X10 Home Automation logic is driving me nuts!
May 2, 2007 2:23 PM   Subscribe

Need an overview of X10 Home Automation from someone who thinks like I do... For some reason , I am not grasping the overall house code unit code relationship and how it works...

So, assuming that the reason I am not grasping ISN'T because I am dim...

I recently purchased an X10 security system and successfully installed it in just a few minutes. No real problems (see below).

What I am getting hung up on (and this may be due to the fact that I purchased the security system and not a Home Automation system) is how the overall system works with House codes and unit codes...

See, my security system is set to A1, and the lamp modules are as well (I have no motion sensors). So when the alarm goes off, the lights do as well (all good there), as does the remote siren. However, when I used the security remote to turn on the lamps, the remote siren (also set to A1) went off. Not good. So I changed the unit code on the on the siren to 5 (so now A5). Now when the alarm goes off, the lights flash and the alarm goes off, and when I use the remote to turn on the lights, the alarm doesn't go off (all good)... But this brings up a question for me:

- why does the alarm go off in both A1 and A5 modes? Does the Security System 'own' the 'A' House code now and broadcast the alarm to ALL devices set to House Code 'A'? Were I to add more components in the future that are set to ANY 'A' house code, would it/they be turned on by the security system? (also, if this is correct, why does the Alarm console have a unit code dial on it at all??)

I'll probably have followups based on responses here. Thanks in advance!
posted by dyerfr to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
What model number is the security system? Is there any software involved? Or are you operating solely via remotes and sensors?
posted by datacenter refugee at 3:50 PM on May 2, 2007

Response by poster: it is called the DS7000, and has no computer interface, but operates from remotes (keychain and a 'security' remote) and a security console); don't know model number of the actual security console. Also have door sensors...
posted by dyerfr at 4:16 PM on May 2, 2007

I did a lot of home automation with X10, and for a while had an x10 compatible alarm system from radio shack, that sounds quite similar.

Your remote sends signals over the air with a house-code, signal-type, and sometimes a device-number. These signals are picked up by the transceiver (the one wall wart with an antenna, or the security system may bundle that into itself...whichever device has the antenna and plugs into the wall), which then resends the signals as EMI thru your electrical wiring (So if you have a device sitting on a power strip that does EMI filtering, it won't respond). The transceiver only listens to one house-code at a time. This is so apartment neighbors can't control their neighbors stuff (assuming your neighbor acts in good faith; there's nothing to be done about someone war-driving your X10 housecode and flooding your house with all-on/all-off messages).

The signals that can be sent are single-unit-off, single-unit-on, all-house-off, all-house-on, single-unit-dimmer-up, and single-unit-dimmer-down. Obviously the all-house commands don't take device-numbers, and the single-unit commands require one.

If I'm understanding your last question correctly, you're wondering why the security-system has both house-code and device? This is because the siren doesn't respond to all-house commands, only to a single-unit-on/off message, so the security system has to know where to send it. Once it's done that, if it's like mine, it starts a cycle of all-house-on and off's to flash all the light modules. When the alarm wants to turn off the siren, it will send a single-unit-off command to the siren. Ooh yeah, point of clarity, there are "appliance modules" as well as "lighting modules". Applicance modules don't respond to all-house commands either; I suppose I should call the commands all-house-lights-on/off =p
posted by nomisxid at 6:16 PM on May 2, 2007

Response by poster: that helps (especially the list of commands that can be sent). What confuses me is:

if the security system is sending a House/Unit Code to tell the siren to turn on (and subsequently off) how does it know that my siren was originally on A1 (and tripped it accordingly by sending - Unit A1: Turn ON) and then that it was on A5 (and still rang it)?

I didn't register the siren with the security system in either case... Does the siren register with the console?

Thanks for the information; I know that I am close on wrapping my brain around this, but some of the tumblers haven't clicked...
posted by dyerfr at 7:03 PM on May 2, 2007

Response by poster: also - the security console is still at A1... never changed that...
posted by dyerfr at 7:11 PM on May 2, 2007

hrm. if you didn't have to set the security console to the siren's code, it may work somewhat differently, possibly a siren-specific signal. My security system was bought in 1997, there may have been significant changes since. The basic x10 protocol has probably stayed the same though.
posted by nomisxid at 8:42 PM on May 2, 2007

There are two possibilities here. The first is that the alarm is simply sending "all-house-on" and everything in house code A is getting tripped regardless. The other is that the security system has a non-standard alarm code in addition to device-on to A1 and the siren is picking up on that. I'd lean towards the all-house-on explanation myself.
posted by Skorgu at 8:54 AM on May 3, 2007

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