Insteon Giveaway on Friday

For about a month I thought my wife's new boyfriend was going to enjoy the work I was doing on the living room. I couldn't get those walls patched up fast enough with the glares and criticisms I was getting... and my wife is really, really easy-going!

wait - wait - wait

just a sec

am i having a brain fart or a stroke or something? did you say your wife's new boyfriend?

i know i am reading that incorrectly because there are two pages of posts and no one mentioned it - i have experimented with the sentence structure and inserted all kindsa punctuation marks and everything short of diagramming it
Yikes! I'm usually pretty good at writing. I was implying that if the project continued to spiral out of control, my wife seemed just pissed enough to kick me out of the house. And as a consequence all the work I did to make *my* living room kick ass would be for my replacement to enjoy. She wasn't really leaving me, but the glares & scowls I got when I was working while she was caring for the crying newborn baby were all the motivation I needed.
 
It is sad you have been through what you have to get to this point. Plus I think it is cool that you choose CT as your clearing house for the old equipment.

Have you considered making this a competition of sorts, beyond "post first"? I was thinking of hooking the freebies into the Friday night IRC chat and/or saying the highest posted scores on some decent online game as the winners?

Just a thought to make your tragic situation into something fun for us.

(sorry, probably sounds greedy but I personally am not into Insteon so its not meant that way)
 
It is sad you have been through what you have to get to this point. Plus I think it is cool that you choose CT as your clearing house for the old equipment.

Have you considered making this a competition of sorts, beyond "post first"? I was thinking of hooking the freebies into the Friday night IRC chat and/or saying the highest posted scores on some decent online game as the winners?

Just a thought to make your tragic situation into something fun for us.

(sorry, probably sounds greedy but I personally am not into Insteon so its not meant that way)

I dont know of a fair way to give away the freebies. Any good ideas?

FYI my friends have taken a lot. And one of them even tried calling SH as a test to see if they could return ones with bad paddles and was told that a fix is in test phase but no eta or details. No return either unless its totally unusable. Obviously he could not return as SH has a list of all of my bad ones and they wont accept them from anyone.

Still have new and used dimmers, plc or two, timers, Icons etc. Whatever is left on Friday goes on here.

Why arent you into Insteon??? TO BE FAIR WHEN THEY WORK THEY ARE GOOD.
 
It is sad you have been through what you have to get to this point. Plus I think it is cool that you choose CT as your clearing house for the old equipment.

Have you considered making this a competition of sorts, beyond "post first"? I was thinking of hooking the freebies into the Friday night IRC chat and/or saying the highest posted scores on some decent online game as the winners?

Just a thought to make your tragic situation into something fun for us.

(sorry, probably sounds greedy but I personally am not into Insteon so its not meant that way)

I dont know of a fair way to give away the freebies. Any good ideas?

FYI my friends have taken a lot. And one of them even tried calling SH as a test to see if they could return ones with bad paddles and was told that a fix is in test phase but no eta or details. No return either unless its totally unusable. Obviously he could not return as SH has a list of all of my bad ones and they wont accept them from anyone.

Still have new and used dimmers, plc or two, timers, Icons etc. Whatever is left on Friday goes on here.

Why arent you into Insteon??? TO BE FAIR WHEN THEY WORK THEY ARE GOOD.


Maybe set a deadline... everyone post their wishes by Sunday 12pm or whatever, then give away randomly until its gone.

I've been playing with a few of the autmation programs suchas Girder, Adaptive Home Logic, Active Home Pro and HomeZIX. So far, Home ZIX I've had the best luck with setting up the couple of X10 thigs I have, Girder and AHL I haven't gotten to work as well since they are much more complex. I'd love to try a couple of Insteon things to to learn some more.....
 
It is sad you have been through what you have to get to this point. Plus I think it is cool that you choose CT as your clearing house for the old equipment.

Have you considered making this a competition of sorts, beyond "post first"? I was thinking of hooking the freebies into the Friday night IRC chat and/or saying the highest posted scores on some decent online game as the winners?

Just a thought to make your tragic situation into something fun for us.

(sorry, probably sounds greedy but I personally am not into Insteon so its not meant that way)

I dont know of a fair way to give away the freebies. Any good ideas?

FYI my friends have taken a lot. And one of them even tried calling SH as a test to see if they could return ones with bad paddles and was told that a fix is in test phase but no eta or details. No return either unless its totally unusable. Obviously he could not return as SH has a list of all of my bad ones and they wont accept them from anyone.

Still have new and used dimmers, plc or two, timers, Icons etc. Whatever is left on Friday goes on here.

Why arent you into Insteon??? TO BE FAIR WHEN THEY WORK THEY ARE GOOD.


Maybe set a deadline... everyone post their wishes by Sunday 12pm or whatever, then give away randomly until its gone.

I've been playing with a few of the autmation programs suchas Girder, Adaptive Home Logic, Active Home Pro and HomeZIX. So far, Home ZIX I've had the best luck with setting up the couple of X10 thigs I have, Girder and AHL I haven't gotten to work as well since they are much more complex. I'd love to try a couple of Insteon things to to learn some more.....

Not sure.......... any more ideas? There are also a few people who emailed me aking I not give them away on here. Others have done similar things though in the past.

I have about 20 or 30 new and used left that I dont think any of my friends will want so it will not be huge but it will be good for a few people hopefully. After today they are committed to here if I cant give them away locally.
 
Not sure.......... any more ideas?

I'd say divide you goods into little starter kit sets, or something similar.

For example (this isn't an accurate representation of what you are giving away)...

Pkg1: 4 Dimmers, 1 Keypad, 1 ControlLinc
Pkg2: 2 Relays, 2 Dimmers, 1 RemoteLinc + Accesspoints
Pkg3: 2 Lamplincs, 2 Dimmers, 2 SignalLincs

Collect all the names of interested parties. Then draw as many names as you have packages. First responder gets first choice.

This will let you limit the number of shipments you need to make, and lets the "winners" feel like they won something more than a single switch that may or may not have a problem.
 
Fair way to distribute free stuff? Not likely... demand will always exceed supply! (they don't call me an economist for nothing).

I propose a slight alteration to the rules. Shipping + $2 donation per piece (i guess you can make this part optional). You choose the charity that the funds goto. At least that way, someone will benefit, and CT'ers on this board won't complain too much about a $2 switch!

As for places to complain:
1) Your state's consumers rights group
2) SH is a member of the CEA and BBOnline. Complain vigorously to the latter.
3) If you really wanted, I bet I could dig up a class-action lawyer
4) Try your local TV consumer-advocacy group. Those folks are always looking for a good story.

Like everyone else, I'm sorry about your loss. The Insteon stuff looks great, and it always sucks when a consumer product doesn't perform like it's supposed to. I personally hope that you pursue your complaint -- not really for retribution, but to help protect some other poor soul from also getting ripped-off.

This begs an interesting question: how about a CT members feedback center where fellow CTers can rate their experience (plus/minus) with the different vendors/products/etc?
 
In the giveaway...

I give discounts based on community activity, so more articles, more answer posts, more stuff, open boxes... Kinda like seniority I guess.
 
Fair way to distribute free stuff? Not likely... demand will always exceed supply! (they don't call me an economist for nothing).

I propose a slight alteration to the rules. Shipping + $2 donation per piece (i guess you can make this part optional). You choose the charity that the funds goto. At least that way, someone will benefit, and CT'ers on this board won't complain too much about a $2 switch!

As for places to complain:
1) Your state's consumers rights group
2) SH is a member of the CEA and BBOnline. Complain vigorously to the latter.
3) If you really wanted, I bet I could dig up a class-action lawyer
4) Try your local TV consumer-advocacy group. Those folks are always looking for a good story.

Like everyone else, I'm sorry about your loss. The Insteon stuff looks great, and it always sucks when a consumer product doesn't perform like it's supposed to. I personally hope that you pursue your complaint -- not really for retribution, but to help protect some other poor soul from also getting ripped-off.

This begs an interesting question: how about a CT members feedback center where fellow CTers can rate their experience (plus/minus) with the different vendors/products/etc?

I have about 10 or so used device left and only 7 new ones left. Its funny how even your friends only want the free ones :angry: Maybe its just because its INSTEON.

I will post someting tomorrow when I get home from work.

I am pursueing this so nobody else gets burned. I am glad that somebody realizes that. I have nothing to gain at this point since SH basically would not exchange the bad ones after 4 months. They said they would about 10 times but never foloowed through.

I have had someone claiming to be a lawyer contact me but I am not interested in that at this time. I have tons of things in writing from SH that I can drag them down fast. They really screwed up putting certian things in writing and I have made several copies just in case. I really dont want to get into a huge legal thing but I am not saying I never will. SH upper management had never replied to any emails in the months this has been going on (before it got down and dirty a week or so ago). They could care less about the customer it seems. Not even a thanks for your feedback to very civil and professional feedback. You would think that they would want to nip this in the butt before it got this big.
 
BTW: I got some more (yeah, silly me, I know) switchlincV2-relays yesterday, to replace yet more failed devices. I noticed yesterday that the revision was different again. The new ones were rev 2.3.

Today, I noticed something else even more interesting. The internals are 100% different. The sticker is on a different orientation. The wires come out a different location in the plastic. And the PCB inside is laid out completely differently. The components are laid out differently, etc. It is a new PCB.

Also, the -relay device now has a way to disconnect power by pulling the light-pipe out. Now we can reset locked-up devices without having to flip breakers or disconnect wire nuts. The old models had a pullable light-pipe, but it did nothing. The new ones behave just like the -dimmer variants.

I'll poke around and see if it fixes any other bugs that I've run into over the last two years.

I have not looked to see if it has a different microswitch in it or not. I hope that it does. I'm way past tired of their lousy old microswitches failing.
 
BTW: I got some more (yeah, silly me, I know) switchlincV2-relays yesterday, to replace yet more failed devices. I noticed yesterday that the revision was different again. The new ones were rev 2.3.

Today, I noticed something else even more interesting. The internals are 100% different. The sticker is on a different orientation. The wires come out a different location in the plastic. And the PCB inside is laid out completely differently. The components are laid out differently, etc. It is a new PCB.

Also, the -relay device now has a way to disconnect power by pulling the light-pipe out. Now we can reset locked-up devices without having to flip breakers or disconnect wire nuts. The old models had a pullable light-pipe, but it did nothing. The new ones behave just like the -dimmer variants.

I'll poke around and see if it fixes any other bugs that I've run into over the last two years.

I have not looked to see if it has a different microswitch in it or not. I hope that it does. I'm way past tired of their lousy old microswitches failing.

So you got replacements or did they make you buy them to?

they didnt tell you :

We'll absolutely replace items for you with known issues if and when we have items to replaced them with. I wouldn't want to send you replacement items that contain the same issue you are experiencing.
 
I have had someone claiming to be a lawyer contact me but I am not interested in that at this time. I have tons of things in writing from SH that I can drag them down fast. They really screwed up putting certian things in writing and I have made several copies just in case. I really dont want to get into a huge legal thing but I am not saying I never will. SH upper management had never replied to any emails in the months this has been going on (before it got down and dirty a week or so ago). They could care less about the customer it seems. Not even a thanks for your feedback to very civil and professional feedback. You would think that they would want to nip this in the butt before it got this big.

I had mostly gotten over my INSTEON anger until that deal with the access point things came out. Oh well, I need to get rid of my 'INSTEON BOX' and put this all well behind me too. I like to do software work, that was part of what got me excited about INSTEON to start with. I am thinking that I also need to give up on that as the SDK is another source of irritation for me. I need to keep a few units for evidence. PeterW, jokingly started a thread over at AccessHA titled 'Bad hardware.. revenge?'. My units are so old and out of warranty, I figure that I may investigate creative ways of destroying the devices as suggested in that thread. I think that is called closure. :angry: It also may generate some interesting video clips.

Ken
 
Digger: No, I bought replacements because it is a hassle dealing with them. I gave up quite a while ago - last year some time.

My favourite hassle was when the tech support guy wanted me to reinstall the broken switches so that he could "diagnose" them. I'd had spares from changed plans, so I'd originally just put the faulty ones aside. But no, he insisted that if I wanted them replaced, I'd have to go and take the working ones out, put the faulty ones back in and then do his checks. I don't recall the details, but one was that he wanted me to move the cover plate and see if that fixed it (!). It didn't matter that I'd tried that many times before, including unscrewing and reseating the paddle assembly etc itself. In each case I'd already discovered that pushing the microswitch with a flat-ended round plastic object showed that the micro-switch itself was the problem. (FWIW, a piece of acrylic rod)

I have had rev2.0 switches replaced that had an electrical failure though. There's nothing to complain about there. Its the bloody faulty paddle microswitches that are driving my wife (and therefore, me) crazy.

I'm guessing they used cheap switches and the contacts simply oxidize or get otherwise impaired somehow.

There doesn't seem to be a single cause, in my experience.

My summary:
Master bathroom: 2 failed -relays, about to install 3rd.
Kitchen 1: 2 failed relays, using 3rd.
Kitchen 2: just replaced a rev2.0 -relay that was almost 2 years old, but not quite.
Downstairs Office (adjacent to kitchen): -dimmer failure. Replaced with -relay and CFL's, it failed too. Now on 2nd -relay.
Entry: three simultaneous rev2.0 -dimmer electrical failures. (smarthome replaced these, replacements working perfectly)
Downstairs bathroom light: on third -relay. They seem to last 4-6 months max here. Very high traffic.
Downstairs bathroom fan: the rev2.0 -relay for the fan is dead and needs replacing. Rarely used.
Fountain: rev2.0 -relay paddle appeared to be dead, but wiggling the faceplate solved it for now. This device is in a closet and has ZERO use of the paddle. Its all remote control.
Master bedroom outside light: rev2.0 dimmer just today discovered with flakey 'on' paddle. Needs replacing.
Top of stairs: 2.0 -dimmer 'off' paddle flaked out. Replaced with 1.3 keypadlinc.
Master bedroom entry: keypadlinc 1.0 died (lights went out). Replaced with 1.3 keypad.
Wife's study closet: rev2.0 -dimmer paddle worked, but was "deaf" to insteon and X10.
Several smoked appliancelincv2's: replaced by new revisions, but they still won't work with their aquarium lights. (see below)

Notable survival stories:
Wife's study entry: rev 2.0 -relay. Gets lots of use. No sign of trouble.
Downstairs shower: rev 2.0 -dimmer. Massive humidity doses (no exhaust fan!). No sign of trouble.

There's a bunch of rev 2.0 devices still deployed in places that I've largely forgotten about but they dont give any trouble. Some of the switches that have had failed paddles are actually being used as wire-in appliancelinc or inlinelinc replacements. They generally work fine in that role - especially with the ability to remotely program them. eg: I embed some of the failed -relay modules inside the bodies of fluorescent lights and use them as self-contained remote controlled lights.

To generalize my problems:
- mostly related to -relay devices.
- bathrooms seem to be a good way to kill them, but the worst bathroom environment hasn't caused even the slightest problem
- high traffic areas seem to be a good way to kill them.
- zero traffic areas seem to be another good way to kill them - eg: not touching the switch for 12-18 months.
- appliancelincV2's still seem to suck. I use switchlincv2-relays with broken paddles to replace them.

I don't seem to have much trouble with devices in areas that get light but regular use.

On the plus side, I've never needed to buy any inlinelincV2's. I've still got a stockpile of unreliable switchlincV2 paddle devices available for use. I have more places to put them still.

In case anybody was wondering, no, I generally don't use switchlincV2-dimmer devices as inlinelinc replacements. I don't like the idea of their fins not being in contact with a heat sink. I do have two in this role though, but they're in a metal 3-gang box so there is plenty of heat sinking availability. (they're used as bedlight dimmers.. one "broken" -dimmer on each side and a 2-way power outlet in the center slot to plug the lights into. Plus, they're light loads, 40 or 60 watts. There should be no problem with heat.)

BTW: Ken: I wasn't really kidding about the 'revenge' thing. I've selected the first victims. The first ones are going to die by fire, sledge hammer and then electric drill. I recorded the video of them not working today, all ready for fun on the weekend. I do like the idea of sending some of the faulty ones back to smarthome - but carefully packed in horse or cow manure. Somebody else on AccessHA seemed to think that was a good idea. I doubt that I'll be doing that one though - I could imagine that one landing me in real trouble.

BTW2: The access point thing pissed me off too. I know there are issues with the signalinc-RF (can't say more due to damn sdk NDA), but new, apparently incompatible devices? WTF is up with that? The one good thing about the developer support program is that they don't tell us squat anymore, so there isn't anything to leak. At least you can get most of the docs to make a PLM work from public sources without spending $200. (A tip the the audience.. Instead of buying the SDK, get the $200 out of the ATM in notes and set it on fire. You'll get much more enjoyment from that and IMHO about the same amount of developer help.) What really bites is that the access points don't have a passthrough socket. And I don't particularly want any of those butt-ugly remotelincs so the whole trade-in program is a bust.

Mutter.. grumble.. whine.. rant.. Smarthome's botched handling of the whole Insteon thing just makes me angry. Insteon had so much promise, but when it came to the crunch, it seems like they had way too little quality control and way too much cost-cutting. I don't know what the heck their beta testing program does, but it doesn't seem to find the glaringly obvious problems. And don't get me started on what I think of the amount of planning and forethought that went into their computer interface to the system. (If they'd written houselinc and/or sdm while designing and implementing the system they'd have discovered how badly they botched it before it was too late to fix. They'd have discovered that extended messages didn't work well before shipping the first products.) There's no excuse for a network scan taking hours. If extended messaging worked and/or the powerlincV2 didn't suck so badly, a network scan should take take 30 seconds up to a minute or two at the most. I mean, WTF? The insteon promo material mentions 5ms to send a message. However, and 9600 baud to talk to a powerlincV2 means a minimum of 2ms per character. A 9 or 23 byte packet, plus overheads, plus the silly 20ms character pair delay mean that a computer initiated command takes upwards of 400ms+. There's no excuse for not designing the PLCv2 so that it could get computer commands out onto the wire at near line speed. It wouldn't have cost that much more to put enough cpu power in it to make it work right. The PLM seems to be a significant improvement so far though, but it still seems too slow.

Grrr. I have to stop before my blood pressure spikes again. That's why I had to pull out of the SDK program in the beginning of last year. And I was having such a good day today till I started replying to this and getting angry all over again.
 
Addendum: I still think the fundamentals of Insteon are great. It is smarthome's execution that I'm depressed/angry about.

What's right:
  • The on-the-wire protocol is cheap and effective. Repeating and simulcasting is a pretty good solution to tuned circuit transmitter losses.
  • The protocol itself is relatively simple. (a little too simple perhaps, but I'll take simple over way too complicated anyday)
  • The look/feel of the switches is pretty good, all things considered.
  • The PLM interface for developers is much improved. (Far better than the PLCv2 IMHO.)
What I think they need to fix:
  • Hardware reliability. The cheapness has gone away after the price rises. Please, spend a few more $$ per device to make them last!!! Make it worth the price rise. Do something bold like renaming the current switchlincV2's as icons, and make a new (more expensive) switchlincV3 series that has a distinctly better (ie: UPB or better) build and component quality.
  • Consider an in-field firmware update device. eg: Roomba's "OSMO" firmware updater. SwitchlincV2's have (well, USED TO have, see below) an accessible data port under the paddle. Make a device that we can plug into here that will flash the firmware without removing it from the wall. It worked very well for Roomba and would save smarthome a boatload of returns after firmware fixes.
  • Extended commands! Patch the firmware across the board so that at least newly bought devices stop trashing extended messages between other devices.
  • Fix/patch the multitude of other bugs that have been reported. eg: the random retransmit backoff so that pressing two remote control switches at once will work.
  • Tell us when something has been fixed.
  • PowerlincV2 speed. It needs to be able to scan an entire 50-100 device insteon network's link records in 30-60 seconds. It needs to be able to issue a command in 20ms in the best case.
  • fix some oversights in the command set. eg: need a '"goto <dim level> at <ramp speed>' command. Right now you can only issue a command to go to a specific level and the ramp speed is the default speed.
  • come up with a better solution for device status lights. (you shouldn't need to cross-link a device to have its status lights work, eg: a keypadlincV2. That doesn't scale!)
I don't care how its done. If an 'Insteon Pro' series of switches came out that were 50% more expensive (or even double the price) but would last 10+ years, I'd be all over them. Compete with Simply Automated's UPB switches for quality, rather than compete with X10's cheapness.

If a roomba osmo-like device is out of the question to upgrade firmware, then provide a paid mail-in upgrade service. Let us send in a switch for a firmware upgrade at a resonable price. I noticed that the new switchlincV2-relay rev2.3 switches I got yesterday have had the plug-in header under the paddle removed. So much for the theory of a remote upgrade.

PS: please make an insteon version of these three RF remotes:
http://www.smarthome.com/4004.html
http://www.smarthome.com/4012.html
http://www.smarthome.com/4001x.html
 
Smarthhome/Smartlabs never wanted anyone to do Firmware Updates in the field. That now proves it further. Wonder how much the deleted header saved them?
 
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