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UPB Communication Problem


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#1 Spuds

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 04:07 PM

My main panel is in the house, it has a 100Amp breaker that feeds a sub panel in a detached garage.  I installed a SA ZPCI-B in the garage breaker box, the lights on the ZPCI-B show normal operation.  Of note is that particular ZPCI-B is from around 2005.
 
I was setting up some new PCS UPB switches in the garage, and found that the PIM (PCS-u) could not connect/see the switches in setup.  Both the PIM and the switches are in the garage and are on the same phase, the breakers are right next to one another.  In desperation I removed the old ZPCI-B and immediately everything communicate just fine, which is also confusing to me.  
 
Is this an indication the old ZPCI-B is bad, or is it that the new equipment is Gen III and the 2005 ZPCI-B does not understand that or is something else maybe going on.  I was going to order a new ZPCI-B but want to see if anyone had other ideas before I did so.


#2 ano

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 12:04 AM

Hi and welcome.

 

So first of all, a ZPCI-B is a phase coupler from Simply Automated.  There really no "Gen" for phase couplers, but they work with Gen I, which is what Simply Automated also sells. Gen III allows the use of repeaters (as opposed to couplers) but they aren't required. Repeaters are much better than couplers, but since Gen I doesn't support repeaters, you could have problems with Gen I switches and a repeater on opposite phases.

 

So assuming you have some Gen I switches, and they only work without the ZPCI-B, then it does sound like its a problem. They do wear-out, and are cheap, so I would try that first since it sounds like it was working until it wasn't.



#3 pete_c

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 07:11 AM

Curious too if you have been using Upstart diagnostics with your adding of new switches?

 

A few years ago here went to transitioning to all SA UPB switches from a hodgepodge of PCS, HAI and SA UPB switches.

 

I am OK today with signals from the UPB switches on both phases of the panel.  Relating to diagnostics here placed first UPB PIM on it's own breaker next to the fuse panel and a second UPB PIM furthest away on another phase using a serial to network interface.  Both PIMs see all of the SA switches just fine today.

 

In the fuse panel tinkering have left an SA and PCS phase coupler on their own breakers which are today in off mode and one HAI / PCS repeater on another breaker.

 

Best signals throughout the home is with the UPB repeater in ON mode.  

 

Summer before last AC outdoor compressor motor started to fail and while doing so generated much noise on the powerline that I could see with Upstart and with an old Elk X10 meter.

 

So curious if you have used Upstart for signal metering with the installation of your new switches? 



#4 Spuds

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 06:28 PM

Thanks for the responses, I would have replied this AM but I'm still in the restricted box.

 

So first of all, a ZPCI-B is a phase coupler from Simply Automated.  There really no "Gen" for phase couplers, but they work with Gen I, which is what Simply Automated also sells. Gen III allows the use of repeaters (as opposed to couplers) but they aren't required. Repeaters are much better than couplers, but since Gen I doesn't support repeaters, you could have problems with Gen I switches and a repeater on opposite phases.'t.

 

Thanks for the clarification on the couplers = no generational bias, I'm going to assume its just gone "bad" and get a new one to try.  I'll probably get a PCS PPC-1 and see how that performs.

 

Curious too if you have been using Upstart diagnostics with your adding of new switches?

 

A few years ago here went to transitioning to all SA UPB switches from a hodgepodge of PCS, HAI and SA UPB switches.

 

...

 

So curious if you have used Upstart for signal metering with the installation of your new switches? 

 
Some additional background on all of this. I recently moved, well a year ago, and when I sold my old house the new owners did not want any of the automated switches. So I had to remove all of the UPB stuff and move it with me.  All of the switches were HAI G1 and *maybe* a couple of G2 ones.  Really for the 12+ years I lived in that house the UPB was simply rock solid.
 
Here in the new house I have run in to some difficulties with noise interfering with my UPB signals.  The noise comes from our Carrier Infinity outdoor A/C-H/P unit, its a variable speed PWM controlled unit, 240/30AMP
 
Through some experimentation I found that using a new PCS PIM, which produces a stronger signal then my HAI or Leviton PIM's, does seem to help.  The other "big" help is from using the newest UPB switches G3? I had some of the latest (and last) Leviton 35A00-1 switches (f/w 1.09) and those seem to be able to work with the noise.  I also purchased a couple of gently used PCS WS1DL (f/w 05.58) and set them to low sensitivity and those also have been working very reliably.
 
The above is just to indicate that I'm going to be deploying G3 level switch hardware due to the noise issue, the old G1 version simply don't work with the line noise.  With the above PIM/Switch updates the PIM to switch communication has been very reliable, switch transmission can, however,  be spotty. 
 
I did enable the noise position viewer and noise logger in UpStart and the noise is typically as follows Type: 9, Level: 0, Energy: 097, Position: 000  Looking at the position bar graph its all in that first bar. Since the coupler is passive I'd assume it makes no distinction between noise and signal and simply passes the item through.  I have noise on both legs so I don't think the coupler would make the noise worse.  Curious if the more expensive repeater makes a noise vs signal distinction, meaning it would only repeat a real signal?
 
@pete_c what specific Upstart diagnostics are you referring to?  I've certainly run the communications tests and noise meter tests.  With the current coupler in the panel its no signal just failure.  I tried with a switch in setup mode and it was not found, also with a switch I had adopted, and it also failed.  Removing the coupler allows them to work normally. I don't think I looked at the noise log/position delta with the couple in place, I may do that soon.


#5 pete_c

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Posted 26 January 2020 - 08:21 PM

what specific Upstart diagnostics are you referring to?
 
Nothing specific; rather what you have done with the communications / noise tests.
 
Purchased repeater many years ago when I would see regularly scheduled noise which I think came from a pool pump next door.  It did work for me.

Personally would look at the root cause for the noise and fix that.

Here if I see noise on the old Elk X10 signal meter then I will see noise on the UPB Upstart application.

#6 Spuds

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Posted 17 February 2020 - 04:40 PM

Just to close this out, the old SA ZPCI-B was indeed a dud ... replacing it with a new phase coupler fixed the strange behavior that I outlined. 

 

With the working one in place I do see a slight signal loss on the "same" leg and an increase of signal on the "other".  The loss is minimal and probably just in the measurement accuracy, the gain was a solid % increase and helped with the communication to devices on the "other"






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