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Author Topic: motion sensor and wall switch limitations  (Read 8814 times)

kballs

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motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« on: September 27, 2006, 11:56:12 PM »

The x10 wireless motion sensors and wall switches provide great functionality that I need for my house (there is no other system out there as flexible and feature-rich), however there are limitations that really irk me for a product that has been around for years with almost no updates or improvements.

1. motion sensors don't save settings without battery power - you have to reprogram them when you change batteries, this is painful when you have half a dozen units and have to hit the tiny buttons a hundred times in proper sequence (they could easily save the settings in a tiny, cheap flash memory chip)

2. wall switches - when you turn them on locally at the switch and later some motion is detected at the motion sensor, the motion sensor turns off the switch after its timeout - if the switch is turned on locally it should ignore any remote on/off commands and stay on until it is turned off locally (if I turned it on manually that means I want it to stay on until I manually turn it off, regardless of motion)

Fixing these 2 simple things would vastly improve the usability of the basic X10 home automation devices (aside from improving the reliability of the wireless and wired command transmission).
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KWLnTN

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2006, 03:18:40 PM »

I'm a newbie myself and agree with you on those two things! 
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2006, 03:52:46 PM »

The x10 wireless motion sensors and wall switches provide great functionality that I need for my house (there is no other system out there as flexible and feature-rich), however there are limitations that really irk me for a product that has been around for years with almost no updates or improvements.

1. motion sensors don't save settings without battery power - you have to reprogram them when you change batteries, this is painful when you have half a dozen units and have to hit the tiny buttons a hundred times in proper sequence (they could easily save the settings in a tiny, cheap flash memory chip)

2. wall switches - when you turn them on locally at the switch and later some motion is detected at the motion sensor, the motion sensor turns off the switch after its timeout - if the switch is turned on locally it should ignore any remote on/off commands and stay on until it is turned off locally (if I turned it on manually that means I want it to stay on until I manually turn it off, regardless of motion)

Fixing these 2 simple things would vastly improve the usability of the basic X10 home automation devices (aside from improving the reliability of the wireless and wired command transmission).

I agree with you about the motion sensor settings.  However I would not like to see the wall switch functionality you describe hard coded into the switches although it'd be OK as a programmable option.  I have a number of lights which are not easily visible from the normal living areas of the house and with independent local operation they'd probably remain on until the bulb burned out

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TakeTheActive

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2006, 10:16:53 PM »

1. motion sensors don't save settings without battery power - you have to reprogram them when you change batteries, this is painful when you have half a dozen units and have to hit the tiny buttons a hundred times in proper sequence (they could easily save the settings in a tiny, cheap flash memory chip)

Sure! But every feature added increases the cost to manufacture *AND* the cost to purchase. Their "minimalistic" design(s) appears to satisfy the majority of their customers. And, you've got to admit that X10's "N-for-1" *SALES* can't be beat;)

2. wall switches - when you turn them on locally at the switch and later some motion is detected at the motion sensor, the motion sensor turns off the switch after its timeout - if the switch is turned on locally it should ignore any remote on/off commands and stay on until it is turned off locally (if I turned it on manually that means I want it to stay on until I manually turn it off, regardless of motion)

If you set the "tiny buttons " for DARK ONLY (instead of 24 hours), once you turn the light on LOCALLY, the MSxx *SHOULDN'T* detect motion (as long as the controlled light is shining light beams on it's photocell). Have you tried this?

...(aside from improving the reliability of the wireless and wired command transmission).

Please read: [TTA TIP] 1½-Way Status Reporting [Positive LOAD Feedback Loop!]  (Read 793 times)

and reply with your comments.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2006, 10:18:26 PM by TakeTheActive »
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TakeTheActive

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2006, 10:26:39 PM »

...I have a number of lights which are not easily visible from the normal living areas of the house and with independent local operation they'd probably remain on until the bulb burned out

NOT if you implemented the "mostly overlooked / ignored ": [TTA TIP] 1½-Way Status Reporting [Positive LOAD Feedback Loop!]  (Read 793 times)  :)

Then, even lights turned on LOCALLY get turned off automatically after XX+1 minutes.
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2006, 12:38:19 AM »

...I have a number of lights which are not easily visible from the normal living areas of the house and with independent local operation they'd probably remain on until the bulb burned out

NOT if you implemented the "mostly overlooked / ignored ": [TTA TIP] 1½-Way Status Reporting [Positive LOAD Feedback Loop!]  (Read 793 times)  :)

Then, even lights turned on LOCALLY get turned off automatically after XX+1 minutes.

If I understood correctly, the OP wanted switches that would not be turned Off by a motion detector if turned On locally but would be turned Off by the motion detector if initially turned On by the motion detector.   I think about the only way to make that work while still having a means of X10 control over the lamp is to use an X10 transmitter switch for local control.  If the motion detector is on a different (dummy) address from the lamp, smart macros could know know how the lamp was turned On and act accordingly.

An LM14A can be turned On locally, but can't be turned Off locally without switching Off the Lamp, which then renders it uncontrollable via X10.

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TakeTheActive

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2006, 11:10:09 AM »

...I have a number of lights which are not easily visible from the normal living areas of the house and with independent local operation they'd probably remain on until the bulb burned out

NOT if you implemented the "mostly overlooked / ignored ": [TTA TIP] 1½-Way Status Reporting [Positive LOAD Feedback Loop!]  (Read 793 times)  :)

Then, even lights turned on LOCALLY get turned off automatically after XX+1 minutes.

If I understood correctly, the OP wanted switches that would not be turned Off by a motion detector if turned On locally but would be turned Off by the motion detector if initially turned On by the motion detector.

Apples and oranges...  :)

My reply to you (quoting your reply) was FOR you only - both situations (your's and the OP's) cannot, AFAIK, be satisfied simultaneously.

...I think about the only way to make that work while still having a means of X10 control over the lamp is to use an X10 transmitter switch for local control.  If the motion detector is on a different (dummy) address from the lamp, smart macros could know know how the lamp was turned On and act accordingly.

2. wall switches - when you turn them on locally at the switch and later some motion is detected at the motion sensor, the motion sensor turns off the switch after its timeout - if the switch is turned on locally it should ignore any remote on/off commands and stay on until it is turned off locally (if I turned it on manually that means I want it to stay on until I manually turn it off, regardless of motion)

If you set the "tiny buttons " for DARK ONLY (instead of 24 hours), once you turn the light on LOCALLY, the MSxx *SHOULDN'T* detect motion (as long as the controlled light is shining light beams on it's photocell). Have you tried this?

I'll admit that since I just returned from a week "vacation " at the local hospital, I "may " not be at my sharpest, but... Why won't the instructions in my previous reply (quoted above) work for the OP?
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2006, 11:46:32 AM »

...I have a number of lights which are not easily visible from the normal living areas of the house and with independent local operation they'd probably remain on until the bulb burned out

NOT if you implemented the "mostly overlooked / ignored ": [TTA TIP] 1½-Way Status Reporting [Positive LOAD Feedback Loop!]  (Read 793 times)  :)

Then, even lights turned on LOCALLY get turned off automatically after XX+1 minutes.

If I understood correctly, the OP wanted switches that would not be turned Off by a motion detector if turned On locally but would be turned Off by the motion detector if initially turned On by the motion detector.

Apples and oranges...  :)

My reply to you (quoting your reply) was FOR you only - both situations (your's and the OP's) cannot, AFAIK, be satisfied simultaneously.

...I think about the only way to make that work while still having a means of X10 control over the lamp is to use an X10 transmitter switch for local control.  If the motion detector is on a different (dummy) address from the lamp, smart macros could know know how the lamp was turned On and act accordingly.

2. wall switches - when you turn them on locally at the switch and later some motion is detected at the motion sensor, the motion sensor turns off the switch after its timeout - if the switch is turned on locally it should ignore any remote on/off commands and stay on until it is turned off locally (if I turned it on manually that means I want it to stay on until I manually turn it off, regardless of motion)

If you set the "tiny buttons " for DARK ONLY (instead of 24 hours), once you turn the light on LOCALLY, the MSxx *SHOULDN'T* detect motion (as long as the controlled light is shining light beams on it's photocell). Have you tried this?

I'll admit that since I just returned from a week "vacation " at the local hospital, I "may " not be at my sharpest, but... Why won't the instructions in my previous reply (quoted above) work for the OP?

Yeah, that'd probably work for the OP's situation.  My disagreement with his "wish list" item assumed he wanted the light switch itself redesigned to ignore X10 signals if turned on locally.

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X10 on Windows is like that.

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TakeTheActive

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2006, 02:19:33 PM »

...I have a number of lights which are not easily visible from the normal living areas of the house and with independent local operation they'd probably remain on until the bulb burned out

NOT if you implemented the "mostly overlooked / ignored ": [TTA TIP] 1½-Way Status Reporting [Positive LOAD Feedback Loop!]  (Read 793 times)  :)

Then, even lights turned on LOCALLY get turned off automatically after XX+1 minutes.

...I think about the only way to make that work while still having a means of X10 control over the lamp is to use an X10 transmitter switch for local control.  If the motion detector is on a different (dummy) address from the lamp, smart macros could know know how the lamp was turned On and act accordingly.

2. wall switches - when you turn them on locally at the switch and later some motion is detected at the motion sensor, the motion sensor turns off the switch after its timeout - if the switch is turned on locally it should ignore any remote on/off commands and stay on until it is turned off locally (if I turned it on manually that means I want it to stay on until I manually turn it off, regardless of motion)

If you set the "tiny buttons " for DARK ONLY (instead of 24 hours), once you turn the light on LOCALLY, the MSxx *SHOULDN'T* detect motion (as long as the controlled light is shining light beams on it's photocell). Have you tried this?

I'll admit that since I just returned from a week "vacation " at the local hospital, I "may " not be at my sharpest, but... Why won't the instructions in my previous reply (quoted above) work for the OP?

Yeah, that'd probably work for the OP's situation.

Thanks! That's what I thought.  :)

...My disagreement with his "wish list" item assumed he wanted the light switch itself redesigned to ignore X10 signals if turned on locally.

I agree that I wouldn't want that "feature" either, especially since my "DARK ONLY (instead of 24 hours)" Suggestion may solve his problem.  8)

Now, returning to *YOUR* problem:

  • If the lights to which you were referring already have (or can have) MSxxs associated with them, and the MSxx N+1 is ON and toggles to OFF when either the LOCAL control or the MSxx is activated to turn the light on, my "½ Status" idea should work for you. Even if you set the final delay to several hours, it's still better than "until the bulb burned out ", IMO.
    .
  • Another solution for you would be my SUNRISE MACRO:

    I use the photocell in a PR511 to detect SUNRISE and SUNSET and trigger daily macros off of each. SUNRISE includes HC 'C' ALL OFF (above ground lights), HC 'L' ALL OFF (below ground lights and applicances, such as HPLJ printer, A/C, Air Cleaner, etc...), HC 'H' Misc OFF (LR Altec Lansing amplified THX speakers on TV, BR A/C, BR Air Cleaner, LR A/C, LR Air Cleaner, GAR Whole House Fan, etc...).

    Reference: HOUSECODES: By Room or By Module Type or By Function or...?  (Read 899 times)

    This way, if we're away on vacation (or I'm away in the hospital  ::) ), *EVERYTHING* that either I accidentally left on, or a MSxx didn't turn off, gets turned off DAILY.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2006, 02:33:11 PM by TakeTheActive »
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Charles Sullivan

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2006, 04:28:37 PM »

[
...My disagreement with his "wish list" item assumed he wanted the light switch itself redesigned to ignore X10 signals if turned on locally.

I agree that I wouldn't want that "feature" either, especially since my "DARK ONLY (instead of 24 hours)" Suggestion may solve his problem.  8)

Now, returning to *YOUR* problem:

  • If the lights to which you were referring already have (or can have) MSxxs associated with them, and the MSxx N+1 is ON and toggles to OFF when either the LOCAL control or the MSxx is activated to turn the light on, my "½ Status" idea should work for you. Even if you set the final delay to several hours, it's still better than "until the bulb burned out ", IMO.
    .
  • Another solution for you would be my SUNRISE MACRO:

    I use the photocell in a PR511 to detect SUNRISE and SUNSET and trigger daily macros off of each. SUNRISE includes HC 'C' ALL OFF (above ground lights), HC 'L' ALL OFF (below ground lights and applicances, such as HPLJ printer, A/C, Air Cleaner, etc...), HC 'H' Misc OFF (LR Altec Lansing amplified THX speakers on TV, BR A/C, BR Air Cleaner, LR A/C, LR Air Cleaner, GAR Whole House Fan, etc...).

    Reference: HOUSECODES: By Room or By Module Type or By Function or...?  (Read 899 times)

    This way, if we're away on vacation (or I'm away in the hospital  ::) ), *EVERYTHING* that either I accidentally left on, or a MSxx didn't turn off, gets turned off DAILY.

I'm using downloaded timers and macros to control lighting and shut everything off at dawn, so a locally-operated (using  remote and transceiver) light would at worst remain on until the following dawn (which is acceptable given the few times it happens).

I probably ought to consider using a PR511 sensor as an auxilliary "dusk sensor" for the times in bad weather when the house gets very dark long before the dusk-relative timer kicks in.  Right now I use a keychain remote to override the timers when necessary.
Can the motion-detection function of the PR511 be turned fully off?

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kballs

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Re: motion sensor and wall switch limitations
« Reply #10 on: December 10, 2006, 03:42:36 PM »

The "dark only" suggestion is useless since my motion sensors are outside the house where they can't "see" the lights.

As far as hard coding the override into the switch, I don't see why it would be a problem, since if you manually hit the switch to turn it on then you can manually hit the switch to turn it off (if you're relying on lack of motion to turn it back off then you would also be relying on motion to turn it on in the first place)... you won't necessarily have your motion sensor right under your light (I have some of these in my house and they have the sensor inside the wall switch - more reliable and simple than X10 wireless for that application, not to mention cheaper).

Why does everybody worry about a few cents extra cost per unit when it would actually make it useful and bring it up to standard with similar units from other companies?  I'd be willing to pay extra... the reality is that the motion sensors and wall switches probably cost less than $1 to make.  They've been riding that profit margin for YEARS without making any major improvements (while manufacturing costs sunk and they recouped their development cost)... I mean you can't even adjust the sensitivity or range or get sensors with different fields of view (wide, narrow, etc.) like you can get with wired sensors on other brands.  You can't make the local wall switch keep the light on like you can do with other units that either have a direct mechanical override switch for on (not just off) or let you flip the switch off and back on to make the light stay on (like most wired outdoor security lights).

I was really hoping the engineers or somebody at the company might read these comments and consider them as a way to improve their product and/or customer satisfaction rather than getting a bunch of responses like "but it would add cost" or "it could be tricky or cause problems so we shouldn't even try".  We'd still be driving Model Ts if Chevrolet hadn't developed a competing product that had features customers wanted, and Ford would be gone if they hadn't responded with new products and features, the same will happen to X10 if they continue to sit and let the evolving pile of products found at Home Depot take over.
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