Author Topic: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!  (Read 6674 times)

joesam

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 27
New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« on: January 26, 2014, 09:17:32 AM »
I just installed my new XTB-IIR yesterday (firmware v1.22) at default settings.  As advised by Jeff, I did not plug my 1132U PLC directly into the booster port (its a 3 prong device, anyway), but left it connected in its original spot - next to the panel (similar distance - about 1 foot) as the XTB-IIR is from my panel.  While waiting for delivery (which was FAST), I had prepared by installing a dedicated breaker for the XTB-IIR, and a dedicated junction box to connect the new coupler/repeater.  I also plugged my V572A into the XTB-IIR's TW523 port.  It took 10 minutes because of that preparation - and I was going slow/carefully.

Results:

1) Every device plays perfectly together!  And I have about 20 X10 switches/modules accumulated over the years.

2) Signal level due to the XTB-IIR is absolutely shocking - pun intended! (**more on signal later**)

3) I already had a fairly "X10 compatible" house.  Many years ago, I had installed two large 15A filters with powerbars  in the two most concentrated A/V zones in the house, and three 5A filters on the three computer/laptop areas, as well as a dryer-type phase coupler.  I've been using the technology since about 2002 or so - but had let-it-ride for many years and had begun to see reliability/degradation in some outlets.  When My PSC05 (used with V572A) failed over the Xmas break, I did some online research and discovered Jeff's many XTB solutions - the write-ups sold me.

**Signal Level**

I cannot find an outlet in my entire (2500 sq ft - built in the early '90's) house without incredible X10 signal!  Since I had started X10 many years ago,  I had an old/original TesterLinc/1132B (Smarthome) for signal testing.  After the install, I took it around my house looking to see what Jeff's "Phaser-set-to-Kill" had accomplished.  I was in for a huge surprise. 

The highest signal quality (some obscure number system devised by the TesterLinc folks) that I had ever seen in my home on TesterLinc was 88, but most often it was in the low to mid 70's.  BUT here's where it gets interesting.  The TesterLinc was never designed to take the shot-in-the-head that Jeff's box delivers!  It was designed with "100" as the absolute peak level that X10 could "possibly" be measured.....or so they thought.  To the old TesterLinc's credit, it still managed to designate a TesterLinc quality number (except now, from a low of 128 to a high of 139!), but it no longer could decode the X10 address - instead every code started with BSC (bad start code). 

But that wasn't true!  Every X10 address throughout my home was perfect (but apparently "too loud" for the old TesterLinc).  To be sure, I augmented my outlet testing with  and old Smarthome SHL2000 and a night light (a device I had found to be useless in my home, for lack of reliability) - and it worked perfectly everywhere.  Amazing!

Performance throughout the house is 100%, I'm sure.  The tests were performed while my wife was at work; so I could crawl around and check even the most hidden of the outlets and behind some switches without the inevitable eye-rolling that would occur if she were present.  I only gave up on testing three outlets because I'd be moving a queen size bed, a china cabinet, and a bookcase by myself.  I think I'll take it on faith that those are 100% also!

The rest of yesterday (wife away) was spent removing and old Boosterlinc; the passive coupler; exension cords behind couches (which were there due to the nearby outlets being unreliable); loading fresh batteries in 10 motion sensors which are now working at the speed of light; and installing a sensor and WS13A in the pantry so open door=light (that light switch location was dead to the old system).

I also spent time on my Smarthome Manager program/upload before nightfall; editing out dimming delays (eg. pauses) that were there to ensure dimming completion to desired levels (which was an issue).....they are simply not needed any more!

My compliments Jeff - you have built a box that exceeded my expectations 10 fold.  Since X10 has become a little bit abandoned due to the noise caused by modern devices impacting legacy systems; I'll have a cheap source (eBay) for any additions I choose to make.  Personally I'm sticking with X10!  Its a win-win.

Brian H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 169
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2014, 10:58:14 AM »
With my XTBM and XTB-IIR. My lowest reading is 1.25 Volts of X10 signal and the highest hits the 9.99 volt limit. So it could be even higher.

My TesterLinc read between 128 and 132 almost all over the house.

One of my 1132B Interfaces routinely gave me BSK and BBK messages with the TesterLinc and another 1132B was 100% stable readings. Turned out the flaky readings was from the 1132B. Tests showed it had noise pulses in the Zero Crossing signal. It is now in the scrap box.

Jeff

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 201
    • Owner, JV Digital Engineering
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2014, 11:17:49 AM »
Wow, thank you for the great feedback Joe.

From what I have read about the TesterLinc, its quality readout counts the number of 120KHz cycles received.  It doesn't directly measure signal level, but it starts to miss cycles as the signal level gets low.  The actual signal level will decrease as you move away from the distribution panel, but should still be plenty strong for the TesterLinc to count all the cycles.

I'm glad to hear back from another satisfied customer.

Jeff
X10 automation since the BSR days...

Jeff

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 201
    • Owner, JV Digital Engineering
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2014, 11:26:13 AM »
One of my 1132B Interfaces routinely gave me BSK and BBK messages with the TesterLinc and another 1132B was 100% stable readings. Turned out the flaky readings was from the 1132B. Tests showed it had noise pulses in the Zero Crossing signal. It is now in the scrap box.

The XTB-IIR pumps out such a strong signal that it can confuse the zero crossing detector in some devices.  The typical problem is that some nearby dimmers flicker as X10 commands are transmitted.

There is a mode option to delay the beginning of the X10 signal burst to reduce or eliminate the effect.  Of course, that will reduce the length of the burst, and produce a lower "quality" number on the TesterLinc, and a slight reduction in the value reported by the XTBM because it averages over the entire X10 window.  But there will be no reduction in the actual signal level transmitted.

Jeff
X10 automation since the BSR days...

Brian H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 169
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2014, 12:05:41 PM »
Thanks for the information Jeff.

In my case the Zero Crossing signal had a pulse in the center of the wave form all the time. Even when there was no power line activity. Another one didn't show the pulse in the center of the Zero Crossing.

On an slack day I may look at the small power supply used for that signal. My thoughts are bad cap.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 12:54:55 PM by Brian H »

joesam

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 27
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2014, 12:21:52 PM »
A little off topic....but.  Given the rebirth of X10 in my home - I've stumbled across another idea.  About 6 months ago, I replaced the old under cubboard fluorescent lights in the kitchen with more modern/elegant LED strips.  Cool idea, but the appliance modules I was using on them didn't recognize the minimal load of the LED's.  The LED strips would flash on/off.  So I extricated the appliance modules from the setup.

But since I was crawling around the house yesterday, I investigated the little LED power supplies (eg mini-warts) and realized they are 12v.  Tadaaa! - I think I'm going to replace them with the X10 12v supplies that were originally designed for x10 cameras (XM10A).   This will work....yes?  They were never dimmed anyway.  Just on off depending on time & sunset.

Brian H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 169
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2014, 01:00:43 PM »
The X10 camera power supplies have a low current rating.
The XM10A is 12 volts at 80mA.
http://kbase.x10.com/wiki/XM10A
You may want to check the ratings on the wall warts now in use.

I have never seen a minimum load requirement on an Appliance Module. Some low current devices had some issues. The older ones where worse than the later CFL friendly ones.
Is the Appliance Module new enough to be the later CFL friendly ones?
The older ones had a Local Control Sensing Circuit that would many times make low current devices flash or turn back On.
There are modifications for the older before CFL friendly Appliance Modules to remove the Local Control Sensing current.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 01:14:01 PM by Brian H »

joesam

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 27
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2014, 01:41:51 PM »
I don't recall seeing amps or watts on them. They are tiny. Similar to cell phone charger size. These are not bright LED strips. The appliance modules are 3 pin. About 4 or 5 yrs old.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2014, 01:52:23 PM by joesam »

joesam

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 27
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2014, 01:57:16 PM »
OK - just pulled one out of the box - they were my 10 year old 2 pin models!  I do have newer ones though.  Also, went down and read the rating on the warts - they are 12v 1A but are meant to power up to six of these LED strips - my installation only has two.  The X10 camera power supply is only 80mA - any chance, or no?

Brian H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 169
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2014, 04:48:34 PM »
If 1 amp is for 6 strips. That is .166 Amps per strip. 2 strips is .33 amps.
80mA is .08 Amps.
I would say a definite No on driving the strips.

I don't remember the Date Code where the CFL friendly ones where released.
I will see if I can find out anything.

joesam

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 27
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2014, 05:09:22 PM »
OK. No rush. I'll have to test one of my newer modules. May be easy enough to solve.

Brian H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 169
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2014, 03:52:33 AM »
Testing with a newer module sounds good.
I believe it was sometime in 2008 when the new design was made.
Another easy test is. Connect it to a table lamp with the lamp on. Then turn the appliance module Off. Cycle the local On-Off switch on the lamp. From On to Off and back On. If the appliance module turns back On it has Local Control Sensing.

dave w

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2014, 06:19:03 AM »
About 6 months ago, I replaced the old under cubboard fluorescent lights in the kitchen with more modern/elegant LED strips.  Cool idea, but the appliance modules I was using on them didn't recognize the minimal load of the LED's.
FWIW, I'm probably repeating something you already knew. One way to stop the flicker is to use a three way tap and plug a 4 or 7 watt incandecent nightlight in the AM along with the LED supply. The nightlight shunts enough power to stop the LED flicker.

I also use LM15A's (the old "Socket Rocket") to power LED candles powered by old cell phone chargers. The LM15A can not be dimmed so is either in full conduction or off. The LM15A triac does still distort the 120V waveform but the switching power supplies do not seem to be bothered (Definitely not true of a couple old inductive wall warts I had tried earlier. They both overheated and failed after a year of operation.)

I don't know if "New X10 Pro" is marketing the LM15A. If you want to try an LM15A I would suggest you do a 24 or 36 hour test and periodically check the LED power supply for overheating, before putting into service.
This after shave makes me look fat.

Brian H

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 169
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2014, 06:31:59 AM »
Both the X10 LM15 and X10Pro PSM04 are listed on the new X10 Sales site.
I would imagine some of the independent X10 dealers would also have them.

joesam

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 27
Re: New XTB-IIR Install - Testerlinc and Rebirth of X10!
« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2014, 09:14:09 AM »
So - just an update (I've been slack and haven't tried my newer appliance module yet) - the LED strip flashes and won't turn on - also when everything is switched on manually, it flashes and won't turn off either.  Clearly its a current sensing model.  Keep in mind, it is an ancient 2 prong appliance module.  I will also try an old lamp module (with triac) for giggles - but don't expect success.

I'm not sure my 3 prong appliance modules are newer than 2008 'cause I hadn't updated anything in my system for years!

Yes, I have recently seen details on the projects where socket rockets are surgically dismantled and modified to make tiny modules - very cool.  Something I think will be useful as I evolve other X10 applications in future.  A "night lite" in series with these LED's is not really an option - they are very thin (1/2") - under counter lights.  Nowhere to hide a Xmas bulb except maybe inside a kitchen cabinet above (which is not very wife-compatible).