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Does a duplicate version of the HTF exist dedicated to X10 stuff? (1 Viewer)

Daniel Swartz

Second Unit
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Mar 3, 2002
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448
I'm slowly getting more and more into the X10 format and am thus running into more problems and questions. Does a good forum exist out there where people discuss X10 issues? Thanks!
 

Ryan Wright

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 30, 2000
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1,875
Ask here. I'm Mr. X-10. I hate the stuff and advise you to try a different strategy. If you're having problems already that means you're trying to do something professional with it, and you can't. X-10 is a toy.

Anyway, I've used X-10 products throughout my home for over 6 years and can probably answer just about any question you have. Post it here and I'll help you out.
 

Daniel Swartz

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 3, 2002
Messages
448
Well, some of the initial problems I had I just took care of like some line interference coming from my server room. Next, I wanted to automate the drapes in my living room. Since I rent my apartment, and hence a complete rod replacement was out of the question, I was curious as to what my X10 options were? I literally installed a few minutes ago a cheap $80 gizmo from smarthome.com that does the trick but rather noisly. Finally, I'm just interested in reading about other people's experiences (just like this forum) in order to build my knowledge base. Perhaps there are some good home automation forums out there that deal with non-X10 stuff?

What kind of equipment do you use or suggest? Thanks Ryan!
 

BrianW

Senior HTF Member
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Brian
And I've been using X-10 for twelve years, so that makes me, uh... oh, I don't know, Professor X-10, I guess. :) Ryan's right. There are a few of us here who've done a thing or two with it, so ask away.
And, no, I've never found a good forum outside of UseNet that discusses X-10. (And for the record, I consider a good forum to be one whose usefulness outweighs the rest of the crap you have to put up with.)
 

BrianW

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Daniel, there's alt.home.automation and comp.home.automation. One is bad (the first one, I think), and the other one is good, but it's been so many years since I've gone to either one that I couldn't begin to tell you if either one is worthwhile.
As for the automated drapes, I prefer the IR-controlled Hunter Douglas blinds, though I realize that getting these would violate your "no complete rod replacement" rule. They're reasonably quiet and attractive, if you like the look of blinds. Since they are IR controlled, I can control them from my remote, and the computer, using an IR blaster, can control them without human intervention.
If you're interested, I'm using the Ocelot X-10/IR controller. Ryan, I believe, is using the JDS Stargate. (Ryan, step in to keep me honest if I'm wrong.)
 

Ryan Wright

Screenwriter
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I literally installed a few minutes ago a cheap $80 gizmo
Let me guess:
3142_xyz1.gif

I also have one of these. Here's a tip to quiet it down: Don't tighten it down. What I mean by that is, when you mount it on the wall, you loop the cord through it and then you push it down on that little rail until your draw cord is nice and tight. Then you push the plastic thing on the top and it locks into place. Well, you probably made it too tight. I did, too, the first time I used it, and after a few months of use the drive axle broke off and I had to get a new one. The little wheel in there that actually pulls the cord works VERY WELL even if the cord is loose. Try moving your motor up a couple of notches. It should still pull the drapes open just fine, only it will be faster, quieter, and it won't break on you in a few months.
Of course, this motor is still going to be a little noisy. It's a cheap unit and that's what you get for $80 :frowning:. You can buy more expensive controllers similar to this only costing $250+, and I'm told they're dead silent.
Brian: I actually use JDS Timecommander equipment. The Stargate wasn't available when I bought my equipment. I, however, am moving away from X-10. I now own an AMX color touchscreen:
image3.jpg

I'm using an Axcent3 controller (inexpensive, good for starting out) and also have a few other boxes with it (DTMF box for controlling my phone system/caller ID and a TV manager box for sensing the status of my equipment).
After using AMX equipment I will never, repeat never, buy another piece of X-10 gear. I have invested thousands into X-10 and the entire investment was thrown out the window when I purchased compact fluorescent bulbs. I spent a few hundred dollars on some PCS switches to control them, and then bought a bunch of in-line filters to filter their noise off of the powerline. It still doesn't work worth a darn and every vendor I've talked to has had the same answer: "Go buy different light bulbs." Right. I've got $300 worth of CF bulbs and you want me to throw them away and try a different brand. Excuse me if I find that answer to be unacceptable...
I am simply amazed that nobody in the X-10 industry has an effective answer to those of us who are trying to use CF bulbs.
I'm looking into the Lutron RadioRA system to integrate with my AMX equipment. Either that, or I'll end up buying into the AMX Phast line. Or, perhaps a big bank of relays and relay-controlled switches. Still not sure which way to go here.
Anyway, X-10 is great for fun hobbist stuff, but if you want serious home control, there are serious alternatives. :)
Let us know if you have any questions. I'm sure Brian and I can tackle just about anything X-10.
 

Daniel Swartz

Second Unit
Joined
Mar 3, 2002
Messages
448
Thanks for the info guys.

Ryan: You nailed the drape controller I just bought. What bothers me even more than the noise is the fact that you have to hit BOTH on and off switches each time you open and close the drapes. That gets kind of annoying and the "click" of the unit shutting off is almost as bad as the motor's sound.

*sigh*

I guess I'll get into some more professional stuff when I buy my first place. For now, I've probably spent about $230 to wire my 2 bedroom apartment. That will tide me over for a while....

Btw, are the Leviton filters any better or worse than the cheaper brands? Also, what are some of the best/inexpensive places to buy both X10 and more professional stuff online?

Thanks again!
 

Ryan Wright

Screenwriter
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Also, what are some of the best/inexpensive places to buy both X10 and more professional stuff online?
There aren't any. You can buy X-10 stuff at places like x10.com worthdist.com and smarthome.com. Smarthome and Worthington both sell middle priced stuff, but if you want professional automation equipment you have to buy from dealers for the respective equipment. Crestron, AMX and Lutron are three brands. There are many more. Check out Link Removed The vast majority of their advertisements are for professional grade equipment.
It's not cheap. But if I could go back and do things over again, I'd rather spend the $100 per light switch and do things right the first time around, than spend $30 per switch and then replace them all with the $100 product a few years later.
 

Daniel Swartz

Second Unit
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Mar 3, 2002
Messages
448
Are there any clear pro manufacturers that stand out above the rest? Are their offerings all compatible with one another? Or is one's equipment tied only to a single manufacturer?
And how the heck did you manage to spend $30 on each outlet? :)
 

Ryan Wright

Screenwriter
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Most professional equipment is tied only to themselves. That is, you can't buy an AMX Master Controller and expect it to work with a Crestron dimmer.

HOWEVER, you can generally tie multiple systems together quite easily. My AMX system has 6 RS-232 ports. If I found a Crestron touchpanel that I just had to have, I could buy a Crestron master controller to control it, and then link the Crestron master with my AMX master via RS-232. After the correct programming, they could then communicate with one another.

All of the high end stuff generally is easily expandable and has multiple communication ports. It's easy enough to integrate multiple systems. I've got an X-10 Activehome interface here that I'm getting ready to integrate with my AMX system so it can speak X-10. All I have to do is plug it into one of the serial ports and write the Axcess (One AMX's programming langauges) code to make them talk to each other. That will tide me over until I am able to phase out all of my X-10 stuff.

The hardest part about dealing with these companies is that it's generally hard to learn about their systems. They will not sell directly to you but will force you to go through a dealer. I buy most of my equipment on eBay, and I've found a dealer who will sell to me close to his cost (most dealers won't even deal with you unless you're spending a lot of money with them - read: $10k can be a very small install). If you dig, though, you can find what you need to know, and AMX has been helpful in posting their specifications online so anyone who wants to can learn to program their systems.
 

John Giddens

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 23, 2001
Messages
90
I like the X-10 forum at Remote Central personally for X-10 information and Link Removed for some shopping. To Ryan Wright, I thought I would chime in to say I'm using CF bulbs with no problems, guess I just lucked out. I'm using PCS wall switches with the CF bulbs. Maybe it's a matter of how many CF bulbs, as I'm only using three of the smallest twist CF bulbs on my front porch, and two Par38 CF floodlights in an X10 Motion Detector Floodlight kit. With all this my front porch lights turn on at dawn and off at dusk. It could also be the brand of CF bulbs. I'm using only one brand from Home Depot, Commercial Electric. The only other thing I could think of is you were using the PCS 2.0 wall switches instead of PCS's specific fluorescent switch or their new 3.0 wall switch but I'll assume you know all about the different switches given the money you put into them.
 

Ryan Wright

Screenwriter
Joined
Jul 30, 2000
Messages
1,875
Hi John,
I'm actually using SwitchLinc Lite Fluorescent switches (http://www.smarthome.com/2385.html). The switches are fine, but once I turn them on, they either don't turn off or interfere with other X-10 devices around them.
Interestingly enough, I am also using bulbs from Home Depot. I don't recall the brand but Commercial Electric sounds right. They're the "twist" style bulbs that fit in a standard light socket, and came in a clear package with a greenish colored insert.
If I put an incandescent bulb in the same fixture with the CFs, it works *perfectly*. Something to do with the incandescent filament blocking the noise. Problem is, it looks stupid. I figure if I have to resort to lame hacks to get a product to work the way I like, it's the wrong product for me. Smarthome's suggestion that I wire a night-light bulb in-line with it and hide it in a wall just didn't appeal...
 

Chet_F

Supporting Actor
Joined
Mar 1, 2002
Messages
776
The company I work for does commercial automation with Alerton equipment(www.alerton.com). We have a few residential customers but mostly commercial. The lowest global controller costs $1000 but you can control and sense anything, i.e. lights, heating, cooling, fans, gases, etc, etc, etc. They use the Bacnet compliant interface for communication. Really interesting to say the least. One of these days I will integrate my home with the equipment.
Sadly I have heard the same things mentioned about X-10, i.e. low quality and other issues. I have a few x-10 items at home but nothing more.
Good luck either way
 

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