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I understand that X10 allow me (with its protocol) to use PLC to control lights and eletrodomestic with arduino.
Now I need to understand how it works and how X10 is a cheap/expensive solution

I undestand that X10 protocol has an house code from "A" to "P" (from wikipedia) to handle (in my case) different rooms and for each house code I can control 16 devices thank of device code.

Now I found this: http://www.amazon.com/X10-TW523-PSC05-Two-Way-Interface/dp/B0006I3ASK X10 TW523/PSC05 Two-Way Interface Module that allow me to have a 2way communication between arduino and X10 in order to write and read.  (TW523 is used in this tutorial: http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/x10 )

What I dont' understand is: I have to connect arduino to the TW523/PSC05 and the TW523/PSC05 to (at max) 16 devices or it works only for 1 device?
Am I totally wrong?

Can someone make me an example linking the products used?

Thank you very much!
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X10 has unit codes in addition to house codes allowing for many devices to work.
http://www.x10.com/support/basicx10.htm

I have used a ton of X10 but only install it at my own home for fun stuff or integration demos.  If you only need to automate a few lights in a fairly small area, then X10 may work for you.  Do not attempt to build a product or service around X10.  X10 can be tough to implement whole house due to it just plain not working in some parts of a house (i.e. 1/2 the house).  Also, noise in the power lines can turn on/off your devices in some cases.  There are devices you can get to get around some of these issues, but they cost money and next thing you know, you have spent actual money on X10.

The fixtures are usually very low quality and some have issues with the new compact florescent lights, I just removed my X10 switches for that reason a month ago.

That said, if X10 is a good fit then, here are some tips:

Using something like arduino and the device you reference to control the signals is a good idea.  Using a wide open RF plug in module that allows anyone to control your lights is on the verge of cheesy.

The best way I have found to implement X10 (not related to Arduino) is to use the same type serial computer interface module to control it via a computer.  I then created a web server run on a thin client in each room would then read the web command and fire off the X10 command for that zone.  Using a controller for each room helped assure the power line interface signal could make the entire zone.

How I would suggest implementing something similar with arduino would be to use the Ethernet Shield with SD card reader.  This would receive the web command and control the lights for that zone and use the code in the tutorial you referenced .  This web server could "abstract" the light codes from the device name.  So if your codes changes, you update the data on the SD card.  So when you say ' LR1=OFF, LR2=ON' .. it converts to the correct house and unit codes.  How far your X10 travels in your house will control how many zones you need.  The Ethernet shield gives you whole house capabilities.

Best of luck
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X10 has unit codes in addition to house codes allowing for many devices to work.
http://www.x10.com/support/basicx10.htm

I have used a ton of X10 but only install it at my own home for fun stuff or integration demos.  If you only need to automate a few lights in a fairly small area, then X10 may work for you.  Do not attempt to build a product or service around X10.  X10 can be tough to implement whole house due to it just plain not working in some parts of a house (i.e. 1/2 the house).  Also, noise in the power lines can turn on/off your devices in some cases.  There are devices you can get to get around some of these issues, but they cost money and next thing you know, you have spent actual money on X10.

The fixtures are usually very low quality and some have issues with the new compact florescent lights, I just removed my X10 switches for that reason a month ago.


I'm really sad about this. Yes I need something to build a rock solid domotic system with arduino.
Apart the noise problem that maybe can be solved in some cheap way.

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X10 can be tough to implement whole house due to it just plain not working in some parts of a house (i.e. 1/2 the house).

What does it mean? Why it wont work? Because of the lenght of the wire? Or for noises or what?

Based on your experience, what can I use instead of X10 to build a good domotic home system but not expensive?
I like X10 because it offer a 2way communication protocol and can handle on/off/dim/brightness/offall,onall and so on.

Is it better to build my own system for a good project?
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I was taking a look to X10 for European 220V... it costs like hell :'(
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I control my whole house through X10 with Arduino and it works fine - for me. I would never consider it "rock solid" however, but I don't need it to be.

The "1/2 house" problem was solved for me with a $14 repeater/phase coupler. As for dimmable CFLs I've yet to find a decent CFL that works with any standard dimmer.

Having said this, I never recommend X10 to 220V countries. The modules are 4X more expensive, so the "not rock solid but cheep" rule doesn't apply.
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I control my whole house through X10 with Arduino and it works fine - for me. I would never consider it "rock solid" however, but I don't need it to be.


Why not?

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The "1/2 house" problem was solved for me with a $14 repeater/phase coupler. As for dimmable CFLs I've yet to find a decent CFL that works with any standard dimmer.

I don't get what does "1/2 house" means for you. Can you describe that problem?

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Having said this, I never recommend X10 to 220V countries. The modules are 4X more expensive, so the "not rock solid but cheep" rule doesn't apply.


They cost at least 30euro <.< What can you advice me for 220V countries?
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I don't get what does "1/2 house" means for you. Can you describe that problem?

X10 uses a signaling method called 'controlled carrier' that sends and receives commands over the AC power wires. Most homes here in the US use a 240 'split phase' wiring method where there are two separate 120volt buses on the main service panel that split up the individual house 120v circuits between the two buses, and a X10 controller and devices installed on one 120v buss can't normally communicate with devices on the other 120v bus without special measures being taken, like possibly installing a small value capacitor to couple the controlled carrier signals from one bus to the other. At least that's my memory of the problem from reading stuff many decades ago.

 I haven't ever used X10, but they have been around longer then microprocessors have been. They were never considered a 'industrial quality' control method and known for intermittent control problems and false device turn on or off and such. Doesn't mean the 'controlled carrier' couldn't be made more robust and reliable,  'internet over power lines' showed that reliable comm over power wires is possible.

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Simo-post!

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Why not?
- 1) The dependability varies with the environment. If something noisy is plugged in near a module it may not work.
- 2) It has limitations that some might not like - delay, no confirmation the command was received.
- 3) The sense I get from other peoples complaints.
If you're asking technically why not, I don't have the time nor the details to go into that.

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I don't get what does "1/2 house" means for you. Can you describe that problem?
It's not an issue for you. It has to do with how US houses are wired with 2 phases of 115VAC.

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What can you advice me for 220V countries?
Personally, I have no good advice for you. I'm sure other will.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2011, 03:47:03 pm by bHogan » Logged

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I have yet to find a good alternative for an inexpensive light switch that works.  An IR switch may work. 
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