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Author Topic: X10 odd but consistent behavior help  (Read 1349 times)

mr coffee

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X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« on: October 19, 2021, 05:26:08 PM »

Here's the setup that is acting oddly. I have LED 12v lights along my walk that are powered by a big old wire and iron 120v to 12v transformer. The transformer is plugged into an X10 3-pin appliance module. I have the X10 Pro PAT03 transceiver and use a motion sensor to cut them on when we walk up the walk.

Here's what's weird. If I use a palm pad and push the on button, the lights come on just fine. If I push the off button, the lights don't turn off. But if I push the off button again in a few seconds, the lights do turn off.

I put a powerline repeater PLC01 in place since it re-broadcasts the x10 signal twice in hopes that would make a difference, and it doesn't make the two-times-to-turn-off problem go away.

Theories? Suggestions? Ideas?

Thanks in advance for any helpful thoughts.

mr coffee

 

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Brian H

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #1 on: October 19, 2021, 06:43:48 PM »

On but not off. Can be a signal problem or the load is making noise. Like a signal sucker or noise maker.
Do you have any phase coupling between the incoming lines?
Or are the appliance module,PLC01  and PAT03 on the same phase and maybe even the same branch circuit?
As a test you may want to try the PAT03 or PLC01 to a few locations and see if things change. That could give a clue to finding the issue.
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brobin

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2021, 06:43:58 PM »

To start, have you tried fresh batteries in the Palm Pad?
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mr coffee

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2021, 09:44:16 PM »

I have tried new fresh batteries just to be sure. No change.

All the x10 stuff is on the same circuit, although there is a GFI between the walk lights and the transceiver. See more below about the GFI line.

But I have remembered some other pertinent details of the system which has been in place for probably 15 years or more.

My walk lights that are run by a transformer are on the same unit number as my porch lights, which are gu10 compact fluorescent bulbs run on a line controlled by another x10 module. The porch lights have built-in photocell controls that prevent them turning on during daylight hours.

Tonight, I noticed that, now that it is dark, the first push of the off button turns off the porch lights, and the second push of the off button turns off the walk lights!

There is also a GFI outlet that the appliance module plugs into (and the cord for the transformer plugs into that) which might be significant. There are also 3 other appliance modules controlling transformers on a different unit number hung off that line that comes through that same GFI. But those x10 appliance modules with transformers turn on and off with a single press.

I hope the additional info helps make this less perplexing for some of the gurus around here.

Thanks!!
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brobin

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2021, 10:29:20 PM »

CFL bulbs can cause problems for X10 particularly as they get older prior to failure. As a next step I'd remove them and test again. Or just turn them off manually and then see if the transformers respond on the first press.
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mr coffee

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2021, 12:57:36 PM »

Hi Brobin,

Thanks for your reply.
I don't have a manual switch for the CFL porch lights anymore, as I only use the x10 to turn them on, and they are hard wired into the x10 module which is hardwired into the AC line in the crawl space under the house IIRC. I can try to disconnect the second X10 module for the porch lights, maybe tomorrow or the day after, to see what that will do.

Come to think of it, I could probably rewire the porch lights to be directly in parallel with the primary of the transformer for the walkway lights so the same x10 module controls both. Might that be a better arrangement?

Would a noise filter between the appliance module and the combined load of 1)transformer and 2)porch lights (with their internal photocell controls and GU10 CFLs) be a good idea to enhance the integrity of the x10 system? 

Thanks for sharing your expertise on this!

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brobin

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2021, 03:10:05 PM »

The thing I'd like to see you test for first is interference from one of the CFL bulbs.  Can you just unscrew the bulbs?  CFL's can cause interference even when new but even if you found some good ones they can start spewing noise as they get older.  Until we know that one or more bulbs aren't causing the problem it's better to hold off on rewiring or adding filters.
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mr coffee

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2021, 06:16:25 PM »

Hi Brobin,
I can remove the GU10 bulbs, although I am not certain that all the driver circuitry is in the base of the bulbs. The light sensor module is in the fixture itself.

The fixtures were made to take the GU10 bulbs, and they are a variety of CFL that do not have an Edison base socket. The bulb has two terminals that bayonet lock into the special socket in the fixture, and I'm not clear if it is simply a special socket that passes 120vac from the light-dark photocell module (which I presume contains a triac - no clicks like a relay), or if there is some kind of ballast circuitry in the socket itself. I imagined when I bought the fixtures that there were some ballast components in the socket, since they HAD to take GU10 CFLs because of the odd socket. But I don't really know..., just my fantasy about the odd socket instead of  the standard Edison base.

I do have a bad GU10 that I am  going to recycle (it says it has mercury in it) and I can probably open the base to see what's inside without breaking the tube open in the process. The quirks of the porch fixtures are the reason I was contemplating disconnecting them in the wiring. The oddities of the system make troubleshooting less straightforward and more labor-intensive, no matter how I go at it.

Suggestions about which way to go in this particular circumstance?

Thanks!
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Brian H

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2021, 06:26:38 PM »

The CFL's electronic should be in the base of the unit. The bulbs maybe marked with a 120Volt label, wattage equivalent to a incandescent bulb and color temperature.
Though the fixture would have a light sensor in it for controlling it only going On at night.
It may not be noise though aging seems to go to noise.
Some CFL bulbs I have opened the base. Have a capacitor across the AC input. To stop electronic noise from getting back on the power lines. It will also absorb X10 power line signals when powered on a signal sucker.
I have seen LED bulbs with GU style bases.
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brobin

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2021, 08:19:40 PM »

I'd start by pulling the bulbs because if that's the problem it's the easiest fix.  You can find an assortment of GU10 LED bulbs here:
https://www.homedepot.com/b/Lighting-Light-Bulbs-LED-Light-Bulbs/Indoor-Outdoor/GU10/N-5yc1vZbm79Z1z0x2dlZ1z11evg

Starting from the farthest point and working back is the best way to troubleshoot this IMO.  I do think the bulbs are the most likely cause of the problem.
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mr coffee

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2021, 04:53:30 PM »

Well this is interesting...

I removed the GU bulbs and it still takes exactly 2 presses to turn the walk lights OFF,  and 1 press to turn it on.

That probably tells us something, but I don't know what <LOL>

Perplexing!

Maybe the transformer? It's a big 300W iron and copper wire job. Maybe something about how the LEDs react? (BTW, the 12VAC goes to the line to the walkway lights in parallel, and all the bulbs have a diode in series with the LED arrays to work on AC as well as DC).


Ideas?
« Last Edit: October 21, 2021, 05:04:03 PM by mr coffee »
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brobin

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2021, 05:35:51 PM »

With the CFL's out of the running we can move on to other suspects.  The LED bulbs are a potential problem but, if they were causing the problem I wouldn't think the second off press would work any better than the first.  You could do a quick and simple test by disconnecting the 12v line from the transformer and testing with a 12v incandescent bulb.

 Do you have any other repeater/amplifiers in the house? Multiple repeaters and motion detectors themselves can cause signal collisions as described in Jeff Volp's excellent report here:

http://jvde.us/x10/x10_collisions.pdf

The article discusses problems with the TM751 that could cause the problem you're having.  Using an RR501 transceiver instead might resolve the issue.  Which receiver do you have?  Do you have a Mini or Maxi Controller?  If so, does it take two presses to turn them off with that?  If not, I think the TM751, if that's what you have, may be the culprit.

There's another article from Jeff about LED/CFL bulbs that's worth a read but I don't think that's the issue. http://jvde.us/x10/x10_cfl.pdf
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Brian H

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2021, 06:33:04 PM »

mr coffee indicated he is using an X10Pro PAT03.
That is the X10Pro version of an X10 RR501.
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brobin

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2021, 06:44:26 PM »

Missed that - in that case, I don't think the PLC01 is helping but that doesn't get us any closer to finding the problem. 
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mr coffee

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Re: X10 odd but consistent behavior help
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2021, 10:08:43 PM »

No Mini or Maxi Controller.

Everything is straightforward Palmpad (or Hawkeye) RF to PAT03 transceiver to X10 Appliance module.

I pulled out what was in the switchbox and found a Smarthome Switchlink 2476S which is version 5.8, which my online research indicates may not be 100% X10 compatible.

Does it make sense to remove this from the circuit next to troubleshoot the problem?

Like I mentioned earlier, I could put the porch lights in parallel with the primary of the transformer so it would be controlled by the same appliance module and see if it still takes 2 presses to turn off the walkway and porch lights? Yeah it would mean going under the house and altering wiring, but there is some extra wiring up to the switch box from the crawl space, and the photocells on the porch fixtures could be bypassed since the motion sensors can be set to work only after dark.

Does this sound like a logical next step?

i REALLY appreciate all the folks here sharing their expertise.

Thanks all
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