.
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brobin

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Re: ReALLY starnge signal issue
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2019, 12:35:53 PM »

BSC's present but only on that one outlet. That's what so odd!
Weird! Only the lamp module and XTBM in that outlet?
It isn't GFI is it? Tighten the screws on the outlet.
XTBM on one outlet, lamp module on outlet on adjacent wall, another lamp module on another outlet same wall, same circuit. No GFCI. All good now.
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dave w

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Re: ReALLY starnge signal issue
« Reply #12 on: March 05, 2019, 12:57:21 PM »

All good now.
Yeah, I did not see that. I'll go back to sleep now <wink>.
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HA Dave

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Re: REALLY strange signal issue - SOLVED!
« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2019, 02:35:31 PM »

I do use some Alexa routines but mostly it just sends an X10 command that is used to trigger events/scenes in the Stargate...
.It's just easier for me to manage all the bits and pieces in one place.

Yep. I think we all like to centralize. I went the other direction and have integrated everything away from (I was using) AHP.... and moved towards Amazon routines. 
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