X10 Issues - Motion Sensor Transmission Range, Dimmer Question, GFCI

Page 3 of 3  
On Oct 28, 10:12am, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Based on the range I'm getting from the detector, that's going to be problematic.
All of the outlets in the garage (where the detector is mounted) are on the same circuit. Most are GFCI's which seem to make the operation even more intermittent. The next closest outlet is in the living room and we'd have to put up with the noise from the relay.

That's doable, except that the 3 way light never gives me any trouble. It's the entry light that's on the single switch that intermitantly does not come on when the motion detector tells it too. The spots over the garage door (the 3-way) *always* comes on, the single-switched light over the entry door often doesn't. Both of the these lights are on the same circuit, so why one always works and the other one sometimes doesn't is beyond me. However, turning them off is another story. Very often, they just don't ever turn off.

It'll have to wait until after Halloween. I've got the receiver unplugged since I'm using strobe lights and spots on my graveyard and operating room display. The ghoulish surgeon holding the skeleton's leg in the miter box is sure to scare the little one's this year. As a matter of fact, the skeleton doesn't look all that happy about it either.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

here's
no
technology
like
at
signals
push
Tim
<Can I assume that you are the same Bobby G. who raved about the WGL unit in Home Toys back in 2008?>
Well, technically, a lot of the atoms in my body have been replaced by atoms in incoming food and air, but maybe 70% of me is the same, and yes I raved because after ten years of absolute frustration with X-10's RF performance, all my RF problems just melted away with the WGL and XTB combination. It really is like getting a car engine add-on that gets 5X the mileage of the stock engine. I wouldn't do X-10 without it.
The problem with X-10 is that if the conditions in your house were exactly right, X-10 would have worked just as Trader suggested. Many people have limited and even moderately complex installs that are not troublesome. All it takes, though, is plaster/lath, a circuit filled with too many switched power supplies or on the wrong phase, or an incompatible GFCI outlet or a balky UPS and you find yourself playing X-10 Sherlock Holmes without a magnifying glass. Very, very frustrating.
I own three X-10 meter/analyzers and use them all when something screws up. Still, I like having X-10 so much that I am willing to make a hobby out of it. Most people don't want to take it that far. With the WGL/XTB additions, they usually don't have to. My meters have remain mostly cased up since I upgraded.
If you really want to try again I could lend you one of my spare XTB's - a plug in kind that only amplifies one device - the one plugged into it. You can get a boost in your stock RF range with careful antenna orientation. Some people say that holding their remote under their chins boost the RF range of the keychain transmitters. Both might be enough to put you back in business. I'm guessing you're at least 300 miles away since I live next door to an Ikea, so there won't being any local service calls, but back in the day, I helped troubleshoot a number of local, struggling X-10 users simply because I was one of two in the area with a meter/analyzer, which was an essential tool for a professional install back in the day before WGL/XTB and cost $300. Now *that's* commitment to a home automation protocol.
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Would the XTB solve the issue of one light not coming on when the other one does?
As a reminder...
- There is a motion sensor outside the garage. - There is a 3-way switched light fixture outside the garage. - There is a single-switched light fixture near the front door. - The 2 fixtures are on the same circuit which includes much of the first floor of the dwelling. - The Master switch for the 3-way fixture and the single switch for the front door are in the same box inside the front door. - The Slave switch for the 3-way is in the garage. - The RR501 is in the garage on the garage circuit. (Moving the RR501 to the same circuit as the fixtures would mean hearing the Clack everytime it activated, assuming I even have a receptacle within range of the sensor. Hmm, I guess I could tap into the part of the 1st floor circuit that extends into the garage and add a receptacle, although currently the only wire that goes into the garage in the 14/3 for the switch.
The problem:
Very often (but of course not always) the 3-way fixture comes on when motion is detected, but the front door fixture does not.
I have never noticed the front door fixture come on but not the 3-way. It's either the 3-way alone, or both.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
news:bbe786fd-398f-4f7c-b4b9-
<stuff snipped>
I don't know why older thread posts don't show up in my newsreader, but I just caught your reply, which I also missed the first time around. Technology. )-:

XTB
to
that
OFF!!!?
anyone
Look
an
a
house
atoms
performance,
up.
in
was
WGL/XTB
<<Would the XTB solve the issue of one light not coming on when the other one does?
As a reminder...
- There is a motion sensor outside the garage. - There is a 3-way switched light fixture outside the garage. - There is a single-switched light fixture near the front door. - The 2 fixtures are on the same circuit which includes much of the first floor of the dwelling. - The Master switch for the 3-way fixture and the single switch for the front door are in the same box inside the front door. - The Slave switch for the 3-way is in the garage. - The RR501 is in the garage on the garage circuit. (Moving the RR501 to the same circuit as the fixtures would mean hearing the Clack everytime it activated,
[Break, break] If the clack bothers you and you don't have anything plugged into the RR501's outlet (you're using it just to take the RF and convert it into a powerline signal), it is a simple matter to disconnect the relay and make it stop clacking.
assuming I even have a receptacle within range of the sensor. Hmm, I guess I could tap into the part of the 1st floor circuit that extends into the garage and add a receptacle, although currently the only wire that goes into the garage in the 14/3 for the switch.
The problem:
Very often (but of course not always) the 3-way fixture comes on when motion is detected, but the front door fixture does not.
I have never noticed the front door fixture come on but not the 3-way. It's either the 3-way alone, or both.>>
The fact that one device activates (which means the RF has reached the RR501 and has put a signal on the housewiring leads me to believe that it's a powerline signal strength problem. The RR501 has enough "oomph" to reach one light switch, but not the other, which I am assuming is "downstream" from the light that works. I believe the XTBR would be very helpful in such a situation since it's clear that the RF end is working.
If that wasn't true, no light would come on, ever. Can you tell me if you've got PC's, UPS's, lots of small switching powersupplies (wall warts that don't have big iron core transformers) or lots of CFLs on any of the circuits that your X-10 signal must traverse? Any one of those can put out more than enough interference via noise or signal absorption to kill the X-10 signal. Also, different modules have different operation thresholds. A 30mv signal *might* activate one module but not another that's sitting right next to it. The XTBR will both boost and repeat the X-10 commands (X-10 is sent as a double-frame message, allowing a repeater to "hear" the first frame and "lay it over" the second, duplicate frame at much higher voltage). The ideal place to locate the XTBR is as near the
Aside from signal sucking, there could be a wiring issue. X-10 devices require current to power their internal electronics and they get it through a variety of means. If there's no neutral available, it gets it through a small trickle current it passes through the load being controlled. This method does NOT work reliably, if at all, with CFL bulbs. I can't recall, but are these CFL's you're trying to control. If so, the first thing you need to do is try the setup with incandescent tungsten bulbs, just to eliminate the trickle current block possibility. It could also be that you've chosen a wiring scheme for the 3-way switch that isn't passing the X-10 signal properly.
I recall in the days when comp.home.automation was getting scores of posts a day, that many people had issues with 3 and 4 way switches because they operate so differently than normally wired 3 and 4 way switches. Instead of switching hots, you essential use the traveller as a radio antenna, and turning on the slave switch is really just sending a signal to the main (larger) X-10 module to turn on and off. If the XTBR doesn't solve the problem, we'll probably have to resort to ASCII wiring diagrams. But I don't think it's wired incorrectly because it's intermittent, and if it's the wiring, it should be a constant problem.
If you want to try it, contact me offline. Change the zero's to the letters OO in my email addy. Yah00 to Yahoo.
I'm going to CC this to Jeff Volp, the creator of the XTB to get his read on the problem and to see if he concurs with my opinion about the XTBR's ability to solve it. I might even be able to help you ID any noisemakers or signal suckers without the XTBR. Sometimes, by turning off all *but* the X-10 related circuits at the breaker, you can get the X-10 gear to work perfectly. You can then narrow down the location of troublesome equipment by turning the breakers back on, one by one to see when the X-10 gear stops working again. It's much easier to do with a meter, but that's gonna set you back some more and isn't really necessary to "grunt and crank" through the breaker shut-off method. I'm assuming that you're interested in the technology based on the time you've spent already trying to get it to work. (-:
FWIW, even though X-10 is completely capable of intermittently charging my various battery devices, I plunked down $25 for two weekly, stand-alone timers that can turn on power strips to which charging wall-warts are plugged in for a few hours every week so that they are always getting a small "top off" but not an overcharge. Like my driveway light, some things are just better done with small, very self-contained, limited and thus highly reliable units.
One serious issue with X-10 is that it takes a long time (compared to Insteon or UPB) to transmit a single command - about one second. That's unfortunately long enough to allow one command to walk over another. It's why I use very few X-10 motion detectors. They fire very frequently and they often "step on" a command that's issued from another device at the same time. When you're walking around in a room with an X-10 motion sensor you transmit a new ON signal each time it detects your motion. While turning on an already ON lamp is no big thing, those frequent ON commands can easily interfere with a command issued by another controller somewhere else in the house. This is especially true of macros: chained commands that can often take several seconds to execute. Some X-10 devices will retransmit in case of collision but others won't.
I suspect as a "Derby Dad" you are very familiar with the processes of stepwise refinement and iterative improvement. X-10 is very much like that. It takes a while to get the hang of it, there are often great frustrations, but when it's up and running smoothly it's like fax machines, cell phones, PC's and the internet. You wonder how you ever got along without it.
-- Bobby G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.