X10 Question

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I thought I'd again try to start some conversation here.
I have a lot of x10 stuff in my house.  I have a non-x10
IR detector across my driveway. It has a normally closed
contact, which is connected to a 5 minute retriggerable
timer, that has a relay output, both open and closed
contacts.  The timer is there so we don't constantly trigger
a signal to the house when we are just in that area doing
yard work, walking back and forth.  The normally open
contact is connected to a PowerFlash module, set up for
a dry contact and sends a C16 On when the contact closes and
a C16 Off when the contact opens.  I have 2 of these modules
and neither is reliable.  It will work for a few days and
then will just quit. I put in the 2nd unit, it works for a
few days or weeks, and then it quits.  I have no clue what's
going on.  So, what I'm looking for is a unit/hack/modification
that would send out an X10 signal when a contact closes.  I
don't even care about sending the Off when the contact finally
opens. I use, in my case, the C16 On to trigger events in an
1132CU controller. Depending on times, it will ring a chime
and/or turn on floods.  Anyone have a neat way of doing this?

Re: X10 Question
On 3/20/2015 10:29 AM, Art Todesco wrote:
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Well, I'm probably talking to myself here, but here goes. I did some  
testing around the house. There seemed to be multiple problems. I  
noticed the green LED on the 1132CU was off at times, or very dim. This  
is indicative of an x10 signal coming in or some noise. It should  
normally stay on and only blink out when there is x10 traffic. This  
morning I noticed the green LED on the 1132CU was out. My 1st thought  
was to replace the 1132 ... I have a spare. Same thing with the new one.  
So, next I turned off the repeater in the breaker box. Same thing, only  
now some things couldn't be controlled ... but this is expected. Next I  
noticed an LED flood on the range hood was on, so I turned it off.  
Bingo! No more noise, the green LED on the 1132CU was now on steady.  
These LED flood lights are brand new. Got them at Amazon. They are  
miniature floods, PAR16 with a standard medium base. I guess they're  
going back. I'm sure they don't pass FCC requirements for emissions on  
the power line. I know FCC regs for conducted emissions on the mains,  
are less stringent than in Europe, but this is totally nuts.

But, after all the testing, I still think there is something wrong with  
the 2 PowerFlash modules. I had one set up on the workbench and shorted  
the terminals with a pair of long nose pliers, which should send the  
signal. Absolutely no x10 output. I hit the test button ... same  
results.  AND, the above mentioned LED floods were not on at the time.  
Now, that same module seems to be working again. Lots of weirdnesses.

Re: X10 Question
Sounds like noise to me.  All my frustrating X10 problems over the  
decades have been due to noise, either on the powerline or RF.

Some devices will pollute the power line X10 signal.  Compact  
fluorescent bulbs, or tube fluorescent.  Computers and peripherals.

Other devices will overwhelm the X10 RF signal with noise.  I have a  
Homedics chair massager that disables my RF X10 motion sensors.

The first thing to do is turn off your entire house and test the  
questionable X10 modules (while hoping your neighbor isn't sending X10  
noise to you).  If the module(s) work reliably, you have a noise  
problem.  Start buying X10 filters to filter out the noise.

I was lucky enough to buy an ELK ESM1 X10 signal meter cheaply years  
back when they were still made.  It's been invaluable to me to track  
down noise.  You may have to put out some significant $$$ to get a noise  
meter now, eg:  http://jvde.us/xtb/XTBM_description.htm

Other useful links:

On 3/21/2015 10:10 AM, Art Todesco wrote:
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Re: X10 Question
On 3/21/2015 6:37 PM, Paul H wrote:
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Yeah, now I'm gun shy. Although, I do have other LED light bulbs around,  
and a lot of CFLs, too. I have some mini LED floods which are supposed  
to be 35 watt equiv and they never have caused problems.  These 50w  
equiv minis, just killed power line stuff in my house. As I said, I will  
try to return them. There is another product which I will try next.

Re: X10 Question

I only have a couple LED bulbs, and found them to be noisy, so I have  
them behind a filter.

Compact fluorescent are all over my house and have caused me X10  
problems for years.  Then I found GREENLITE compact fluorescent bulbs.  
They are a godsend.  That's all I will use now -- they are not X10 noise  
monsters (google "X10 greenlite" and read a bit).

But to repeat, you have to convince yourself that noise is the cause of  
your problems before spending $$$ to filter it and/or replace offending  

Turn everything else off and test only the X10 hardware that is  
malfunctioning.  If it starts working reliably, turn everything back on.  
  If X10 starts failing... well, you've probably got a noise problem.

I've found X10 devices to be remarkably reliable, and long-lived  
(decades).  The plastic will yellow and they continue chugging along.  
Time does not seem to effect their sensitivity.  I have dozens of X10  
devices, and the only time they've caused me grief is due to noise from  
other hardware.

On 3/21/2015 4:25 PM, Art Todesco wrote:
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Re: X10 Question

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I stopped using X-10 stuff when I moved to a 123 year old house. It was
built before electricity was in the neighborhood. Circuits go all over the
place. I tried once and gave up.

In 1988 I renovated a loft and it was all X-10. I was having modules go bad
after a few years. The electrolytic capacitors used were cheap and failing.
The modules would then chatter.

I gave away all my left over controllers. Or so I thought. I recently came
upon four wall switch modules. Three Levitons from 1988. And one more
recent from Smarthome. New in original boxes. I need to get them on Craig's
List for free.

I'm in Brooklyn, if someone wants to swing by and pick them up.

Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).

Re: X10 Question

Ah, thank you Don for jarring a fading memory.  I have had (rarely)  
appliance modules go bad -- the "chattering" effect you describe.  But  
not for years, and I have thirty appliance modules now in use.  Maybe  
once you've found a X10 module with decent caps you're good to go.

Never had a palm pad (use a half dozen) or tabletop mini controller or  
infrared sensor go south.

Have a WGLDesigns V572 paired with an XTB-523 to make the RF happen.  A  
PSC05 worked fine too; I got the XTB-523 just because I find Jeff Volp's  
products to be amazing in general.

Haven't used lamp wall modules or the dimming button switches so I can't  
comment on them.  I do have a universal module PUM01 controlling a  
thermostat; it's lasted forever.  And of course I've a device to carry  
the signal across my two wiring legs.

Everything works with amazing reliability once the noise issue is  
understood and defeated.  Perhaps living in California with low humidity  
and mild climate has extended the life of my X10 devices.

On 3/23/2015 4:32 PM, Don Wiss wrote:
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Re: X10 Question

Oh boy, speaking of a failing memory... I forgot I have modified all my  
appliance modules -- clipped the diode -- to disable local control.
I always disliked that "current sensing" feature.  eg:


Maybe that's what's keeping me from having chattering appliance modules.

On 3/23/2015 5:20 PM, Paul H wrote:
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Re: X10 Question

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Hi Paul,

I found your aquarium page. I think salt water fish are neat. I once
created this page: http://donwiss.com/saltwaterfishbiketour/

But no way would I have them. No way would I be able to keep it going. I
once had a dream of having fish and forgetting to feed them.

Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).

Re: X10 Question

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This now being 25 years ago I don't recall the details. They were very
likely appliance modules. I doubt they were lamp modules. Maybe they just
had a bad batch back then.

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Neither did I. I bet controllers and sensors don't have electrolytic

Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).

Re: X10 Question

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This one is starting at $25 on eBay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/171728393004

If that goes for more than you want to pay, I suggest setting up an eBay
watch on: ELK ESM1

Good luck,

Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).

Re: X10 Question

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Unfortunately the group died when Robert Bass died.

Don. www.donwiss.com (e-mail link at home page bottom).

Re: X10 Question
On 3/23/2015 7:32 PM, Don Wiss wrote:
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Too bad, there used to be lots of good information here. BTW, I have  
converted several lamp modules to silent appliance modules; some using a  
solid state relay (5A) and others using the triac (3A). They seem to  
work really well.

My original problem with the PowerFlash module is temporarily solve.  
Originally, the PF module was in the garage where it got its signal from  
IR detector across the driveway. PIR units false trigger from everything  
including wind, deer, bears and dogs. This unit has a source on one side  
and a detector on the other. Anyway, when it triggers, it sends an X10  
signal via the PF module, which is decoded by an 1132CU, as I said  
previously. Now, I have the PF module in the basement with a temporary  
wire from the garage to the basement. This works pretty good, but I do  
want to make it more "permanent". I think a Volp repeater/coupler might  
be in my future as I think the X10 unit I have now might have some  
issues. I am in a pretty low noise environment where there are few  
houses on pretty large lots. Noise in my house is usually made in my  
house from things like the aforementioned LED flood light. BTW, I  
returned them and ordered a different brand. I'm holing my breathe.

Re: X10 Question
I think it died when Usenet died.

On Monday, March 23, 2015 at 7:32:58 PM UTC-4, Don Wiss wrote:
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