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Author Topic: Understanding X10!  (Read 36636 times)

Tuicemen

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Understanding X10!
« on: March 01, 2006, 12:54:15 PM »

I found this Post deep in the pages of Remotecentral.com it is a 2 part post by Chris Couture Dated: November10/99 it makes a good read even if your not a newbie!
Understanding X-10
Here it is, both parts:

Quote
"X-10 is not just a name of products we install in our walls and plug into our outlets; it is a name for the signal that controls them. X-10 is a low voltage signal that is passed through the electrical wires of our homes. This signal has no effect on computers, TV's and other electrical devices. This signal is transmitted when the voltage is at 0 volts. This is possible because alternating current (A/C) works is by alternating the phases 60 times per second. This is why we sometimes hear a hum in electrical devices. This hum is a 60 Hz hum caused by the alternating voltage. If we could see this fast and light filaments didn't dim off, we would be able to see the lights flashing 60 times per second. This cycling allows a period of time when X-10 signals can be transmitted. The battery in your car always has a constant voltage and is called Direct current or DC. Most X-10 transmissions are less than 1 volt in strength. Most X-10 receivers need at least 100mv to be able to respond. If there is excess noise in your electrical system, this will cause problems with signal transmissions. Such things as computers, surge suppressors, TV's and many other devices may cause excess noise. If the noise is at a higher level than the X-10 signal, then the signal cannot be seen or responded to. X-10 signals can only be transmitted one at a time. If two signals are transmitted at the same time, they will collide and no action will take place. This is only true if the signal is on a different code. If the signal is on the some code, a feature in the X-10 receiver will ignore the repeated signal. This circuitry is needed in order to allow the amplified couplers/repeaters to function. Below is a more in depth summery of the things listed above.


Methods of Controlling X-10


There are several methods used to control X-10. There are devices that can turn IR commands into an X-10 signal. RF remotes that allow remote operation of X-10 for distances of 100's of feet. Desktop controllers are a popular method of controlling. They sit on a tabletop and have simple switches to control the desired module. X-10 makes a clock that can be used for simple timing of lights and more. Some new alarm panels have X-10 capabilities making it possible to perform functions like turning on the lights when you disarm the alarm or flashing the lights if the alarm is sounding. X-10 makes motion sensors that transmit wireless signals to RF receivers that can be used to turn on lights in a bathroom at night or turn on the outside lights when someone approaches the house. Also there is a switch that is made to look like a regular wall switch but will transmit to other X-10 switches. This switch is only ¼” thick and can be mounted anywhere with no wiring. There are really too many transmitting devices to list but searching can reveal most.


Computer Interfacing


There are several computer interfaces that allow you to link your X-10 to a computer to allow automation. Price ranges are from under $10.00 to $1000.00's Listed below are a list of some makers of these computer interfaces. If you are interested in going this route, make sure the device you choose will grow as your needs do.

www.x10.com Many interfaces to choose from
www.smartlinc.com Makers of Touchlinc and Houselinc
http://www.csi3.com/ Makers of Homevision
http://www.jdstechnologies.com/maindocs.html Makers of JDS Stargate and other controllers
www.smarthomeinc.com Sellers of the Adicon 2500

There are many more to choose from, this is just a few!


Couplers and Amplifiers (The heart of the system)


One thing that most people try to get by without is a coupler or an amplifier/coupler. A coupler is a device that connects both phases of A/C voltage in your home. An amplifier/coupler is a device that amplifies the X-10 signal up to 20 times and also couples the phases. In most applications at least one of these is needed to insure X-10 signal completions. The X-10 you install may work fine for a few days, weeks or even months but chances are, you will have missed commands unless you have a coupler or amplifier/coupler. The amplifier/coupler is the best, and most expensive choice but is the most desirable. The problem with the passive, or non-amplified coupler is it has to cut the signal in order to cross it over to the other phase of voltage. This is not a desired alternative as you can figure. At least one of these devices should be installed in your home. On a side note, it has been said that a .1-microfarad capacitor installed between the phases will improve the coupling of X-10 signals. I have not tried this but sources say that installing a .1 240 volts or higher rated capacitor in the dryer (if it’s 240volts) helped there X-10.


X-10 Filters


Filters do just what they sound like they would. They install between noise producing devices to clean up the noise they produce. Most of today's electronics have “clean” power supplies in them. In order for them to be clean, they must put the garbage, or noise, somewhere. This noise is reintroduced into the power lines of your home. This noise has to be cleaned up to allow the X-10 to function properly. Installing a filter in line with a noisy device can do this. These filters can absorb the noise and clean up the electrical lines in your home. There are two easy to find filters available. One is rated at 5 amps and the other is rated for 15 amps. The 5 amp is a plug in style while the 15 amp is an in line model. The inline can be placed into a project box and have ends placed on it for easy installation. If you are unsure of the rating you need, here is a quick guide. If you know the wattage of a device, device it by 110 to get the amperage it draws. Example: A computer that draws 400 watts would need about 3.7 amps of current. This does not include any surges at power up so factor a little extra in there. One question I have is, how effective is a surge suppresser is a filter is installed in line with it. I know most companies like Panamax, will not honor warranties if the surge suppresser is not installed to there specifications.


In Closing


I hope this helps anyone who has any questions about X-10. X-10 is a safe and fun way to create a Smart home. If you choose to endeavor into X-10, PLEASE use caution when installing electrical devices. Although 110 volts will probably not kill you, it can hurt you real bad
."
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2006, 01:07:49 PM »

Good find.

One thing not correct in the post (which I saved as a word processor file) is that X10 signals are not power. They are digital signals sent on the "bottom" of the AC sine wave, in duplicate as an error correction.

I have an old book about X10 written in the DOS days (for the PC folks) and for the MAC world. It was written in 1992 (when everything including Windows ran on top of DOS) and went into some detail about X10 and how the technology works. It's called Approaching Home Autmation by Bill Berner and Craig Ellliott, published by Approaching, Inc. Copyright 1993 by Approaching, Inc.

All their discussion of using X10 on a PC is the DOS software X10 used to sell with the 290. The software for the MAC was all GUI.
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Tuicemen

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2006, 02:16:39 PM »

One thing not correct in the post (which I saved as a word processor file) is that X10 signals are not power. They are digital signals sent on the "bottom" of the AC sine wave, in duplicate as an error correction.

Good catch Dan .
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roger1818

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2006, 10:52:34 AM »

Most X-10 transmissions are less than 1 volt in strength.

Actually, most transmissions are between 4 and 6 volts (some even as large as 10 V).  If the module is a long way from the transmitter (electrically) it will probably be less than 1 volt though.

Quote
Such things as computers, surge suppressors, TV's and many other devices may cause excess noise.

He is confusing power line noise and signal attenuation.  This is easy to do since both result in the same problem and a noise filter can fix both problems.

Quote
If two signals are transmitted at the same time, they will collide and no action will take place. This is only true if the signal is on a different code. If the signal is on the some code, a feature in the X-10 receiver will ignore the repeated signal. This circuitry is needed in order to allow the amplified couplers/repeaters to function.

This is sort of but not really right.  There is no special circuitry to do this.  It is more like if two people say exactly the same thing at exactly the same time you can easily understand what they are saying, but if they are saying different things or if their timing is off, it is difficult to understand what either one is saying.

Quote
Couplers and Amplifiers (The heart of the system)

A coupler/repeater is not an amplifier.  It is a repeater.  It is kind of like when someone asks a lecturer a question and he repeats it to make sure that everyone heard it.  You can also get amplifiers for x10 (such as SmartHome's BoosterLinc), but you have to be very careful when using them as they will amplify both the noise and the signal, and if they are too close to the transmitter, they can actually make the signal weaker.

Quote
The problem with the passive, or non-amplified coupler is it has to cut the signal in order to cross it over to the other phase of voltage.

This isn't totally true either.  Typically there is only a slight reduction in signal strength when you use a passive coupler.  The probelm occurs if there is something which produces a lot of noise at the same frequency as the X10 signal on one phase, the coupler will couple that noise to the other phase spreading the problem throughout the house.

Quote
Most of today's electronics have “clean” power supplies in them. In order for them to be clean, they must put the garbage, or noise, somewhere. This noise is reintroduced into the power lines of your home.

This isn't true either.  Most "clean" power supplies don't put the noise back onto the powerline, but instead absorb (trap) it.  The problem is that they will also absorb the X10 signal.

Quote
There are two easy to find filters available. One is rated at 5 amps and the other is rated for 15 amps. The 5 amp is a plug in style while the 15 amp is an in line model.

These days there are many filters available.  You can get 5, 10 and 15 amp plug-in filters and 15 and 20 amp in-line filters.  You can also get noise traps which don't trap the X10 signal.  They don't have a current rating, but if the noise is too close to the X10 frequency, it won't be filtered.

I know I am splitting hairs here, but I like to make sure that the information on this forum is accurate.
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Tuicemen

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2006, 04:13:17 PM »

Thanks roger1818. Actually there will be a few more statement that don't hold true with newer devices as this was Dated Nov 1999 Lots of friendlier devices have been made since. Possibly a good point for moving with the technology! ;) :D
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jrx19

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2006, 11:57:05 AM »

here's a link to a good article on understanding x-10 phase coupling. there were several articles in this series, but all I can find right now is the link to the 3rd article. http://www.hometoys.com/htinews/jun97/articles/kingery/kingery3.htm  here's the link to the whole x-10 kingery series  over at home toys (about the 11th link down under index "x-10 technical series by phil kingery"  http://hometoys.com/articles.htm
« Last Edit: July 19, 2006, 12:05:56 PM by jrx19 »
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phorce1

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2006, 01:34:45 PM »

The Uncle Phil series. Complete list below (so far as I know -- #20 seems to have been written in Sept 2004).

For coupling read #3, #4, #5, and #20

Gerald


http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery.htm - Which one should I use?

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery02.htm - Controlling motors and transformers.

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery03.htm - 120/240v Residential Coupling

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery04.htm - Complex Residential Coupling with Considerations for Dim/Bright

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery05.htm - Dim/Bright Commands and Coupler-Repeaters

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery06.htm - Three-Way Switch Circuits

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery07.htm - More Three-Way and Four-Way Switch Circuits

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery08.htm - Troubleshooting Three-Way and Four-Way Switch Circuits

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery09.htm - Noise and Filtering, but let’s just define noise first.

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery10.htm - Noise and Filtering, So Let’s Look at Filters.

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery11.htm - Noise and Filtering, Troubleshooting

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery12.htm - More Noise, Filtering and Troubleshooting (and let’s get this one done, already)

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery13.htm - "Digital X-10"

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery14.htm - Two-Way and Extended Code

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery15.htm - Two-Way Receivers with Direct Dimming and Scenes.

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery16.htm - A Better X-10 Interface: The TI103-RS232

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery17.htm - What is 'Extended Code'? (And does it wear a tuxedo?) (Part 1: Different ways of counting)

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery18.htm - What is 'Extended Code'? (Part 2: 'Big Endians and Little Endians')

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery19.htm - This article has not yet been written. (but it'll be a good one when it is).

http://www.act-solutions.com/kingery20.htm - Weird Coupling Situations. (Belongs between #5 and #6)
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Brandt

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2010, 07:44:46 PM »

those phil kingery links are bad
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dave w

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2010, 08:28:21 PM »

those phil kingery links are bad
Go here and put "Kingery" in the Author search box. It generates the same aticles that was once on the ACT web site.

http://www.hometoys.com/article_library.php

Don't know why ACT removed them, but I may see Phil at Christmas and will ask.
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Brian H

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Re: Understanding X10!
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2010, 06:25:14 AM »

Act redesigned there web site.
Uncle Phil's tutorials are still there.
New link:
http://www.act-remote.com/PCC/uncle.htm
« Last Edit: December 03, 2010, 06:50:07 AM by Brian H »
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