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Author Topic: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!  (Read 13236 times)

kenalpine

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Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« on: September 14, 2010, 07:03:23 PM »

I have used the DOS-based CP290's for a long time and thought the AHP/CM15A looked like a worthwhile upgrade.  Wrong!  House has two phase couplers and X10 filters on all UPS and/or computers and electronics.  The CP290 works, but is totally lacking in cool.  With the CM15A replacing a TM751 in the same outlet, about half the modules successfully run by the TM571 cannot be switched by the CM15A.  Sure I could try RF-macros, but I have codes in use from A1 - D8 so it would be a real mess.  Before I request an RMA for the CM15A, can anyone suggest why it does not even work as well as a 25-year old CP290?
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2010, 08:15:09 PM »

Actually you cannot export anything from a DOS based CP290 to the Windows based Active Home Pro and the USB. The CP290 is 1980's.  What you need to do is print everything you have now and manually create all your modules (housecode and unit) in AHP.   

I had to do that when I moved from the CP290 to Active Home, the previous X10 software. 
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dave w

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2010, 08:24:24 PM »

I have used the DOS-based CP290's for a long time and thought the AHP/CM15A looked like a worthwhile upgrade.  Wrong!  House has two phase couplers and X10 filters on all UPS and/or computers and electronics.  The CP290 works, but is totally lacking in cool.  With the CM15A replacing a TM751 in the same outlet, about half the modules successfully run by the TM571 cannot be switched by the CM15A.  Sure I could try RF-macros, but I have codes in use from A1 - D8 so it would be a real mess.  Before I request an RMA for the CM15A, can anyone suggest why it does not even work as well as a 25-year old CP290?
It has been reported on this forum that the CM15A does not have as high a PLC output as the old CM11A, so it is logical to assume the same is true of the CP290. It also is not as sensitive to RF signals as the TM751.

$0.02
There are work-arounds for the poor RF sensitivity. And a good repeater will solve the low output PLC problem. With electrical noise becoming a fast growing problem for X10 signals, the repeater will give the system more immunity to noise which passive couplers and low output repeaters (read X10 and Leviton brands) just can not do.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 08:27:32 PM by dave w »
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kenalpine

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2010, 10:21:50 PM »

I wasn't planning to export any CP290 timers to the CM15A; they were easy to redo in AHP.  However, if the performance of the CM15A is not up to the job, I'm not about to spend big bucks to get it up to the performance of 30-year old technology!  There are two areas in my home that are problematic when addressed by the one CP290 I have been using even with two phase couplers and filters. I have three CP290's bought long ago for about$10.00 each, so I just put one of the extra CP290 's in each area.  Every couple of weeks I bring each of the extra 290's back to the old DOS laptop (Goldstar with a plasma screen (!) for those of you who are really old, like me) and update the date and time so the dawn/dusk timers are corrected and we are good to go. Takes about 10 minutes. The main 290 handles all of the fiddly timers and is corrected weekly.  It ain't sexy, but it works very well.  Been using X10 for more than 35 years with good results; if the CP290's die, I guess I'll just move. Sad that the CM15A doesn't cut it, though; looked good on paper.
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dave w

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2010, 11:29:35 AM »

I wasn't planning to export any CP290 timers to the CM15A; they were easy to redo in AHP.  However, if the performance of the CM15A is not up to the job, I'm not about to spend big bucks to get it up to the performance of 30-year old technology!  Been using X10 for more than 35 years with good results; if the CP290's die, I guess I'll just move. Sad that the CM15A doesn't cut it, though; looked good on paper.

I hear you. But once you have the ability to use conditional logic (whether in AHP and CM15A or other automation programs and other computer to powerline interface) home automation becomes much more fun at a logarithmic rate. Investing in a "flamethrower" repeater is worth it.

As long as X10's "long on tooth" old technology weaknesses can be minmized by repeaters and filters, the technology will survive. Long term, well entrenched, users like you and I can not or will not upgrade to newer technology like Z-Wave because of their high cost. A five dollar Lamp Module vs a fifty dollar Lamp Module is not a difficult decision for me.

Goldstar with a plazma eh? I wonder if we could call that a one tube computer?  rofl

 I got a Comadore 64 and an Atari 800 somewhere in storage so I shouldn't laugh.
 
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HA Dave

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2010, 03:45:48 PM »

....... Been using X10 for more than 35 years with good results; if the CP290's die, I guess I'll just move. Sad that the CM15A doesn't cut it, though; looked good on paper.

Change isn't ever easy. But I really love the CM15A... and the many features I get from it. Apparently... switching over from the old CP290.. is enough to make your setup unstable. What a bummer! I know that someday my setup... that I've worked so very hard to make very cool.. will also become dated by technology advances. It can or will happen to each and everyone one of us. Your not alone.

But the CP290 was cutting edge in it's day. And realistically (as you've already seen) it's not so different from the newer AHP stuff. This is a perfect time to update, stabilize, and add new features to your setup. You have the skills already... and I am sure you'll enjoy the feeling of accomplishment... as well as cool new stuff.
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2010, 04:13:22 PM »

Agree.  I started in the late 1980's with the CP290 and DOS software and as the 90's opened there was freeware that allowed you to run X10 from the first Windows (which ran over good old DOS 6) but allowed you to use custom gif icons for your modules.  I had ones for a Christmas file that used Christmas Trees (for the tree lights, of course).  When Windows 95 came out I got the first Windows X10 software, Active Home and and CM11A interface.  No more Xmas Tree icons (RATS!).   Used that until the "vanishing serial port syndrome" with some motherboards lead to frustration when I got XP in 2005, so AHP and CM15A USB interface came.  At least AHP allowed you to import your files from Active Home, so none of the manual process of establishing all your modules in an new software was needed.   

kenalpine needs to be patient, he probably will like AHP.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2010, 04:15:50 PM by Dan Lawrence »
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kenalpine

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2010, 05:05:22 PM »

No - AHP looks excellent.  But, when the CM15A successfully controls less than half the modules that the CP290 does that is pretty much the end of th  e story.  Patience is not going to up the signal strength of the CM15A.  In addition, the relatively limited additional capabilities of the CM15A (e.g., macros) when compared to the CP290 running Smart10 does nothing for my present uses.  It is sort of like getting a new tool just because it is new, not because one really needs it.  And might I add that I have clients across the country running a DOS-based fuel distribution system that I wrote nearly 20 years ago whose capabilities and performance are not matched by Windows systems years newer and orders of magnitude more expensive.  DOS still lives, even inside Windows 7.  If it ain't broke...  BTW, does anyone have a good email address for the author of Smart10 for Windows?  I'd like to register and pay my fee, but the email address in the Help/About appears to be dead.
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HA Dave

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2010, 06:45:47 PM »

..... With the CM15A replacing a TM751 in the same outlet, about half the modules successfully run by the TM571 cannot be switched by the CM15A. 

I would be willing to except that there may be slight signal differences from a CM15A as a TM751.... although I have not seen that myself. Apparently... your saying that you ran one(?) TM751 on your previous setup? So... you could use a remote (RF)? And... the CM15A's PLC is so much weaker... that now half of your devices (from that one TM751?) no longer work.

There have been many reports of poor RF reception by the CM15A. I have performed an antenna modification to my CM15A... as many others have. But I can't recall any number of reports of poor PLC quality from the CM15A.

Don't get me wrong... I believe you... I know your having a problem. But you also stated:  There are two areas in my home that are problematic when addressed by the one CP290 I have been using even with two phase couplers and filters. I have three CP290's bought long ago for about$10.00 each, so I just put one of the extra CP290 's in each area. .

That doesn't read to me... like your signal problems are anywhere near new. I read that to say you've had a problem that you've fixed with a batch-job of extra CP290's. Maybe it really is time to reexamine your entire setup. I ran a patched two TM751 setup once... for much longer than I like to admit. And to be honest... it sucked. Best to just do it right and enjoy everything working correctly.
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2010, 08:34:08 PM »

No - AHP looks excellent.  But, when the CM15A successfully controls less than half the modules that the CP290 does that is pretty much the end of th  e story.  Patience is not going to up the signal strength of the CM15A.  In addition, the relatively limited additional capabilities of the CM15A (e.g., macros) when compared to the CP290 running Smart10 does nothing for my present uses.  It is sort of like getting a new tool just because it is new, not because one really needs it.  And might I add that I have clients across the country running a DOS-based fuel distribution system that I wrote nearly 20 years ago whose capabilities and performance are not matched by Windows systems years newer and orders of magnitude more expensive.  DOS still lives, even inside Windows 7.  If it ain't broke...  BTW, does anyone have a good email address for the author of Smart10 for Windows?  I'd like to register and pay my fee, but the email address in the Help/About appears to be dead.

What is "Smart10"?    Never heard of it.

Secondly how many modules are you using that you needed 3 CP290's to do it?  I control 33 modules Year round plus 16 more at the Christmas season all with the CM15A.

Thirdly, the reason you can't upgrade or register the SmartX10 is the author is either dead or so far out of the business it's gone.   
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pconroy

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2010, 09:26:05 PM »

Since this is the internet, might as well chime in w/ some hearsay...

I could have sworn I read somewhere that the CP290 used to really put some signal on the lines, and that the later controllers don't have the oooomph.

That's about the extent of my EE vocabulary: ooooomph.   :)
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kenalpine

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2010, 10:20:32 PM »

Re: Smart10.  Found the Windows version with Google at www.sbillard.org with postings as recent as 7/14/2010 so the rumors of the author's passing are probably exaggerated.  The program is quite comprehensive with conditionals, sunrise, sunset, date windows etc. and the schedules can be created and edited with a simple text editor. Things like "A5 on daily at 6:00 if dark" meaning that since the device knows about time of sunrise A5 will go on only during the winter hours.  Not super flashy, but functional.  Secondly, I am running about 76 modules grouped into 54 codes.  There are an awful lot of electronics scattered about the place and even though judicious filtering and circuit management would probably improve things, since I had the three CP290's anyway it has been easy to use them to give pretty solid performance.  I just redownload two of them every couple of weeks to get dawn and dusk synched; if they miss sunset by four or five minutes it's not big deal.  The third remains attached to a computer and is updated weekly.
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2010, 10:54:29 PM »

Tried your link but www.sbillard.org has NOTHING about a Windows version of SmartX10.   The search block on the site yields nothing.
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beelocks

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2010, 11:06:43 PM »

http://www.sbillard.org/pages/Smart10

The download link is at the bottom
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Noam

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Re: Moved from CP290 (!) to CM15A - What a disappointment!!
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2010, 10:16:37 AM »

... like your signal problems are anywhere near new. ... Maybe it really is time to reexamine your entire setup ... Best to just do it right and enjoy everything working correctly.
I started with X10 over 10 years ago, with one of the serial port "Firecracker" starter kits.
I used plug-in modules only in my first two apartments, and then bought a number of switch modules when I moved into a house. I started with the CM11A in my second apartment, and bought the CM15A when it came out.
I worked with a band-aid setup (one RR501, one TM751, a capacitor to bridge the phases, some SmartMacros that sent RF signals to turn on some lights, etc) for a long time, but decided this summer to make the system work right.

I installed an XTB-IIR, and moved my CM15A over to it. That solved my PLC signal strength issues. I taped a 19" length of (insulated!) copper electrical wire alongside the CM15A's antenna (no electrical connection - just a passive reflector). That solved my RF signal strength issues.

I was then able to clean up my AHP file, and remove a number of the macros and other things I'd put in to workaround the limitations in my system. The system has been nearly perfect for the past few weeks, and I'm very happy that I did it. I should have done it years ago.

Before returning the CM15A you bought, I would recommend you think about trying to fix the problems you have, and what it would take to do that. It might take a little effort, and you may even have to spend some money (on a booster/repeater, and/or filters, etc), but you may find that you can get away with using only a single controller, connected to a Windows PC, and also be able to take advantage of some of the newer features (SmartMacros, etc). Not to mention all of the really neat software people here have written to go along with the CM15A.
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