Author Topic: Time for an upgrade...  (Read 5593 times)

bkenobi

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Time for an upgrade...
« on: October 02, 2013, 09:04:32 AM »
I'm thinking it's about time I improve the reliability of my system.  The X10 component works fine, but the software is just horribly unreliable on occasion.  I have a file server that doubles as my HA system.  This machine is usually sitting doing nothing but it's always online, so it seems like a good candidate for this use especially since it's got plenty of horsepower for the minimal tasks it's asked to do (Win7 x64 running on Athlon X2 4200 with plenty of ram and a hardware RAID5 setup).

My current setup uses AHP 3.318 connected to a antenna modded CM15A.  I use timers stored on the CM15A for basic lighting tasks (which works great).  I have an AutoHotKey script for use with any motion sensor logic (there's a couple lights that have somewhat complex setups that I can't seem to get AHP to handle well).  I also have text2X10 running on the system to handle text message control.

The issues I have seen are:
  • CM15A locked up with a power outage this week
  • text2X10 sometimes works for months but other times errors out/crashes several times a week
  • AHP crashes for no reason
  • Windows loses network access for no apparent reason

The CM15A lockup is so rare (happened once) that I'm not worried about it.  The other issues are all things I have looked at bug don't have a solution for.  What I'm seriously considering is looking into buying a Raspberry Pi and installing it next to my structured wiring box in the basement with the CM15A next to it. 

There are a number of benefits to this:
  • Raspberry Pi runs Linux so it should be more stable (though Windows has been pretty stable)
  • Network issues should be eliminated
  • Locating in the basement would put it where I really want it (declutter the office)
  • I hate AHP, so this would be a big one
  • Hopefully the new software would integrate SMS and Android access

I have a backup CM15A that I can work with, so I can actually play with this without taking down the main system (should help with WAF).  But, I have not yet found a software that has been confirmed to work with Raspberry Pi, functions with CM15A, has a good GUI, and can do real programming (not AHP smart macro garbage).  I was hoping there might be some people here that would be able to recommend a path to look down.  HomeGenie looks REALLY promising, but it purportedly does not work with CM15A (only CM15 Pro, the Euro version).  Mochad works on all Linux distros I believe, but I don't know of any nice GUI or anything that adds the other things I'm looking for (SMS, Android, etc).

Thoughts?

Jeff

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2013, 10:31:30 AM »
Quite a few of my customers are running HomeSeer or one of the other PC-based automation programs.  A partial list is available here:

    http://jvde.us/forum/index.php?topic=36.0

If you are considering an alternative to the CM15A, take a look at the FOARD controller that was discussed here:

    http://jvde.us/forum/index.php?topic=50.0

I ordered just the basic X10 unit for evaluation, but it apparently can also be connected to the Internet.

Jeff
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 10:34:01 AM by Jeff »
X10 automation since the BSR days...

bkenobi

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 10:44:31 AM »
I'm not a Linux person really.  I've had a couple systems that I set up to tinker with with little time invested.  I have modded a TiVo or two, but that was mostly from guides.  I use Linux all the time at work, but I don't really know the ins and outs of setting such a system up.  Thus, I would like to try using it for this type of project but I'm not locked in.

I looked at HomeSeer in the past and was put off by the high price tag compared to AHP.  High is of course relative since the professional systems are many times more expensive.

I just found a post on the HomeGenie forum by the program author that explicitly indicates that it IS compatible with CM15A.  I also saw that there is a Raspberry Pi emulator (though I don't know if it's full featured).  Since I have a backup CM15A anyway, I'll probably try to get it to working in an emulated environment and then, assuming it will work, pick up a Pi to actually play around.

Tuicemen

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2013, 05:07:51 AM »
Many users moved away from AHP shortly after setting it up so there are lots of third party options out there. Sadly many have been abandoned.
when I first got AHP I quickly learned it wouldn't do most of what I needed.
I approached HomeSeer as soon as a SDK was available but they flatly refused my request.
Stating the SDK wasn't a true SDK.

I began looking for alternatives as well and helped out others that were creating but soon found I needed to learn to program for my self.
If you find a third party application that is actively being worked on you may be able to work with the developer to get things you need added.
Originally I just created addons that worked along side AHP. Some of these were able to be standalone programs.

The point I'm trying to make is your going to need to get into programing if you want a custom setup. You may be able to pick up a open source program there are many of those out there as well do a search at codeplex.
The lock up issue with your Cm15 and a power outage is most likely a undocumented feature added to AHP( if your PC is on a UPS) ;)
« Last Edit: October 03, 2013, 05:12:27 AM by Tuicemen »
X10 turned me into a Software programmer.
A warning label should have been added ;)

bkenobi

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2013, 03:30:55 PM »
I am running my server off a UPS, though it doesn't know it (the main PC is connected to the UPS also and has the link).  The CM15A is on the same circuit, but it shouldn't be able to see the UPS or computer noise due to a filter.  I wasn't aware that the CM15A was prone to issues because of the PC being on a UPS (though it certainly wouldn't surprise me with all the other issues it does have).

At this point, it seems like every time I log on to the server I see the main AHP display with the OK confirmation dialog, which means that the server was rebooted since I last logged in.  I was having an issue with outside lights not turning on for some strange reason and this periodic reboot is the explanation.  My script checks the status of the day/night dummy module.  This module is toggled whenever the CM15A says it's dusk/dawn.  I didn't realize initially that this value is not maintained on a reset, so I wasn't aware that my module was reporting day whenever it reset.  Thus, every time it reset, the lights failed to function until the next evening.  I switched it to assume night until otherwise told, and it works better (lights turn on in the day > no lights at night).

In any case, I'm a decent programmer but it's not my profession.  I'd rather let someone else with more knowledge build the framework and I'll code the individual scripts for my specific needs (if not already met by the main code).  That's why I was intrigued by HomeGenie as it has a true programming interface.  It sounds like other software may have this capability as well, so I'll just have to pick one to try first.

bkenobi

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2013, 09:13:30 AM »
My issues with network connectivity have convinced my wife that this is a good thing to move forward on.  II got the green light to update the controller how I see fit!

FWIW, for some reason the system will lose web access with both Firefox and IE after some period of time.  I did some research this weekend and thought it had to do with the DNS settings such that it would fail to find the local DNS server, give up after 2 hours, and shut down the web.  The problem is, I don't have a local DNS server set up on any machine.  Well, after fixing that, it still breaks but now doesn't give an error.  I finally installed SP3 on my XP installation hoping that might help, but it just gives an error for X10nets now...great.  If X10 hadn't shut down their servers, I'd probably just format and install Win7 Ultimate since I have an extra copy.  But, with the go ahead I have now...I'm opting for an embedded solution (probably Raspberry Pi) this time!

noam

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2013, 09:59:16 AM »
Perhaps with some collaboration, we can put together an open-source (or not) solution?
Right now, I can send x10 commands from an Arduino, talking DIRECTLY to my XTB-IIR (via the TW-523 emulation port). I haven't tried yet, but I'm wondering if a Raspberry Pi can do the same thing (it can send TTL directly, too), and that gives you the basic platform on which to build a networked Linux-based automation controller. The Pi doesn't use much power, and probably could be run off a battery, with a trickle-charger to keep it full.

I'm neither a programmer nor an electronics wiz (I dabble a bit in both), but I do have good ideas on occasion, and I'm good at testing and troubleshooting. I also have a vested interest in a better X10 controller than the CM15A/AHP combination.

Jeff

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2013, 10:31:20 AM »
I also have a vested interest in a better X10 controller than the CM15A/AHP combination.

Take a look at the Foard controller.  It too can interface to the XTB-IIR digital port.

The manual is available here:

    http://jvde.us/info/foard_controller.pdf

The file is 8MB, so it can take some time to download.

(I have no connection to Foard other than purchasing one of their controllers for evaluation.)

Jeff
X10 automation since the BSR days...

bkenobi

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2013, 04:50:30 PM »
I've looked at the Foard controller a couple times when you've mentioned it and it does seem like a compact solution.  The thing that I always come back to is the lack of wireless I/O on it.  I don't really send wireless commands, but not having an antenna to receive them is a bit problematic.  If the CM15A were simply used as a transceiver for wired/wireless commands and letting the Raspberry Pi (for instance) deal with the logic, would that be more reliable?  I haven't looked into whether the CM15A misses commands or if those are primarily caused by collisions on the power line or low radio signal quality.

I have a XTB-IIR, so using any controller directly with that port would be a nice solution for PLC commands, but I'd still have to figure out wireless.  And since I already have a CM15A with modded antenna set up, it seems like that would be an ideal controller to keep in the loop.

Thoughts?

Jeff

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2013, 08:38:58 PM »
As far as I know, the CM15A is the only X10 controller that includes a wireless receiver.  But as you know from having to modify its antenna, its reception range is limited.  The WGL transceivers are superior.  The V572A will also connect to the XTB-IIR digital port.

Whether the CM15A --> Raspberry Pi would be more reliable really depends on how well the CM15A works as a transceiver.  I have no experience with the Raspberry Pi, and can't comment on its reliability.
X10 automation since the BSR days...

Tuicemen

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2013, 06:09:29 AM »
You might look at a used thin client or a Android Mini TV stick both these will run Linux as well.
Both can be found on E-bay for under $50
I've tested both though not with Linux.

http://tuicemen.com/forum/index.php?board=60.0

I've had my thin client ( running XP embedded) hooked to my network all summer without issues.
It runs a beta version of PC Companion designed for XP embedded.

The TV stick runs the Android OS with T.A.C. it doesn't talk directly to the cm15 as there are not drivers for it currently.
However with Linux installed it would be possible.
X10 turned me into a Software programmer.
A warning label should have been added ;)

bkenobi

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2013, 09:01:02 AM »
If I were to plug an embedded controller of some kind (Raspberry Pi, Android stick, etc) into the XTB-IIR, how would I also connect a V572A?  They connect through the same port, so what kind of a coupler would be needed?  Would a standard phone line splitter do the job or would it be more complicated?

Jeff

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2013, 09:16:34 AM »
If I were to plug an embedded controller of some kind (Raspberry Pi, Android stick, etc) into the XTB-IIR, how would I also connect a V572A?  They connect through the same port, so what kind of a coupler would be needed?  Would a standard phone line splitter do the job or would it be more complicated?

I connected the Foard controller and the Ocelot together into my XTB-523 with just a telephone splitter.  I have not tried it with the V572A, but that should work too if the V572A has the open-collector output defined in the X10 spec.

Jeff
X10 automation since the BSR days...

bkenobi

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Re: Time for an upgrade...
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2013, 10:39:04 AM »
I installed HomeGenie on a Win7 machine and hooked up my spare CM15A.  Unfortunately, the program did not seem to function with it at that time.  The documentation indicates that the user can add new interfaces, so I may try looking into that option, but I've never used c#, so that will likely be a bit advanced for me at the moment.