DOA EZBridge (insteon) - but wait! Not quite!


Active Member
So, my joy today was discovering a problem with my new EZBridge, bought from smarthome.

Plugged it in. Watched it DHCP an IP address. Ran setup program. Program says "invalid password". WTF?

Sure enough, it has a password on it, even though they're not supposed to have one. I did a hard reset and it came up and configured OK. (well, it won't accept an NTP server setting, but whatever...) It responded to XML commands just fine.

I then tried to talk to the PLM with just a simple GetVersion request. Bridge reports "PLM communication failure". WTF??

I messed around with the settings and check the web site and discover its got old firmware on it. I updated the firmware, but still no joy. (Attention Smarthome! In-the-field firmware updates are a good thing!)

I checked that it was the correct PLM (I have two) - yes. On a whim, I tried swapping with the 4A PLM instead of the intended 2.4 version. No change. Every PLM command reports a "PLM communication failure".

I plug the 2.4/1.9 to my computer and talk to it. Yep, it works. the 4A version does too. Both PLM's are fine.

I was almost convinced that it was a DOA EZBridge and was about to phone in, but decided to try a few more things first. I was tired of crawling under the desk so I put a longer cat-5 ethernet cable on the PLM.

Holy crap! it worked! It was the stupid cheap 12-inch ethernet cable that was the problem!

I issued some Insteon commands to turn a few devices in the office on/off/etc and it worked. A 'GetVersion' told me that I'd accidently still got my 4A PLM plugged in - the EZBridge was working fine with it. I switched back to the 2.4/1.9 PLM and it worked fine too. Sigh. So much for having different versions of PLM's to support products.

Moral of the story. Don't take anything for granted. Even check the cheap-ass 10 cent ethernet cable that came in the box.

Second Moral of the story. When you get a device from Smarthome with unofficial passwords already set on it and it doesn't work, then they've probably shipped you a previously returned defective package as "new". GRRR! I guess they got caught out this time.

Besides the disappointment of being shipped somebody else's problem, I actually really like the interface the EZBridge provides. It is actually really convenient. I've got it in the garage right next to the hardwired phase bridge near the breaker box. I was able to adapt my software to use it fairly trivially - remove the PLM serial interface modules and replace them with xml encapsulated requests.

Now if only somebody would come out with a PLM with an ethernet jack on the bottom instead of needing an external device and a 19200 baud serial port link. Hint, hint!
i suspect the same thing happened to me - i ordered a device that was out of stock, along with some other insteon stuff - but both were shipped the same day (in two boxes) - the device that was out of stock was defective - i suspect it was a returned device - the manufacturer of the device shipped me a replacement device overnight (and paid the return shipping for the defective one) - i would really like to know if the device was a returned one - i don't want to ask the manufacturer, but i wonder if the device i was sent had been registered with them - oh well

interestingly, my device needs the 4a plm firmware - smarthome ships the 2.4 plm - again, the device manufacturer made good on it
Manufacturers like SH buy these cables. They probably do some quality checks on the first batch and then thats it. I am sure they buy the cheapest ones they can get. There are bound to be bad ones when you buy cheap low quality cables.

As far as the password............ well you very well might have gotten a used/returned device. I ahve suspected it myself a few times but had no proof.
Well, aside from the question of whether it was a return or not, it turned out that it was the EZBridge itself that was at fault. I looked inside the RJ45 socket that the PLM cable plugs into and noticed that the two outer pins are "strange". They were slightly lower than the other pins and bent outwards slightly. After straightening them up a bit, the original cable works fine.

I guess the difference between working and not working came down to a tiny manufacturing tolerance in the cat-5 cable. But the fault lay with the EZBridge, not the (still cheap) cable after all.

I noticed that have a forum. Somebody there appears to have the same problem.