UPB First Experience


Hello everyone,

Here is my initial experience with Pulseworx (purchased through Worthington). Very strange. I can't find any discussion like this anywhere else. I cannot yet use Upstart as the HAI UPB interface I received is not working and I am waiting for another to be shipped. I have a Pulseworx 6 button controller installed and 1 of the many 600w Pulseworx dimmers I bought installed.

The 6 button controller must be "linked" to the 600w dimmer out of the box. I can control the dimmer with the six button controller for periods of time.

Then suddenly, things quit working. I hit a button on the 6 button controller and the 600w dimmer does not respond. There is a huge delay, like several minutes, and then the 600w dimmer will respond.

During this delay, time I have found I can make the 600w dimmer respond without having to wait by hitting the garbage disposal button, or if my hot tub kicks on, or if an X-10 device is activated. So it seems UPB is responding to everything but UPB.

I have a sneaking suspicion this may be somehow related to my x-10 coupler repeater. Don't know why, though. UPB is SUPPOSED to be independent of X-10.

WAF dropping by the second after all these $$ [Frown]

Anyone seen anything like this?

Thanks! Chris
Welcome to CocoonTech Chris!

I have an X10 coupler/repeater installed as well, and don't see any of the problems you just mentioned. You really need to get that UPB interface, so you can see if there is any noise on the lines. Do you have any other automation gear installed (such as special dimmer switches, etc.)?
Thanks for responding - there are a bunch of Switchlincs installed but no other X10 or UPB equipment other than that mentioned. Anyway, I'll proabbly wait until I get the UPB interface before persuing this further. It is totally strange, though, especially the part about the garbage disposal, which is fairly repeatable.

Thanks! Chris
Hi Chris,

Couple of points:

I cannot yet use Upstart as the HAI UPB interface I received is not working and I am waiting for another to be shipped.
Might not be the interface. You may have the wrong cable....

The 6 button controller must be "linked" to the 600w dimmer out of the box. I can control the dimmer with the six button controller for periods of time.
I seriously doubt it unless they were previously installed together.

Yes, UPB is independent of X10 and both can work in the same house fine. I am doing this in my house and also my office.

How large is your house? UPB generally will work fine without a coupler but it is recommended. Perhaps what you are seeing is a case that you do need a coupler. The UPB signal will try to send the signal multiple times and perhaps it's working on one of the re-tries.
Do you have other dimmers (even manual dimmers) in the house? I read that Lutron dimmers are not friendly to UPB, specially when they are in a very dim possition. If yes, you might try finding a relation between your other dimmers position (off, on, different levels) and the UPB ability to respond as expected.\

Apparently it is queueing the command until it finds favorable conditions. Either your appliances are damping the signal that is causing interference or they are just bridging the two different phases to let the signal pass (if the coupler is not working for UPB).
I seriously doubt it unless they were previously installed together.

I accept this point - but why does the 600w dimmer respond to the 6 button controller? That's the big question I have.

Might not be the interface. You may have the wrong cable....

Possible - but I did talk with the tech folks at Worthington who verified the cable should be correct. In any event, they are shipping a new PIM and a cable.

How can you configure the switches without Upstart? Can you manually configure them without it?

It's been a while since I've added any switches, but I wouldn't count on the default switch setups doing everything you expect until going into Upstart and verifying...
I thought I read in the manual somewhere that UPB devices could be configured without UPstart (just basic linking), but would have to find the manual again to be sure.
Not so sure about that E, but, you can also configure then through some software packages (like HAL2000) and also some automation controllers.
I think there are ways to link them manually. I may have done this while playing around and that is why the 6 button controller and 600 watt paddle switch seem to be linked.

In any event, I received my new PIM last night and Upstart liked it. However, I could not program either the 6 button controller or the 600W switch using Upstart. Got an error message to the effect of "device not found, make sure it's in powered up and in programming mode, etc."

Any thoughts?

Thanks, Chris

I turned off ALL breakers except one. By sheer luck the 6 button PCS unit AND
the 600W dimmer were on the same breaker. So I found a live outlet on the same
breaker and was successful in programming both units using Upstart. So I know
my PIM and PCS switches are good. So maybe I have a phase issue or something
interfering with the UPB signal.

Next test, turn a few more breakers on and try to find an outlet on a different
phase for testing purposes. After playing around I find that there is a wall
unit I can pug into and successfully perform the comms test with my recently
programmed units. Conclusion - it does not seem to be a phase issue, it must be
something interfering with UPB (note I do not yet have a UPB phase coupler)

Next test - turn off beakers on by one to see if there is something interfering
with UPB. Success! (so I thought) I finally find a breaker where if on,
consistently fails the comms test and, if off, consistently passes the comms
test with my devices.

So, I leave the suspect breaker off and am happily playing around programming my
two installed units (using the outlet that is not on the same phase) and
learning all the features but, after a while, they suddenly quit responding to
Upstart. So I go back to the outlet that is on the same phase and have the
same problem. So I'm thinking something that cycles off and on like my furnace
or hot tub might be the problem, but after turning off those breakers I had no
better luck.

So my 3 hours of testing seems to be in vain - no consistency with my tests.
The only way I get consistent results is if the whole house is off except one

On top of that, I have found the led on the six button controller goes out when
the corresponding 600w switch is simply dimmed (dimmed at the 6 button
controller OR the 600W switch). The button is set in the "supertoggler" mode.
So the load is still on, but the led goes out. I haven't figured out a way to
program around this. What genius set this up? Even my 10 year old vintage
Smarthome stuff doesn't do this, and everyone knows what junk that is.

I can't believe the level of enthusiasm I had for this product and the level of
frustration I have with it now. I bought a $1000 worth of this crap and was
planning on another $3000 or so. Unless someone from PCS or Worthington takes
a little more active interest in supporting this product I am ready to give up
and get my money back.


For future reference I think you would get better support from Automated Outlet and Simply Automated but anyway, have you looked at the signal and noise meters (Tools > UPB Interface > Signal & Noise Meters)? That really needs to be your first troubleshooting step. You need to see signal and noise when things work fine (your baseline) and when things go out to lunch. There are very few things that induce noise that interfere with UPB. As mentioned earlier, one is a triac based dimmer turned down really low. Other triac based electronic devices can also do it. I have a fancy electronic cooktop that when on spews a ton of noise. Some possible good news is that UPB seems to work (like light responding to on/off) whereas programming doesn't under high noise levels. So, when you get your problem, try just using the lights instead of programming them. It could also be something outside of your house - even a neighbor especially if you share a transformer.

So, look for the culprit - most likely an electronic triac based device. If you find it, it may be possible to put a filter on it. I know simply automated is working on one.
Steve thanks,

At least you seem to know something about this. I don't think people comprehend what I am saying. My system just flat-ass doesn't work. Not just "acts up" - I mean "doesn't work". My wife keeps asking why I keep turning on the garbage disposal - well it's to try and get the light to turn out (or on). Please read the previous post (not taking this out on you). I hit the button on the 6 button controller - nothing happens - turn on the garbage disposal - the 600W dimmer responds.

By the way, I tried the test you mentioned regarding signal and noise. Results were signal - "no signal" noise - "none". What does that mean?

I have a bunch of Switchlincs in the house - I'm pretty sure they are triac based dimmers - usually turned down pretty low but not real low, maybe 40%. I need to experiment with this a little tomorrow night.

Still don't like the business with the LED turning off on the 6 button unit when the dimmer is simply dimmed but not turned off.

Thanks! Chris
are you sure your 6 button unit is working properly? I don't have one... but this doesn't sound proper to me. Maybe it's causing the rest of your UPB issues? Something is definitely not right with the setup here... there are far too many UPB installs that work properly for this to be right.

I would take the 6 button out - and experiment with just the single switch and UPstart. Determine your noise and signal levels (move your PIM around to make sure you try both phases (Upstart will tell you if you are on the same or different phase)). Use Upstart to control the light switch for a while and see what happens. If everything works as expected - then maybe add the 6 button back and test everything again.