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Author Topic: Does any of this stuff actually work?  (Read 17729 times)

reachtim

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Does any of this stuff actually work?
« on: July 19, 2008, 08:08:34 PM »

I have 14+ hours invested and am a computer consultant by trade.    Troubleshooting is what I do for a living.  But I cannot get any consistency from these products.

My Chime SC546a on B1 does trigger when I place my MS13a on B1 but no sound comes out.    I have tested a second one and same result.   The music notes show up on my AHP screen but no sound.

My camera XC19a never shuts off and there is no way to get it out of live mode.    When you turn all off it just triggers the MS1a motion detector and starts all over again.   

The One macro I wrote (from a textbook sample) worked a couple times then crashed the whole program.   Now it does not work at all.    Never triggers the video recording even when exectuted.

Every instruction sheet I get in the boxes is TOTALLY USELESS as it makes no mention of the fact that I have a computer and don't care to use a VCR for my cameras.    None of the model numbers match up to anything that pertains to reality. 

How do you "old timers" stay with this product?   Unless they quality has just gone down the tubes lately.

I am tempted to either rip the whole thing out or spend another $800 to $1000 to get someone to try to peice it all together.   I feel very lied to in their advertising.

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Knightrider

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2008, 08:18:50 PM »

Us oldtimers stick with x10 because we enjoy the challenge.  I started out with my first  x10 setup (radio shack plug-n-power) at the ripe old age of 13, and moved into computer control within the last 5 years.
You might be experiencing a problem getting the signal across the phases in your home wiring.  That would explain the problem with the chime.

As far as the camera getting out of live mode, I want to know how many cams you are using.

For the macro that crashes, could you please post it here and we'll all be glad to see if it crashes our systems or if we can find a way to help you out.

While the instructions may be useless, this forum is a wealth of knowledge and friendly people willing to help.
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HA Dave

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2008, 09:24:06 PM »

I have 14+ hours invested and ........................ I cannot get any consistency from these products. How do you "old timers" stay with this product?   I am tempted to either rip the whole thing out..............

I can almost hear the frustration in your words! That a GOOD thing because that means it's all just about ready to come together. Sometimes the larger automation/security packages can be nearly overwhelming in they're complexity. It has been my experience... that the 14+ hours you've invested is well within the 30 minute setup time advertized. (by the way... Knightriders advice looks good [reads well] to me.)

Stay with it.... read and post here... IT WILL WORK.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2008, 09:35:46 PM by Dave_x10_L »
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x10challanged

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2008, 07:21:52 AM »

Hi Reachtim, welcome to the forums
I remember when I first started with these products, I was frustrated and ready to take a hammer to everything then ship it back.  This forum helped me get it put together and working as advertised.  Best advice I can give you is take it slow, one set-up at a time, test then go to the next. 
WE are all here to help you with the problems so post and let us help.  We do not work for X-10, we enjoy helping troubleshoot and solve the problems.
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Brian H

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2008, 07:37:13 AM »

Are you using the AHP CM15A to receive the signal from the MS13A?

Double check that in the Hardware Configuration the House Code B is set to be transceived. If not the RF signal will not be resent over the power line to the chime module.

The Motion Sensor has a Dusk-Dawn sensor in it that sends an on when dark and off when light. The address is one Unit higher than the motion address so B2 in your case. Anything on B2 will go on and off as the sensor detects light and dark. It is possible to have lets say a lamp module on B2 that cycles on and off as it shines on the motion sensor. ::)

You may also want to try a different location for the motion sensor and chime to see if you have a powerline or RF distance problem.

Troubleshooting sites that maybe of some help:
http://kbase.x10.com/wiki/Main_Page
http://jvde.us/x10_troubleshooting.htm
http://www.act-solutions.com/PCC/uncle.htm
« Last Edit: February 27, 2010, 09:42:36 AM by JeffVolp »
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zach1234

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2008, 12:08:14 AM »

Follow the steps others have given you, or if your in the chicago or lake Geneva WI area email me.
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PAULF

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2008, 01:27:23 PM »

I purchased the alarm system a few years back it the system works great.  The AHP and the macros have been a royal paid and I agree that this thing is becoming not worth my time and effort.  I was willing to invest the start up time if the system worked but the reliabilty of the product is so poor compared to the alarm system.  Why does this product pale in compariosn to the alarm system?  I built a house and wired it up for the cams etc and I have not even attempted to get them working as I cannot get a simple macro to work relaibly.  You "old timers" must like to waste your time and money.  Home automation was purchased to save time, money, and improve quality of life and it has only done the opposite.
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HA Dave

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2008, 02:54:32 PM »


.............You "old timers" must like to waste your time and money.  Home automation was purchased to save time, money, and improve quality of life and it has only done the opposite.


Have you been talking to my wife?

All humor aside... your right that AHP and the CM15A aren't plug-n-play out-of-the-box type stuff. AHP and the CM15A interface are the heart of my HA setup. But I didn't start out with AHP.... I built my system over time. I always install, test, (trouble shoot if needed) and then use.

I think it would be easy to become overwhelmed if trying to put together a larger system overnight. Read the forum and post your problems specificity. Rarely does anyone who tries go away without a working system.

But I can assure you (as an "old timer") this stuff hasn't eaten up all my time, and it REALLY DOES WORK. Check out my X10 YouTube Video .
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Walt2

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2008, 08:47:19 AM »

You "old timers" must like to waste your time and money.  Home automation was purchased to save time, money, and improve quality of life and it has only done the opposite.

First, it is a hobby.  As with any hobby, it requires both time and commitment.

Yea, there is a learning curve.  I have been with X10 stuff since for around 25 years.  And I have learned many of the tricks and techniques. 

For my "reward", I have a system that works 97.3% of the time.  Well, it works 100% for a long time, then something stops, and I have to debug what went wrong.   

That's the challenge of the hobby. -:)

Honestly, I find X10 much easier, than say, Windows.   rofl
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arf1410

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2008, 01:31:42 PM »

You "old timers" must like to waste your time and money.  Home automation was purchased to save time, money, and improve quality of life and it has only done the opposite.

First, it is a hobby.  As with any hobby, it requires both time and commitment.


that's the understatement of the week!  Problem is, while all the old timers understand it is a hobby (more than a useful system), its marketed by X10 like a plug and play, useful, timesaving system, and with the hardware and software problems, in addition to all the interference causing electronics in a modern household, the system (and X10 in general) is likely LESS functional than the basic modules were 15 years ago...At least today's versions of Windows are much better than the original, 1995 release!
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HA Dave

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2008, 02:58:23 PM »

   .......the system (and X10 in general) is likely LESS functional than the basic modules were 15 years ago...

Actually I'd be very happy if the power company, the cable company, or the company that picks up the trash.... was as reliable and dependable as my X10 Home Automation.

It does take a little understanding of how X10 works. However.... all I know about X10... I've learned reading these very forums. None of the directions or instruction sheets are all that cumbersome. A plug-N-play life sounds like a dream... my life has been full of learning. But I've actually also learned to enjoy the learning.... AND the reading involved.

Reading may be out-of-vogue... but it's still necessary for a full enriched life (and a decent X10 setup).
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JeffVolp

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2008, 03:00:44 PM »

Problem is, while all the old timers understand it is a hobby (more than a useful system) ...

While some people like to tinker with their systems for the "gee wiz" effect, we use it to basically automate the house.  That includes all background lighting (not the "on demand" lights), landscape lights, irrigation (essential in the southwest), hot-water recirculation, and even auxiliary HVAC ventilation.  Everything runs with virtual 100% reliability unattended.  So, it can be a very useful system if you invest some time and effort to learn how to eliminate potential problems.

The system is so reliable that when my wife connects up the Christmas candles each year, the only "failures" are due to burnt out light bulbs.

Jeff


« Last Edit: August 06, 2008, 03:02:58 PM by JeffVolp »
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arf1410

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2008, 04:36:44 PM »

I've got a Leviton 4 switch controller that has replaced one of the light switches in my master bedroom, (and another one elsewhere too).  They function at about 95% success in controlling various lights around the house.  I've got the CM11A, that works about 75% of the time carrying out it's tasks, and the CM15A works about 50% of the time...I've tried couplers/ repeaters, signal boosters, noise filters, changing outlets..leaving computer on, off etc...My guess is the Leviton puts out a stronger or better quality signal than the CM15A,  but if the system was robust, I shouldn't need to mess with it every time I put in a flourescent buld, LED night light or new TV...I don't doubt some people have systems working great, but I suspect anyone who have a large number of devices in a good sized home had to spend a fair amount of time getting it up and running reliably.  That's why I feel this stuff may be great for the hobbiest, but not for someone who never learned to program their VCR...
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dave w

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #13 on: August 06, 2008, 04:51:50 PM »

I don't doubt some people have systems working great, but I suspect anyone who have a large number of devices in a good sized home had to spend a fair amount of time getting it up and running reliably.  That's why I feel this stuff may be great for the hobbiest, but not for someone who never learned to program their VCR...

That's a pretty fair statement. You might want to check into newer RF based technology, such as  Z-Wave, etc. However they are 3 to 4 times the cost.
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JeffVolp

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Re: Does any of this stuff actually work?
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2008, 05:01:27 PM »

I've tried couplers/ repeaters, signal boosters, noise filters, changing outlets..leaving computer on, off etc...My guess is the Leviton puts out a stronger or better quality signal than the CM15A, but if the system was robust, I shouldn't need to mess with it every time I put in a flourescent bulb, LED night light or new TV...

There are a few things that you should understand about X10 automation.  The protocol was developed back in the 80's when there were no such things as switching supplies, compact fluorescent bulbs, or even home computers.  Many of these "new" devices interfere with X10 communication.  Most just load down the signal, causing marginal operation when the level becomes too weak - usually at modules located a long distance from the transmitter.  Some devices, like that Cellet cellphone charger, radiate so much noise that it can corrupt a X10 system all by itself.

Reliable X10 operation needs two things - good signal levels, and relatively low "in band" electrical noise.  A X10 signal meter such as the Elk ESM1 is almost essential in achieving that goal.  An investment in such a device will quickly pay for itself in time saved.  I hate honk my own horn here, but if you have a large home, you might seriously take a look at a signal booster, such as the XTB or XTB-IIR.  Quite a few people are using those successfully in very large homes.

I wrote a troubleshooting series here that should help you understand the issues, and hopefully get your system running better:

http://jvde.us/x10_troubleshooting.htm

Jeff
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