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Thread: Au revoir x10 - suggestions for new wiring install

  1. #1
    Automated Home Sr Member MrFluffy's Avatar
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    Default Au revoir x10 - suggestions for new wiring install

    Im moving house in 6 weeks to our latest project (total conversion of a barn to a house), we're leasing out the current one to a tennant, and as a "bonus" ive told them Ill leave the 3k of x10 devices in there. So happily I won't need a cm11 for much longer and the new house is going to be a x10 free zone. Oh bliss, no more reboots, no more lockups, no wondering if any modules will randomly fail this week. I guess I will miss that ******** pause for a second or more while the wireless receiver comes out of (mandatory) power save mode, and the little thrill of if the lights are actually going to work on that occasion and all that pushing of buttons to reprogram the light switches when its gone wonky yet again.

    On the further plus side, when the tenant gets sick of it (I reckon 6 months), we're just going to pay a electrician to rewire the house totally to conventional switches. Since it already had a totally new wiring install for the x10, I reckon Ive wasted what, about 10 grand on x10's crappyness? And the only part of the home control system that has worked flawlessly since the day the solder dried is my totally homebrew underfloor heating system, which I wrote my own software for and soldered together myself using a serial network of ds1820's and a parallel port switch relay box and a old pentium class laptop , which ironically was also the cheapest part of the entire system :/

    Now, Im responsible for all the wiring design and install in the new place, so far Ive just ran in 6 lengths of cat5 cabling and 2 low loss coax runs between the house and outbuildings and put some proper 2u commercial patch panels in shallow cabinets. I really want to put some extra cabling in at first fix time to cater for the new house having some sort of home automation (but obviously, hell would have to freeze over before I made the mistake of buying x10 stuff again) but funds are not there for the actual components (nor is my trust , any potential system will have to be tested first hand this time round).
    So any suggestions? We have free hand to put in what we like re PTT and data cabling, but the electrical stuff must conform to the standards for Consuel (french electrical regs), but consuel allows you to run in extra dark cabling and putting it live once the consuel is obtained...

    So what would you pull in if you had a blank canvas? fibre everywhere? or just lots of coax and devices to convert everything to tcp/ip streams (we like tcp/ip, since Im a unix programmer by trade).

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    For cabling have a look at www.abitana.com . Ok they use a proprietary cable (a modified Cat5e cable) but all their equipment conforms to all current EU regs. They do have a network of installers in France as well who can supply the equipment. Or just order it via their webshop.
    Interesting about your experiences with X10. Did you have a whole house filter in. The systems I install have always worked well and the only problem I have had was when a client's house got struck by lightening.
    As for Automation systems apart from X10 you have PLC bus similar to UPB. www.automation-at-home.com . KNX/EIB which seems to be quite popular in mainland Europe, but is expensive (dimmer modules are well over 120 euros each). http://www.knx.org/ and http://www.knxshop.co.uk
    more KNX related sites:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KNX_(standard)
    http://www.knx.fr/
    http://www.lacompagniedomotique.com/...-domotique.php
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  3. #3
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    I'd put in loads of Cat-5e - for signal distribution (using eg: Avrio), for HA (using Idratek - see the forum on Automated Home), and for networking - allowing double for the signal distribution (for HDMI), and tripling everything for future growth (most of which would likely be consumed quite early on)

    anyway, that's what we're doing, using a hub & spoke approach - the hubs being at key points around the house - and with trunk-lines (as it were) between major hubs ...

  4. #4
    Automated Home Sr Member MrFluffy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by toscal View Post
    For cabling have a look at www.abitana.com . Ok they use a proprietary cable (a modified Cat5e cable) but all their equipment conforms to all current EU regs. They do have a network of installers in France as well who can supply the equipment. Or just order it via their webshop.
    Interesting about your experiences with X10. Did you have a whole house filter in. The systems I install have always worked well and the only problem I have had was when a client's house got struck by lightening.
    Ack, proprietary, they're the people wanting 1700e for a cab with a patch panel in it I was looking at earlier in shock. I pay 120e for a low profile cab carrying a 2u 24port panel that I just krone onto the cable. With the remaining 1580e I could go get some nice embedded streaming devices and carry over the cat5 and still have change!

    Yes, we have 3 phase to the house and workshops, so 3 fd10's acting as filter couplers across the phases. I was considering one of the all in one 3 phase coupler repeaters but my experience with everything else carrying the x10 logo meant I was loathe to shell out on it only to have it not work and currently phase 3 cant send signals to phase 1 so I guess that fd10 has upped and died internally now. We just changed which sockets routed to that phase to get any x10 devices off it rather than trying to fix it. I guess eventually we'll end up with them all on p2 or something.
    We get struck by lightening quite often however the x10 rails are protected by a lightening arrest system on the main house feed proper, and the fd10's in the house itself.
    When we get a nearby strike (its open country so its not unknown) I find the dsl router has locked up, I know to reboot the cm11 as well.
    Its the general design decisions that put me off the stuff though. Like for example the hawkeye motion sensors (grey or white, forget the two codes), I bought 8 of them deciding to make some motion sensitive areas, until I discovered on delivery that they switched the unit code one up from themselves as daylight sensors. So 8 of them meant they consumed a entire housecode of addresses and the cm11 had to stay up to map their function to what I really wanted to control so I put a pc to watch for requests and scripted some stuff that triggered using heyu and perl, then I found the cm11 locked up when used like this, and the only way you stood a chance was to upload them all as macro's. Later on I found the internal mod where you cut some components inside to disable the dawn dusk function. Why oh why couldn't they just ship it with a jumper is anybodies guess. Maybe they just didn't expect anyone as stupid as me to come along and run out of housecodes on the lighting install alone. They're in a lin bin in the corner of the shed now as we speak, after doing a small stint as security lighting sensors for outside (garden is a seperate housecode so not as much of a issue)
    Ive posted elsewhere about modifying my cm11 with a external cpu fan after buying 5 of them, and Ive seen posts where people mention theres a design flaw in the 240v versions that bears the need to modify it out.
    Theres also the sticky switches that are programmed through their first button, besides the fact that if you push on them hard, they loose contact internally and loose all their programming, when relatives come to visit, the latency of the lighting response to get through a wireless bridge onto the x10 bus anyway, means they just keep their finger on the button putting them straight into programming mode, and changing the housecode back to A from L (l for lights...). When I went on holiday, I had to leave a remote out, with all the numbers for which light taped to the back as the inlaws refused to enter the house otherwise.

    I have been using x10 devices for 7 years and I have a big install, it may have been wonderful if a) there was some handshaking in the protocol instead of send and assume, and b) the devices were of better quality and design.
    Its just *not* reliable, and can't be trusted to just work 24/7 without messing around with it, and when you get the devices all stable, randomly every few months it all goes mad and you have to start again. And never ever ever use anything wireless when you can run a cable in instead. Thats the big lesson.
    Sorry for the rant, you asked and it opens up old wounds... X10 is the real reason my wife is insisting on a normal install on the new place.

  5. #5
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MrFluffy View Post
    Ack, proprietary, they're the people wanting 1700e for a cab with a patch panel in it I was looking at earlier in shock. I pay 120e for a low profile cab carrying a 2u 24port panel that I just krone onto the cable. With the remaining 1580e I could go get some nice embedded streaming devices and carry over the cat5 and still have change!
    That's expensive are you sure its by Abitana do you have a link as I can't see it on their website.
    Many people are put off by the proprietary cable, and the cost of the cable compared to a normal CAT5, but it works very well.
    The only boxes you may see part from the patch panel cabinet, and its contents, is the one for HD conversion. Unlike many other systems you don't have little black boxes hidden away behind your equipment. That's what your patch panel cabinet is for, as everything is in there. Ok you need the odd adapter from RJ45 to UHF or audio and the like, but these are only slightly bigger than an RJ45 plug.
    I do agree with you to some extent about MS based systems. And on very large installs I tend to recommend Homevision www.csi3.com . But like Paul_B said if the machine is only used for one task such has controlling the house then it tends to be more stable, even XP is fairly stable if its not messed about too much. But any machine that's left on 24/7 will need the odd reboot. And I'm talking about UNIX, Linux, OS/8 (from DEC), Windows and MAC OSes.
    No matter what cabling you go for always put more in than you need. If you think you need 3 sockets in a room put in at least 4 and if you can afford it 6.
    And if cost is a big issue just run the conduit so at a later date you can out in the cable when you can afford it.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  6. #6
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    A late response to the original post - I only just joined up.
    I am in the same position, re-wiring a house as part of a renovation project.
    It is primarily for lighting control, with some security possibly too.

    I am pondering the same question, and have done some basic research.
    My options seem to be :
    i) KNX - requires special KNX TP cable (apparently Cat5 not seen as reliable enough).
    ii) CBus - Cat5
    iii) Webbrick - Cat5

    All three can be wired in a Bus topology (correct me if I'm wrong here), which seems much easier to manage than a star network (and less cable).

    I also plan to put in a load of Cat5/6 cables and RJ45 sockets for Internet/Phone/TV (possibly usiing the Kat5 device). Will also put in some COAX for TV, as I haven't figured out how I would use the Kat5 with remote control etc. etc.

    Would be interested on any views of KNX vs CBus vs Webbrick

  7. #7
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    Why use wires at all? You'll get more flexibility going wireless surely?

  8. #8
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Be careful with bus topologies. A failure somewhere in the bus line can render parts of the system inoperable. I have seen this a couple of times where the data lines of equipment are connected via a common bus, and a failure of one piece brought almost all of the system to a standstill.
    You may find the KNX cable, is a CAT5 cable with mains rated insulation, like the pink Cbus CAT5 cable.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  9. #9
    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    add Idratek & Alertme to your list :

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/vbull...splay.php?f=27

    http://www.alertme.com/

    these two certainly worth a look !

  10. #10
    Automated Home Jr Member KirasHome's Avatar
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    I went through this a couple of years ago and eventually settled on Idratek (www.idratek.com). I didn't like the lack of feedback in x10 and I'm always a bit nervous of wireless in case of interference.

    I've been running it for a couple of years and it's very reliable. It runs over cat5 and is a ‘free topology’. A single cable can provide a connection to several modules and can itself branch out into other cable sections (tree structure). This makes it very flexible and relatively easy to wire. The whole package is very well thought and implemented, from Cortex (the controlling software), to Reflex (the ability of individual modules to act independently and communicate autonomously).

    The support is also first class - when I had a problem with a module and sent in an email at 5pm I had 3 different people all emailing within 5 hours offering to help (it just needed a firmware update). It also has a very active forum here on AutomatedHome.

    Jamie
    (No connection with Idratek other than I keep buying more bits)

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