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Feature Request: X-10 Scheduler


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The way LOR currently handles X-10 limits me. I've found workarounds for most of it, but it would be nice of LOR just had an X-10 event scheduler.

What I see this looking like is simply a list (possibly in the scheduling tool) of X-10 events with an associated time. For example, maybe at 7:30 (regardless of the scheduled show) I want to turn on a channel to activate a laser light show). And at 9:00, I want to turn off my amplifier to kill the outdoor speakers.

Also, what this would allow me to do is schedule multiple ON and OFF events. Right now I'm losing events, and there's nothing I can do about it except pop $100 for a signal amplifier/repeater, which I may end up doing even though it's not in the budget. With ActiveHome there is a checkbox that says "send multiple events" or some such, which means that it sends each event a few times in case it's lost. I'm assuming LOR doesn't do this, because I'm losing events, and there's no way I can send an additional ON event without first sending an OFF event, which defeats the purpose. If I could use ActiveHome and LOR simultaneously, that would be fine, but since I can't, it would be nice to have a "mini Activehome" built into the product. Again, this could just be a simple list with the colunms CHANNEL, EVENT, TIME, and DAY (with DAY giving options for things like "Mondays" "Dec 25" or "EVERYDAY"..

As a sub-feature request, I'd really like LOR add an option of having all channels stay in their 'last' state after a sequence ends, rather than turn off at the end of each sequence. Then this whole notion of "background sequences" could go away, which I find confusing and think others do too.

I hope this doesn't sound negative -- just looking for ways to improve the way I use the product! I'm a little frustrated by my X-10 woes this year...

-Tim

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Tim,

In development we have added the (keep lights on at the end of sequence) option. We were also adding the send X-10 command multiple times.

I really like the idea of the schedule... I will be thinking about that (Hate it when people make me start thinging :D )

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LightORama wrote:

Tim,

In development we have added the (keep lights on at the end of sequence) option. We were also adding the send X-10 command multiple times.

I really like the idea of the schedule... I will be thinking about that (Hate it when people make me start thinging :D )

Cool! 2 out of 3, and thinking on the third! I better get the rest of my feature requests written up while I'm on a roll... :D

-Tim
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every time it loops... That is why I suggest that the sequence be about 1 minute long. You do not want it looping too fast and flooding X10. But once a minute is a reasonable rate especially if you have multiple X10 codes in the sequence.

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LightORama wrote:

every time it loops

I was under that impression. In that case, why would it need to be sent multiple times?

I do like the idea of an X-10 scheduler though...
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Oh I didn't realize that (about the looping). I'll have to see if my "stuff" goes on after the inital startup. I've only been lit up two nights now, and I was outside, and when things all didn't go on, I grabbed the X-10 remote and forced it :dude:

-Tim

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Tim, do you have a signal bridge? I put in a 15 amp double pole breaker with a cap across it this year and it seems to help a lot coupling it across the phases.

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dschwab9 wrote:

Tim, do you have a signal bridge? I put in a 15 amp double pole breaker with a cap across it this year and it seems to help a lot coupling it across the phases.

I do have the cap. Things seemed to work OK last year -- I had a few issues the year before (can't remember exactly when the cap went in). I'm seing a ton of weirdness this year. For example -- I have 3 modules on channel C9 (window decorations). Somtimes all will go on/off, sometimes one, sometimes two... And never the same combiniation.

I'm considering one of these: http://www.smarthomeusa.com/Shop/Lighting/Phase-Couplers/Item/HCA02-10E/

This not only bridges, but amplilfies/repeats the signal. According to Greg Young it works very well. Spendier than I'd like right now tho...

-Tim
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Wonder if it's interfearence from dimming of the LOR channel or something like that? I imagine dimming a large number of channels could create some nastyness (is that a word?) on the power line since there is no filtering.

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dschwab9 wrote:

Tim, do you have a signal bridge? I put in a 15 amp double pole breaker with a cap across it this year and it seems to help a lot coupling it across the phases.



It will work to get the signal into both phases of your service, but the repeater amplifies the signal as well, to be sure it gets received by the modules you wish to control.

The X-10 signal decreases every time it crosses a boundary, as well as with increasing length of wire.

If you are going to install a bridge (cap in the above mentioned case) in the panel to improve reception, I would suggest you spend a few $$ to amplify the signal as well. Many older X-10 modules seem to require stronger signals to react consistently.

Given the cost of each of the modules, the cost of a good amplified repeater bridge (about $70) is not all that much.

Greg
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  • 2 weeks later...

I've been using X10 for about 10 years. I am on the older version and using the CM11A. I had tried upgrading to the new USB version and software, but it was way to unreliable, buggy and didn't have enough RF power.

I am looking into animating my christmas lights and X10 is just too slow for some of the effects I am trying to attain. This has put me in research mode and I am zeroing in on LOR. It looks like it has many capabilities I can use, but there are some aspects that are missing.

From my limited and brief understanding of LOR, I can create animation sequences in LOR. In my X10 jargon, I think of them as Macros. In X10/Activehome we can either schedule the macros at exact points in time or assign these macros to an address (channel) and use either an On or Off signal to a channel to trigger a macro. In that sense, it is very flexible.

All of your macros can then be downloaded to the CM11A and stored indepedent of the computer.

Here is my questions for LOR or anyone who can answer.

1) Is there similar download and disconnect functionality for LOR? Specifically, when I'm using my computer and LOR connected to the CM11A, can the software make use of the CM11A memory, or is it just acting as a real-time interface.

2) Since I still need to purchase a LOR controller for the christmas lights, how do you go about wiring the CM11A and the LOR board? Do you need to use 2 serial ports or can the CM11A and LOR boards be bussed together.

3) I don't understand the concept of "SHOWS". If I program a sequence, why wouldn't the scheduler just work on it. What benefit is there to the middle step of Shows?

I know there is alot here, but as I said, I'm in research mode.


BTW concerning the original post: and The other big X10 issue is power supplies. Computer Laptop power supplies are inherently trouble. Also I've noticed a serious degradation of X10 reliability when we added the new nursery monitors. My house is phase coupled and Surge protected at the main panel, but I still have issues. The final (and most expensive) step is adding Noise filters to known noisy items (Laptops, Monitors, etc). Also since most christmas decorations are outdoors, I'm guessing they are GFCI'd. GF's also suck X10 power out of the system.

Thanks

Michael

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batmanskier wrote:

1) Is there similar download and disconnect functionality for LOR? Specifically, when I'm using my computer and LOR connected to the CM11A, can the software make use of the CM11A memory, or is it just acting as a real-time interface.

For LOR itself (outside of X-10) you can download sequences into an LOR controller, and then unplug from the computer. I don't believe that X-10 works with this, however, so if you had a show containing both standard LOR and X-10 events, you'd have to have a computer attached acting as a real-time interface, as you put it.
2) Since I still need to purchase a LOR controller for the christmas lights, how do you go about wiring the CM11A and the LOR board? Do you need to use 2 serial ports or can the CM11A and LOR boards be bussed together.

2 separate serial ports.
3) I don't understand the concept of "SHOWS". If I program a sequence, why wouldn't the scheduler just work on it. What benefit is there to the middle step of Shows?

For musical shows, you can think of a sequence as "one song". Each song is its own sequence. The show is the entire collection of songs you want to present. It also contains special sequences such as startup and shutdown (which could be a special song or message you want played at the start and end of the show). It's the same concept for non-musical shows but it's easier to describe for musical ones.

The "extra step" allows you to create a "unit" called a show, then schedule that show. So, for example, I have a show called "2005 show" that contains a bunch of sequences. This gets scheduled in the scheduler as a unit (slightly different times depending on the day of the week). I also have a show called "off hours" for running music without lights. It's just another layer of abstraction, and comes in handy.

-Tim
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For what it's worth:

I gave up on X-10 several years ago. It's just too darn unreliable.

I had invested thousands of dollars into my system and performed all appropriate troubleshooting and testing and still could not get things reliable. I purchased some high end Switchlinc switches and spent several hundred dollars on inline and plugin filters to try to alleviate the problems. The final straw was a mistaken X-10 signal that turned my shrub sprinklers on one night. I sent L5-ON, the sprinkler relays saw P8-ON. They weren't supposed to be on, so the controller didn't know to turn them off after a short period of time. 12+ hours of watering resulted in the cracking and sinking of an expensive brick wall in my front yard.

There are simply too many devices that interfere with X-10. Forget saving money with compact fluorescents; virtually all CF bulbs suck the signal dry. Power supplies, monitors, electric motors, the list goes on and on.

My lighting is now switched with AMX equipment. It's hardwired and it's not cheap but it works perfectly every time. It's also fast enough that I could put on a nice light show with Radia lighting control units, if I really wanted to. LOR costs a fraction of AMX equipment (not to mention being custom built for this application), so instead I'll buy LOR for the show and interface it with AMX for control.

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Thanks for the input. I'm not quite ready to give up completely on X10 quite yet. (Nor do I have the money to replace with a much more expensive system) It is still pretty reliable for my sprinklers. I have one of their 16 channel panels wired right next to my main circuit panel. It is 100% reliable.

The lights on the other hand are another matter. They go on and off Most of the time I've only got 2 tricky fixtures that are reliably un-reliable.

I could not imagine re-wiring my whole house with homeruns for a DMX system. That could not have been easy. Although, now that you did that, you could easily integrate a whole house generator for the "what-if" disaster planning.

Thanks again for the add'l info on X10. As I said, I've been using it for about 10 years and I monitor the X10 forums for consolation that I am not alone in my distress!.

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I could not imagine re-wiring my whole house with homeruns for a DMX system. That could not have been easy.

I planned my system out before the house was built, so installing the wiring was relatively easy without any sheetrock. :) Rewiring an existing house would be extremely expensive.

Have you looked into the Insteon or Zwave wireless controllers? Smarthome.com is selling them and they look like a nice alternative to X-10 for existing homes. I've been thinking about buying a few for lighting control on some circuits that were wired traditionally.
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I have one other question concerning use of X10 and the CM11. I usually download my programs to the cm11 and disconnect the computer. I then close out Activehome and the Activehome communication bridge.

In this scenario, if I then connect the computer for LOR will I be able to send LOR commands thru the LOR software. Also will my CM11 programming still be active when using the CM11 as pass-thru controller?

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batmanskier wrote:

I have one other question concerning use of X10 and the CM11. I usually download my programs to the cm11 and disconnect the computer. I then close out Activehome and the Activehome communication bridge.

In this scenario, if I then connect the computer for LOR will I be able to send LOR commands thru the LOR software. Also will my CM11 programming still be active when using the CM11 as pass-thru controller?

In my experience -- yes the Activehome downloads still work when using the CM11A with LOR. Of course you can't have both programs actively controlling the CM11A at the same time (communication bridge must be closed).

-Tim
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