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Author Topic: Home Automation has gone mainstream  (Read 26020 times)

dhouston

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #105 on: January 04, 2017, 04:12:05 PM »

I knew there was something else. First the RF signal doesn't travel far enough so I tried a repeater. No combination ever worked properly. Either still no joy or I would get double signals coming through which made the SC1200 ding twice. At other times spurious signals would make the SC1200 chime when there was nothing going on.

You can see HUGE improvements in RF range with a better antenna on the receiving end and/or by adding a passive radiator at the transmitter. I've shown the former for several receivers on my web page under Improving **** RF Reception and the latter under X10 RF Feng Shui.
https://www.laser.com/dhouston/

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racerfern

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #106 on: January 04, 2017, 05:03:45 PM »

Quote
You can see HUGE improvements in RF range with a better antenna on the receiving end and/or by adding a passive radiator at the transmitter.

I've seen this and other solutions for most of the ailments. My issue is that this stuff should work by itself without having to buy/manufacture anything special. X10 was an awesome way of transmitting signals many years ago, but it didn't keep up with the changes.

I don't see the owner's of X10 doing anything other than minor changes trying to keep the product line alive. Even something as simple as having an accessory for the Universal Module so it can tell AHP if the garage door is opened or closed. Sure a door sensor can be used but then I'm back to the RF range issue.

On top of that, there's a software front end that hasn't been updated and had to be hacked in order to get some plugins to work.

And through all these complaints I still use X10 for some simple things, however I sure do wish I could use it more reliably for a lot more.
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dhouston

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #107 on: January 04, 2017, 06:02:42 PM »

By and large I agree. Rather than make simple changes to their RF transceivers, X10WTI preferred to sell multiple transceivers and/or repeaters. Given that one of the first new devices under Authinx was another repeater  methinks the new boss is the same as the old boss.
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toasterking

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #108 on: January 04, 2017, 06:07:44 PM »

Even something as simple as having an accessory for the Universal Module so it can tell AHP if the garage door is opened or closed
It's not an accessory specifically for the Universal Module per se, but you can use a PowerFlash module to tell AHP whether a set of contacts is open or closed over the power line.
https://www.x10.com/psc01-powerflash-burgular-alarm-interface.html
In mode 3, it sends ON when the contacts close and OFF when they open.
A couple of things to note, however: (Aren't there always?)
  • You'll have to design your own smart macros or other scheme to make use of these commands.
  • The PowerFlash uses a non-polite transmitter, so the transmission could collide with another transmission sent at the same time and result in corrupt or no data received.
You could use an XPT3 instead, which is a polite transmitter and waits until the line is clear and then retransmits until successful.  However, the XPT3 is meant to be hardwired in a wall box rather than plugged into an outlet, and you'll need either double-throw contacts on your door switch or two door switches, one normally open and one normally closed.  (The XPT3 requires one wire to be shorted to common for an ON signal and a different wire shorted to common for an OFF signal.)
https://www.x10.com/xpt3.html

I share all your sentiments regarding the RF issues.  The RF protocol was not implemented with handling of retransmissions, acknowledgements, or programmed hops in mind, making it difficult to extend without side effects.  I'd like to see those features better accommodated, but I don't know if there is a way to do it and keep it backward compatible.  And if you start talking about designing a communication protocol, you may as well jump to Insteon or Z-Wave, which have already done that and had years to work out the bugs.
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toasterking

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #109 on: January 04, 2017, 06:12:15 PM »

This is beginning to look very doable. I have a preliminary hardware design and will order a few PCBs for testing soon.
Yes!  I'm hoping that you could eventually have the go-to homebrew solution that helps to keep the platform (and the company behind it) alive.  Maybe then you'll eventually get more attention from Authinx!
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racerfern

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #110 on: January 04, 2017, 06:23:07 PM »

@toasterking

I understand, however the issue I had is as simple as hitting open on the palm pad but hitting the button by the garage door to close the garage door on the way out. The X10 never knows that the door is now closed, whereas the zwave garage controller (which is basically the same as a UM module) coordinates with a tiny sensor on the door itself to communicate open or closed regardless of which button gets pressed.

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Tuicemen

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #111 on: January 04, 2017, 06:25:51 PM »

This is beginning to look very doable. I have a preliminary hardware design and will order a few PCBs for testing soon.
Yes!  I'm hoping that you could eventually have the go-to homebrew solution that helps to keep the platform (and the company behind it) alive.  Maybe then you'll eventually get more attention from Authinx!
And maybe Authinx will realize they don't need to go over seas to get something developed B:(
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HA Dave

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #112 on: January 04, 2017, 06:33:02 PM »

...... use a PowerFlash module to tell AHP whether a set of contacts is open or closed over the power line.
https://www.x10.com/psc01-powerflash-burgular-alarm-interface.html
In mode 3, it sends ON when the contacts close and OFF when they open.
A couple of things to note, however: (Aren't there always?)
  • You'll have to design your own smart macros or other scheme to make use of these commands.
.

I created a "talking" garage door reminder. If the garage is opened (or closed) it tells you. Left open... and you'll be reminded every few minutes.
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toasterking

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #113 on: January 04, 2017, 06:34:24 PM »

I decided that trying to use signals from the PR511 or MS16A or whatnot were too problematic for the very reason you stated.  Passing clouds at noon could potentially trigger dusk and depending on the code that triggers off that signal, everything could be thrown for a loop.
I'm a little surprised to say this myself, but since I implemented the algorithm above to normalize and validate the inferred state, I have had no problems whatsoever with false triggers.

IMO, a better approach to using either a calculation or using an X10 sensor would be to use a combination of time of day and a luminescence sensor.  With an actual light level (not a trip point) and a time of day, one could more logically determine if lower light levels should be interpreted as dusk.
I really would prefer a sensor that could give me an analog value as to the actual ambient light level, rather than a trip point, just as you said.  I thought about this before ever trying to implement the algorithm above.  But I figured I might as well try the X10 sensors I had and see how it goes, then go back to the drawing board if it wasn't good enough and I actually needed more functionality.  But so far, it's been plenty good enough!  I do have another PR511 mounted under a carport whose low-light sensor trips when it's merely cloudy outside, so I plan to also use that to derive 3 states (sunny/cloudy/night) rather than just day and night.

I like your idea of using the sunrise/sunset schedule calculation together with the light level.  In essence, I am already doing that, but my data source is different:  Instead of a calculation based on location and time of year, the reference sunrise and sunset time to compare to the current day's activity are based on recent logged behavior.
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toasterking

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #114 on: January 04, 2017, 06:45:24 PM »

The X10 never knows that the door is now closed, whereas the zwave garage controller (which is basically the same as a UM module) coordinates with a tiny sensor on the door
There's the difference.  Z-Wave gives you a Garage Controller.  X10 gives you a Universal Module and PowerFlash Module and lets you figure out what to do with it.  And that's the difference between a product line that started before there was even a market for it and tried to be everything to everyone, and a product line that tries to fill all the niches left in the now-existent market.

And I also get that this is your point.  The X10 product line is being kept alive but isn't being kept up to date.

I thought I would offer the suggestions whether or not you needed or cared about implementing them.  In particular, the XPT3 is something of a well-kept secret and I'd like to see more done with it.  Like, oh, you know, maybe Authinx could use its guts and make a Garage Controller.
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toasterking

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #115 on: January 04, 2017, 06:51:25 PM »

I created a "talking" garage door reminder. If the garage is opened (or closed) it tells you. Left open... and you'll be reminded every few minutes.
Hey, that's a nice combination of safety and stewardship!
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racerfern

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #116 on: January 04, 2017, 07:41:00 PM »

Quote
And maybe Authinx will realize they don't need to go over seas to get something developed

I don't see the problem as being where they go to get something produced (although made in the USA means a lot to me), but development needs to be at and from the root users. The ideas that flow from this forum are amazing and fantastic. The power users here are clearly a cut above the average user (as they are on most techie type forums).However, there is generally no new blood, just a few guys maintaining an existing system or maybe someone new that bought a lot of used stuff somewhere. To boot, many seasoned veterans are integrating non-X10 items.

Come to think of it, when was the last time anyone from Authinx officially said something here?

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HA Dave

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #117 on: January 05, 2017, 08:50:31 AM »

I created a "talking" garage door reminder. If the garage is opened (or closed) it tells you. Left open... and you'll be reminded every few minutes.

Hey, that's a nice combination of safety and stewardship!

A couple years ago my garage door opener (after decades of service) failed. I replaced it with a Chamberlain... with the WiFi unit. So it can be controlled via my phone.... and my wife and I get alerts/updates/status on our iphones when the door is opened/closed. So we are completly covered with the BIG doors activity.   

.... The ideas that flow from this forum are amazing and fantastic......... However, there is generally no new blood, just a few guys maintaining an existing system ........To boot, many seasoned veterans are integrating non-X10 items.

It's true. X10 hasn't been keeping up. X10 has gone from the founders of a new technology... to the "original standard". But there ain't nothing wrong with the protocol. There is as much life left in the X10 brand as management allows.

I've seen the new blood. Still lots of interest in HA and futuristic technologies! Maybe interest in HA has skipped a generation... but the young appreciate and enjoy HA tech. Amazon sold out of the DOT devices close to Christmas (now back in stock). They sold MILLIONS of the things..

And whereas these forums evolved from the old "white boards".... the new way to exchange info and socialize is over the social media pages. Our grandkids like what we've done with HA... and the torch has been passed. But I think we still have a lot we can do! Until my home and car communicate to me through my virtual companion... (who knows what I might want and/or need) my setup isn't done

« Last Edit: January 06, 2017, 07:38:47 PM by HA Dave »
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bkenobi

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #118 on: January 05, 2017, 10:26:41 AM »

I really would prefer a sensor that could give me an analog value as to the actual ambient light level, rather than a trip point, just as you said.

http://aeotec.com/z-wave-sensor

I know there are likely others at this point, but the Aeotech sensor is the one I've seen used for light level on other forums.  I looked at it, but it requires a zwave receiver and the device.  For one light reading the setup was going to cost well over $100 which I wasn't interested in at the time.  If you are adding a zwave receiver anyway, I think something that can do light level could be added for relatively cheap these days.  The other alternative is to use some kind of DIY project (Arduino, ESP8266, RPi, etc) to read a simple light sensor.  That could then be used any way you want!

https://learn.adafruit.com/photocells/using-a-photocell
http://iot-playground.com/forum/my-project/247-light-sensor-esp8266-bb05-with-arduino-ide
https://learn.adafruit.com/basic-resistor-sensor-reading-on-raspberry-pi/basic-photocell-reading

HA Dave

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Re: Home Automation has gone mainstream
« Reply #119 on: January 05, 2017, 01:18:12 PM »

..... The other alternative is to use some kind of DIY project (Arduino, ESP8266, RPi, etc) to read a simple light sensor.  That could then be used any way you want!

I can't count the times I have considered buying an Arduino kit... and shifting gears in that direction.
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