X10 HA vs. security

I just bought myself a new condo last month (oh yeah, first time homeowner!) and was toying with the idea of buying an X10 CM11A off ebay and using it with Heya to do some simple automation stuff. One thing in particular that I'd like to do is rig up some door sensors so that I know a) if I forget to close the garage door, and b) to alert my girlfriend and I if somebody comes in uninvited while we're sleeping.

I guess I have a few questions here. First, among the droves of info about X10, I can't really seem to sort out anything regarding whether or not the door sensor (which I believe is considered a security module) will send regular X10 signals to the CM11A which can be read by Heya. Any info on this?

Second, I've noticed several threads complaining about how old and unreliable X10 is. Is it all *that* unreliable? If I were to use newer modules which support status polling (I believe they exist, right?) could I not just include in my scripts something that would keep trying to turn a device on or off until the status polling reflected this change? I see there are other alternatives out there, but seeing as I just bought my first place my budget is such that, well I probably shouldn't even be looking at X10 nevermind something more expensive.

Thanks all! Ken

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What's "Heya"? Perhaps you mean Heyu (for Linux, Unix, and Mac OS X)?

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X-10 is currently peddling the RCA-branded CM11A on their "On Sale" page for $10 + $6 S&H
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that price, consider getting two (for $26). Heyu can run more than one at the same time, or you'll have a spare.

The DS10A Door/Window sensors send a "security" RF signal which isn't recognized by X-10 TM751 or RR501 Transceivers, so won't transmit an X10 signal on the powerline. One alternative is to use a PF284 or PSC01 "Powerflash" module which plugs into the AC line and which sends an X10 powerline signal on contact closure between its external terminals.

There are two major causes of X10 reliability problems: The first is the phase issue - having an X10 transmitter on one phase of the house wiring and a receiving module on the other phase, and with no good signal path between the phases. A signal coupler (which can be as simple as a capacitor) usually solves this problem.

The second results from modern appliances like PC, UPS, and TV which have switching power supplies. These can either introduce noise on the powerline which swamps out the X10 signal or have heavy capacitive filtering which shorts out the X10 signal. Special X10 plug-in noise filters are available for offending appliances.

Using 2-way modules as a workaround for marginal problems with either of the above is not a good solution - better to fix the problem at its source.

There are other potential problems, but taking care of the above two (and using Heyu) will provide very good reliability for the vast majority of users.

Regards, Charles Sullivan

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Charles Sullivan

There are a number of electronic security solutions that offer far more in the way of "peace of mind" than X-10. Ademco, DSC, Napco, Elk all "talk" to X-10 so integrating your existing components would be a "snap". Because they're actual security controls, they can also communicate alarms on standard phone lines or via the internet. There are a number of online dealers and stores:

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You can also check out the dealers on this page:
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Good luck!!

Reply to
Frank Olson

Hi Ken,

Congrats on buying a new home.

Yes, the X10 has been around for a while and upgrades are gett> I just bought myself a new condo last month (oh yeah, first time

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Wiring is preferable, and a hard wired dedicated security system is always best..sort of.

Consider yourself lucky, you are in a very good place. I think you could have some fun with this.

Start your new hobby with an X-10 wireless alarm kit like this:

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it is an older one and is on Ebay today for 20$ for a 4pc kit. It is exactly what you want to get started. I'd go for it at that price, even if it was used.

You'll want to add:

1 door window sensor. Older ones preferred, but are fugly X-10 DW-534 1 or 2 X-10 RT504 remote control - for beside 1 or 2 lamp dimmer modules for your bedside lamps. I prefer the Smarthome stuff

Now you're sitting at less that 100$ shipped.

This is a good start and can get a good WAF since it offers some security and is cheap. The older Door Window sensors in that kit are fugly but they use 9 volt batteries, last a long time, have screw terminals and a NO/NC switch so you can add whatever kind of sensor you want to the thing. You can't do that with the new ones. One good feature is the chime which warns you if a zone opens and has a visual indication of secure/violated.

Later some more fun:

1 CM11a or other PC interface for X-10 or Insteon and X-10 1 WGL W800rf32a 1 automation software ECS / Homeseer / ??? 1 cheap old PC 2 7watt red indicator bulbs 2 tiny lamps (use w bulbs above) a few appliance, lamp and wall switches

With the PC, W800RF receiver, and CM11a the system becomes interactive. Some examples: You are washing the car but your neighbor ask you to come fix his PC. Your garage is door is left hanging open for the world to go shopping in. The wife comes in and sees the red indicator lamp on in the kitchen so she is now aware something is open so looking at the X-10 security base she sees which zone. Security is all about awareness of your surroundings.

Some fellas would laugh their socks off at using the X-10 as an alarm systems but until you get a wired system or move to a better wireless system this will provide the awareness that a basic wired system can't touch.

Later add a X-10 PR511 motion / light detector outside your garage or why not in it. Then caller ID announcing....oh ya !

Have fun.

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