Survey: Home Control Software

I would like to know what people are using to control their home
devices.
Also a short note on how reliable they feel the system is.
Thanx
I use Harpers HC2000 / DOS control programme...has some quirks and the
system is too slow.
-I found X10 receievers work flakey in certain locations, despite
trying to correct for 15 years. Must be a resonant piece of wiring??
-I found X10 wireless RF receiver/X10 converters to be really bad.
They send out All Lights On codes at random sometimes and mistake
codes. I run four units with different house codes and they all seem
to do it about once every month or two.
- I found wireless X10 motion detectors do not work well in the cold.
Not the batteries, unless just weaker. They begin to work better as
the weather warms up (garage wall)
Reply to
John J. Bengii
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I use software I've written myself so I'm not familiar with the packages others use or the reliability level.
Your flaky receivers may have a nearby signal sink which attenuates the signal. Usually, this is a piece of electronic gear that has a capacitor across the mains. Some of these are only bothersome when turned on, some are always a problem. For a brief explanation see...
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An ELK ESM1 X-10 Signal Strength Meter can eliminate most of the guesswork. You can even "borrow" one from AutomatedOutlet.com.
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Which RF receivers do you have? The TM751 does not "hear" powerline activity so it's output can collide with other signals on the line. Usually, the result is like automobile collisions (junk) but occasionally the result is a valid X-10 code (even when both have different housecodes). This is the most likely cause of what you experience. The RR501 "hears" the powerline and backs off after sensing a collision, sending its code only after the line is clear. It doesn't totally eliminate collisions but does reduce the number. The Leviton HCPRF handles all housecodes so you may not need as many of them although none of these have really great range so you may need multiples just for coverage. There's a brief paragraph on the HCPRF here...
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X-10's wireless motion sensors can exacerbate the collision problem, especially when placed where one or more see the same motion.
Batteries lose their "oomph" rapidly as the temperature drops (and recover when they warm up). A few people have run tests using their freezers and posted their results. To begin with, the X-10 motion sensors are not top shelf in terms of quality. There are more costly (but non-X10) motion detectors designed for outdoor, cold weather use but all have problems at really low temperatures - 'tis the nature of the beast.
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"John J. Bengii" wrote:
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Reply to
Dave Houston
I'm using Indigo from Perceptive Automation. The software supports both X10 and Insteon (although, my house wiring is too old for Insteon, so I'm stuck with X10 and all of its quirks). It's nice because it runs a server invisibly in the background, then the client software may connect from any computer on your network. I've also been able to set up responses to expected "bad" X10 messages from my wireless transmitters so that the software sends the correct message when a bad one is detected. It's very sophisticated software and worth the price.
Reply to
Bream Rockmetteller
Thanx for the reply. I have a couple of questions for you.
1) Can you explain how your wiring is too old for Insteon. I thought it was backed up by RF connection and much faster but using alower freq over the power line. This sounds more tolerable.
2) How does this software know any unit has received a bad message? Everyone of my units receives an "All lamps on" signal about once per month. A few receive "unit off" signals when I get collisions sometimes.
"Bream Rockmetteller" wrote in message news: snipped-for-privacy@news.panic.com...
Reply to
John J. Bengii
The Insteon switch require power for its own purposes.
In a modern electrical box, you'll find individual wires for power and return as well as ground wires and wires to the load. All of the common return wires are typically bundled together, and each load gets its own switched power line.
An Insteon switch has three wires: one for power, one for return and one for load. You can connect the Insteon switch to the power and return, and connect a lamp to the load, but only assuming it has its own common return path.
My old house only has power entering the box, and a single wire to the load. There's no power for the Insteon circuitry itself, and the load has a return path I can't access. So, The blue wire out of the Insteon switch doesn't do me much good. I've discussed this with the SmartHome folks, and they basically told me it won't work.
The old-fashioned X-10 switches have only two wires: power in and power to the load... 1970's-style code. The switch gets its own power and provides power to the load from the same source.
Regarding the software, the reason it knows it has received a "bad" message is because I told it so. When I have a light act in a strange manner, I look at the log that Indigo keeps.
If I see that an RF switch somehow transmitted "turn on E10" instead of "turn on the kitchen lights" which are E1, I'll add a script in the "Trigger Actions" sections that says something like "If you receive a message to turn on E10, send a message to turn on the kitchen lights." That way, even if the switch or the receiver or some random noise has caused the message to go bad, the software will re-transmit the correct message.
I hope this helps...
Reply to
Bream Rockmetteller
While you did not address your questions to me, I can answer some of them.
Insteon devices require neutral.
Insteon has over-hyped some of their marketing jargon, particularly the "dual mesh network" phrase, leading to a frequent misunderstanding. There are only a very limited number of Insteon devices that send/receive RF. They use an RF link to couple the phases and you can add RF Access Points, if needed, but the switches and plug-in modules are not-RF capable, they only send/receive via the powerline. They are planning more RF devices. There's awhitepaper on the Insteon web site that gives the details if you want to know more.
Forward error correction is impossible with X-10.
"John J. Bengii" wrote:
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Reply to
Dave Houston
Unless you're using something that receives RF directly, you cannot see the RF messages. You only see powerline messages so the incorrect command has already made it to the powerline before your software is aware of it.
Even if your software does receive direct RF messages, there are seldom collisions between RF codes and when there are, the result is garbage - there's no possible way to sort out what the two colliding messages were. The RF messages do contain data which allows a receiver to check validity but any corruption will merely cause an invalid message it will not cause one message to be transformed into another. IOW, corrupt RF messages never make it to the powerline from any X-10 transceiver.
Bream Rockmetteller wrote:
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Reply to
Dave Houston
The Insteon whitepaper I mentioned is at...
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Page 10 has a diagram showing the RF & PLC transmission schema.
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Reply to
Dave Houston
So the Insteon devices all require netrals to perform properly and get clearer signals. I know the X10 devices typically do not require neutrals but there are a few starting to need a neutral . I think I have one device. Of course non of this discussion woul apply to a wall wart device where all conductors are available anyway...correct?
In modern wiring techniques the neutral is often not accessable either. Wiring codes recommend the feed goes to the lamps octagon box first, where there are more cubit inches of air for the multiple connection heat to be disapated. Then the light switch only gets two wires and cannot ake a device requiing a neutral. It would appear, with CFL lamping and their 3rd harmonic generations, any system without a neutral will become a problem.
Thanx. This is beginning to clear in my head somewhat.
"Bream Rockmetteller" wrote in message news: snipped-for-privacy@news.panic.com...
Reply to
John J. Bengii
I was not aware of the RF missing factor on these devices. You are correct on the overhype. They discuss this technique in depth and give the impression all Insteon devices are "fully equipped" but when examining their remote units, the RF is never mentioned.
The units are quite pricey and the slow replacement of X10 devices seems attractive. Most of mine have been removed from service due to several reasons - I am building a new home and recovering units for the move. - many operated unreliabily or not at all despite two powerline signal bridges and neighbour blocking devices. - too may light left on for days is costing me energy money on my bill, despite software to shut them down a few times a day for "just in case" scenarios. - too many "all lights on" in the middle of the night from wireless receivers (I think)
I short the three of four dozen units and 15 years of trying to perfect the system has resulted in a complete distrust for X10 units and there is only a few spots where flakey can be useful. Soon I will retire and won't need my "sunrise" algorythm for a 300W halogen anymore either. I was hoping Inteon may be an answer for a technology hungry kid.
Reply to
John J. Bengii
There's a "gotcha" with the gradual replacement scenario. Each Insteon device is two-way and the transmitters attenuate X-10 signals in the same manner as two-way X-10 devices do. The more Insteon devices, the better the Insteon reliability but the bigger the hit on X-10 reliability. It depends on how many total devices you have but at some point you'll probably find you need to convert all remaining X-10 devices.
All that said, most of the people using Insteon report good reliability although some report problems. While Insteon is subject to the same signal attenuators and noise sources as X-10, filters will fix most problems as they do for X-10. There are some persistent complainers on the Insteon forum but I suspect most are from people who really do not understand it.
I think an ESM1 signal meter is almost a necessity. It lets you see X-10 and Insteon signals (although it cannot interpret Insteon) and measure relative amplitudes. It can eliminate most of the guesswork. AutomatedOutlet.com will even loan you one - knowing full well that 98% (my WAG) of the loaners turn into purchases.
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Insteon prices have edged up plus they have apparently discontinued some of their lower priced "value" lines but I think it is still the best choice for new installations where the user doesn't want to spend far more for hard-wired low voltage control. However, someone who has a large X-10 investment and understands the ins and outs is probably better off sticking with it.
Given that you've had X-10 problems, you may continue to have them with Insteon. You probably need to run the the problems down before deciding.
Whichever way you go, as you move into the new house, deploy switches and modules in sub-groups so you can find and fix problems before you have a a large number of devices. Troubleshooting a limited number of devices is easier to manage. You'll have lots of time to troubleshoot.
"John J. Bengii" wrote:
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Reply to
Dave Houston
LOL. I doubt I will have lots of time to troubleshoot. I am building the home, mostly myself. This wasn't intentional but it is hard to find decent labout at a realistic price around that area.
The worst problem I have is my sunrise halogen that I progressively briighten on work mornings. Some days the wall wart dimmer will not shut off and I have to unplug it. I have tried different units with the same success. I suspected I was pushing the unit's heat rating (300W) and got a 200Watt bulb with the same result. Basically there is nothing else on the circuit and it appears to work fine in the another circuit. I have checked all the electrical connections and suspect some kind of resonant tuned circuit in the cable length. My TW523 is at the service panel for centralization with a 100' RS-232 connection to the computer.
Basically I would also like to get something that will run on a Windoze machine with network access to the beast. Currently I can only run in DOS and I cannot for the life of me remember how to get all the NIC drivers working. Win 3.11 used to set them all up for you and then you just dropped the GUI. I wrote my own code for the CM-11 but can't get through some of the protocol spec published. AFAIC it just doesn't work in spots. On a power blink it needs to be accessed and relaod macros or something (been a long time now) and haven't been able to make it talk that part of it. I am sure there is all kinds of code and drivers out there that are good for an old hack like me to boost his starting point.
Is code writing for hacks supported with the Insteon i/f also?
Reply to
John J. Bengii
The old problem is the wall receiver switch. It ceases to work in the deep cold even from manual X10 controllers. I have changed it a few times for other units to no avail. Now that's just weird as it is mounted in the interior wall and should have some heat leakage into it. Perhaps the condensation?
Reply to
John J. Bengii
It could be condensation, but don't rule out temperature problems (which can exacerbate condensation) just because it's an inside wall. Hollow interior walls can sometimes act as chimneys, funneling cool air from the basement up or even from the attic down if the outside air is windy. One simple way to check is to remove the switch plate on a breezy day. Hold a candle or a smoldering wick near the opening and see if there's any sign of air movement.
You can remedy the problem (assuming that's it) fairly easily by squirting urethane foam into the wall cavity. The stuff comes in cans and is intended to block the spread of smoke and fire but it does a neat job of insulating, too.
Reply to
Robert L Bass
I do not recall seeing any reports that cold affected wall switches but there's always a possibility that I've led too sheltered an existence.
What comes to mind is that you may have a seasonal signal attenuator - something that's only on in colder weather. Or, you might have just the opposite something that's on in warm weather that couples the signal.
In any case, an ESM1 can eliminate the guesswork.
"John J. Bengii" wrote:
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Reply to
Dave Houston
must be feelings of humility, not from nature, but from penitence, not to rest in them, but to go on to greatness. There must be feelings of greatness, not from merit, but from grace, and after having passed through humiliation.
526. Misery induces despair, pride induces presumption. The Incarnation shows man the greatness of his misery by the greatness of the remedy which he required.
527. The knowledge of God without that of man's misery causes pride. The knowledge of man's misery without that of God causes despair. The knowledge of Jesus Christ constitutes the middle course, because in Him we find both God and our misery.
528. Jesus Christ is a God whom we approach without pride and before whom we humble ourselves without despair.
529.... Not a degradation which renders us incapable of good, nor a holiness exempt from evil.
530. A person told me one day that on coming from confession he felt great joy and confidence. Another told me that he remained in fear. Whereupon I thought that these two together would make one good man, and that each was wanting in that he had not the feeling of the other. The same often happens in other things.
531. He who knows the will of his master will be beaten with more blows, because of the power he has by his knowledge. Qui justus est, justificetur adhuc,88 because of the power he has by justice. From him who has received most, will the greatest reckoning be demanded, because of the power he has by this help.
532. Scripture has provided passages of consolation and of warning for all conditions.
Nature seems to have done the same thing by her two infinitie
Reply to
Robert L Bass
the people. The Jews held their property in peace under Cyrus in Babylon; hence they could well have the law.
Josephus, in the whole history of Esdras, does not say one word about this restoration. 2 Kings 17:27.
634. If the story in Esdras is credible, then it must be believed that the Scripture is Holy Scripture; for this story is based only on the authority of those who assert that of the Seventy, which shows that the Scripture is holy.
Therefore, if this account be true, we have what we want therein; if not, we have it elsewhere. And thus those who would ruin the truth of our religion, founded on Moses, establish it by the same authority by which they attack it. So by this providence it still exists.
635. Chronology of Rabbinism. (The citations of pages are from the book Pugio.)
Page 27. R. Hakadosch (anno 200), author of the Mischna, or vocal law, or second law.
Commentaries on the Mischna (anno 340): The one Siphra.
Barajetot.
Talmud Hierosol.
Tosiphtot.
Bereschit Rabah, by R. Osaiah Rabah, commentary on the Mischna.
Bereschit Rabah, Bar Naconi, are subtle and pleasant discourses, historical and theological. This same author wrote the books called Rabot.
A hundred years after the Talmud Hierosol was composed the Babylonian Talmud, by R. Ase, A.D. 440, by the universal consent of all the Je
Reply to
Dave Houston

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