My first UPB experience


Staff member
Thanks to Santa, I have gotten the opportunity to play with a SAI UPB starter kit.

First opinions:
  • UML light module: Feels very solid, has a pass-through outlet, and is very configurable (LED behavior etc).
  • UMA appliance module: Same as the UML module, but compared with the typical X10 appliance modules, the clicking sound is much quieter.
  • UCT table top controller: Looks ok, has a huge blank space for labels I assume, but there is nothing there to hold any labels in place (unless you use sticky ones). Does work as advertised, still trying to figure some things out.
  • US2-40 wall switch: Feels very solid as well, great quality, right on par with the high end Lightolier Compose switches. I really love how you can switch the faceplates to create more buttons or different layouts. I didn't like how the LED pipe sticks out. The UPstart software lets you configure the LED behavior, but unlike with the Lightolier switches, you can not adjust the brightness of the LED. Since it is located in a bedroom, I just turned off the LED when the lights are off. I also wish that the micro switches were a little quieter, but it's not worse than any other switch. There is a small delay when you want to turn the lights on locally, but it doesn't bother me too much yet. Hopefully SAI will eliminate this delay, since there are so many ways of dealing with this.
  • UPstart software: This is a really powerful software package which lets you configure every single aspect of your UPB hardware. I can imagine that this alone is one of the main reasons why installers seem to prefer UPB above any of the other protocols out there.
  • UMC computer interface: I have the serial version, which allows me to use it with a PC, or hook it up to my Elk M1 (which I did). No problems noted.
Installation was pretty straight forward, plug in the appliance/light modules, and hit the setup switch. Once you did that, UPstart will find the devices (after adding the device that is), and allow you to configure them. Setup for the wall switch is very similar. I am still learning a lot (especially the 'Links', they seem to be very powerful, but a little complex when you are new to this).

How am I using this hardware now?
I use the light module to control my living room table lamp, my appliance module to control the livingroom announcement speakers, and the wall switch is installed in my bedroom walk in closet.

I have a DS10A installed in my closet, and since I have my W800RF hooked up to the Elk M1, I can control all the UPB hardware with my X10-RF hardware. In this example, I have the light automatically come on when the door opens, and it turns off once I close the door again.

I configured the wall switch with the Singe + 4 button plate, so I have 4 extra buttons which I can use to start my car in the morning, control other important lights and the announcement speakers..

The (in)famous buzz is there. It would be nice if this could be eliminated sometime in the future, but I do not except this to be a major issue, except for in quiet rooms, such as a master bedroom. I haven't told my wife about the buzz. She has controlled some of the UPB hardware already, and hasn't brought it up yet (which she would if it bothered her), so things are looking good.

edit:I just figured that that 'light blue' is very dim, so that complaint is gone :D
What we now need is a UPB - Insteon comparison. Dan do you use any Insteon switches? I've sent my UPB switches back because the buzz got to me and for some reason I had really low signal strengths when using them. What's funny is I've never had an X10 problem(s) at all??? So I have no idea what caused the low signal strengths. The main reason I sent them back is I couldn't see myself every moving over the UPB because of the cost factor. I'm simply too tight. :D
I stopped using Insteon due to lack of software & hardware support. Cost is definitely a big problem, but hopefully they will drop the prices in the near future, or come out with their version of the ICON switches.