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An x10 primer

Discussion in 'Computers, Games, Electronics etc' started by Sabz5150, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. Sabz5150

    Sabz5150 FALCON PUNCH!!!

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    Nov 17, 2003
    I had a bunch of questions pop up about x10 when I mentioned it in my Myth thread, so I decided to post up a bit of info on the thing.

    x10 is a protocol that's been around since the 70's. It basically uses high frequency signals sent across the power lines to communicate to individual modules connected throughout the house. Wall switches, lamp plugs, appliance switches, etc can be controlled from a single location with no special wiring required since it communicated over the existing copper.

    So, what all is needed to make this work, and how hard will it be to install?

    Go to eBay and buy yourself an x10 starter kit. They usually come with a transceiver, remote and a lamp module. This is the easiest thing to start with since it is both cheap and doesn't require any more work than just plugging things in. Plug your transceiver in, set the house code (default A), plug in your lamp module and set it's house and unit code (set to 2 since the transceiver is 1), plug your lamp in to the module, set your remote's housecode and you're up and running. The transceiver has a built in appliance module, so you could connect a fan or whatever to it that does not need to dim.

    From there, you can just add more lamp modules as you see fit, or you can add other modules, usually the most common being wall switches. These come in several flavors, but I'll focus on the most common and cheapest one, the "chicklet" switch.


    They can be controlled by the pushbutton on the front, or by remote.

    Installing these is simple. Cut the breaker, unscrew the old wall switch and disconnect the line, load and ground wires. Connect the two wires from the switch to the line and load wires, and ground the switch. Screw it in, set your codes, put the cover on, hit the breaker and you're done. These switches are dimming, and ramp up and down when turned on or off, respectively. Do not use these with standard CFL bulbs, it'll piss them right off and your remote will not work. If you are using real dimmable CFLs, then you will need to modify the switch to have a neutral line (more on this later).

    Okay, I've got my home's lights in the palm of my hand. What else can be done?

    The toy you'll want next is called a "firecracker".


    It is a serial port controller for x10 modules. They are cheap and software is freely available. Plug it in, install the software and you now have computer control of your lights. You can add scripts to cut lights on and off at certain times, such as controlling your porch lights by NOAA's sunrise/sunset times.

    There's a basic list of x10 stuff. Other x10 modules include motion sensors, chimes, cameras, window/door sensors, inline modules, two-way PC controllers, the list is huge. Just surf eBay :)
  2. Drake

    Drake Well-Known Member VIP

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    Oct 6, 2003
    Sabz very nice write up. One of my buddies wired up his room like this before I moved to Boise. When I finally get settled in I plan on wiring up my whole place like this.
  3. phunky.buddha

    phunky.buddha Admin with a big stick Admin VIP

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    Sep 30, 2002
    Dallas / Fort Worth, TX
    Cooooool. I'll have to wire my house like this.
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