CM11A hangup: Any better products?

The CM11A is hanging, or the software running it? I always programmed my CM11A and then shut down the software running it. Ran for ever. Still does, but I went to the CM15A for more memory space. Now for that beast, it works well for me, but others will say it is a piece of junk. The built is receiver has a VERY poor range issue, so do not get rid of any receivers you already have installed. Second, mine does not keep real-time at all. Gains about 6 minutes an hour. If you keep it attached to the computer you use to program it with, then the time is always accurate. Others have claimed that the sending range is poorer, but I have not seen that issue, seems to cover the same as my CM11A did.
Dan
Reply to
Dan
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I do not bellieve I have erver not done some programming, etc within a half year, so my CM11A has never gone that long without being changed. That may be why I have never seen this issue.
I have gone 2 units since the first one out last year, and they all have had the time issue. Someone said if you do the math, the CM15A acts like it was designed to be on a 50hz power instead of a 60hz power source. Someone bolstered this argument by claiming the unit was designed in asis somewhere where 50hz power is the norm. Like I said, since it is hooked to my server that runs 24x7, the time issue does not affect me, so the trade off for more memory was worth it.
Reply to
Dan

Hello All,
The CM11A hang-ups have been mentioned a lot here but I could not find a
truly exhaustive fix anywhere. So, my question:
Are newer CM11A still hang-up prone? Mine is from around 2000. Is the
CM15A better in quality?
Besides quitting out of the blue my CM11A also doesn't always respond to
a date&time update. Sometimes it catches, sometimes it doesn't, you just
never know.
The reason I ask is that I want to keep X10 going but not spend a lot of
money on such an ancient technology. The X10 web site has become more
glitzy but in my opinion less informative. It couldn't even find the
CM15A as a product when I tried.
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
Hello Dan,
That's how I use mine. It runs fine for a half year or sometimes more, then hangs up and does nothing. After a power cycling and battery removal it wakes up again.
That is not encouraging. I'd have no problem improving a poor receiver or transmitter design but when it comes to its particular micro controller code I am not an expert. If losing that much time happens to all of them and not just yours that is usually not a good sign for firmware quality at all. Well, maybe switching to the CM15A isn't the solution then.
I am still hoping that someday a better scheme than X10 comes to market. But my hopes aren't high because home automation isn't advertised enough. So it may not make it out of niche applications like yours or mine any time soon.
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
I started with the CM11A. It was intermittent at best. I upgraded to the CM15A with the same result. I then purchased the Powerlinc 1132CU from Smarthome.com and it has worked flawlessly since installed 8 months ago.
Reply to
Kent McPherson
Well, I just had my 4th CM11a die, so I went to the 1132U / Smarthome Manager. In general I think it's pretty good. I need to run from internal memory since I don't keep it attached to a PC.
A couple of issues: the software that comes with it doesn't have Sequences (equivalent to ActiveHome Macros). It can have complicated chains of events triggered at times or from events, but it would be much better to define the chain of events as a Sequence and then be able to trigger that from various thing, or to trigger it manually. I use X10 to run my sprinkers and I used to be able to manually start the watering, but I need to pay $$ to upgrade to Smarthome Manager Plus to be able to do that.
Second, I was setting up Triggered events. I set it up so that A4 On (from the keypad by my bed) would turn on all the lights in the house. This works, but the 1132U, which seems to transmit a very strong signal, sucks for receiving! I have to plug the unit in in the same room as the keypad or it doesn't work. Has anyone else seen this?
David
Reply to
David Rogoff
Try the Smarthome 1132U (or CU or the serial version). I've had good luck with all of them.
Lots of folks also like the Marrick LinX-10. It's getting a little old, but it still seems to be a great product.
Joerg wrote:
Reply to
Mitch
Hello David,
If there was a schematic of it we could at least all look at it and see if it can be improved, short of scrapping it and building a new receiver.
What I found with X-10 modules a lot was that their resonant circuit was quite far out of tune. That made a huge difference in some. The receivers were ok (not great) but they were listening on the wrong frequency until adjustment. Since it's an AM protocol a strong signal will still get through.
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
Hello Kent,
Thanks, also to Mitch. It is decently priced at $59 so maybe that's the way to go.
I am just wondering what the underlying problem with those CM11A really is.
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
There is a professional line of replacements for the RR-501 (3rd party) at ~$100+ (US). They also have much better antennas for the attic.
If anyone wants the URL, I will look through my savings from this conference.
Reply to
clemslay
Thanks for the info. The RR-501 is, IIRC, the RF transceiver. That one actually works pretty well after I found the wall outlet it "liked best". Maybe I give it a better receiver one day, that's kind of my engineering home turf.
If you come across it please post. I assume there would be interest in this group. But don't turn your storage boxes upside down now ;-)
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
No need to look, Brian had just mentioned it in another thread. Probably it's this one:
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Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
I'm curious how you determined that the modules were mistuned.
I've looked at the frequency of several X-10 transmitters and found all to be at 120kHz.
Reply to
Dave Houston
Hello Dave,
I became suspicious when I found that a module didn't work reliably in an outlet and another module of the same brand (they actually came with the same shipment) worked every single time in the same outlet. So, I got a schematic from the web and opened both.
CAREFUL: You have to be extremely careful and know what you are doing since the circuitry in there is on live mains voltage, including the signal processing part. Do not touch anything while the module is plugged in. I used a power strip to avoid having to directly plug in and out disassembled modules.
Even though the US modules are polarity keyed all it takes is a miswired outlet and there can be the full mains voltage on what you thought should be ground in the module. In Europe it is worse in some countries because many of their mains plugs and outlets are not polarity keyed.
Then I made myself a Hi-Z toroid pickup circuit for the oscilloscope which I could solder on while the module was unplugged. This would also protect the oscilloscope. I looked at the amplitudes on the other side of the tuned circuit while sending lots of bogus codes with a wireless remote via the transceiver. The flakey module showed only half the amplitude of a "good" module. That was a whopping 6dB less sensitivity which is a lot for X-10. It was simply listening on the wrong frequency. Now I took a good communications receiver and verified the frequency of the transceiver, to make sure I wouldn't adjust all the modules to the wrong baseline frequency. It was pretty much right on.
After tuning them all with a fully isolated alignment driver (from a Bernstein kit) they all performed fine. There was no longer a difference in reliability between modules on this "far away" outlet. I did not do the in-wall dimmer modules because they worked ok and I didn't want to go through the hassle of taking them all out again.
I found the transceiver and the CM11A to be pretty close to 120kHz but not all of the receivers.
Again, for anyone reading here: This is just a recollection of what I did, NOT ADVICE. Tampering with the modules can be dangerous.
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
There's a schematic of a lamp module at...
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Could you use it to explain your procedure?
BTW, there is a schematic of the first version of the SmartHome 1132 (mentioned earlier in this thread) available at...
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I suspect the X-10 circuitry is still the same on the latest versions.
Joerg wrote:
Reply to
Dave Houston
Hello Dave,
Ok, it's been a long time but I'll try.
I took a toroid of about 1" OD, 43 material. 77 material is probably better but I just had that on the desk. I wound about 20 turns bifilar onto it, insulated wires, about one twist every half inch. The secondary to a short coax which went into the scope's input, with 499 Ohms in series with the winding. Primary one side to module ground, the other side via a 5K resistor in series with a 100pF cap to pin 1 of the 78561. Could have been the other side of the 33pF cap, I don't remember exactly. Then I peaked the inductor while sending lots of commands on an unused code, to avoid clacking the relays too much.
From an RF engineer's point of view this was horrible. Mismatch galore but it worked. I just needed a quick and dirty fix because the missus ain't happy when the X-10 lights are on the fritz.
Don't use a screwdriver for this. Safety is one reason but the core is also ferrite which is brittle. A metal blade might break a chunk out of it or crack the whole core. If you don't have a Bernstein screwdriver this would be the perfect excuse to eat a Haagen-Dasz bar to get the wooden stick. Almond crunch are the best ;-)
You can't use a scope probe directly. Not just for safety (module GND could be hot) but its input capacitance can cause de-tuning and you might end up on the wrong frequency once you disconnect it.
Thanks. It seems to be an older version since it doesn't have a backup battery. Also, I read somewhere that they might have a Dallas realtime chip. I think the new version is called 1132CU.
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg
The transmit frequency is controlled by the crystal or resonator, which is usually quite accurate. The transformer (X2 in the powerlinc circuit) is part of a tuned circuit that may not be perfectly tuned to 120KHz. If not, then the receive signal coupled through C5 will be smaller at 120Khz. Transmit operation is not affected very much by a small mistuning; the transmit current will increase and that is about all.
Reply to
George Pontis
None of the X-10 modules used in North America use crystals or resonators - all are LC tuned. This is true both for the 120kHz PLC modules as well as for their 310MHz and 418MHz wireless devices.
Transmitter mistuning is much more of a problem than receiver mistuning as it will affect all receivers whereas a mistuned receiver has no effect on others.
The 1132 circuitry designed by SmartHome is not at all similar to the PLC design used by X-10. I gave a link to a schematic for an X-10 made lamp module.
Reply to
Dave Houston
How do the two 1N4148 diodes affect the magnitude of the signal on pin 1? Don't they clip at ±0.6V?
Joerg wrote:
Reply to
Dave Houston
Hello Dave,
Yes, they do. However, in our house you have to be really lucky to achieve that level, even when the receiver is in the next room. If you run into excess amplitude during a test try the transceiver farther away or plug into a power strip that has EMI filtering.
Regards, Joerg
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Reply to
Joerg

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