Noise and Conflicting Information


I am running Homeseer

I have the following Leviton devices installed in a large home.

HCC4A 14 each

HCCS7 5 each
HCM06/16383 22 each

Model? 15 each
ON/ Off only
X-10 wall

6201 Coupler / Repeater - 2 each. One installed at the Main 400 amp panel and one at a sub panel sub panel. I had 4 totals as I have a total of 3 sub panels. I have since removed 2 from two sub panels.

I also have 7 Filterlinc plug in noise filters installed at the usual suspects, 2 Lamp link Modules, 4 appliance modules, a signal Linc coupler/repeater for my 220 volt clothes dryer and a Booster Linc X-10 signal booster.

I also have a Napco Gemini security system with 3 Gem X-10 module interfaces.

Lastly, I have an Elk ESM1 signal meter.

My issues are these:

I have 0.1v of “noise†intermittently on my power lines. I have done the troubleshooting where I plug the signal meter in to various outlets and unplug things until the interference goes away. Once I think I have isolated the problem, I find it some where else. I saw that I had between 1v-2.5v of “flickering interference†until I pulled the plug on my Gem x-10 interfaces from my Napco Alarm panel. Then that interference was gone for a day. Next it was a motion sensing light switch hard wired into my garage lights. When I threw the circuit breaker, the noise disappeared, I reset the breaker, activated the switch and the noise came back. I have left that breaker in the off position and there is noise again. I have also noticed that some of the LED’s on HCC4A, blink constantly when the noise is present. What is really strange is that I can “knock the noise out†with my levition Model 6320 Executive table top controller. That is to say, if I bombard my system enough times with a code, I can make the signal go away and everything will work fine. What seems to make the noise come back is when I try to adjust light levels form within the Homeseer status page. Then all my X10 communication gets locked up.

One more thing, I get conflicting information on the coupler / repeaters. Leviton says “a coupler/repeater in each panelâ€. I have read in different Homeseer forums that this is asking for trouble if they are installed out of phase etc., so I have removed two of them and the system works fine until the intermittent noise shows up and locks the system.

Please help

Just a quick thought. Search here and on Google groups for references to problems with the 6201 repeater. I use an ACT CR234 and have never had a problem.
I have many of the same problems as you and have not yet resolved it. For what it is worth....

The CR234 is a good repeater but I have had 2 of them over the years and each time I had to take them out again because they make a loud buzzing noise that I can't find any way to eliminate.

Not sure why you have the clothes dryer repeater in addition to the levitons at the panels but I would unplug it. I once tried wiring one of those in place of a leviton repeater at the panel (installed a dedicated dryer plug there) and it didn't do a darn thing except flash its LEDs. Had to put the Leviton back to get things working again. I also think having both kinds of repeaters will annoy the leviton units and that may contribute to your noise problem.

The 6201s should be OK with two repeaters as long as you get the polarity right per the directions. They are specifically designed not to repeat an already repeated signal. The newer HA02 models do not mention this feature so I assume it is not there. You should not use more than 1 HA02.

I have had interaction between filters and the loads plugged into them or loads plugged in near them. Try unplugging some filters and see if your situation improves.

BoosterLincs also can react funny with other stuff. Definitely remove all BoosterLincs while you try to hunt this down.

My next strategy will be to try a single XTB-II at my main panel and some UPB passive couplers (which work with X-10 and Insteon as well) at my subpanels.
Well until I installed several X10 filters on things like UPS, TV and power strips I could never get a reliable X10 in my house.

Next time you have a glut of noise try plugging your Elk meter in close to the location of your coupler/repeater - shut the repeater off and see if there is still noise - just a thought.
You must realize that coupler does NOT equal repeater, which is probably why you are getting conflicting information. A coupler typically is a passive device which bridges a signal from one phase to the other. You can typically add all of these that you like. The more, the merrier.

Repeaters are different. They pick up a signal on one phase, and after its complete, rebroadcasts it on the other phase. Its never good to have more than one of these in your house. Its also bad to have one repeater, and one coupler.

A CR234 is a repeater. One only.

On noise, it shouldn't be a problem if your signal is high enough, and your "noise" could be caused by dualing repeater.

If it was me, kill one repeater, then use your meter to check the signal (not noise) at ever outlet in your house. Where the signal is low, start unplugging things until the signal increases. Buy a filter, and filter all these signal suckers. If THEN you still have a problem, look for the noise, but two repeaters and signal suckers are probably a bigger problem for you then noise.
While testing the XTB-II, I observed occasional noise coming in over the powerline from outside the house. It was about 100mVpp, and had audio modulation on it. Sometimes the modulation looked like music. It sat right in the X10 carrier band, and that was one of the reasons I added AGC to the TW523 emulation mode. Compact fluorescent light bulbs can also be a major noise source.

If your noise source is from some sort of line-based communication gizmo at a neighboring house, sending a bunch of X10 commands could cause enough buzzing to make them turn it off.
Noise coming from one device today and other device tomorrow. That sounds to me like induced noise from valirable electromagnetic fields somewere around your house. Do you have strong power lines, factories, power plant or a haunted house :huh: near your house?
Thanks to all who have replied. Since my posting I have removed all of the 6201's from my system, left the Smarthome booster linc and the Signal linc repeater ( for the 220v Dryer) in place. Every thing seams to be working OK....... for now.

Stay Tuned

Ain't X-10 fun? I think there is a fair bit of trial and error involved. In my opinion, I think everyone only needs one good repeater, BUT you also have to play detective and put filters on all signal suckers. In my house, I had at least 7 of these. Get a good signal meter and track them down. Once these suckers are filtered out, you really don't need a super-strong repeater. If you don't get rid of the suckers, your really just trying to force loads of water down a kinked line with a giant pump. Its far better to just eliminate the kink, and then you don't need the giant pump.
I use surge suppressing power strips for filters, cheap tho they do take up some space. Each UPS or signal sucker is plugged into a power strip, much cheaper than "X-10" filters.

I use surge suppressing power strips for filters, cheap tho they do take up some space.
Careful - some surge protector power strips are signal suckers themselves.

I'm also not sure how effective a typical surge suppressing power strip would be for a X10 filter. Those strips are usually rated 15A. An effective inductor that can carry that much current is large and expensive. An inexpensive surge suppressing power strip might include nothing more than a MOV as a surge suppressor, and possibly a parallel capacitor (the signal sucker). You may have found one that also includes a ferrite core with a turn or two of the power cable wrapped around it. Without a suitable series inductor, there is virtually no filtering.
Yes I also have seen surge suppressors that are reported to kill or weaken X10 and Insteon Signals. Some of the surplus powerline filters also can kill the signals.
I have even seen a report that a new washer dryer setup with microprocessor controls making all kinds of X10 noise.
I've been working on the XTB-II development the last couple of months, and have been investigating various noise sources.

The worst I found is created by a set of 4 generic compact fluorescent bulbs. Their radiated noise varied in frequency throughout the 60 Hz waveform, dropping down into the X10 carrier band near zero crossing where X10 signals are transmitted. Then the noise signals from the 4 different bulbs summed together in a varying pattern that almost mimicked a X10 transmission, with peaks and nulls on adjacent cycles. The peaks are several hundred mV, causing a problem for X10 transmissions.

Another significant noise source was a 120KHz carrier with audio modulation coming in from outside the house - probably a "baby monitor" or some sort of wireless intercom. The average background noise amplitude was about 100 mV from this source, but a constant noise level like that is pretty easy to deal with some sort of automatic threshold control.