a stupid X10 sprinkler question

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i'm a complete neophite who just learned about the X10 and the garden
sprinkling capabilities thereof.

Having browsed a number of threads discussing products like Rain8 and
X10 in general, i'm beginning to get some idea; however, all of the X10
discussions and all of the product descriptions i've seen focus on the
digital end of it, and none address the water/pipe end of it.  While
the latter may be trivial for seasoned auto-irrigators, I am at a
complete loss about what to buy/do beyond the device such as Rain8.

Q1:  Do I simply connect my multiple (electric) valves to Rain8 and
then assign X10 addresses to the corresponding controls in Rain8?
(Valves such as http://www.rainbird.com/diy/products/valves/cp.htm ,
for example). If so, is there a compatibility issue? Are the required
valves toggled off/on by means of X10-protocol signal or by
presence/absence of current? If by the latter, does something like
Rain8 supply the 24V to the valves ... i realize, I may be completely
off here.  Are there any sophisticated valves that, in the manner of a
rheostat, open up to various pressure levels, as specified (water flow
diminuation, equivalent to dimming of lights)?

Q2:  Regarding the 2-way communication involving "confirmation signals"
mentioned here -- http://www.smarthome.com/3125c.html : is the
confirmation signal a standard part of the X10 protocol, or is it a
feature exclusive to this gadget? Furthermore, is it possible to query
an X10 device to receive data?  In other words, can something like an
X10 rain gauge (is there such a thing?) respond to a query by sending
back rain data?  Can devices send back their current state, on request
(whether they are on or off)?

Q3: at this point I am thinking I'd need to install a water pipe
manifold, attach the multiple valves to it, and connect each valve's
electrical cable to the Rain8  (the cable happens to at least *look
like* the 1/8th" audio plug). Am I way off?

Thanks in advance, and apologies for the newbism -- I can't find a
comprehensive A-Z schematic that lists *all* the components involved
and how they interface.   (My needs are to water a few zones in an
average home.)

Andrew


Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
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oops! that was supposed to be:

Do I simply connect my multiple valves  **electrically** to Rain8

(the valves attach to the pipes, hoses or the manifold, and are
electrically connected to the Rain8)


Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
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Most of us were in that catagory at one time.

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Our Rain8 has four 24VAC switches controllable by X10.  It receives 24VAC
from a transformer, and then switches that power to one irrigation valve at
a time.  This one has two programable cycles that can be initiated by a X10
command, and also allows individual ON/OFF control of each valve by X10
commands.  The Rain8 controls the standard $10 irrigation valves available
at your local building supply warehouse.

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Most X10 devices are listen only, but there are some specialized devices
that provide acknowledgement or data in return.  I don't know about an X10
rain gauge, but there are X10 thermostats.  For our irrigation I do open
loop control based on time of year and outside temperature.  And then I have
a Leviton 16400 to kick in an extra cycle whenever things look a little dry.
Our back yard has about 3 inches of topsoil over lava, so it drys out VERY
quickly.  The garden drip irrigation must run several times a day during hot
weather to keep the plants from wilting.

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Sounds like you are on the right path.  The valves have that plug, and the
manifold should provide the means of connection between those plugs and the
underground multiconductor cable coming from your Rain8.

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The Rain8 works great for us, and should for you too.

Jeff



Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
Jeff Volp wrote:
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Thanks!

You are the celebrity who just created the breakthrough XTB signal
booster, aren't you!

I had browsed some postings about the XTB, and it is, of course,
reassuring, for those having second thoughts about investing into the
decades-old X10 technology for the first time.

I have only a vague understanding of electrical circuits, but i did
wonder about reception across the two (110V?) circuits that a home
normally has.  Does the X10 signal reception by a device on one line
worsen significantly when it is broadcast from a device on the other
line?  I realize this may vary from house to house, but perhaps there
is something inherent in the double-line circuit that impedes the
signal across the two subcircuits?

When I set up my X10 system, i'll share any interesting findings here,
but, i'm curious if the XTB is an absolute necessity, in such
cross-line situations.  (I'd order one sooner if that's the case ;-)

Also, the "underground multiconductor cable" you mention was new info;
i'll do some research about it, but if anyone has any other tips
(caveats? such as when moles/voles are on the premises) regarding this
underground cable or anything else, they are, of course, very welcome.

andrew


Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
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Just realized that was very americentric of me. Apologies to the rest
of the world.

(also, apologies for following up my own posts twice in this thread!)

andrew


Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
It's a well known fact that, sooner or later, X-10 will have you talking to
yourself. ;)


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Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question


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It often can.  When I was installing a number of X10 items in my house, they
all worked through the summer, then stopped working in the winter. It was
pretty bizarre, I thought, until I got to thinking about just that thing.

With my AC on, the 240v ac compressor motor provided coupling across the two
"phases" of the house. The solution for me was a passive coupler plugged in
to my dryer outlet.  Haven't had any problems since.  But it's a small
house. :)



Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
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No celebrity.  Just another contributor like some other folks here.  We have
been using X10 with near 100% reliability since the 70's and I wanted to
help some others increase the reliability of their systems too.

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There is a lot of "old technology" we rely on in our everyday lives.  X10
has worked almost 40 years, and there is no basic reason why it can't
continue to work for years to come.  Sure, there are newer systems with
higher data rates, but we don't know what problems they will run into over
coming decades.  I still think X10 gives you a lot of value for your dollar.

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When X10 devices are on both phases, a coupler is generally necessary to
propagate the 120KHz X10 signal from one phase to the other.  Otherwise, the
signal on the opposite phase is usually much lower amplitude than the
"transmitting" phase.  The coupler will distribute the transmitted energy
across both phases.

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Something like the XTB isn't needed in a relatively small house with a clean
X10 environment.  Even before the XTB, we had acceptable signals here after
taking precautions to eliminate most X10 interference sources.  We had one
cranky light with a compact fluorescent bulb that occasionally would not
turn off.  It has not failed to operate correctly since installing the XTB.

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I'm assuming your valve manifold will be out in the yard.  The building
supply centers sell multiconductor cable designed for this application in
the sprinkler section.  In my case, I ran it a few inches underground, and
through a small hole drilled through the concrete foundation just below the
ground level.  Then it runs to the Rain 8 located conveniently near an
outlet for the 24V transformer and TW523 interface.

Jeff



Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question

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As you doubtless know, X-10 was reportedly conceived by Pico Electronics of
Glenrothes, Scotland in 1975, developed 1976-1977, and first sold in the US
by Radio Shack in 1978. So you seem to have added ~10 years to X-10's
longevity prematurely. No doubt it will get there in a another decade tho ...
;-)

That said, I agree completely with your observation and live surrounded by
examples.

My house has (oh fer shame! ) manual SPST switches (remember them ?) that I
have no plans to replace.  

And a turn-of-the-century "gasolier" combination  gas and electric lamp that
hangs in the dining room. www.econtrol.org/GasElectricLamptGreygrnd.jpg

But I wouldn't want to go back to relying exclusively on gas lighting and
candles.

... Marc
Marc_F_Hult
www.ECOntrol.org

Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
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of
US
...

I stand corrected.  I thought it was the early 70's.  You reminded me of the
few years we used those dang mechanical timers before switching to X10.
Somewhere packed away in a box downstairs is the Radio Electronics article
that first described the X10 system.

Jeff



Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question

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Yup ;-) and I sometimes still use them "dang mechanical timers" ...

... Marc
Marc_F_Hult
www.ECOntrol.org

Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
Jeff Volp wrote:

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Thanks for all the informative replies.

Regarding the TW523:

Could one use the CM11A in place of the TW523 in the above
configuration, without forfeiting any functionality of the TW523?  In
other words, are the features of the CM11A a superset of those of TW523
?

Reasons I am not 100% certain, even after reading comparison posts that
suggest that CM11A is newer and more comprehensive:

1) The SmartHome web page with Rain8 details -
http://www.smarthome.com/1132b.html - says that the device requires
either the "PowerLinc" (described as a TW523 device) or their "TW523".
There is no mention of their CM11A device as a device compatible with
Rain8.

2) In your reply post (quoted above) you specifically mentioned the
TW523, rather than a broader category that would also include the
CM11A.

Thanks

Andrew


Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question
I believe the Rain8 needs a powerline interface, such as a TW523 or PSC05.
It can certainly be controlled through the powerline by a CM11A.  I don't
know how you could control it directly from a CM11A without using a
powerline interface.

Jeff

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in
and
the



Good news about X10 rain sensing! (was Re: a stupid X10 sprinkler question)
Jeff Volp wrote:
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I called SmartHome four hours ago and got the following info from their
rep:

Using a combination of certain modules as well as  "phantom addressing"
 (this, apparently, the key ingredient), one can achieve an on-request
rain status reporting.

The modules needed are:
     The rain sensor itself:  http://www.smarthome.com/7194.HTML
     The Powerflash Interface:  http://www.smarthome.com/4060.HTML
     And the 1132CU PowerLinc Controller -
http://www.smarthome.com/1132CU.HTML

According to the rep, the RS should be connected to the Powerflash
module, for triggering an X10 signal (also consistent with the info on
the above web page -- hidden by default, click "Details &
Specifications").

However, the Powerflash being one-way also, these two are not enough.
As I understood it, the signal should be further  relayed from
Powerflash to the 1132CU controller, which toggles off/on some
designated "phantom" X10 address -- (e.g., "G7").

It is this phantom address that can be queried for status, (I presume)
via the 1132CU.  This allows one to know, at any time, if the rain
sensor  is on or off.

I am relating the general idea here, and I'm not sure exactly  about
all the details.

Comments are welcome.  How viable/plausible is the above?

Somewhat related:  I have yet to ascertain the necessity to get the
1132CU controller in place of the 1140 (
http://www.smarthome.com/1140.html ) - the only difference the rep
could verify was the port ( USB vs. serial ), but also said that,
because the 1132CU was their own product, he could assure me that it
works in the above configuration, but could not vouch for the 1140 --
i'll have to call the relevant manufacturer on this)

TIA

Andrew


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