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msturtz last won the day on November 3 2016

msturtz had the most liked content!

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About msturtz

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  • Location
    Broomfield, CO
  • Occupation
    System/Network admin

More About Me

  • How I learned about Light-O-Rama -
    I won't lie, I saw the viral TSO wizard in winter video in ~2003, and I was hooked.
  • Favorite Decorating Holiday?
    Christmas, but Haloween a close second
  1. Thanks David. Does LOR talk to your Vera, or do you just have it timed? I'm using X-10 to control window decorations. They do turn on and off in the show, but not time-critical -- I have a "break", the window lights come on during that. I would really love to do this using something newer than X10. Z-wave would be fine, but something compatible with inexpensive off-the-shelf components. -Matt-
  2. Yeah, it sure sounds like a hardware issue. Do this: Try that USB port with some other device. Anything, but something that doesn't require its own power. Keyboard/mouse, USB thumb drive, etc. Try the USB RS485 adaptor on another PC, and see if it detects it. If it does, maybe try loading LOR software on there, and see if it can talk to your controllers -- you're allowed up to 5 installs. My thought here is to isolate the issue in either the PC, the serial adaptor, or the controller(s). The PC is expensive, but for most people I would think a replacement is readily available, given LOR can run on some really old PC's. The adaptors are cheap, but most people don't keep extras around. The other part might be the 'comm chip'on the controller, which on some of them is replicable, but it isn't a part you'll find at Radio Shack. As far as the cable, yes, I mean an *Ethernet cable*, but it connects from the serial adaptor to the controller, it does not actually carry Ethernet, and you can't connect it to Ethernet. It's RS485 serial data. What I'm suggesting is to make sure this cable is good, by testing it with a different one. -Matt-
  3. Does it show up in Hardware Utility? If not, verify the Device ID. Connect the PC directly to that controller (and only that controller) -- now can you see it in Hardware Utility? It could just be a bad cable somewhere, but it doesn't necessarily have to be the one going to that unit, as strange as that sounds.
  4. ScottA -- The light in the box flashing means it isn't talking to the LOR software. This can happen if the LOR software (Control Panel, Hardware Utility, or others depending on settings) aren't running on the PC, even if all the hardware is working correctly, or it can mean you have the wrong port selected, or it can mean you have a cabling problem, or even a bad adaptor. If you start Hardware Utility, and select COM3, and then click Refresh (make sure you have the max units setting high enough), do you see your controllers? Does the light in the control box stop blinking unless/until you close Hardware Utility? Are they *ALL* blinking, or just some of them? Double- and triple-check you have the correct serial port selected -- if you have more than one USB-SERIAL device connected, it may be hard to tell which one is right. There's a button in hardware utility to scan the available serial ports, but make sure you have at least one controller connected and powered on. Pick up a controller and physically place it right next to the PC, if you have to (or if you're like me, the show PC is a laptop, so maybe you can take it to the controller easier than bringing the controller). Use a known-good Ethernet cable, and connect to just that one controller. You need the light to be on, not flashing. Try a different cable, try a different USB cable, try a different USB port. Don't move beyond this point until the light is on-steady, not flashing. You could do this with each controller individually, if you suspect the controllers themselves. Now you should have one controller working, so you can trust the USB adaptor, the COM port, and the Ethernet cable. Start putting it back together, one piece at a time, making sure to click "refresh" in the hardware utility between each one. Let it scan the network, and make sure it can see the controllers you think it should see -- no more, no less. My guess is you have a bad cable somewhere that is breaking the network. I had this problem when I connected a new controller this year -- everything worked without that controller, but totally freaked out (lights flashing at random, even without the PC connected) when plugging in the new controller. Sounds like a bad controller? Me too. But it turns out I had a bad Ethernet cable, on the completely other end of my network. I have no idea how the network worked before, and adding this controller caused the network to freak out -- but I promise that's what happened. -msturtz
  5. 2+ weeks into my show, and my X10 CM11A seems to have blown up. It isn't work, the module is very warm, and only *occasionally* can be detected by Hardware Utility. I actually took it apart hoping to find something easy-ish -- Even 10+ minutes after removing power, the transformer in the middle of the board is too hot to touch, and the wrappings around it are discolored. I found another CM11A on eBay for $33 with free shipping, it'll get here the end of this week, which is only a week before Christmas. I only use it to shut down the porch lights and to control candelabras in the windows before and after the show -- so not a huge part of the display. The purpose of this post is to complain about the ancient CM11A, and to beg, plead, (bribe?) for support of a newer X10 module, and/or support for other home-automation hardware (for example, Insteon, but there are others) that would work with more modern / less problematic hardware. -Matt-
  6. I've thought about that -- I wonder if you could use an LED spot bulb? Or even a laser or something? In my case, the streetlight is higher up, and sodium vapor (orange color), the typical round with a shade above the bulb and the sensor up on top. My light would need to be on my roof, assuming the sensor was pointed the right way (and my guess its not, the light is north of my house). There's an opening on the side of the pole, and a direct-bury romex inside. I've metered it, its 120V. I've been thinking to just put a controller module inline.
  7. Home Depot will sell the spade-lugs you need. You don't *need* the fully covered ones like in the picture, but they really aren't substantially more expensive, and that's what the originals have. If you're using a heavier cord, be sure to get the appropriately sized crimps to match the gauge of wire you have. Get yourself a good crimp tool to apply them. I suggest Klein Tools, rather than a cheap one. You'll thank me later when your crimps don't fall off.
  8. Not to re-hash an oldish thread, but only do my own house and yard... Even I place controllers out in the "field". Hugely minimizes the extension cords, and makes plugging things in simpler as well. I put one controller on the roof to control the front part of the house, one in the garage for that part, and several in the yard. They're plainly visible during the day, but at night you don't notice them. Several companies make frames/stands to get them up off the ground -- I use CTB16PC's in the LOR enclosure, and I just lay them flat on the ground, door up, never had any moisture ingress, even in the Colorado snow.
  9. In answer to your question, you should be fine. The two neutral inputs are *not* bonded internally, which in your case wouldn't matter since those two outlets are on two circuits with a shared neutral. The two hots obviously aren't either. You can tell this for yourself with a multimeter on resistance or continuity setting... Unplug the inputs, and check for continuity between the two neutral inputs and the two hot inputs. I use CTB16PC controllers -- I bought complete-kits and put them together (including soldering the board). I don't know what the pre-built boards or boxes look like, but I would assume they are similar. The kit comes with two input cords, but like you I'm not using anywhere near the full capacity of one, let alone both, and I wanted to simplify. It turns out to be pretty easy. If you look at the board there are two extra neutral spade-lugs, and the right side has a lug in the bottom right corner labeled "HOT JUMP". I took this to be an invitation to remove the left side power cord, and make up a black jumper wire about 6" long to go from "HOT JUMP" on the right side to "HOT INPUT" on the left, and a second smaller jumper between the two neutral areas. This means the entire board is running on the right-side fuse - the left-side of the board still goes through the left side fuse, but the left side fuse is after the right-side fuse. So your total input can only be 15 amps. See the photo below - in the middle, right over the transformer, you can see the white loop, below that the black wire running from one side to the other. These wires both have spade-lug crimps on both ends. I built all of my controllers this way, and haven't had any issues.
  10. Bumping this post... It's a year later, and I still don't have a good way to do what I want, which is to disable the street light in my yard for the duration of my show. Now the thing is cycling on and off randomly, which is even worse. I wouldn't mind sacrificing a channel -> relay wired to buttons on a wireless remote. Although I need the receiver/controller to maintain state (on) during a power outage any of the rest of the year.
  11. Don't worry about the battery at all. The computer knows how to monitor the battery, it will charge it up, and then keep it charged. It won't damage it at all. (actually, its much better for your battery to be plugged in as much as possible -- batteries are actually rated in charge/discharge cycles more than age.) -Matt-
  12. They key here is I can't run wires to this device. I can install a module, but no wiring beyond what's there. No way to control a relay from a channel, unless it's wireless. The 4-channel with ELL could work depending on the size of the board once removed from the case (need small) -- but it's cost-prohibitive, since I don't use ELL presently (I would consider it if there were a handheld remote input, and maybe better ability to use inputs to control the next song... But that's another issue entirely)... (PS for K6CCC -- I wonder how many other hams are also into this hobby... de KB0KZR)
  13. There's a company producing a Z-Wave board for RasberryPi (http://razberry.z-wave.me) for $59 (doesn't include the Pi, but the software image for it is free-as-in-beer). The software provides a C level API, and a web-based JSON API. They also sell a USB stick with Windows software. Two options... One option would be to make this be an E1.31 device, which LOR can directly talk to. I'm guessing (without having used either Z-Wave or E1.31) that it would require an E1.31 stack, which does seem to be available, tied to their C API, and some extensions to the web GUI to associate Z-Wave devices with DMX channels. The other option would be for LOR to integrate with the JSON API this device provides. Either way, we would use the built-in web-GUI to build and maintain the Z-Wave network topology, so LOR doesn't have to handle that at all. Light-O-Rama could even sell a rebranded Razberry type box. This company does mention licensing/reselling.
  14. Since the CM11A is getting somewhat hard to find (ish), how about adding support for another X10-like interface to use for things like sign-light, porch/patio lights, indoor lighting... street light... Insteon has the advantage of working with X10 modules, but will also control Insteon modules over RF in addition to wired, and the modules are cheap (ish) and readily available. Z-wave seems like the up-and-coming home automation technology, with a lot of module options, but is more expensive. Thank you, -Matt-
  15. Jeff -- maybe others might be interested in the solution as well?
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