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x 10 how to


Gina Burns
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Ok, I am not a newbie to LOR but I am to x 10 so please help! I have two snow machines that I want to use in my display this year and I have a x10 to "control" them through LOR but how to connect the x10 to a channel...it is probably an easy answer!:?

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Easy answer:

  1. If you don't have one already, buy a CM11A. You can find them for under $20 on eBay. The CM11A allows your computer to send X10 signals.
  2. Connecd the CM11A to a serial port on your computer. If you don't have a serial port, then you need to get a USB-to-serial converter. By the way, I heard a rumor that LOR S2 will, in a future update, be able to use the CM15A, which is an updated version of the CM11A that connects using USB.
  3. In the LOR hardware utility, select the "X10 CM11A" tab. Select the serial port that is connected to the CM11A and press "Init Unit". If everything is working correctly, you should get a success message in the box.
  4. Further test it by selecting the house code and unit number, and click "ON". Your snow machine should turn on.
  5. In your sequence, configure a channel as Device Type X10, and select the correct unit number.
  6. You should now be able to turn the snow machine on and off in a sequence. Realize that it can take a couple of seconds between the time the sequence turns an X10 channel on and the time it actually gets turned on.

Edit: Also realize that X10 is not as reliable as the LOR network. If you have your computer plugged into the same circuit as the CM11A or the X10 modules, the noise from the comupter's power supply my prevent the X10 signal from getting through. This can result an an "on" (or "off"!!!) signal from getting through. If it would be really bad for the snow machine to be left on, then you might want to have a backup plan to turn it off. One example would be a separate X10 timer that periodically sends "off" signals. (The CM11A can do this.)

If the computer power supply noise is a problem, you can get an X10 filter, plug the comupter into the filter and plug the CM11A into an unfiltered outlet.

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8 amps, not 8 watts ...

Does anyone have a USB to serial adaptor that they could reccomend ... that works well for use with LOR?

I saw this one on newegg, which is a USB 2.0 to serial with good reviews.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812339013

I do already own the 1132U X10 controller, but bought the HC60CRX (rebadged CM11a by RCA) for LOR use, but haven't been able to hook it up since my only serial port is connected to a weather station currently.

update:
I decided to get this card to give me more serial ports (and a parallel port I don't need)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815166006&nm_mc=TEMC-RMA-Approvel&cm_mmc=TEMC-RMA-Approvel-_-Content-_-text-_-N82E16815166006

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One word of caution, motors don't really like the LOR Triacs, so it may hasten the burnout of the snow machine blower and pump. Might be best to use a relay that is connected between LOR and the snow machine.

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The relay acts as a switch. When you power on a LOR channel, it will send 120v to the relay trigger. This will cause the relay to turn on an internal switch allowing electricity to flow through the relay toward your snow machines. When the power from the LOR channel stops, the switch turns off.

Since these switches are mechanical (vs solid state as the LOR controllers have) they can handle higher amounts of power.

This relay http://www.skycraftsurplus.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1440

for example, is capable of handling 15 amps. These are easy to wire but should be kept weatherproof. They can be a little noisy (they click).

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taybrynn wrote:

Hey, my "snow machine" works with no power at all ... but I can't control when it runs or how many inches falls. Totally worthless for sequencing. And you have keep the driveway clear as well ... kind of a pain.


I'm afraid that snow machines such as this are a banned product in the DFW area. I haven't seen one in operation in a long, long while. However, we are allowed ice makers, which tends to really mess up the driveway - so I prefer to not use 'em if possible.



In any case, I'm struggling with X10 as well. First year to use it. I'm wanting to use X10 to turn on various static elements as well as the FM transmitter and stereo amp (powering outdoor speakers).

My startup routine is about 15 minutes long. It's mainly to allow the inflatables to inflate (it's large - takes about 12 minutes to fully inflate) before kicking on the static lights. At the beginning of the startup routine, I turn on power to the stereo and FM transmitter via X10. My concern is that LOR will turn off the X10 when it switches from startup to normal show. While it's not a 'showstopper' by any means, I'd really rather have constant power to the X10 devices instead of a power loss at the end of the startup sequence. There's a promised fix for that, but it looks like we won't see it this year.

I did test X10 last night by running the startup routine and plugging the X10 modules into a power strip. They clicked on just like clockwork. As a next test, I'll create a show using the startup and main show, and see if the X10 resets as it hands off the control from the startup routine to the main show.

If anyone has any ideas on this, I'd love to hear about it.
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I'm no X10 expert either.

I have used it some to control my sprinkler system (Rain8net controlled) with an RF to X10 remote.

I know there are many free X10 control programs out there which could allow you to send repeated on or off commands to X10 channels however you want. They can even respond to the on/off of a motion sensor (most X10 sensors are cheap, battery powered motion sensors).

I know that my RF-to-X10 remote would also work to manually turn things on/off on demand. Not sure why I'd want to use it, but could be useful to be able to turn on some security lights in a hurry, if needed.

This is an interesting thread ... hope to learn more soon.

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I was going X10 this year but changed computers mid-year and don't have a serial port. Was hoping LOR would have the x-10 usb but it does not look like it is going to happen this year.

You can use x-10 stand alone. An easier fix (assuming constant on and off times) is just to use an external timer.

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An easier fix (assuming constant on and off times) is just to use an external timer.

I agree ... definitely one of those easier, cheaper, more reliable KISS (keep it simple stu@#!) solutions.

I like the idea of giving time for the inflatables to inflate on pre-show start up ... didn't think of that!

On a related note, I've noticed my LOR USB adaptor seems to flake out if you unplug a controller, then plug another one in (when using LOR hardware utility). So I trust serial (reliability) a lot more than I trust USB.

Here are some X10 software links:
http://home-automation.org/Software/Windows_and_DOS/
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taybrynn wrote:



I like the idea of giving time for the inflatables to inflate on pre-show start up ... didn't think of that!







That's one of the reasons I'm using X10 for my static stuff. The inflatable (an 8' igloo carousel thing) takes a long time to inflate. Also, one of the problems with the inflatable carousels (early design) is that the carousel motor wants to start running immediately - prior to inflation. So stuff gets all tangled up, motors burned out, etc.

So I use one X10 appliance module to pre-inflate the igloo, and another to turn the carousel motor and lights on.
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I don't think reliability will be an issue in my application. The CM11A and static lights are all on the same circuit. I have a large power strip that all the static lights and CM11A will plug into. So they're not only on the same circuit, they're on the same power strip. I don't think noise will have much of a chance to back into there and cause problems.

You can turn on and off a channel in LOR anytime you want in the sequence. But X10 is slow - a second or two between sending a command and the module acting upon it.

I really only want to turn the stuff on prior to show start (via a startup routine) and after the show is over. Otherwise, my X10 items will remain on all the time.

I'm doing that by using a 1 minute background routine with all X10 channels being on. This runs in the background while the main show is running. My main show has no X10 channels defined, so the background sequence runs my X10.

The ONLY part I'm worried about is when the startup hands off the X10 to the background routine. I'm worried that the X10 will turn off - or some of the modules will turn off. If that occurs, I'll resort to programming my CM11A to turn stuff on and off and drop the LORs X10 control.

About the only difference in the two is that I'd rather LOR run it, 'cause I don't have to specify an exact time in LOR - just a point on the sequence as to when I want what to turn on relative to the routine's progress. Withe the CM11A being programmed to turn on/off the X10, anytime I change or adjust the show's start time (or shut things down because of weather) I'd have one more thing to deal with.

As ot the on/off of X10, there are some modules that can dim a light, but I don't think LOR supports this - and in fact I'd use LOR if I wanted to dim something.

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mmaness wrote:

At the beginning of the startup routine, I turn on power to the stereo and FM transmitter via X10. My concern is that LOR will turn off the X10 when it switches from startup to normal show. While it's not a 'showstopper' by any means, I'd really rather have constant power to the X10 devices instead of a power loss at the end of the startup sequence. There's a promised fix for that, but it looks like we won't see it this year.

Turn the X10 devices on in the background sequence.

The background sequence(s) will start at the same time as the startup sequence(s) start, and stop at the same time the cleanup sequence(s) stop. If you don't have the X10 devices in any other sequence, then they will stay on the entire show.
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Steven wrote:


Turn the X10 devices on in the background sequence.

The background sequence(s) will start at the same time as the startup sequence(s) start, and stop at the same time the cleanup sequence(s) stop. If you don't have the X10 devices in any other sequence, then they will stay on the entire show.


That would work, except that I need to NOT turn on some items during the startup sequence until very late in the startup sequence (letting the inflatable inflate prior to turning on the lights and carousel motor, for instance). So a 1 minute background 'X10 on' sequence wouldn't work in this instance.

And - it appears that I've successfully hijacked someone else's thread. Oops!
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Update: I got my CM11a (RCA clone) working last night.

I installed that Rosewill expansion PCI card [ see link in my previous post ... (which adds 2 serial and 1 parallel port) and it was a very smooth, simple install into XP. The card only uses 1 interrupt for all those ports, which is nice. It costs the same as a single USB to serial adaptor ... so these seems better for my needs.

After realizing that I was plugged into COM5, all my X10 tests were a huge success. They is some delay, but it wasn't as bad as 3 seconds, maybe 1/2 to 1 second delayed. Maybe that gets worse if I was testing something further away.

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