The concept of the Smart Home has been around for quite a few years. I recall it
being discussed when working for Honeywell in the late 1980's. Well, without mortgaging
the kids, what can a techno-geek do to play around with home automation?
Enter - X-10. This electrical control system sends signals on the AC power lines
within your house, going from one electrical outlet (the originator) to another.
There are multitudes of gadgets that can be used.
After installing X-10, we have created an adventure for our children's friends. The
male-types think it is cool and go into "remote control nirvana", while the female-types
just roll their eyes and laugh about the place being haunted. Apparently, this is
not a unique reaction. I have learned from others who have undertaken this kind of
installation that the response from males and females is consistent from home to
In our home, we have installed a lot of X-10 devices and are running 5-zones. We
use the X-10 ActiveHome software package from X-10 USA, but it isn't the best solution
due to some shortcomings in the area of IF-THEN-ELSE macros. The following are actively
used control units:
WS467 - Standard X-10 Wall Switches (Light Controls) WS4777 - 3-way X-10 Wall Switches
(Lighting Controls) SR227 - X-10 3-prong Wall Sockets LM465 - Plug-in X-10 Lamp Controllers
AM466 - 3-prong X-10 Appliance Modules TM751 - X-10 RF Remote Control Units MS10A/MS13A/MS16A
- X10 Motion sensors ** DM10A - Outdoor Motion Detector (not a very good product)
DS10A - Door and Window Sensors ** CM11A - Computer Control Module LM15A - X-10 Socket
Rocket Lamp Controllers PF284 - X-10 Power Flash Modules CK18A - Firecracker Wireless
Computer Interface SC546 - Remote Chime KR10A - Security Remote ** SH624 - Security
Control Pad ** SH10 - Security Alarm Horn ApplianceLink - High-power Appliance Module
Templink 1625 - Temperature Module
To maximize the capabilities of the system, I have also integrated the X10 security
system with the home automation system. Interestingly, the RF signals from some wireless
devices are effectively captured by both systems enabling a bit of parallel operation,
as well as synchronized response. Devices on the security side include (common use
denoted by ** ):
X10 DS7000 - Security System KR10A - Security Remote ** SH624 - Security Control
Pad ** MS10A/MS13A/MS16A - X10 Motion sensors ** DS10A - Door and Window Sensors
Other devices that are installed or used to make the system work more effectively
Leviton 4820 Amplifier/Repeater X10Pro PSX10 Smart RF Repeater KC674 - Keychain Remote
HD460 - Mini Controller HomePro Noise Filter X-10 Signal Meter
Many other neat X-10 devices are floating around including a cross-phase amplifier,
signal blocker, signal measurement meters, motion detectors, RF repeaters, local
noise filters and a wide variety wireless control devices.
So how big is the system now? Well, with the help of Home Control Assistant (now
HCA version 9), the system is pretty large with about:
9 Active House Codes using 108 Unit Codes 50 X10 addressed controllable devices
(excluding motion detectors) 21 Smart Devices (meaning not pure X10, but registered
uniquely and capable of registering with the Security System) 18 Motion Detectors
(in addition to the Smart Devices) 176 "programs" that respond to inputs from the
many smart devices, motion detectors, ongoing/continuous processes, and triggered/scheduled
This is certainly getting fairly complicated and actually reasonably reliable too.
The system's sophistication has reached the point where the house system knows exactly
what's going on in it, and can respond accordingly. Now that's cool!
Do you need help with X-10? Here are a couple helpful pages that might clear up some
issues that you are running into.