Insteon and Elk M1G - Reliability Issues

I have been using my Elk to control a dozen or so Insteon devices using the X10 Elk interface for about 6+ months with terrific results. When Elk released the Inteon firware for the M1XSP I purchased the Insteon Powerlinc Controller (serial) and switched over from using the X10 addressing with my Insteon devices. Since then I have had a reliability issue and am curious to know if others are having the same problem. The general problem is that when I included more than one light on/off command within a rule I get inconsistent results. For example, at sunset I turn on 3 different lights, when I get home I turn on 4 more lights, when I go to bed I turn off most of my lights, etc. Sometimes all the light commands work, but sometimes one or more lights are skipped and the ones that are skipped are not always the same. Generally speaking if lights are missed as part of a rule they do work if I rerun the rule a second or sometimes a third time. If I had to guess at the problem cause I would suspect that somehow the lighting commands are getting lost in the handoff between the Elk and the Powerlinc Controller.

Here are some more details for those inerested.

My Insteon network has been rock solid since installation 6+ months ago. I have the signallincs installed but have found that everthing works great even without them. My linked switches respond instantly from other switches as well as the keyhpadlinc I have installed. When I was controlling my Insteon switches using the X10 Elk interface I was close to 100% reliability for the phase that the Elk was plugged into (I didn't invest in a X10 phase coupler since I didn't plan on sticking with X10).

When I switched over from X10 to the Insteon Powerlinc Controller I wanted to start fresh so I reset all of my Insteon switches in case I had any invalid links from all the testing I had done. I updated all of my Elk firmware and software and am running the current versions and I also verified that the powerlinc was using the current firmware and timer application.

In the Insteon/Elk testing I have reset the Insteon addresses within the Elk controller a number of times and also have had to reload the core app in the powerlinc controller several times since it sometimes gets corrupted when I reset the Elk Insteon addresses. I have moved my signallincs around and have also tried the powerlinc in different locations with no change. I have also unplugged any UPS devices in my house, even though these have not created any other Insteon problems.

I have spoken to the folks at Elk as well as Smarthome and niether seem to be familiar with this issue. However, I have seen a few other posts with similar problems with using the Powerlinc with other software control software.

Any feedback from others with a similar problem just for the comfort of knowing its not just my setup (-: and possible work arounds would be great. Also, any tips on debugging this further would be great.

Thanks,
Matt
 

Spanky

Senior Member
I will forward your experiences to our Insteon Guru to see if he has any ideas on how to fix your issues.
 

Digger

Senior Member
Spanky,

I am having very similar problems. Smarthome tech support tells me that I may need more switches to build a better "mesh". I dont think that is the problem.

I am begining to think that there needs to be a pause between commands but that doesnt answer all of my problems.

I have a motion on an M1 zone to turn on my laundry room lights for a set time. It always turns on but is very unreliable for turning off.

I have a contact on my front door to tell my entrance light to come on for 5 mins when its violated and its dark outside. The light always turns on and only sometimes shuts off.

I have a command to tell all lights to turn on (individually) whenever an alarm occurs. the lights always turn on.

I have a similar command to tell all lights to turn off if I arm away and its daylight out. I arm up and some lights go off. I disarm and rearm and some more lights go off (sometimes not all).

Somtimes (but rare) a linked switch doesnt work the first time for an off command.

If I go in through the internet to the M1 and tell an individual light to turn on and off it always seems to work.

I hope this helps a little. I will probably be home tomorrow (I have over 20 hours in for the week and I have things to do so I will take a VA day) so if you the "guru" has questions during the day email me or ask the man without a gall bladder for my cell.
 

Spanky

Senior Member
There currently is a 500 ms transmission delay between multiple light messages to the Insteon Power line Interface from the M1. We are checking to see if that is too fast for the Insteon interface to handle. If so, we will slow it down!!! :)
 

Digger

Senior Member
Cool.... that would be easy enough to fix. As for the rest of my problems I have to "dig" more.....
 

TCassio

Active Member
You might want to try putting a slight delay between each device command and see if your reliability goes up.
 
I have done some software development in my career but I am not familiar with how commands are passed between hardware/software and a hardware device such as the powerlinc controller. I read something on the powerhome software discussion board about some devices not having an input que and therefore the sender has to manage how fast commands are sent to the device so they are properly received and processed. Does anyone know if this is the case with the powerlinc controller and if so wouldn't this be the likely cause of missed sequential commands. I would think that Smarthome would want to build in all the reliability features they could to ensure the integrity of their network so up until now I assumed they had some sort of input que in the powerlinc controller and that they were doing all they could to have every command successfully processed (multiple retries, etc, etc).

I also wanted to add that I have another symptom to add to the problem reported in this post although this is much less frequent and I'm not sure if it is related. Very occasionally (every few days) it seems that for a short period of time all the Insteon commands from my Elk system are very slow in responding and many sequential light commands fail. Even individual light commands from the Elk keypad can be delayed or fail. When this happens my Insteon devices still control one another without a problem so the network seems to be fine. After some period of time (maybe an hour or so) everthing goes back to working normally.

Let me know if you need more information or if there is anything that I can try to test out on my end.

Thanks for the help,
Matt
 

johnnynine

Active Member
Spanky said:
There currently is a 500 ms transmission delay between multiple light messages to the Insteon Power line Interface from the M1.
500ms? That's 1/2 a second which seems like a long delay to me in the world of electrons flying around.
 

Digger

Senior Member
If I remember correctly the Insteon signal goes out a few times (maybe 5) and maybe the signals are stepping on each other??
 

Spanky

Senior Member
Not sure how much buffer space the Insteon interface has. The problem may be sending too many commands before they can get transmitted out starts to loose some of the commands. That is what the delay between commands is for, to allow previous commands to be transmitted out onto the power line.

The M1 has light command buffer space for 50 light commands.
 

toymaster458

Active Member
I also have been having issues with my M1, INSTEON and CQC. I am still trying to make the time to see which one is to blame. I just got some UPB devices in and with others having issues I will have to see if I can replicate my issue by removeing INSTEON from the M1 and try UPB.
 

Digger

Senior Member
Since I am also having problems with single commands at times I think I am going to try and relocate the serial interface tomorrow. There may be noise on the circuit I have it plugged into (since my panel, router, modem etc are plugged into that circuit)
 

toymaster458

Active Member
toymaster458 said:
I also have been having issues with my M1, INSTEON and CQC. I am still trying to make the time to see which one is to blame. I just got some UPB devices in and with others having issues I will have to see if I can replicate my issue by removeing INSTEON from the M1 and try UPB.
Ok I have ruled out INSTEON for my issue. As soon as I find the root of my issue I can see if I am having yours.
 

Herdfan

Active Member
Digger said:
If I remember correctly the Insteon signal goes out a few times (maybe 5) and maybe the signals are stepping on each other??
Don't know if this is relevant to the problem, but if you have 2 Insteon switches in a double gang, and you press them at the same time, they will step on each other. Sometimes one command will get through and sometimes no commands get through.

Hope that helps.
 

Madcodger

Active Member
I have found delays between commands to be the biggest problem solver. In fact, things are basically rock solid if I do this, and only about 90% if I don't. My "mesh" network of Insteon (I think it's 25 or 30 now) seems fine and I use 2 Signal Lincs, but things really became reliable when I put a 2 second delay between device commands.

I don't use my Elk to directly control Insteon (using HS) but I don't think it would matter as the PLC is actually sending the commands either way. Thus, my light events or rules look like this:

Turn on light 1
2 second delay
Turn on light 2
2 second delay
Turn on light 3
etc.

It's really not a problem and can actually look sort of "cool". I do the same thing for off commands, and as mentioned in another current thread, I repeat commands as well AFTER going through the whole sequence of "on's" or "off's". Also, I've heard reports that 1 second delays also work, but I find 2 is very reliable. The difference is nothing to a human, but very significant to an electron...
 
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