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The frustration of X10

tomtnt

Member
Now I know why people have a love/hate relationship with X10 - it's been working great for me for 2 months.. Suddenly, today, two switches no longer respond. I thought it was the switch so I swapped them out for new ones - still no response. I went around the house unplugging almost every single device, still no go!!!!!! I'm pulling my hair out... I have no idea what could have changed or why i no longer can control those two device.

My controllers include the ELK-M1 with the PSC05 and the smarthome 1132U via computer -neither can control those rogue switches. So frustrating. I purchased a signallinc coupler and jeff's XT Booster in hopes that it will solve this mystery.
 

Steve

Senior Member
I feel your pain. I tried x10 when I first started and had several mysteries. Once I had all breakers off and isolated things to 1 room, even pulling fan controls, etc out of the wall. Still had problems. Was very problematic for me. So I just went UPB and it has been 99.5% reliable and I have not looked back.

You may want to consider a signal meter for troubleshooting instead of flying blind. Martin 'rents' the Elk one...
 

Rupp

Senior Member
Another thing to keep in mind that no x10 install is going to work reliably without a coupler/repeater mounted in the breaker box. Some will have good luck without one, others have good luck with a plugin coupler but over time these to will fail to reliably couple the signal or amplify it, this should be considered as much a requirement as it is for all the other power line technologies like UPB and Insteon.
 

HoustonFirefox

Active Member
Welcome to the club.

I installed X-10 devices about 5 years ago and they worked for all of about 6 months. Now every one of them has died but they still manage to come on for mysterious reasons even though I no longer have any type of X-10 controller in the house. I have to manually disable them at the switch unless I want a "ghost" walking around turning lights on and off.

I've been switching all of the switches, etc over to Z-wave and couldn't be happier. 100% operational, 100% of the time for the last 6 months (more than I ever got out of X-10).

HoustonFirefox
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
The frustration of Insteon: Very slow communication between a PC and the PLI. Also no wall mount for the ControLinc yet.

The frustration of UPB: Local control delay plus unnecessarily large form factor to discourage retrofit applications.

The frustration of Z-Wave: No wall controllers plus some manufacturers intentionally do not implement key protocol features such as local control reporting.

The frustration of Hard Wired systems: Only practical in new construction.

You can't win with any of them but at least X-10 is cheap and there are a lot of work arounds for the most common problems.
 

JeffVolp

Member
A coupler/repeater is no panacea. The Leviton 6201 did not increase our signal levels substantially beyond those produced by an unaided PSC05. The less expensive repeaters simply do not have a power supply capable of driving a lot of energy onto the line.

The XTB plugged in near your distribution panel paired with a good passive coupler at the panel will produce much stronger signals than most repeaters. A good passive coupler is available on eBay for about $15. The cheap .1uF capacitor is not a good match for the XTB because it has a capacitive reactance over 13 ohms at 120KHz.

I'm working on a XTB-II that will drive both phases directly. While not a simple plug-in module like the present version, this XTB-II may help some of you who will put the effort into installing it directly adjacent to your breaker panel.
 
I'm working on a XTB-II that will drive both phases directly. While not a simple plug-in module like the present version, this XTB-II may help some of you who will put the effort into installing it directly adjacent to your breaker panel.

Jeff,

Being a frustrated X-10er myself, I was just getting ready to send you the money for a kit...but the XTB-II may be worth the wait...any idea as to how long before it's "ready for prime time"?

I have been X-10ing for as long as it's been around...with all the problems that tomtnt is having for many years (including the neighbor that keeps changing his house code to the same as mine and we keep messing w/ each others lights).

I thought that the addition of the signal bridge would help...but it didn't seem to help all that much. The KPL's I added only helped to confuse things (mainly the status lights)...

I don't do enough w/ my system to justify spending the money (yet) on something "better"...mainly lighting control and timed events, but a more reliable system would go a long ways to free up the purse strings...

So Jeff, can you take a guess at an available date for the XTB-II? And tomtnt, please let me know how things work out....

Thanks!

Michael
 

carry15+1

Active Member
My biggest problem is my wife's Rainbow vacuum....if she leaves it plugged in it eats pretty near every x10 signal. If I can ever find my XTB I'm going to see if it helps.

Look for things recently plugged in - laptop computers, computers, and of course vacuums.
 

JeffVolp

Member
The XTB-II is in prototype layout stage now. There will be two versions: A simple 2-phase mod to the existing design is probably 6 weeks away. Then a version that includes TW-523 emulation should be done late fall. That will be designed to work with Dave Houston's roZetta, which should become available in the same timeframe.

The XTB-II is not a simple plug-in module. It will have an internal terminal strip so the user can connect whatever power cable is appropriate for his installation. I recommend a 240V receptacle be installed directly adjacent to the breaker panel, and a matching 240V cord wired into the XTB-II.

The XTB-II parts kit will be significantly more expensive than the XTB, primarily due to the larger printed circuit board being ordered in much smaller quantities.

X10 CAN be virtually 100% reliable. We use it here for lighting, irrigation, water circulation, ventilation, and zoning off some HVAC ducts at night. It is rare that a problem can be traced to a missed X10 command.

Jeff
 
Jeff,

Thanks for the reply...I think I will order the XTB kit and get busy! Sounds like this would be my best approach for now. I'll install a quad box right behind the panel and put both the XTB and the signallinc (4816H) right there. Since I am using the CM11A for my timed events, I should be set...

BTW, in searching around the Web for info on the XTB, I have seen nothing but praise for the product..."word of mouth" still counts as the number one recommendation for me...I will be sending you email today...

My Best Wishes Always

Michael
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
JeffVolp said:
The XTB-II is in prototype layout stage now. There will be two versions: A simple 2-phase mod to the existing design is probably 6 weeks away. Then a version that includes TW-523 emulation should be done late fall. That will be designed to work with Dave Houston's roZetta, which should become available in the same timeframe.
I'm having trouble picturing what you are saying. If I plug a roZetta into my Stargate it will look like a regular TW523 is lugged into it. If I then plug an Insteon PowerLinc into roZetta, it will translate between X10 and Insteon.

So are you saying I would plug an XTB-II into the roZetta where the actual TW523 would go? The XTB-II will actually be my powerline interface for X-10?

If so, I need to think about the wiring since the Stargate is nowhere near the electrical panel. I have a dedicated 120V line from the panel to the Stargate for the TW523 and then a repeater at the panel.

Do I convert that circuit to 240V and put the XTB-II close to the Stargate? (About 100 feet from the panel).

Or should I extend the TW523 cable between the roZetta and the XTB-II for 100 feet to keep roZetta near the Stargate and XTB-II near the breaker panel?

Or extend the TW523 cable from the Stargate to the roZetta for 100 feet and have both the roZetta and XTB-II next to the breaker panel?
 

JeffVolp

Member
Sorry, but I'm not sure what is the best way to configure a system with roZetta and Stargate.

As I understand it, the roZetta will be able to send X10 commands via a TW523-like interface. The XTB-II will provide that interface without requiring a separate module.

The initial XTB-II will have a X10 input receptacle like the present XTB. A CM11A/CM15A/TW523/… can be directly plugged into that receptacle. I suppose that module could be remotely located by an extension cable, but I don’t know the practical limit for the length of that run.

Later this year I plan to offer the TW523 emulation. My intent was to have the XTB-II connect to a remote automation controller via a 6P6 “telephone†cable. While this is being designed to support the roZetta, it will also work with the Ocelot and similar devices.

Strongest signals are obtained from either the XTB or XTB-II by locating it as close as possible to the main electrical distribution panel. A lot of energy can be lost on that first run.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Rupp said:
Another thing to keep in mind that no x10 install is going to work reliably without a coupler/repeater mounted in the breaker box. Some will have good luck without one, others have good luck with a plugin coupler but over time these to will fail to reliably couple the signal or amplify it, this should be considered as much a requirement as it is for all the other power line technologies like UPB and Insteon.
While it may be a 'recommendation' for UPB, I do not have one and am nearly 100% reliable. Even with one for x10 I was nearly 100% unreliable.
 

Steve

Senior Member
upstatemike said:
The frustration of UPB: Local control delay plus unnecessarily large form factor to discourage retrofit applications.
You must have some tiny j-boxes! While Insteon switches are a bit smaller than some of the UPB ones (HAI UPB is about the same as Insteon), I still don't think I would categorize them as 'unnecessarily large'. I have normal j-boxes and while some are tight, really have no issues. There is alot of tech crammed into that switch.
 
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