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Author Topic: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...  (Read 11717 times)

SteveRF

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After almost a year off the forum, I thought I'd check back and see what was new and what may have been corrected.  Erratic behavior of the HA systems still seem to be a topic.  I was hoping that there may be some updates or new products.. i.e. Filtering so many devices in our homes may not be needed ?  Ha...nope... Still the old issue.  System works but gets erratic on occassion due to that old darn NOISE !  Conputers, embroiderya nd quilting sewing machines, Some televisions and some power supplies and various other devices around my home continue to cause erratic operation that leaves the system untrustworthy for solid, reliable operation. 
Putting filters on every device that renders X10 useless because of noise in some homes is out of the question... at $20 - $60 each for a filter that may allow a $12.99 light to appear on cue is totally out of the question.  Not Rational !   We were hoping that in the course of a year (or so), X10 would have some new and improved solutions other than the same version of software for the CM15A and the same filtering requirements.  Everytime devices are moved about (computers, power supplies and a myriad of other essential devices about the home) the smooth , reliable operation of the entire HA system is upset and becomes unstable again until the offending device is removed or filtered.
I really was hoping that my X10 HA system would have evolved with newer products and much improved longterm reliability.
Don't get me wrong, I still like X10...BUT... when put to the test for true HA service with some expected long term reliability, it just is not working out.  It is still "fun" to play with and has some built in "enjoyment factor" but for serious, reliable "on cue" Home Automation, WITHOUT filtering $400.00 worth of X10 Devices with $600.00 worth of X10 filters, I just cannot justify any serious expansion.
SteveRF   
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Oldtimer

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2007, 09:16:14 PM »


 WITHOUT filtering $400.00 worth of X10 Devices with $600.00 worth of X10 filters, I just cannot justify any serious expansion.
SteveRF   


SteveRF  Have you looked at this post?

http://www.x10community.com/forums/index.php?topic=11266.0
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TakeTheActive

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2007, 10:00:12 PM »


...I was hoping that there may be some updates or new products.. i.e. Filtering so many devices in our homes may not be needed ?

...it just is not working out.  It is still "fun" to play with and has some built in "enjoyment factor" but for serious, reliable "on cue" Home Automation, WITHOUT filtering $400.00 worth of X10 Devices with $600.00 worth of X10 filters, I just cannot justify any serious expansion.

Do an ADVANCED SEARCH on - Keyword: XTB  UserID: JeffVolp

BTW, a bit of WHITESPACE, a few PARAGRAPHS, and/or maybe a little FORMATTING goes WONDERS into improving the readability of a post... ;)
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JeffVolp

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2007, 09:46:49 AM »

Quote
$20 - $60 each for a filter that may allow a $12.99 light to appear on cue is totally out of the question.

You can get the plug-in X10 filters on eBay for under $10 each (including shipping) if you buy several.  Computers, monitors, and compact fluorescent bulbs are the major problems, but some universal motors (with brushes) can also be noise generators.  As TTA suggested, some of my tutorials may help.

Jeff
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SteveRF

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2007, 10:11:29 AM »

Jeff, TakeThe Active and OldTimer,

Thanks for your feedback.

I will take a look at your suggestions, however, placing filters all  over the home still appears to be an option that introduces more connections with additional safety hazards.  If home built suggestions are followed, the risk increases.... seems that better transmitter power, local X10 filtering or a combination of both would have given the X10 modules a much better reliability... of course, company profits are the driving force here as we all know.

Obviously, I just am not happy with the idea of having to build or purchase home filtering and wonder if I can count on reliability if I do...
We will give it a shot in the next week or two and see.

regards,
SteveRF
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dave w

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2007, 12:37:14 PM »


.... seems that better transmitter power, local X10 filtering or a combination of both would have given the X10 modules a much better reliability... of course, company profits are the driving force here as we all know.


Sounds like you are having more trouble than average. Your are right in the sense that higher transmit power would help (JeffVolp makes a dandy signal amp).

Since noise filtering must be applied to the noise source and not the receivers, "local filtering" isn't possible from an X10 perspective. AGC is a big help and X10 offers it but only in the "2-way" module (AFAIK). AGC with narrow band filtering works even better, but again is availabe only from SmartHome, PCS, ACT, etc. and at considerable more cost.

I have over 100 standard X10 modules driven by some form of controller since 1987 and this system has migrated to four different homes, each with it's own set of problems. My largest system was 127 modules in a 2500 sq ft home. I have PLENTY of expeience with noise and black holes. My solution method and materials applied to each home is: 1. An ACT repeater. ACT is known for their high output. 2. An ELK signal level meter to track down noise generators. 3. Cheap line filters soldered on extension cords and outlet strips, used to isolate the noise generators.

I don't know how many modules you have or how big the area you are covering.  The repeater and meter will set you back about $200. Is a fix worth that investment?

Good luck and don't throw in the towel, this stuff is fun once you get it working.
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Bill H

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2007, 08:49:10 AM »

Dave--Which model ACT repeater/coupler do you recommend and where is best place to buy? (Average 120v/120v home) Tnx!
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SteveRF

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2007, 11:50:28 AM »

Dave W,

Many thanks for the advice... interesting...
I still have about 25 devices, scattered in a 1800 sf area and a cm15a with extended antenna.

Lets here more about the "cheap" line filters, soldered on extention cords....??

What did you actually use ?  Choke coils ?? 

I saw the mention earlier aobut that method without caps...
Is there any info on similar circuits that may be even better utilizing caps in addition to the choke coils ?

Regards,
SteveRf

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TakeTheActive

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2007, 01:13:20 PM »


...Lets here more about the "cheap" line filters, soldered on extention cords....??

What did you actually use ?  Choke coils ??

Do an ADVANCED SEARCH on - Keyword: filter  UserID: dave w  Time Period: Late Summer/Early Fall 2006 IIRC
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SteveRF

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2007, 07:40:31 PM »

Take_...,

I did that and after muddling my way through hundreds of comments and replies .. and yes I filtered VERY WELL...
was not sure what was done (and how) with the chokes on an extention cord , as I originally asked Dave W.

Was hoping the next time he saw this, since my question addressed an issue he may have resolved and that he responded to,
that Dave may have to time to respond.... but I appreciate your interest.

oh, TakeTheActive, since my original comments concerning noise on the power line was moved from it's original posted location,
would it not have been more appropriate to post this thread on the "General Home Automation/Troubleshooting Automation Problems" rather than
in the "Automating Your House" layer ?? ... It does concern Troubleshooting more than Automating your house....

regards,
SteveRF
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HA Dave

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2007, 08:18:17 PM »

I have a question? Why are we assuming it's just "device" generated noise. Doesn't one HA vendor offer free use of a device to measure and track noise?

I live in a city.... I haven't been able to find the transformer that services my house, but it must be at lease three streets away. I have a decent number of X10 modules, switches, cameras and STUFF. My system is spread out over both phases and several circuts. (I do have one circut ... that I just don't use X10 on... it's a long story.... but it keeps my WAF up.) My X10 set up is completely reliable.

I have a HA PC (connected to AHP) that runs 24/7, my wife's computer is on nearly as much, and so is my laptop. I have nearly every electrical device know to man... and they are all plugged in. I can walk through my house at night and see everything by the light of red and green LED lights (and clocks) on the various devices.

Yet I have no filters. It's not that I am too cheap to buy filters (though I am thrifty). I just don't have a need for filters. I do realize some systems DO need a filter here or there, but can't there be noise sources that effect X10 line signals that ISN'T devise generated?
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steven r

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2007, 08:38:16 PM »

...I have nearly every electrical device know to man... and they are all plugged in.... ...Yet I have no filters....
I'll keep my fingers crossed that you never need them.  ;)
I went for years without needing filters in spite of having 6 or 7 UPS units and half of "nearly every electrical device know to man". Then one day my signal went poof. No change that I could determine. I now have filters on all the UPS units and my signal is back to an acceptable level.
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HA Dave

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2007, 08:47:30 PM »


Then one day my signal went poof. No change that I could determine. I now have filters on all the UPS units and my signal is back to an acceptable level.


That's what makes me wonder. Could it be something... maybe not even noise related? Like maybe a bad ground line... or something from the power line itself?

There is a saying (of sorts) here at the forum: "What changed?"
« Last Edit: May 26, 2007, 08:51:00 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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steven r

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2007, 11:49:18 PM »

...There is a saying (of sorts) here at the forum: "What changed?"
In my case, I could never figure out what changed. No new toys plugged in. One day I just noticed that some places weren't getting a signal anymore. I didn't have a signal tester before things went out so I can't say what the signal was before it went poof. My intuitive guess was that that my signal bridge wasn't working as well. How likely is it for one of them to quit working? Maybe I'll unplug it and see if it makes and difference now that I have an X10 signal meter to test with now.
Anyway everything is working ok right now. With respect to X10, I tend to have an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach.
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HA Dave

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Re: Noise On The Lines... Nothing Has Changed... Erratic Operation...
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2007, 09:22:42 AM »

I worked as a factory (machine) repairman many (MANY) years ago. To be honest, most every repair was pretty much routine. We even kept parts for projected break-downs. But from time-to-time, a machine would malfunction or completely stop for reasons that weren't apparent.

A trouble-shooting method taught to me by an older (and more talented) electrician, has helped me resolve problems (both mechanical and personal) over the years.

If I don't know what part broke, or where in the system I have a malfunction, I start as close to the beginning as necessary. For me, that has generally been the power source. Then once that is confirmed as good, I go through the machine (or system) pointing at each part or process with my finger, part-by-part checking and confirming that each point or part is OK.

Though it might appear to be a time consuming method... because it works.... it has saved me considerable frustration (and TIME) over the years.

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