On Monday, December 5, 2016 at 8:46:35 AM UTC-5, Robert Green wrote:
I replaced the fixture this weekend. I did not replace the X10 3-way
switches. I'm willing to take a chance mainly because of what I saw
when I opened the box. They changed the MS electronics in the fixture.
Since I really don't know what was killing the fixtures, the X10 circuitry
or a poor quality MS, I'm going to lean towards the MS in the fixture
being the actual problem. I have no way of knowing, but since "they" decided
to change the electronics inside the fixture, I'm going to run with the
new one and see what happens. If it dies in a year or so, I'll change the
switches and give up the dimming feature.
Of course, the fixture decided to screw with me anyway.
I bench tested the new fixture in my (dark) shop and the MS and timer
operated perfectly. Then I installed it on the wall, used the Test mode
(during the day) and it worked fine. I then set it to Run mode and waited
until dark. I discovered that it did not detect motion. I put a broom right
up to the detector. Nothing. What? It worked when I bench tested it in my
shop. Why won't it work on the wall?
It was the damn Christmas lights! The lights on that part of the house
are about 6" closer to that fixture than the other one. That's just enough
light to fool the fixture into thinking the sun is still up. I turned off
the Christmas lights and the fixture worked fine.
I guess I'll have to wait until after the first of the year to take advantage
of the new fixture.
Typical motion detector works by detecting motion in a heat signature.
Has a bunch of lenses that project the field of view onto the sensor
at different angles. As the heat signature moves, it passes across the
sensor causing a change in amplitude.
If you have a hot spot in view that is currently impinging on
the sensor the broom can block it, thus causing
a change in the sensor output.
It's best to move the heat source that's hotter than the background
horizontally across the field of view.
Try setting the broom on fire.
On Wed, 14 Dec 2016 11:24:03 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03
I was with you right up to using a broom to test it on the wall. These
motion detectors are called PIR or Passive Infra-Red. In other words,
they detect body heat. A broom that is the same temperature as the
surrounding area won't trigger it. They can be fooled by wearing a
heavy coat in the winter, too, if the outside of the coat is cold and
the sensor doesn't see your face (or your face is a very small
percentage of the sensor's visual area).
On Wednesday, December 14, 2016 at 3:56:14 PM UTC-5, Pat wrote:
Not arguing, just wondering...
As a reminder, here is the fixture in question. Note the location of the se
The one that has worked for years is mounted next to the front door. It is
upper left corner of the storm door - the side that opens. To be exact, the
12" down from the top of the door and 10" away from the opening side.
As soon as the storm is opened 3” (from the inside, just to be clea
r) the light comes on.
What heat signature is the sensor sensing? Isn't the storm door the same te
as the sensor (currently a nice balmy 25F)?
As far as I recall, this happens winter, spring, summer and fall.
To see if the sensor was being triggered by a rush of hot air from the insi
de, I left the storm
door open, waited for the light to go out and then slowly opened the main d
oor. The sensor
did not trigger. If I try the same experiment but rapidly open the front do
or, the sensor does
trigger. I don't know how to tell if it's movement or heat that the sensor
On Wed, 14 Dec 2016 15:18:37 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03
Usually, motion sensors have a milky white window. In this case, it
looks like it is dark to match the fixture. I'm not sure what that
means. If it is like others I have seen, opening the screen door
might partially block some sources of heat. For example, this time of
year, your air temp might be 25, but I bet the ground temp is higher.
Or, maybe there is some other source of heat like a street light that
the door frame blocks. These, of course, are wild guesses on my part.
Post back if you discover any new evidence. I am still quite sure
your sensor is passive infrared. The only other possibilities I am
aware of are ultrasonic which wouldn't have a window like that and
video camera/software based (like the newer traffic light controllers)
which would be too expensive for a simple light fixture.
Send us the bill and we'll post it on line!
In reality I read about a NJ set of shrinks put case details of some young
man's (might have been a child) in their legal pleadings that ended up (of
course) on line when they were unpaid for too long. The kicker: They did
not use electronic billing and somehow because of that, HIPAA privacy rules
I don't see a lot of hope for changing social behavior that's existed since
the dawn of man and perhaps even before in the social animals that preceded
us. Meerkats, dogs, cats, horses, birds and lots more species have
"bullying" problems. And it frequently has very bad consequences for all
the affected groups.
There was a Nature doco about how when the male leader of a baboon troop got
too agressive and bullied *everyone*, the three highest status females got
together, ambushed him, beat the daylights out of him and escorted him
outside of their territory.
I often wonder if bullying really did drive the Columbine shooters over the
edge or some other factors were more contributive?
On Wed, 30 Nov 2016 13:28:54 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03
Trader was right. I forgot about powering the X-10 module itself when
I answered. Most x-10 modules need some sort of load to power
themselves. I vaguely remember a few x-10 compatible modules that
used the neutral but most did not.
Regarding three way, are both of your x-10 switches identical? (I
know one is connected in a 3-way and the other isn't, but are they the
same model?) Maybe a minor design difference is affecting the
waveform powering the motion detector. Just guessing.
On Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 7:07:44 AM UTC-5, Pat wrote:
I don't see how they could be identical. An X10 single dimmer switch is
different than the main module in a 3-way "pair" even if by nothing more
than the number of wires. Maybe the dimming portion of the electronics
is the same in both types of switches, that I don't know.
When the remote switch of the 3-way pair is used to dim the fixture, does
it do the dimming itself or does it tell the main module to dim the light?
If it talks to the main module, then I would guess that the electronics
would have to be different than in the single dimmer.
I don' know if this is the model number of the 3-way I have (not home now)
but this is "physically" what I have - a large main module and a smaller
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
On Thu, 1 Dec 2016 06:31:44 -0800 (PST), DerbyDad03
Early 3-ways were, indeed, different. Later ones were all 3-way. If
you didn't need the 3-way, you just didn't buy the companion switch
and put a wire nut on the unused wire. They made these things for
decades (starting in 78 I think), so we have no way of knowing exactly
what you have.
The satellite switch, IIRC, is nothing more than a momentary push button
switch that sends a signal to the main unit (but not dimming current) to
control the main load. It's very narrow and shallow according to the
photographs. It clearly doesn't contain enough room to put a heat-sinked
thyristor into it. Couldn't find a schematic, though. They used to be out
They are all like that AFAIK. I seem to recall it's a momentary switch
because someone in the nearly defunct CHA group was asked by SWMBO to find a
"less chintzy" switch and a normal wall switch would not work.
On Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 3:45:58 PM UTC-5, Robert Green wrote:
That's what I thought. My question was in response to Pat who asked if the
dimmers I am using are identical for each fixture - the one that has lasted
for 5 years and the ones that keep failing. My question was to clarify whether
the main unit for a 3-way pair was the same (internally) as the single switch
module. I assume he was looking at a difference in the switches as the root
cause of the failures.
Maybe I'm not explaining that very well. Let me try it this way:
The main unit of the 3-way pair has an extra wire for the traveler, so we
know that *physically* it is different than a non-3-way switch. My question
concerns the insides of a 3-way vs. a "standard" switch module. Is the
circuitry the same other than perhaps a tap to accept the traveler signal?
In other words, could be Pat be onto to something? Could the 3 way module
be so different in it's design that it is causing the failures? If I replaced
the 3-way with the same model number as the standard switch, and of course,
eliminated the remote switch, might the failures stop?
No, I believe it's the same basic circuit board for both with either added
components or different pin outs. It would be in keeping with the X-10 way.
Their RF wall switches came in many configurations but all share the same
basic PC board.
On Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 4:29:04 PM UTC-5, DerbyDad03 wrote:
No, I didn't say that. I said IDK what kind of X10 3-way switch you
have, but if it doesn't have a neutral connection, which I suspect it
doesn't, then it requires a load to be able to power it's own electronics
I guess if you're satisfied with replacing the outdoor fixture every
18 months to 5 years, that meets your definition of working, than your
good to go. So, what's the problem then? And I would not be surprised
that other fixtures would not work at all. I would never expect a fixture
that has a motion sensor to be able to work with a dimmer, where it
gets less than normal voltage, unless the specs specifically said it
I am guessing that the switched power supply in the fixture that powers the
motion circuitry is like many others in that it has a wide range of input
voltages. Perhaps instead of being in the 120 to 240 input range it's
something like 40 to 160. The load is very small and may function at low or
"chopped" voltage levels. At least it's working for DD. I have the same
"no neutral" outside light problems. Solved one with a rewire and a
non-dimming switch. Solved another by using tungsten bulbs and a separate
It would be interesting to know at what point the motion sensor fails to
detect motion. The lowered voltage is likely to impair sensitivity even
before the "no go" level is reached.
I think DD should be thankful it's working as well as it is. From the
reviews at Lowe's I suspect poor QC or design is the culprit for premature
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