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Thread: Newbie X-10 Gateway question

  1. #1
    Automated Home Guru cliffwright's Avatar
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    Default Newbie X-10 Gateway question

    Hi Folks,

    I currently run a small amount of automation duties (mainly lighting) using X-10 equipment and a-n-other software logic core.

    Whilst this is 'OK', X-10 lets the setup down a little on occasions because of the lack of device status acknowledgements and the occasional comms issues that stem from the mains cabling routing . . .

    With this in mind, I've been pondering alternatives . . .

    Reading Mr Gumbrell's blog, I see that he made use of an X10 Dimmer (referring to the 'landing light' blog post) and that encouraged me that maybe I could lift and shift my main logic core to the Cortex core (even just for to play with the evaluation trial period) making use of my existing X-10 hardware . . . ultimately as my main issue is distruption of retro-fit, I could then gradually phase across to idratek hardware as and when I decorate rooms . . .

    What I can't see though, is whether the X-10 gateway is still available . . . I can't seem to see it listed on the idratek site and is greyed out of the kit listing on the one Case study that included one . . .

    Is the XGW-001 X-10 gateway module still available?

    Without this I'm not so sure I can easily switch to idratek/cortex

  2. #2
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Yes the XGW-001 is still available. But you don't necessarily need it if your intention is just to control via Cortex. You can just plug a CM12U into a serial port on the Cortex PC and Cortex can then communicate directly through this. No other IDRANet hardware is required. Since X10 tends to be used as a relatively infrequent additive to our system eg. to control the odd X10 dimmer or appliance module, support for X10 devices is pretty limited but you can still bring to bear the full range of other Cortex features to control any such devices in many different ways.

  3. #3
    Automated Home Guru cliffwright's Avatar
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    Thanks Karam,

    I'm using a CM15 at the minute but do have a CM12 kicking about too so easily can swap back.

    Before I go off planning things . . . just to be clear, can you confirm what you mean by this?

    But you don't necessarily need it if your intention is just to control via Cortex.
    Does this imply that external X10 commands would go unnoticed by Cortex? Would it only have 1 way command issuing abilities?

    For example, I currently have an x10 RF PIR (hateful things I know) that 'senses' (when it wants to) that I've stepped into the porch - it issues an 'On' command via RF which is fed into the mains cabling via an x10 Tranceiver, which is in turn picked up by my Current Automation core software via the CM12, that applies some logic to decide whether / for how long to turn the porch and hall light on for.

    If I switched to Cortex, is this possible - or would I need the XGW-001 to provide a methodology for 2 way communication?

    Apologies if I'm missing something & this is a daft question . . .

    Cheers

    Cliff

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    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    No it isn't a daft question. We do only have support for the AM12, LD12, LD11 which are all output devices (either via XGW or direct). We have not extended support further because it obviously takes effort but there has been no demand.

    Any ideas what the data looks like for the PIR sensor? typically the CM12 would hold received data in a 10 byte buffer (which is then transferred to the PC/XGW) but what this data would look like for the PIR sensor I don't know. Also, you say the PIR sends an ON but does it also send an OFF?

  5. #5
    Automated Home Guru cliffwright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karam View Post
    No it isn't a daft question. We do only have support for the AM12, LD12, LD11 which are all output devices (either via XGW or direct). We have not extended support further because it obviously takes effort but there has been no demand.
    Thanks Karam.

    When you say AM12, LD12 and LD11 - I assume you mean LM12 rather than LD12? LM12 is a plug in lamp module - LD12 appears to be some sort of flood detection input module . . . ?

    The only other devices that are of interest to me given my current setup are;

    LW10U - Wall dimmer switch

    This acts as simple output device just like a LM12 would I guess - When you manually use the wall switch, it doesn't issue any commands.

    and;

    TM13 - Plug-in Tranceiver

    This is just the same as an LM12 but it's got RF receiver capabilities to convert an RF signal to a powerline X10 signal.

    As output devices, I would've thought these should operate on the same code though so may work (I'm sure I've accidentally configured these as plug-in modules on my current Software core in the past and they still work fine).

    It's the tranceiver's ability to feedback 'input' signals via the CM12 that might be the catch though . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Karam View Post
    Any ideas what the data looks like for the PIR sensor? typically the CM12 would hold received data in a 10 byte buffer (which is then transferred to the PC/XGW) but what this data would look like for the PIR sensor I don't know. Also, you say the PIR sends an ON but does it also send an OFF?
    I honestly don't know (Is there some way I can check for you?). . . but would presume it's exactly the same as any other 'On' command that would be issued as a command from PC >> Output device.

    The PIR is an - MS13 - Motion detector PIR - and yes you're right in that it does also issue an 'Off' command after a set delay but, from my experiences, the 'Off' command is flaky in it's response and so I ignore it and use my software core to decide after how long to turn a particular device off - in my case via an LW10u connected to my porch lights.


    Is there a particular part of the Idratek documentation I should read up on around configuring X10 devices? I've tried to search the forums and such for X10 information but "X10" as a search term is too short for the forums' search engine to accept and so I can't find much on the subject.

    Really appreciate your help

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    Automated Home Legend chris_j_hunter's Avatar
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    slight tangent, but the comment :

    >just plug a CM12U into a serial port on the Cortex PC and Cortex can then communicate directly ...

    was interesting - is that a generic thing, could any serial-compatible device be so treated, perhaps via a macro, or ... ??

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    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cliffwright View Post
    When you say AM12, LD12 and LD11 - I assume you mean LM12 rather than LD12? LM12 is a plug in lamp module - LD12 appears to be some sort of flood detection input module . . . ?
    Sorry, yes I meant LM12 lamp module.

    I'm guessing that you're probably right about the PIR output in the sense that it might normally be directly commanding some output device. Its a long while since we did any X10 work. I'm pretty sure we don't have a PIR handy but maybe the transceiver somewhere. I'll have a rumage when I get a chance but I'm sorry that I can't promise anything on this front.

    There are mainly two things you have to do to configure X10 devices in Cortex:
    1. Define which COM port is being used to communicate wth the CM12U (or if you are using an XGW then you install an XGW object)
    2. Add X10 objects (AM12, LM12 or LD11) to the Cortex floor plan

    Once you have added the X10 objects these will have properties menus where you set up the house/device code.
    Beyond this the objects are then automatically endowed with behaviours options/menus equivalent to similar devices implemented by IDRATEK hardware. In other words for example the AM12 can be treated pretty much like an IDRATEK relay container and can then be 'logically connected' to various specialised objects such as on/off load, heating valve, light etc. It is important to understand that what object you associate with the physical relay gives you different behavioural options. So a light will have automatic connectivity to room presence, light level and so on. Whereas an on/off load has somewhat generic control options. This is the part you have to understand when first getting to grips with Cortex and you will find such information in the Cortex help files (you will need to install Cortex).

  8. #8
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_j_hunter View Post
    slight tangent, but the comment :

    >just plug a CM12U into a serial port on the Cortex PC and Cortex can then communicate directly ...

    was interesting - is that a generic thing, could any serial-compatible device be so treated, perhaps via a macro, or ... ??
    Cortex does not provide some arbitrary way of communicating through COM ports within the main application itself, e.g. there is no macro command which allows you to send data out to a COM port and receive and decode such. Scripting might have allowed this but support for scripting has been deferred in favour of the API route. So you can write your own application to do this and then have this interact with Cortex via the Cortex API.

  9. #9
    Automated Home Guru cliffwright's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karam View Post
    Sorry, yes I meant LM12 lamp module.

    I'm guessing that you're probably right about the PIR output in the sense that it might normally be directly commanding some output device. Its a long while since we did any X10 work. I'm pretty sure we don't have a PIR handy but maybe the transceiver somewhere. I'll have a rumage when I get a chance but I'm sorry that I can't promise anything on this front.
    No worries - your advice has been great

    Quote Originally Posted by Karam View Post
    There are mainly two things you have to do to configure X10 devices in Cortex:
    1. Define which COM port is being used to communicate wth the CM12U (or if you are using an XGW then you install an XGW object)
    2. Add X10 objects (AM12, LM12 or LD11) to the Cortex floor plan

    Once you have added the X10 objects these will have properties menus where you set up the house/device code.
    Beyond this the objects are then automatically endowed with behaviours options/menus equivalent to similar devices implemented by IDRATEK hardware. In other words for example the AM12 can be treated pretty much like an IDRATEK relay container and can then be 'logically connected' to various specialised objects such as on/off load, heating valve, light etc. It is important to understand that what object you associate with the physical relay gives you different behavioural options. So a light will have automatic connectivity to room presence, light level and so on. Whereas an on/off load has somewhat generic control options. This is the part you have to understand when first getting to grips with Cortex and you will find such information in the Cortex help files (you will need to install Cortex).
    This all sounds very promising

    I might just install Cortex then and have a read up in the helpfiles . . . then I might order a couple of modules from you to play with in conjunction with my X10 kit

    Thanks for your advice - much appreciated

  10. #10
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    By all means download Cortex. You will need to e-mail us to get an install key. This will give you 30 days free of running a network (including any X10 stuff) from the point of install. After that time you will still have access to the help files and any features which don't involve running a network.

    Please ensure that you update Cortex to its latest version after installing the base version of V25.

    Until we find a resolution, if you are installing on Windows 7 you will need to have UAC turned off.

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