I recently bought an MMIR X-10 Macro IR module from SmarthomeUSA (Item # MMIR) for $89.95. I got it mainly to extend the power of my X-10 8-in-1 UR24 remote control. One of the limitations of the X-10 remote is that unless you're a custom PICmaster like Dan L., or an Ocelot wrangler like Jeff, it's difficult to get an X-10 remote to easily control more than a single house code. That's become a growing need for me.
The MMIR is very small - about half the size of a cigarette pack. On the back it has jacks for the TW523 line cord and the 9VDC center negative PS - a Panasonic phone unit, actually and a single programming pushbutton. Unlike the Ocelot, this unit uses a normal phone cord to connect with the powerline interface. (Anyone know why ADI made that somewhat unusual choice?) It's light enough to mount with Velcro nearly anywhere. On the front is a receiving IR sensor and a red LED.
Nothing on the SmarthomeUSA site was explicit about needing a TW523 or PSC05 (shame on them) although if you downloaded the document file, you could figure it out.
Since I only use 5 of the 8 devices programmed into the remote, I had 3 complete sets of push buttons that I wanted to be able to use for various chores. Primarily, I wanted to send X-10 commands on multiple housecodes. But I also wanted to program macros to set up the home theater lights, the X-10 HAC 8x8 video switcher and even more gear as well. I know that the Ocelot's capable of doing all this, but at a big jump in cost and complexity. This should do what I want it to do very nicely: allowing me to use all the unused IR capacity of UR24 remote in the form of complex X-10 actions.
That's why the unit's main feature:
- IR Control. Transmits up to 27 codes of any House and Unit code with any IR Remote Control
had great appeal to me. The biggest advantage that give mes is that I can switch video inputs and outputs on the HAC switcher with a single button press AND without having to assign the UR24's X-10 housecode to match the HAC's instead of the house lights. While the HAC has a number of great features, it does require either a PalmPad and eight unit codes, or some sort of IR remote. My goal was to reduce the number of button presses. To switch the unit, and you have to push button pairs in within a second or so. So I would press 1ON and 4OFF for example to switch the input 1 to the output 4. Not a big thing, but most pairs, at least in my house, are constant and really require just one push to switch configurations.
Since I wanted to control the matrix switcher through walls, I plugged an RR501 set to the same housecode as the HAC's TW523 into the same powerstrip as the TW523. Because the transceiver and the TW523 are next to each other, I didn't even need to boost the RR501's output with an XTB! That's a rarity for anything X-10 these days.
Now, any X-10 transmitter set to that housecode can control the home video system matrix switcher remotely. I can switch the video feed from any of 8 devices to any of 8 TVs throughout the house. I've got the CCTV front, side and driveway cams on three of the inputs, the cable box, a jukebox, a HTPC, a DVR and a DVD recorder on the others.
Sorry I had to stray, but I needed to explain my setup to show why the MMIR is so useful to me. The unit claims to:
- Holds up to 42 macros which store up to 36 X-10 codes each
I get nervous when I see the words "up to" because I suspect there's a serious caveat coming, as it you can store one 35 code macro and 7 one code macros. I don't know if that's the case, but it's one of the things I want to test. Programming and resetting the unit seems to be pretty simple. They recommend a minicontroller because it sends both address and function commands with one button push, but that is kind of limiting because the mini's (unless modded) can only handle unit codes 1 through 8. I'll probably test program the MMIR for starters with the mini, because it's what they recommend but then switch to the ControlLinc Maxi that can address all256 codes for the real programming work.
The promo lit further states:
- Larger macros can roll over code storage into other macros
but I am not sure what they mean, but I think it's basically what that "up to" phrase means in the previous paragraph. I doubt anyone with much X-10 experience would send a lot of 36 command macros via X-10 because of the corruption potential, but the MMIR docs also say:
- Detects and corrects bad X-10 signal transmissions. Non-volatile memory holds your programmed macros during a power failure.
Now this *could* mean that if some segment of a long macro gets stepped on by some other X-10 transmission it will wait until the line is clear or it could be marketing hype. It's certainly going to be interesting trying to test some of these features. It's also got 32 timers (16 simultaneously) to initiate another macro or X-10 code from 2 minutes to 8.5 hours after a macro has been transmitted. (Doesn't sound like there's an absolute time reference available, but that may be a blessing in disguise based on the mischief the CM11A clock was capable of doing when it got whacko.
- Each macro can contain up to 48 X-10 commands! Program your own macros, like mood lighting, movie time, intermission, romance, TV, lighting, end of day and lots more!
It was 42 macros a few sentences ago. What happened? Is this what happens when you try to express a fixed storage capacity in terms of variable length elements? No, wait, they're talking about commands and macros, two different things. I see . . .
I'll be playing with this today to see how it holds up against stray IR and my limited tolerance for arcane programming techniques. There's lots of button pushing, and as far as I can tell, no way to core dump the unit to see what it thinks it's storing. Dave, if you're still with me, this is another area where the Monterey is invaluable because its command buffer should be able to capture any macro embedded in the MMIR and play it back to me at the receiving point. What I need now is a program that steps through every housecode and unit code combination in sequence to "check" the memory.
Anyway, I realize I'll have to set up a fairly complex "test bench" to thoroughly evaluate how the unit programs, how well it sees IR, its real world command capacity and how well its "error detection" function works and even HOW it works. So, more later, but right now, it's a beautiful day here and that means time to trot . . .
-- Bobby G.