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View Full Version : [ELECTRONIC MAYHEM!] Toy Gloat!



Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 03:21 PM
Radio Shack Plug And Power modules. They are quite old, but as a set they work. They came from an office that I helped strip down and pack up today. Local politician who lost the last election. Nice lady, but she's no longer relevant. Her words too, not mine.

Anyway, Wife Unit wanted something like this to turn lights on and off around her workspace at home, and there are enough modules to do my workspace at home as well.

When we get tired of pranking each other with remote controlled lights I can take them apart and make other equally diabolical remote controled chaos-inducers.

http://i1189.photobucket.com/albums/z432/Arrghh/DSC00180.jpg

http://i1189.photobucket.com/albums/z432/Arrghh/DSC00181.jpg

http://i1189.photobucket.com/albums/z432/Arrghh/DSC00182.jpg

http://i1189.photobucket.com/albums/z432/Arrghh/DSC00180.jpg

RobbieKnobbie
01-08-2011, 03:34 PM
Remote controls are the best thing since center cutting end mills!

A few years back I got a cieling fan with remote: Lights on/off, fan hi/med/lo. Pretty basic stuff, but I wasn't really keen on the idea of having another remote in the livingroom to loose in the couch cushions.

After spendig a few months on the shelf it wound up being re-purposed to turn on and off the dust collector in my little wood shop. The DC is off in the corner and not easily accessable, so a little remote hanging from a rafter by the table saw was a tremendous improvement. All it required was a relay big enough to handle the draw of the vacuum motor. 220v 2hp IIRC.

You'll have lots of fun with those!

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 03:37 PM
I'm seeing these date to the late 80s early 90s. If I can find MORE of them somewhere... I could do up both workspaces with full lights, fans and associated low-draw convenience devices.

macona
01-08-2011, 03:50 PM
Those are relabeled X10 modules.

http://www.x10.com/automation/

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 04:06 PM
Interesting... So those modules should work with my crap-haul?

Right out of the box?


ANSWER: Yes they do. There is no difference at all aside from the badge and the material colors.

dockterj
01-08-2011, 04:15 PM
yep all that x-10 stuff works together. Leviton makes a bunch of stuff too. One thing that made a huge difference in reliability for us was to install a signal repeater. Basically it retransmits signals from L1 to L2 (residential 240). Without it transmitting to a receiver on the opposite "phase" was very unreliable. If you have having intermittant problems that is the most likely cause. Plug the transmitter into the same "phase" as the receivers to verify.

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 04:20 PM
I've set up two modules and the remote, and already I can see hundreds of applications around the workspaces, and possibly at the plant as well. Assembly bench-lights and work-table lights, all controlled from a single point, possibly even on a timer. Lights come on in the AM, lights go off half hour after after "quitting time."

dharnell
01-08-2011, 04:26 PM
When I lived in Northern Ontario, about 10 years ago, we had these in my house. We were on central metering, 3 buildings (Shop/Driver Shed/House) on separate panels connected to one hydro meter.

I had my diesel tractor's block heater connected to one of the appliance switching modules in the winter. I could turn the block heater on from in the house about an hour before I had to go blow the snow.

We also had our car's block heaters connected to a module that would turn them about 3 hours before we had to leave for work.

Worked really well considering the noise on our power lines there. I don't think we ever lost one to a lightening strike either, which was amazing because we lost a lot of other electronics to lightning strikes.

Dave

macona
01-08-2011, 04:33 PM
yep all that x-10 stuff works together. Leviton makes a bunch of stuff too. One thing that made a huge difference in reliability for us was to install a signal repeater. Basically it retransmits signals from L1 to L2 (residential 240). Without it transmitting to a receiver on the opposite "phase" was very unreliable. If you have having intermittant problems that is the most likely cause. Plug the transmitter into the same "phase" as the receivers to verify.

That "repeater" is just a capacitor. There is info online on what size and what voltage to use.

macona
01-08-2011, 04:35 PM
I've set up two modules and the remote, and already I can see hundreds of applications around the workspaces, and possibly at the plant as well. Assembly bench-lights and work-table lights, all controlled from a single point, possibly even on a timer. Lights come on in the AM, lights go off half hour after after "quitting time."

I picked up a kit at goodwill a long time ago. I took one of the high current radio receiving switches with a little key-fob like remote and stuck it on my shop vac. Keep the remote on the mill hit the button to turn the shop vac on when I need it.

Ernie
01-08-2011, 09:28 PM
A while back, I asked an electronics guru friend if he could recomend a good surge suppressor for my computer. He said he had a good one I could have free since he wasn't using it anymore. I asked him why he stopped using it and he said it works so well it is actually suppressing the control signals from his X-10 settup, making it unreliable. As soon as he disconnected the suppressor, the X-10 system worked fine. The suppressor by the way is an Isobar ultra.
Ernie

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 09:37 PM
I notice that if I plug certain modules into certain outlets they cannot talk to the command station. Also if I set everything on "one" and press the remote, they start up from left to right around the room, and shut down the same way.

I'm sure there are logical explanations involving control theory, relay logic and electronic thinking... I just find it "darn cool."

lazlo
01-08-2011, 09:39 PM
I asked him why he stopped using it and he said it works so well it is actually suppressing the control signals from his X-10 settup, making it unreliable. As soon as he disconnected the suppressor, the X-10 system worked fine.

I think that's why X10 never took off -- it's not 100%reliable.

I wired various sections of my house with X10 devices, and *most* of the time they work. But you turn a heavy load like a machine tool on, and various X10 devices get confused and turn on and off.

I've read many conflicting claims that some X10 devices have better line filters than the cheap ones, but I bought some "high-end" SmartHome X10's, and they're no more reliable than the cheap Radio Shack versions.

Then there's the annoying issue that you can't send an X10 packet between the two 120V branches in your house. So I've got an X10 lamp controller in the living room, and it can't control the light behind the couch because it's on the other 120V branch.

X10's solution for that is a $120 protocol bridge that you plug into a 220V outlet:

http://www.smarthome.com/4826A/SignaLinc-4-Pin-Plug-in-Coupler-Repeater/p.aspx

I added a couple of internet security cameras to my home recently, and I was curious if there's a modern equivalent of X10 that runs on Ethernet?

Evan
01-08-2011, 10:02 PM
I have been using them for 30 years. Don't even think of using the dimmer modules on a motor load or anything over the rating. BTW, if a module goes dead there is a fuse on the board inside that takes the form of a very thin wire between two holes on the circuit board. The most reliable modules are the appliance relay modules. They have much less tendency to switch on line noise for some reason. Over 30 years we are down to about half the units still working but they are still 99% reliable for the remaining ones. We don't have much line noise here although the AC waveform is a pitiful excuse for a sine wave. Lots of distortion but it doesn't spike a lot. One thing I have thought of doing is to amplify the the output of the transmitters. That should make it more reliable because you could then put a small capacitor on the input of the switch modules to filter noise. They are easy to take apart.

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 10:03 PM
Below are the guts of one of the remote units.

Oddly enough this one doesn't work.

The other one had an exploded radio-shack nine-volt inside it and it works fine. Go figure.

No obvious signs of trauma...


Question: Why are some of the electronic thingies potted with glue while the rest aren't? It is intentional because the same thingies in the other remote are potted the same way.

Looks like a transistor, a resistor, and a capacitor in gob one and a jumper, a tansistor and I think that's a diode I can't tell in the other.

http://i1189.photobucket.com/albums/z432/Arrghh/DSC00185.jpg

http://i1189.photobucket.com/albums/z432/Arrghh/DSC00184.jpg

Evan
01-08-2011, 10:07 PM
It's an RF remote so to stop it changing frequency some parts are dabbed with glue to stop them moving when dropped. Move a capacitor or coil that's in the tank circuit and it changes the tuning slightly.

Bend up the fingers on the channel selector knob and clean off the matching trace pattern with some alcohol. That might fix it.

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 10:09 PM
Another question:

I tried them out in the workshop. The "regular" module with two prongs fitted with a suitable 3-prong to 2-prong adapter work great at controlling a bank of florescent lights. BANG quick on, nice snap off. Just like the wall-switch.

I use the Three Prong Appliance modules and the lights flicker and burble after being turned off. You can see an odd "almost light" wave pattern in the tube, and periodic "spikes" of brightness like the tube is trying to ignite/become fully "on" It's very noticeable in the dark.


What's up with this? SCIENCE!! of some sort at work here or do I have faulty modules? Is it ok to continue using the "regular" modules to turn small banks of florescent lights on and off?

Evan
01-08-2011, 10:13 PM
If the appliance modules CLICK when operated then they have a relay. If they don't then they have a triac. If they are the triac type they might be "leaking" a bit.

I think the regular modules are rated at 500 watts. As long as you don't exceed that you should be fine with a lighting load.

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 10:16 PM
The "regular" units CLICK and loudly too.

The other ones I didn't notice. I'll have to check when the beer-induced de-motivation wears off in the morning.

Could it have something to do with the fact that the way I set up the "regular" modules there is no ground connection... with the "appliance" modules the ground is engaged.

...prob'ly not as the lights don't behave like that when hooked up without a module... unless somehow whatever might be going on only affects the "guts of the module.


Hmm.

lazlo
01-08-2011, 10:19 PM
The most reliable modules are the appliance relay modules. They have much less tendency to switch on line noise for some reason.

I've had the same experience Evan.

macona
01-08-2011, 10:40 PM
The regular light control modules pass some current even when off. With an incandescent lamp you cant tell. But with a fluorescent lamp there is enough leakage to charge the buss cap in the power supply and make the thing flash every once in a while. Really annoying.

Liger Zero
01-08-2011, 10:47 PM
The regular light control modules pass some current even when off. With an incandescent lamp you cant tell. But with a fluorescent lamp there is enough leakage to charge the buss cap in the power supply and make the thing flash every once in a while. Really annoying.

Good to know thank you macona.

fredf
01-09-2011, 12:01 AM
The regular light control modules pass some current even when off. With an incandescent lamp you cant tell. But with a fluorescent lamp there is enough leakage to charge the buss cap in the power supply and make the thing flash every once in a while. Really annoying.


the reason on plug in controller is so you can turn the lamp off with a switch on the lamp and turn it on without using the x10. I believe there is a way to disable that feature, but darned if I can remember where I saw the info. :rolleyes:

you might want to refrain from controlling motors with these as you could get one starting because a neighbor has an x10 system or what ever

Marc M
01-10-2011, 03:48 AM
I've been using X10 stuff for about 10 years now. It's not the most reliable system, but for me it's well worth the occassional issues.


That "repeater" is just a capacitor. There is info online on what size and what voltage to use.

That's really a coupler, not a repeater. IIRC, it's .01 mfd @ 600v, but I do a lot of electronic crap so I may be wrong :confused: . In 2 different houses I've never had any luck using a cap. The signal is just too weak. A true repeater recieves the X10 signal on 1 phase and re-transmits it on the other phase at full amplitude. I think I paid around $30 for the repeater and I haven't had any cross phase signal issues since.

I've only had a couple of modules fail. OTOH, I think every AC powered controller I've had has failed. In every case, it's been a zener diode that failed and possibly an associated resistor. I can't remember the voltage or wattage rating but schematics are available online for most of the stuff.

The appliance modules don't have relays in them. The loud click you hear is from a solenoid that actuates a "rotary" switch. This way there is no power or associated heat from holding a relay in.

Even using appliance modules, I've had some issues with certain devices. Two that come to mind are a color laser printer and christmas tree lights. For some reason when they are plugged into an appliance module, they cause the module to turn on. I'm sure it's related to the 'remote' turn on feature of X10 whereby a module can be turned on by turning the attached device off and then back on. As others have mentioned, I think there is a way to deactivate the 'remote turn-on' feature, but I never got around to looking into it.

One of the more powerful features of the X10 system is the system controller that's programmed via your computer. I think I paid $50 for it with the software including all the extra modules off FleaBay. It allows extreme flexibility to control X10 devices. For instance, I have a timer set up to turn off the fan in my bedroom and slowly start increasing the brightness of the bedroom lights when it's time to get up for work. But it only does it on the days I work, not on the weekends. It also allows for one X10 device to trigger other X10 devices or macro sequences. For instance, I've got numerous IR sensors placed around the inside and outside of my house. If any get tripped when I'm at work, it triggers a macro that immediately e-mails me pics from my security cameras so I can see if there really is a problem (I have a Blackberry phone w/internet that I carry all the time so I get the e-mail right away). The macro it tied to a 'timer' so it automatically turns off right before I get home.

Another issue I've had is the small square button on the light switch modules always splits in half after a while. I made up a bunch out of aluminum to replace the plastic ones when they break.

I'd go on, but my lunch is over and I've got a couple of machines down including a Nigata with a MPG handle that I have to re-wire so I best get to it.

Marc -

bob_s
01-10-2011, 10:19 AM
I added a couple of internet security cameras to my home recently, and I was curious if there's a modern equivalent of X10 that runs on Ethernet?

Yes, check out NETGEAR.

Over christmas I installed a set at my dad's place. It was really cool to setup ethernet connection - it's totally idiot proof!

madwilliamflint
01-10-2011, 11:27 AM
I added a couple of internet security cameras to my home recently, and I was curious if there's a modern equivalent of X10 that runs on Ethernet?

Do you like them? Which ones did you get?

/me suspects his landlady pokes her head in more than she confesses.

lazlo
01-10-2011, 11:49 AM
Yes, check out NETGEAR.

I was asking if there were IP appliance modules :)


Do you like them? Which ones did you get?

I bought two after some twit stole my oxygen bottle from my driveway :(

I bought the LTS LTCIP830MV-B, which is the OEM who makes the Sharx Security VIPcella (http://www.amazon.com/Sharx-Security-VIPcella-IR-SCNC2607-Wireless/dp/B001P4NHUA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top)

It has a DVR built into the camera itself (a little 2" cube), and I can pop-up the video feed and scan through the DVR images on my iPhone. It also has a motion detection function, where it will email me if if detects motion during certain time periods. ~$140 at the usual suspects.

bob_s
01-10-2011, 03:55 PM
I was asking if there were IP appliance modules :)


http://www.netgear.com/products/home/powerline-and-coax/simplesharing/XAVB101.aspx

Liger Zero
01-10-2011, 03:59 PM
I hooked a couple up at work today. Makes lighting the assembly area much easier as the normal switch is across the room.