Basic Home Automation Guide

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GomezAddams Offline
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Post: #31
Here's a few tips for X-10 users:

1. Do not plug your controller or modules into a power outlet strip. Go directly into the plug. Many outlet strips have rudimentary power filtering circuitry built in that will attenuate the X-10 signal resulting in intermittent operation.

2. In the US, power is brought into residential buildings in two phases. Half your 120V outlets will be connected to one phase, half to the other. Your X-10 controller will inject signal on whichever phase it is connected to. To get to the other phase, the X-10 signal has to travel to the big transformer on the pole outside your house and back down the other phase. The result is intermittent operation on half the circuits in your house. This can be fixed by using a "phase bridge". These can take the form of a plug and socket that you plug into a 240V outlet (like a dryer or stove), or a small module that can be wired into your breaker box. If you want your X-10 to be dependable, invest in one of these.

3. When interfacing software to the X-10 controller software, send each signal two or three times with a small delay between, if possible. This covers the case where noise, or other X-10 transmissions collides with the signal.
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aptalca Offline
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Post: #32
(2012-09-11 17:19)Crotia Wrote:  
(2011-05-12 00:59)aptalca Wrote:  Well, I literally just got into automation. I received all the hardware in the mail yesterday, but I was prepared software-wise (did a ton of research), so it only took about an hour to set it all up. Here's my little guide to setting it up.

First of all, the two best options (if you're on a budget and want to do it all yourself) for home automation are: z-wave and x10. (For others, there are systems you can have installed by professionals and they include control 4, crestron, knx, etc. but they are beyond the scope of this guide)

Z-wave is all wireless rf, more reliable, more secure and has 2-way communication, but it is a little pricier (each lamp module costs about $35).

X10 is the cheapest system by far, each lamp module costs about $7. It is a combo of rf and power-line signals. Most of the lamp/appliance modules receive power-line signals and they sell transceiver modules that receive the rf from remotes and convert it to power-line signals. Most modules are one way, meaning you cannot poll them, and if the module happens to not receive the command (due to noise in the power line) the software may think the light is on, but in fact it will be off.


With that said, I decided to go with X10 just to try it out. I didn't want to spend a ton of money upfront.

Here is what I purchased:

1) $49.99 - Complete software package + USB device (CM15A)
[INDENT]This came with the USB device that plugs into the computer and the powerline. It is the main controller and can send and receive both rf and plc signals. It also came with Activehome Pro and all of its main plugins including ActivePhone (which was essential for eventghost interaction)[/INDENT]

2) $6 each - Dimming/Soft-Start lamp modules (LM465)
[INDENT]You plug the lamp into the module and plug the module into the wall. You set the house code and unit code on the device. Pretty simple. (Works only for incandescent bulbs, not halogen, not fluorescent and not energy saving because they are not compatible with the dimming function. For those you have to get an appliance module that does not dim)[/INDENT]

3) $11 - Transceiver/appliance module (RR501)
[INDENT]This device converts rf signals to plc and also has a built-in appliance module for basic on/off. I plugged my halogen lamp into this. (This is not required as the CM15A usb device also acts as a transceiver, but I put this in a another room to increase rf range and I also needed an appliance module)[/INDENT]

4) $5 - Stick-on-wall light switch (SS13A)
[INDENT]This is a very thin remote that can control three devices and you can stick it on a wall and it looks just like a regular light switch. You can also carry it around and use it as a remote.[/INDENT]

Where are you getting such cheap prices!

ebay

on x10.com the prices for individual items are ridiculous

ebay dealers sell them a lot cheaper (equivalent to how much they would have been if you bought them as a special combo deal on x10.com)
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Crotia Offline
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Post: #33
(2012-09-13 20:49)aptalca Wrote:  
(2012-09-11 17:19)Crotia Wrote:  
(2011-05-12 00:59)aptalca Wrote:  Well, I literally just got into automation. I received all the hardware in the mail yesterday, but I was prepared software-wise (did a ton of research), so it only took about an hour to set it all up. Here's my little guide to setting it up.

First of all, the two best options (if you're on a budget and want to do it all yourself) for home automation are: z-wave and x10. (For others, there are systems you can have installed by professionals and they include control 4, crestron, knx, etc. but they are beyond the scope of this guide)

Z-wave is all wireless rf, more reliable, more secure and has 2-way communication, but it is a little pricier (each lamp module costs about $35).

X10 is the cheapest system by far, each lamp module costs about $7. It is a combo of rf and power-line signals. Most of the lamp/appliance modules receive power-line signals and they sell transceiver modules that receive the rf from remotes and convert it to power-line signals. Most modules are one way, meaning you cannot poll them, and if the module happens to not receive the command (due to noise in the power line) the software may think the light is on, but in fact it will be off.


With that said, I decided to go with X10 just to try it out. I didn't want to spend a ton of money upfront.

Here is what I purchased:

1) $49.99 - Complete software package + USB device (CM15A)
[INDENT]This came with the USB device that plugs into the computer and the powerline. It is the main controller and can send and receive both rf and plc signals. It also came with Activehome Pro and all of its main plugins including ActivePhone (which was essential for eventghost interaction)[/INDENT]

2) $6 each - Dimming/Soft-Start lamp modules (LM465)
[INDENT]You plug the lamp into the module and plug the module into the wall. You set the house code and unit code on the device. Pretty simple. (Works only for incandescent bulbs, not halogen, not fluorescent and not energy saving because they are not compatible with the dimming function. For those you have to get an appliance module that does not dim)[/INDENT]

3) $11 - Transceiver/appliance module (RR501)
[INDENT]This device converts rf signals to plc and also has a built-in appliance module for basic on/off. I plugged my halogen lamp into this. (This is not required as the CM15A usb device also acts as a transceiver, but I put this in a another room to increase rf range and I also needed an appliance module)[/INDENT]

4) $5 - Stick-on-wall light switch (SS13A)
[INDENT]This is a very thin remote that can control three devices and you can stick it on a wall and it looks just like a regular light switch. You can also carry it around and use it as a remote.[/INDENT]

Where are you getting such cheap prices!

ebay

on x10.com the prices for individual items are ridiculous

ebay dealers sell them a lot cheaper (equivalent to how much they would have been if you bought them as a special combo deal on x10.com)

Awesome, thanks!
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Crotia Offline
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Post: #34
(2011-05-12 00:59)aptalca Wrote:  1) $49.99 - Complete software package + USB device (CM15A)
[INDENT]This came with the USB device that plugs into the computer and the powerline. It is the main controller and can send and receive both rf and plc signals. It also came with Activehome Pro and all of its main plugins including ActivePhone (which was essential for eventghost interaction)[/INDENT]

Did you get "ActivePhone Pro" as a separate piece? Or is regular ActivePhone included with ActiveHome? I was wondering if you were referring to the pro version being required for eventghost interaction
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aptalca Offline
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Post: #35
Normally it is not included in ActiveHome. I believe I bought a bundle that had the two software packages and the powerline device
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dkplayaclub Offline
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Post: #36
Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a lot of work to avoid flipping a light switch.
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aptalca Offline
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Post: #37
When I am out of town, my lights are scheduled to come on at night to prevent potential robbers from realizing there is nobody home. They turn off when it's bedtime.

I have numerous lights in my living room. The switches are all in opposite corners. When I start a movie on xbmc, it turns all the lights off. When I pause, it turns some on but dims, so I can see my way to the kitchen or the bathroom.

Many people have their sprinkler systems or pool lights/heaters automated.

Curtains opening and closing on a schedule (I can't wake up when it's dark, my wife can't sleep with the curtains open). . .

There are way too many scenarios. It's not about skipping a single switch flip.
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nick_l Offline
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Post: #38
(2012-09-17 04:42)dkplayaclub Wrote:  Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a lot of work to avoid flipping a light switch.

One might say that XBMC is a lot of work just to avoid putting in a dvd. Like XBMC, most home automation is much more than it first appears. There are issues of security, energy savings, comfort and much more that make them worthwhile endeavors for most people. Plus, like XBMC, can't forget about the geek cred of having the lights dim, the tv/projector come on, and blinds close automatically, all with the push of one button.


Or the tl;dr version, hobbies are a lot of work Big Grin
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GomezAddams Offline
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Post: #39
I use X-10 to turns lights on and off at somewhat random times when we are on vacation.

My biggest use for X-10 is at Christmas. I go kind of Clark Griswald and put up a bunch of lights. These lights end up plugged into several different outlets. I use X-10 modules (all set to the same address) to turn them on and off on a schedule. works like a charm.
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doobiest Offline
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Post: #40
(2011-05-14 00:16)TonyNoone Wrote:  While I commend you for beginning a system and even more so for documenting it so others could benefit, I'm afraid that of every three who try to follow, two will fail. Simply because X10 is, well there's no nice way to put it, garbage.

Dated post but relevant never the less. I'd have to disagree on the 33%. X10 pretty much works out the box, but later you find it needs some troubleshooting here and there. For me x10 light switches have been more than acceptable in behavior and features for the price. I'm not yet ready to invest $60+ a light switch x 30 switches when this is working much better than having no automation, and was super cheap.

I may be the 1/3 but allow me to shamelessly link a specific post on my blog where I show two videos demonstrating x10 light, fireplace, thermostat control via XBMC. I also have ceiling fan and front door/doorbell activated camera support on XBMC now too. The fan and doorbell activation are both using x10 units.

http://homeawesomation.wordpress.com/201...-together/

I took a different path, I use a ir543 and a logitech harmony remote do the dimming on play/pause. I did this because I want to have harmony remote be able to control my home automation whether my xbmc computer is on or not. But I think there would be better functionality and intelligence in doing it from an XBMC script to a backend process on my linux box.

Unless I missed it in the posts, one way my solution is different and I think cool is I heavily rely on the notification system and now a ip cam viewing script that people on here helped me write. Having near instant feedback of what my automation system is doing, in a classy way on my TV is nice to have. Really completes the picture.

http://forum.xbmc.org/showthread.php?tid...pid1342085

(2012-09-22 12:53)nick_l Wrote:  
(2012-09-17 04:42)dkplayaclub Wrote:  Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a lot of work to avoid flipping a light switch.
blinds close automatically, all with the push of one button.

What unit do you use to control blinds? Ive been looking into this lately.



Also to all I replied to I think the general mentality of these ideas aren't protocol specific(x10) but rather automation lifestyle specific. I don't care what ipcam, what light switch module, what thermostat I'm using, I want to be able to control them well through XBMC regardless of how they interoperate.
(This post was last modified: 2013-02-19 23:51 by doobiest.)
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doobiest Offline
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Post: #41
(2012-09-17 04:42)dkplayaclub Wrote:  Maybe it's just me, but this seems like a lot of work to avoid flipping a light switch.

Oh my good sir, believe me it seems just like how you described it, but it is so much nicer to have features like this once you've had them. I mean I'm lazy (not fat just lazy). When I go to bed I dont have to do a once over on my house seeing if I left any lights on, I just hit a button. Or if I forget they all go off anyway at a certain hour.

Simple things offer a number of interesting possibilities when you have a computer and some scripting skills sitting between it. I totally get your point though, when I tell friends they're very "so what" about it. Recently I gave a few modules to my friend and he used it to better automate his salt water fish tank system (they're very delicate apparently). He won't shut up about it now, "changed his life" sort of thing.

When I sit down to watch a movie, I can flip my kitchen light off from my tv remote. That same kitchen light I forgot to turn off when I got up to grab a snack, now I gotta get up again? I don't think so. Smile

My doorbell is probably the grandest project I've done so far, for something so plain as a door bell:

-Someone pushed door bell, if at night my porch light gets a little bit brighter when they press it, for effect
-My door chime rings in my house and in my garage
-My IP camera on my porch snaps a handful of photos of whos at my door
-An email gets sent to my phone, makes a doorbell noise, and displays the photos (currently working on a push based app for my phone, so no email required)
-IF I'm playing music on XBMC it get's paused for a moment
-On xmbc a notification pops up saying my door bell rang, and a live video feed shows up in the bottom corner for 10 seconds
--This gets broadcast to 4 XBMC instances in my house, so no matter where I am watching something, I can see that someone shows up and who. Very cool and cost $80 in parts.

Point being all this is possible when you invest in a home automation system, even if I just started out with controlling a couple of lights. Taking my doorbell example, many people own IP cameras, but are they taking full advantage of what they purchased and using it like this?

I'm constantly thinking of what I can do with this stuff that I hadn't considered before owning it.
(This post was last modified: 2013-02-19 23:41 by doobiest.)
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doobiest Offline
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Post: #42
(2012-09-22 12:53)nick_l Wrote:  and blinds close automatically, all with the push of one button.

I asked you what you used a few days ago, and just to prove how crazy and impulsive I am, I just built a fully functional automated windows blinds system. Please check out my videos on this post and tell me what you thinks. Pretty damn excited about it.

http://homeawesomation.wordpress.com/201...h-arduino/
(This post was last modified: 2013-03-01 01:45 by doobiest.)
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aptalca Offline
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Post: #43
lol that is awesome, great job

futaba servos :-) I used them in rc planes

I looked into automated curtains a while back, never went through with it though. I was looking into this little motor: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003YVJ472 and combining it with an x10 module
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doobiest Offline
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Post: #44
I was also looking at buying those and boy am I glad I didn't. $80 plus the x10 equipment.. no thanks. I was very close too because I hadn't considered being able to do this for cheaper on my own.
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tsrikalyan Offline
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Post: #45
Hi
can we use belkin wemo switch for xbmc Cinema Experience automation ?

thanks
-kalyan
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