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Author Topic: What should I replace my CM11a with?  (Read 11297 times)

mallorn

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What should I replace my CM11a with?
« on: July 02, 2012, 02:43:00 AM »

I've been using my trusty CM11a for ages now, but it finally died.

I use(d) it to control everything in the house from the irrigation system to the landscape and Christmas lights, but now I need something to replace it.

The computer that controls everything runs Linux, and I was using heyu to do everything.

I've tried a CM19a on that computer's USB port (and with other software, since heyu doesn't support it) and my signals never make it to the transceivers.  Even if the transceiver is in the same room it seems to receive about 1/3 of them.  I also tried the Firecracker with the same results.

I've taken the CM19a to work with my laptop (also running Linux) and it works fine there, but as soon as I put it in our house it doesn't work.  I don't know if we have some sort of RF interference or something, but these new wireless solutions just don't work for me.  There's nothing more frustrating then discovering that the irrigation ran for three days straight while you were gone because the shutoff signals were never received.

Is there an X10 product available that is directly plugged into the outlet and connected to the computer like the old CM11a?  Or is there a place that I can still get a CM11a?

Thanks so much for any advice.
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Brian H

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 06:01:56 AM »

If you are happy with the CM11A and want a replacement.

The X10Shop had a production run of CM11A modules made for them. They still have 1805 left when I just looked.
http://www.thex10shop.com/product/x10-genuine-cm11a-activehome-serial-computer-interface
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JeffVolp

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 08:31:25 AM »

Is there an X10 product available that is directly plugged into the outlet and connected to the computer like the old CM11a?

I designed the XTB-232 last year as a powerline interface for PC-based automation systems.  I know one of the people who bought that unit is using it with Heyu.  It is not a controller like the CM11A as it does not do timed events or handle macros by itself.  But it supports the CM11A "real-time" command set.

http://jvde.us/xtb/XTB-232_description.htm

Jeff
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mallorn

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 05:34:01 PM »

If you are happy with the CM11A and want a replacement.

The X10Shop had a production run of CM11A modules made for them. They still have 1805 left when I just looked.
http://www.thex10shop.com/product/x10-genuine-cm11a-activehome-serial-computer-interface

Thank you!  I ordered two. 
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Enddoc

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2012, 03:50:52 AM »

Why did you not design a controller that makes sense such as CP290 which stored scheduled events.  >*< Who likes their computer powered up all the time. The CM11a is a giant step backwards verses the CP290. I'll be designing a controller with simple storage the regular people. Presently I'm finishing a .net interface to handle that job until I get a controller going. Life is good with muscle cars and x10 controls which aren't wasting the day when you sit down to change operational sequences, on and off's. B:(
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Brian H

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 06:41:15 AM »

Enddoc, Since this is a user to user forum. Don't expect any answers on the design features of the CM11A from X10.
What do you think the CM11As successor CM15A was designed for?
« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 07:07:06 AM by Brian H »
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Noam

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2012, 10:07:32 AM »

Why did you not design a controller that makes sense such as CP290 which stored scheduled events.  >*< Who likes their computer powered up all the time. The CM11a is a giant step backwards verses the CP290. I'll be designing a controller with simple storage the regular people. Presently I'm finishing a .net interface to handle that job until I get a controller going. Life is good with muscle cars and x10 controls which aren't wasting the day when you sit down to change operational sequences, on and off's. B:(
The CM11A, as manufactured by X10, DOES have internal memory to store timers, macros, etc. It doesn't require that the PC be booted up all the time for those functions. That is, if you use THEIR software to store the timers. As far as I know, none of the third-party software (including the TONS of stuff written for Linux) has the ability to store timers into the memory of the CM11A.

Many people who still use the CM11A are using it connected via serial port to an always-on home automation controller, either a PC or a standalone embedded system. In that application, the CM11A is simply acting as a modem, allowing the controller to send and receive commands to/from the powerline. All of the intelligence and timers are stored and run from the controller system.

If I remember correctly, when it appeared the CM11A was not longer going to be available (X10 later released a whole lot of inventory into the market, but that is a separate story), Jeff (not X10) designed the XTB-232 to fill the void for those people who were using a CM11A with an always-on controller, and could not move to a CM15A (which doesn't have a serial connection). I think Jeff himself falls into that category. He also improved on the design, boosting the transmission power, and making the unit work better than the CM11A it was designed to replace. Since *most* of the potential customers for it would not need to make use of internal storage, Jeff felt there was not need to try and reverse-engineer that into his design.
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JeffVolp

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2012, 10:42:32 AM »

Thanks Noam.  You explained the history better than I could.

Years ago I was a beta tester for the CM11A, and used it for several years at our previous home.  Like most of us, I experienced the periodic lockups that required the unit to be restarted.  Then I became a beta tester for the never released CM14A.  That serial port unit provided more memory and conditional macros.  It was also much more stable than the CM11A.

Since the CM14A was never released and I was not aware of the CM15A being in development, I opted for the Ocelot here.  That has been an extremely reliable unit, often running a year or more before I connect to it to tweak something.  A major advantage of the Ocelot is its ability to measure real-world parameters.  I monitor temperature at several locations, and use it to control auxiliary ventilation and adjust our irrigation cycles.

Quite a few folks have evolved to one of the PC-based automation systems, such as HomeSeer, HCA, or xTension (Mac).  Those systems will interface with the powerline through a variety of interfaces.

Jeff
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Noam

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2012, 12:12:20 PM »

Jeff-
Glad I could help. ;)
I'm using a CM15A (plugged into the XTB-IIR), connected to a 24/7/365 windows PC running AHP. However, much of that is for convenience and logging. all of my timers and macros reside in the CM15A.
I do, however, have a number of other programs running (X10 commander, for example), that allow me to monitor and control the CM15A (and by extension my whole system) from elsewhere.

This week, I connected the TW523 port on the XTB-IIR to my Arduino-based HVAC monitoring system, and I can now control my attic fan from the Arduino. That's only a first step. I REALLY want to develop an Arduino-based (for lack of a better platform that I know anything about working with) super-sized PowerFlash/Universal Module replacement. Multiple inputs and outputs, and the ability to have them do different things. I could even add in conditional logic (thereby creating macros that reside OUTSIDE the CM15A). That's a little ways off, though.
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dhouston

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2012, 02:43:50 PM »

As far as I know, none of the third-party software (including the TONS of stuff written for Linux) has the ability to store timers into the memory of the CM11A. 
X10 published the complete specs for the CM11A including how to store macros & timers. I'm not familiar with all of the third-party software but my guess is some are able to handle macros & timers. However, if they used a microcontrolle,r as I did about a dozen years ago with the BX24-AHT, it made more sense to do all those things external to the CM11A which lost track of time after a power failure.

And it has been far too long for my puny braincells to recall details but I believe Dan Lanciani ran down the cause for the lockups and published a 'fix'.
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dhouston

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #10 on: August 10, 2012, 02:55:59 PM »

Since the CM14A was never released and I was not aware of the CM15A being in development, I opted for the Ocelot here.  That has been an extremely reliable unit, often running a year or more before I connect to it to tweak something. 
I published a glowing review of the Ocelot on comp.home.automation just after its introduction. I doubt I would change anything if I were to rewrite it today. It's a very solid piece of hardware and Dan Boone (their former president) was open to suggestions for improvements (they fixed a few things I found amiss). It's still hard to beat. The only drawback is that it uses ladder logic which is not so easy to grasp for some. I suspect Jeff had a good education which included ladder logic (as did I) so that has been no hindrance. Also, Guy LaVoie wrote some excellent AppNotes explaining it.

While I no longer use mine in my rather small habitat, I do get it out now and then for testing purposes.

With X10 discontinuing the TW523, it may limit the Ocelot's market a bit.
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JeffVolp

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2012, 04:17:22 PM »

With X10 discontinuing the TW523, it may limit the Ocelot's market a bit.

That is why I decided to offer the XTB-523 as a high-power alternative.  It also receives extended commands.

FYI:  That ladder logic was completely foreign to me when I first started with the Ocelot.

Jeff
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dhouston

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #12 on: August 10, 2012, 05:22:51 PM »

FYI:  That ladder logic was completely foreign to me when I first started with the Ocelot.
I learned it in the Air Force. Someone had made a mistake and a section on relay (or ladder) logic was in the tech school course I took. The instructors had instead requested a section on logic and truth tables but decided to leave the ladder logic in as it might prove useful later on and I encountered a few situations where it proved handy in later years. Pinball machines and industrial controls were just a few areas that used it before digital computers became ubiquitous. I believe there are still a lot of programmable logic controllers around in industrial settings simply because there were people trained for them who did not possess computer skills.
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Brian H

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Re: What should I replace my CM11a with?
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2012, 06:13:57 PM »

Many of the paper handling machines I was working on used PLCs that used Ladder Logic.
Allen Bradley was one of the brands I remember.
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