X10 Lighting, Please Help!

Paul Arnette

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Hi all.

I am having some difficulty automating X10 lighting using the IR543 with my Harmony 880.

I recently purchased a CinemaQuest Ideal Lume light. I am running an extention cord from it to an X10 Appliance Module set to Unit: 1, House: A. The X10 Applicance Module is plugged into an electrical outlet with no surge protector. The IR543 is plugged into another outlet that has a Monster surge protector.

When I set up my Harmony 880 remote, I chose the Powerhouse IR543AH, because I did not see one for the IR543. The infrared command console is not a IR543AH, just a IR543.

When I attempt to use the All Lights Off command, the CinemaQuest Ideal-Lume turns off, only to turn right back on again.

If anyone could assist me with this frustrating problem, I would be most appreciative.

Thanks.
 

nolesrule

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I'm not sure about the 8xx series, but the setup for the 6xx series has "X10 Wireless Light Controller (IR-543)".
 

Paul Arnette

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Joe,

Thanks. 8xx series probably does too. However, would you be good enough to tell me under what manufacturer the "X10 Wireless Light Controller (IR-543)" is listed? The one I set up was under the manufacturer 'Powerhouse'. As I said before, when I attempt to use the All Lights Off command with that setup, the CinemaQuest Ideal-Lume turns off, only to turn right back on again.

Thanks again.
 

DaveHo

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In my experience with my own X10 system, appliance modules do not respond or will respond erratically to the All Lights On/Off commands. That X10 feature is designed to be used with lamp modules only. You'll need to send the specific command to turn Unit 1 off. The house code part is taken care of by the dial setting on the IR543.

-Dave
 

Paul Arnette

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Dave,

Thanks. I will look to see if I can't determine what the code is to turn off Unit 1. For the setup I mentioned above, would I be better off with a lamp module anyway? They don't exactly break the bank.

Edited to add:

Strike that last part, I see now that X10 Lamp Modules should not be used with fluorescent or low voltage lamps such as the CinemaQuest Ideal-Lume.

I guess the best way to solve this problem is to figure out what the correct manufacturer and model is for the IR543 within the Harmony 800 database. Anyone know for sure?
 

DaveHo

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Not sure about Harmony, but on URC remotes you simply hit the unit number on the number pad followed by the channel- or volume- to turn off. On is either channel+ or volume+, can't remember which as I have it programmed as a macro.

-Dave
 

Paul Arnette

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Thanks guys.

I guess what I am confused about is where do I find the code to turn off Unit 1 only on the Harmony 880? noelsrule mentioned the "X10 Wireless Light Controller (IR-543)". Is X10 the manufacturer when you lookup the device in the Harmony app? I think you pick Home Automantion -> Light Controller -> Manufacturer -> Model. I think I've picked the wrong Manufacturer/Model. Some confirmation of which is the correct one to send a Unit 1 command only would be great!
 

nolesrule

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Pull up the Device on the LCD, select the device number command (Light1 to Light16) and then the on or off command. It has to be sent in 2 separate commands. There is no "Light1 On" button.
 

Paul Arnette

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nolesrule, et al.

Last night I tried sending the Light 1 command followed by the Off command, and I experienced the same problem. The CinemaQuest Ideal-Lume turns off, only to turn right back on again.

In fact, when I send the same series of commands directly from the IR-543, I have the same problem as well. So, I am inclined to think that the problem is not with the Harmony 880, but either with the IR-543 or the X10 appliance module.

Does anyone have any suggestions for further debugging this problem? Also, I have the IR-543 plugged into a surge protector. Would that cause an issue? The X10 appliance module is not plugged into a surge protector.

Thanks.
 

nolesrule

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I would suggest you set a separate module to the same device code, perhaps one you know that already works properly, and see if it happens to that one too.

The surge protector could be a problem, because they tend to filter noise, and X10 signals can be seen as noise.

I have my IR-543, and some lights for my wall units, plugged into extension cords with 3 outlets on the end (you can pick them up for cheap at radio shack or even big lots) and the extension cord is plugged directly into the top outlet on the wall. All of the rest of my equipment is plugged into a heavy duty surge protector for home theaters, kinda like what Monster makes, which is plugged into an AC noise filter into the bottom of the 2 outlets on the wall.

The noise filters are very helpful with X10.

If you are looking for a way to control things with advanced computer software, or you are just looking for help troubleshooting X10 signal problems, I recommend the HomeSeer home automation software. Or at least check out their message boards for X10 (and other HA device) troubleshooting.

It's really cool software. If you want to see some of what it can do, send me a PM and I'll give you a way to access my system over the internet as a guest.
 

Paul Arnette

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nolesrule,

Thanks for your continued help. I will look for another X10 module to try this weekend.

When you mention extension cords, you said yours were grounded (3 outlets)? Does that make a big difference if my extension cords are 2 prong, not grounded. Also, I will look into an AC noise filter.

Thanks again.
 

nolesrule

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You might also want to try a different unit code and see if that makes a difference.

Sorry for the confusion. I meant 3 receptacles on the end (on different sides), not 3-prong.

That said, whether you need grounded or not will depend on the modules you use. Basic light modules are 2-prong, but appliance modules are 3-prong.

What makes this all confusing is that the modules are bulky and you need find ways to get everything plugged into a standard outlet with 2 power receptacles. Basically, you have to improvise depending on the wall warts. A power strip that has no surge protection will work just as well.

But the important thing is that anything generating noise is separated enough from X10 signal paths as to not cause interference and anything that can supress X10 signals is not in between a transmitter and a receiver module.
 

Paul Arnette

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Well, I have now tried a different unit code, I have tried it with and without the extention cord, with and without the IR-543 plugged into a surge protector, and with the IR-543 and the X10 appliance module (2 prong BTW) plugged into different outlets.

At this point, I think it is time to try another X10 module. Its either that, or there's too much noise in the room?
 

nolesrule

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Most likely one of those is the culprit. An X10 module is less expensive than the noise filter, so I'd recommend trying that first. The filters are also big and ugly. I hide mine behind the TV, so it's not an issue.

I'm not very familiar with the lighting you are trying to use with the module. It's possible that that may itself be the culprit. But fluorescent lighting should be ok with an appliance module.
 

Paul Padilla

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I don't know how far away the IR unit & the X-10 module are electrically, but one last thing you might do troubleshoot would be to plug them both in to the same outlet with no extension cords or surge protectors. Poor or noisy X-10 can easily cause the symptom you have, though I've only ever seen that happen with a lamp module...fading up and right back down again. Appliance modules usually either respond or they don't.

X-10 commands are standardized, so house code 1 followed by off should work for any unit whose primary address hasn't been changed. If it's reacting the same way to the all-off command as well as the primary address, then you may just have a defective module. Don't underestimate the noise filters, though. They're not cheap and yes, they're an eyesore, but they can help tremeandously. I have one on my fridge, my subwoofer and the surge protector for my computer. Take any one of those out of the equation and there's no telling which lights will or won't respond. Then there are repeaters and 220v couplers, but I digress. X-10 is a lot of fun, but causes a lot of hair pulling too.


This usaually isn't feasable because X-10 travels through the entire house and there is rarely a direct path. I suppose if point A and point B are in two outlets on the same wall which you're confident are on the same circuit that would help, but that isn't usually the case IME. Surge protectors don't introduce noise, they actually absorb X-10 signals making them weaker by the time they reach the next module so avoid plugging X-10 devices into them if at all possible. Then, modules themselves absorb a small amount of signal compounding the problem. Any addition or change to any outlet in the house can affect performance. I have extensive X-10 in my home and I'll find that suddenly one light in a scene isn't responding. After some head scratching I'll usually realize that, "Hey...the digital camera is plugged in and charging on the kitchen counter." Unplug the camera, and tah daaaah. The scene works perfectly again.

Hope this helps.
 

nolesrule

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I mentioned earlier that surge suppressors absorb or suppress X-10 signals. And by noise generators being separated, I was referring to using a noise filter.

There are better, more reliable automation technologies out there than X-10 (some of which are X-10 compatible), but they cost a lot more.
 

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