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X10 issues with LOR II 2.04


kevin
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I am running about 10 of the X10 modules throughout the house and the yard for my static displays. I have updated LOR to version 2.04. my problem is....

LOR works fine with the hardware controller. Turns on and off all the X10s. but during the show using the Scheduler it only turns on about half the X10 units.

I first tried putting all the outside units on the same X10 channel but that didn't work either. So now I have all the X10s on a separate channel and in my background sequence I have the X10s coming on 1 sec apart, I thought maybe there was a signal jam by having them all pop on at the same time. but that hasn't helped either. so the sequence for the X10 On is the first 10 sec is bringing on the x10s one by one and than leaving them on for the remainder of the 1 min background sequence.

It is strange because I can stop the show, open the hardware utility and than start the missing X10 modules, that have to start the show back up.


Any thoughts as to what is happening. Is the signal stronger by using the Hardware utility then that of the Scheduler?

What about putting each X10 in there own show and then loading the 10 sequences into the background scheduler?

Thanks for any help..

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Well... I haven't quite got to the point of trying X-10 yet, although I'm very close (hoping to go live tomorrow night). I'll let you know how I come out...

X10 is by nature a little flaky.

-Tim

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There is no difference in the signal strength coming from LOR since it is only sending serial data to the CM11A interface. It's possible that LOR sends the X10 command multiple times in the hardware utility and not during the show, but only the developers could answer this. Another possibility may be extra noise being generated on the AC lines when the show is running. X10 is notorious for being susceptible to this. Did all of the X10's work when you ran version 1.6?

Mark

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Last year they all work fine with version 1.6.X In fact I had multiple X10s on the same channel (2 x10s set to C6) and all comming on at the same second in the background sequence. Even in my Halloween display it all worked, however I only had one LOR controller and 3 X10 involved.


Is the Background sequence played during the startup sequence?

Would putting the X10 show in both the startup and background work?

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Not that this will be helpful but I had similar issues with X10 using 2.0.4. The first two nights of my show only 1 of my 4 X10 channels turned on and after the show my security lights failed to turn on (also X10 running through LOR).

Oddly, the third fourth and fifth nights everything has worked properly. I did not change a thing... Weird....

If you are using a background sequence you need to have only 1 event of about a minute. I am not sure that having multiple events in a background sequence and spacing them out in time will work... In previous years I have add extra channels to the back ground sequence to space out the X10 channels. These channels did not do anything, unless I also had an LOR channel I wanted to use in the background sequence, but they seemed to make things work better with X10. This year I have only X10 channels in the background sequence and other then those first two days things are working.

Maybe you could experiment with running a few shows of a minute or so each and see if the X10 behaves better after a couple shows run?

Good Luck!

Frank

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Richard Hamilton

I was thinking the same thing as Mark's comment... "Another possibility may be extra noise being generated on the AC lines when the show is running. "

X10 devices are VERY sensitive to rapidly changing loads on the AC line. Example, if your LOR controllers are in the process of turning on or off several strings of incandescant lights (much higher loads than LEDs), then that could reduce the signal quality of commands being sent to X10 devices at that time.

My best guess is that the AC lines are simply too noisy for whatever reason at the time the signals are being sent. This could be especially true since you mentioned this system was working not long ago.

Try making sure that the controller sends the X10 signals at a time when no other light control activity is occurring for at least 1/2 second on either side of the time you are sending the X10 signals. This is just to give an extra margin of time for reduced AC noise.

The best way to troubleshoot X10 is with a signal analyizer, but unfortunately those things are very expensive. Also investing in an X10 signal booster could help, but those things aren't cheap either.

To give you an idea of just how sensitive X10 is to noise... I had a situation last winter where some devices would not turn on on occasion. I borrowed an X10 analyizer and noticed the signals were failing when the house central heating was on. The heater motor was generating lots of AC noise back into the line. I bought a signal booster from SmartHome and the problem has been solved since that time.

Please keep in mind that the more X10 devices you add to your system, the more unreliable they will become because each X10 device loads down the signal a small amount. This is why I stopped using the generic X10 devices and started using the SmartHome brand because they don't load the X10 signals. In fact, they boost an X10 signal, so the more of those devices you have, the more reliable the network becomes.

I have 38 X10 devices in my house and on average, there are about 2,000 commands being sent daily to various devices under differing situtations. It is rare that I see a failure to activate a device. So if the system is set up correctly with signal boosters and the right X10 devices, it can be very reliable.

My advice is to focus on noise issues and see if all the X10 devices are on the same leg of the AC line. If you are trying to send signals across the leg of the 220 line, then you are likely to have an unreliable setup unless you use a "crossover" (sometimes called a coupler).

I recommend that EVERYONE running X10 devices to invest in one of these couplers. Here is the cheapest yet most reliable one I have found ... http://www.smarthome.com/4816a2.html. You use this in an area where you have a clothes dryer or another convenient location in your house where there is a 220 outlet. Otherwise you would have to buy the type that wires into your distribution panel and I don't like to do that. Too dangerouos unless you hire an electrician.

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As others have said, I also solved a lot of my X10 problems with a signal booster last year. The last few months things had gotten randomly unreliable (totally independent of LOR controllers). My miracle cure of this year is the 120 Hz power line filters - in my case FilterLincâ„¢ 10-Amp Plug-In Noise Filter , model 1626-10 or equivalent.

We have a couple of new appliances, so I figured they might be the source. Surprisingly the source turned out to be my computer hardware -- especially one plugged in too close to the X10 transmitter. The FilterLinc prevents the machine plugged into it from injecting 120Hz noise into the power line. It also prevents the machine from absorbing (attenuating) 120Hz signals already on the power line. I tested these on a couple of motor-driven appliances, but the biggest benefit came from plugging my computers surge protectors into these filters.

Can't say it's a panacea, but X10 control has been rock solid ever since.

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thanks for all the suggestions.

I think tonight I will try to put the X10 on in the startup as well and see if the Startup show runs prior to the background show. Thus eliminating the controller board interference.

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Well, I might be seeing the same thing...

We're doing a test run tonight. Only one of my X-10 circuits came up automatically. There should be 8 or so... Oddy, it was one of the middle channels (#4) that made it on. I started the rest manually...

We're already attracting cars (just a handful) so I hate to turn the lights on and off right now... Not sure what I'd try, either. I'm using the same method I've used for 4 successful years now...

Anyone else having issues with this?

I'm still on 2.0.4. I'll probably upgrade to 2.0.8 after the show ends tonight (I forgot to make sure it got done today).

As an unrelated aside, I see an annoying error in my channel config- not sure how I missed it in my testing the other night. That means I have to fix it, then reimport 12 songs, 9 "bumpers", and about a dozen "test files" with the correct config. Did I mention I want to get a central database for this stuff? :P (It's bugging me to have to wait until after tonight to fix this, too, since I don't want to stop the show, and the error is really visible...)

-Tim

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The X-10 channels did not shut off properly either. Once again, one circuit worked (a different one this time), all the others did not.

I'm going to experiment with this some more. I really hope this isn't the one thing that brings be back to LOR 1.x...

-Tim

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Argh, sometimes I love to hate X-10.

I'm not sure if this is an LOR problem or not. Out of the HWU (one channel at a time, obviously, things work virtually 100% of the time. But if I run my background sequence (shortened a bit) out of the sequence editor, I get only a channel or two working...

Frank, can you explain what you did in the following? I'd like to try it:

In previous years I have add extra channels to the back ground sequence to space out the X10 channels. These channels did not do anything, unless I also had an LOR channel I wanted to use in the background sequence, but they seemed to make things work better with X10.


-Tim
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I now have put all my X10's in a seperate show that runs prior to the main show.

I have a show called X10-On which I put into the Background of the Scheduler. I than put a blank 2 min sequence into the automation part of the scheduler. I call this show X10-on.

I run "X10-On" from 5:20 to 5:30. At 5:30 I run the 2007 Show, which has "X10_on" in the background and my show sequences in the musical. In the shutdown I have my X10 off show which is just a sequence with my X10 channels all off for 1 min.


Results.

Sometimes it misses one or two x10 channels both in the on and the off, during the show schedule. But if I run the Sequence in the Sequence Editor all the X10 come on and shut off OK.

I wont be using x10s any more in my show. Look for a after christmas sell of my X10 equipment..

Maybe Dan and Co. should comeup with a switched outlet on the LOR boards that turn on when the show starts and turns off when the show ends. Not part of the actual LOR controller, just a switched outlet with no programming or special effects. ON when show starts off when show ends.

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I don't see how you can do a pre-show like that -- wouldn't they go off at the end of the show (at 5:30)?

What I wish LOR would allow is that you could send actual X10 commands, rather than (or in addition to) faking them out with the sequence editor. All I'd do is have a little file of commands that told my channels to go ON about a dozen times each, pausing between each one, at the beginning of the show... Barring that, I wish LOR would allow you to run a batch file or some other external code so I could do the same thing...

I can't abandon my X-10... a huge portion of my display is static. I've been using it successfully with LOR for 3 seasons (the first season was before "background sequence" was added and I had to use ActiveHome...) I don't understand why it wouldn't work this year, unless it's an LOR II issue or unless my X10 is really flaking out this year...

-Tim

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Hi Tim,

I am not sure whre I got the idea from but I think back in the '05 season I read something about extra channels in the sequence causing the gap between x10 commands to be a little longer. Based on that I always (or at least last year and the year before) place an additional channel between my x10 channels. I do not usualy fill in the control information for the channel unless I have some LOR channels that I want to stay on all the time (not exactly cost effective...)

Now this may just be superstition but it did seem to solve my problems in years past...

Right now I am trying to sort out why my "non" LOR controllers have started having issues since I upgraded to 2.0.8 yesterday...

Frank

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Tim Fischer wrote:

II can't abandon my X-10... a huge portion of my display is static. I've been using it successfully with LOR for 3 seasons (the first season was before "background sequence" was added and I had to use ActiveHome...) I don't understand why it wouldn't work this year, unless it's an LOR II issue or unless my X10 is really flaking out this year...

-Tim

Well... I don't think it's you or your particular X10 gear. Mine is not working wither with playback from LOR II.

Triggers ok from the hardware editor, or from an X10 console plugged in right next to the CM11 interface connected to my sequencing system, but so far has never switched on from any show level that I've run so far.

-jim
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I know X10s are flakey at the best, but it still puzzles me why it works with the HW utility and in the Sequence Editor, but not in the show schedule.


Another thing I have found is if the X10 channel is not turned on within the show schedule it will not turn off with the show schedule.

i.e. show starts up and X10 modules C1 and A1 turn on but C5 and C6 do not.

You manually turn on C5 and C6 by stoping show and using HW utility or via another X10 program/remote

When show stops C1 and A1 turn off but C5 and C6 will stay on. You must manually turn them off.

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I figured out how to get the X10s to work in the show. Somewhat anyway.... If I space them to turn on 1 second apart then it works fine...

Except you end up with a few sec being turned off every min.. LOL Not a fix

But I figured out the problem is sending all the X10 signals at the sime time across the wire.

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So here is what has worked for me in the past. It is very similar to what Kevin is doing, or at least is based on the same concept.

I think the main problem is the spacing of the events sent to the CM11A. I have been having complete X-10 failure since I upgraded to 2.0.8 but I have not tied the solution that worked for me in prior years, yet.

So here it is. What I do is I add X-10 channels into the sequence and put them between the X-10 channels that actual control my display. example: channel one is C-2, Channel 2 is A1. A1 does not control anything in my display but having that extra command spaces out the commands I care about.

If I had more time I would put a serial sniffer on the line and explore what happens with and without these extra channels. See if I can find a way to make close to a second in between each command that I care about.

No guarantees but it is worth a shoot.

Frank

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kevin wrote:

I figured out how to get the X10s to work in the show. Somewhat anyway.... If I space them to turn on 1 second apart then it works fine...

Except you end up with a few sec being turned off every min.. LOL Not a fix

But I figured out the problem is sending all the X10 signals at the sime time across the wire.



I wondered about that.

I wish there was a way to just list the X-10 channels you wanted on in the background, instead of having the "sequence".

-Tim
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Tim,

I have been fooling around with the x10 issues again and have learned even more.

1) A weak or faulty GFCI anywhere on the Electrical Leg will cause enough line noise to interfere with X10s

2) Switching the X10 module address so they are not all in sequence or even the same house code helps out. I.e. set to A1, C3, A9, B6 as opposed to A1, A2, A3, A4.

3) Sometimes just swapping the X10 module with another one already in use works.

4) I don't know if this actually helps or not but I have also started to test the X10s at the CM11A outlet with the address i will be using prior to placing the module at its final destination.. Kinda like programming the code into the module by running it once before it is down electrical stream.


None of this is a science, nor is there a rhyme or reason why any of this works. But it appears my success rate with these few test have been more successful than my hours at the Roulette Tables.


..edit for spelling...

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I played with this for hours last night. I pared my background sequence down two 3 X-10 addresses. I ran it in the sequence editor and it worked flawlessly every time. I then set up a VERY basic show, with that as the background sequence, and an extremely simple animation (only one LOR channel on) as the main part of the show, to minimize any additional line noise. Consistently, only one of the 3 X10 channels would turn on.

I'm now back to suspecting something is up with LOR...

-Tim

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