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Hacking a Firecracker module for the CAI WebControl


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#1 Sacarino

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:17 PM

I happened to be on the CAI website a while back and discovered that they now have X-10 support cooked into the 3.1.x PLC firmware. That got me pretty fired up, because I have a project that would be easily solved by the WebControl blasting out X-10, rather than waiting for the time (and lower temperature) to let me run cat5 through the attic. The how-to shows that you can use either a keyfob controller, a Firecracker, or a standalone transmitter so I sent the board off to be re-flashed and I dug my old Firecracker.

My problem is that my Firecracker looks nothing like theirs - the one I have must be an earlier board rev, because it's totally different (and uglier!). The chip seems to be the same PN and rev, but I'm not circuit savvy enough to know if the diode hack will work on the same pinout, so I was hoping that someone here could throw an educated thought my way. Worst case scenario is I try it and it doesn't work, right? If so, would this 310Mhz transmitter from Sparkfun work for me?

The CAI documentation contains this Firecracker:
Posted Image

The Firecracker on my desk:
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image
Posted Image

I'd be in your debt if you could offer some guidance to a software geek!

Thanks for the help!

#2 CAI_Support

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 03:35 PM

All X10 firecracker or keychain remote,even the palmhold remote doing similar thing in its RF part.
They all have a small processor, one of its processor output is driving the RF transistor's base through a resistor.
If you look your last picture and SOT-23 transistor, the one pin on top is collector, the pin at left lower one is base, and the one on lower right is
emitter.

You can simply have diode to hook up to the IC pin 5, which is connected to resistor marked with 273 (probably 2.7K), that is the correct pin.
Hook that to WebControl TTL8 sending X10 RF commands through the RF transmitter.

Edited by CAI_Support, 29 September 2011 - 03:40 PM.


#3 Sacarino

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 04:38 PM

All X10 firecracker or keychain remote,even the palmhold remote doing similar thing in its RF part.
They all have a small processor, one of its processor output is driving the RF transistor's base through a resistor.
If you look your last picture and SOT-23 transistor, the one pin on top is collector, the pin at left lower one is base, and the one on lower right is
emitter.

You can simply have diode to hook up to the IC pin 5, which is connected to resistor marked with 273 (probably 2.7K), that is the correct pin.
Hook that to WebControl TTL8 sending X10 RF commands through the RF transmitter.


Hm, ok... So do I have to leave the card attached to the DB9 shell or can I just wire it directly to the WebControl? If we're keeping what was previously the RTS and GND pins, does the new diode on IC pin 5 take the place of the brown wire that was the DTR signal?

#4 BLH

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 05:30 PM

If you want the actual schematic of the Firecracker.
It is in the FCC Database.
https://fjallfoss.fc...nericSearch.cfm
Grantee B4S
Product Code CM17A
In the details section.

Schematic:
Attached File  CM17ASCH.pdf   29.28K   68 downloads

Pin 5 of the IC looks like the RF transmitter control.
Seems to be used for an external signal to key the transmitter on and off.

The Sparkfun is 315 Mhz and not adjustable to the X10 310MHz.

Edited by BLH, 29 September 2011 - 05:48 PM.


#5 CAI_Support

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 06:28 PM

The 315MHz transmitter can not be modified easily, since it has a resonance device on it.
In addition, getting a X10 keychain remote or firecracker is cheaper. You can solder 3 wires to put this
transmitter anywhere, few feet away from WebControl board.

#6 Sacarino

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Posted 29 September 2011 - 09:38 PM

Schematic:
Attached File  CM17ASCH.pdf   29.28K   68 downloads

Pin 5 of the IC looks like the RF transmitter control.
Seems to be used for an external signal to key the transmitter on and off.


That's exactly right, and it all makes sense to me now. The WebControl leaves the TTL7 output high the entire time to act as Vdd for the IC, and then the transmitter is toggled via TTL8 - based on whatever house code/unit code you've told it to transmit. Très Cool.

The Sparkfun is 315 Mhz and not adjustable to the X10 310MHz.


I went down the rabbit hole and found a site where you can buy the 310Mhz resonators to swap out... albeit on a more hackable transmitter. However, short of a learning experience, it doesn't make much sense to go that route since it's certainly not cost effective as CAI_Support has noted.

Thanks for the help! Took a 2nd pass through the documentation to realize the unit code translation, but I've got it up and running. :)

Edited by Sacarino, 29 September 2011 - 09:44 PM.


#7 CAI_Support

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Posted 12 October 2011 - 11:07 AM

The attached picture showing X10-Keychain remote wiring for sending X10 RF commands

Attached Files


Edited by CAI_Support, 12 October 2011 - 11:12 AM.


#8 drozwood90

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 12:07 PM

that's neat, so are you basically hacking one or the other to allow an "outside" device to Tx on the Rf portion of the circuits?

#9 CAI_Support

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:06 PM

That is correct. Since there is no 310MHz transmitter on the market, the easiest way is to hack up the real X10 RF devices. We tested on keychain remote, on firecracker, and on palm remote. They all working great. Since it operates on 5V power provided by WebControl, keychain remote can send X10 RF farther than on the 3V battery. Firecracker has 5V regulator, so WebControl's 5V supply makes no difference on its range. For EU, it uses a different frequency, which you can get a RF transmitter easily.

#10 fwd03

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 06:16 PM

I got this electric mattress pad:
http://www.jcpenney....d=searchresults
and it works well. The only problem was I always forgot to turn it off in the morning. With a modified X10 key chain and WebControl, I made it turn on at the evening and off in the morning automatically. I added those lines to my gen 1 WebCtrol board:
START
...
...
TSTEQ CH 23
CALLSUB HEATON
HEAT1:
TSTEQ CH 7
CALLSUB HEATOFF
HEAT2:
NOP
END

HEATON:
TSTEQ RAM3 1
GOTO HEAT1
X10 1 15 ON
SET RAM3 1
RET

HEATOFF:
TSTEQ RAM3 0
GOTO HEAT2
X10 1 15 OFF
SET RAM3 0
RET

My house code is B and X10 appliance ID is 16. Since CAI's X10 starts from 0, so that I shifted the number accordingly. This will send out one X10 on command on 11PM and one X10 turn off command on 7AM. I put all electric mattress pads in my house on the same device ID, so they are turned off all together at 7AM.




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