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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 01/25/2018 :  9:13:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am having a real problem getting a house system running. I think the problem is devices being on power lines that are not getting signals. I have tried putting power line to radio units around the house and adding RF versions of switches. So far; no real solution.

Is there a way that I can determine which circuits are being used for individual devices?

The house wiring (220 VAC single phase split to 2 X 120 i.e., normal):
- two breaker boxes.
- one panel provides two distribution sets from the power input.
- the first panel also feeds a second panel that distributes the circuits for items that will be powered when a backup generator is used.
- currently there is no external backup power switch installed. A simple feed goes from the main panel to the secondary panel.

I don't have detailed wiring diagrams for the house. So I do not know which individual device is on which outlet in a room, or even which room it is in.

I just can not make several devices operate properly. Buttons that should work; don't.

Edited by - alternety on 01/27/2018 12:19:24 PM

BLH
Advanced Member

5669 Posts

Posted - 01/26/2018 :  03:37:14 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Have you tried the communications tests built into most Dual Band Modules? To see if you have both incoming power lines in the home communicating with each other.

You may have electronic devices making power line noise or absorbing the Insteon power line signals.
Some common things are. Computing equipment. If your controller is on the same circuit as the computing gear. The computing gear may need to be filtered with a FilterLinc. Electronics like audio and TV equipment.

You may want to try unplugging some electronics then seeing if anything has changed.
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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 01/28/2018 :  5:11:20 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My main computer equipment is attached to power through filter links. Most (all) electronic equipment is connected to quality surge suppressors. They have, I believe, noise suppression functions as well. There are two circuits in my office/computer room. The circuits alternate around the room. I have a dual band bridge on each circuit. The wiring for the house is a bit complicated and not well documented. I also tried bridges on the entry distribution box.

Some circuits (including the office) go a sub-panel, then a second larger sub-panel dedicated to circuits that can be run by a generator, then the main breaker box from the power line to the house.

I am also seeing random flickering of lights being controlled by Insteon devices. A while back I re-bulbed the outside lights with all LED bulbs. I went from a mix of CFL and Halogen, and a couple of LEDs to all a single type of dimmable LED bulb. When dimming, they suddenly drop intensity at around half power and sort of oscillate over a range. I replaced the light controller. No improvement. Probably the LEDs. Real pain. I had to pay someone to change the bulbs (old and ladders, I have found, do not mix well).

Power input has commercial transient protection at the meter.

I have very few dual band devices.

I installed the software for one of my UPS units to monitor transients. They have not seen anything, but I have the feeling they many not have sufficient response times to really be helpful.

Back in the X10 days, I seem to recollect a measurement tool for checking signals. Is there anything like that for the Insteon environment?

I guess I just need to keep playing with things.

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stusviews
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USA
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Posted - 01/28/2018 :  6:05:11 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
It's e\very common for surge supressors to "clean" the powerline signal, meaning that they actually soak up the Insteon signal.

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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2018 :  12:48:33 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No Insteon signals were harmed in the making of my installation.

Edited by - alternety on 01/29/2018 6:52:49 PM
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stusviews
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USA
15836 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2018 :  4:05:51 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
How have you determined that your suppressors have not absorbed at least a part of the Insteon signal. That's what many do and are actually designed to do.

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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 01/29/2018 :  7:21:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have not taken a surge protector apart for a long time, but I believe these "surge" protectors tend to have a preference for filtering noise heading to their connected devices but should do something bidirectionally. They could be absorbing some of the Insteon signal from power lines and they could leak some noise back to the power line. But I see no way of avoiding that. The internal filters should try to isolate the line noise (including Insteon) from the attached equipment. And it may well not do as much to prevent noise from leaving the equipment to the line.

The most important connection (computer room equipment) does indeed go through a filter link before the surge protector. There are a pair of PowerLink repeaters on the two circuits in my office. Each circuit is on one of the legs of the 240 VAC panel.

Does anyone know of someone that may have made a signal tracer with level measurements for Insteon signals on the power line and via the radios?

And/or someone that has looked at the radios in dual band devices with the idea of building a bit higher power transceiver/relay on top of the Insteon devices? They have to be running on a known frequency. I have CAT5 pretty much everywhere. I could easily distribute RF to the house. I could then sprinkle some more dual band devices around rather than replacing a whole bunch of non-RF devices. I have a lot of devices and they are mostly old, but represent a substantial investment.

It just seems to me that SH really should offer a better solution for large installations. I bought when they were saying the devices had radio links. They did not.

Edited by - alternety on 01/29/2018 7:32:07 PM
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stusviews
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USA
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Posted - 01/29/2018 :  8:09:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
There are no Insteon RF filters (except perhaps home-brewed) as there are no filter to block a specific radio or TV signal.

Surge suppressors are meant to keep powerline surgres from harming sensitive electronic. Inherently in the design, nearly all also clean what's considered line-noise including, but not limited to home automation signals.

The only filters adequate for Insteon (and X10 coincidentaly) signals is an Insteon or X10 line filter. These are closely tuned to the Insteon powerline band and effectively minimize passing the Insteon powerline frequency (131.65 kHz) both to or from the device being filtered.

Insteon RF is 902 to 924 MHz which is no where near any router's signal.

BTW, I agree. The early advertising was misleading. RF was built into the Insteon protocol as stated, but not implemented until a few years later.

Also, a FilterLinc is useless on a device that has not been proven to be errant.

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westom
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11 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2018 :  3:57:27 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alternety

I have not taken a surge protector apart for a long time, but I believe these "surge" protectors tend to have a preference for filtering noise heading to their connected devices but should do something bidirectionally.

Too many conclusions are only from speculation. Whereas an RF meter tuned to the appropriate frequencies would be handy (and extremely expensive), far more useful is to first learn the simple stuff.

All this was well understood generations ago by X-10 users. You have same problems.

Take that protector as an example. It has high capacitance - essentially eats signals. Since plug-in protectors do not even claim to protect from potentially destructive surges, then best is to start by removing obvious detriments to signals. Remove all protectors (not to be confused with something completely different at the service entrance also called a protector).

Second, electronic power supplies that may not meet FCC requirement (ie some CFL and LED bulbs) increase noise. Filters, to reduce that noise, may also eat signal. More things to remove.

Best is to power off all circuits not powering Insteon transmitters and receivers. Now test the system. Remove everything that might interfere or subvert signals. Get a working setup. Only then restore individual items and circuits to find what does greatest signal destruction.

X-10 users also learned of / implemented phase couplers. Since half a house is on one circuit - other half is on a completely different circuit. Phase coupler connects signals to those other circuits.

Don't bother restoring protectors. It quality is in the profit; not in protection. Each can make easier surge damage to adjacent appliances and will diminish signal strength. And must be protected by the other completely different device called a protector - that does not diminish signals.
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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2018 :  7:00:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't think I am using the right words. And I am having some translation issues with some words in the two posts above. I do indeed understand the two legs of a 240 VAC power entrance service and the way it is distributed. Some points.

I tried a while back jury rigging (alligator clips and wires in the panel) a set of Insteon 2443 Access Point bridges (aka phase coupler) on the breaker panel. At the time I saw no change in behavior of things. But just to do the best I could (and I had already bought the bridges) I put one on each leg of the house in my office. Longer path to breaker box and then to the rest of the house. But the only place I could be easily sure I was getting both legs with about the same wire length. I think I even have a box of the old X10 devices somewhere. I went to look at the manual for the 2443, and find these have been discontinued for some time. Wonderful. On the SH site they are shown as "Not Available". I am guessing that is SH speak for discontinued. There is now another device(2992-222) that seems to have the same purpose. Looking back at the 2443 manual, I see I should have gotten antennas with them. Nope.

I am not sure what weston means with the term protector. I have two types of devices in the system for power filtering. There some at the service entrance. They are surge protectors. That is all they do. The other devices are all power strips designed primarily to further reduce surges on the in-house wiring from whatever source. I would also call them protectors. And I believe they have some general noise attenuation; but I am not positive. All of my electronics are connected through these power strips. I do not know how much they may affect the line signals from the Insteon line transceivers. They may indeed "suck up" some of the signal.

The Insteon filter I am talking about is a 1626-10 Electrical Noise Filter. I have those, in addition to the power strips, between the majority of my computing equipment and the wall outlet.They seem intended to filter noise from an attached device to the power outlet.

Disconnecting everything using power in the house and reconnecting one at a time could be useful. There are numerous things I can't really get to or disconnect. There are pretty much no devices that are not in the wall. I can try to get close to these devices and see what I can see.

I think I can get one of the old X10 testers on ebay. I don't believe I ever bought one. That is probably the simplest solution for a lot of trouble shooting. A signal tracker for the RF stuff would be a real help in seeing where I need to substitute dual-band devices for good signal dispersion. It would be interesting if a phone could be convinced to measure the RF signals. I think a phone would cover the spectrum.

So, back to puttering.
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stusviews
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USA
15836 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2018 :  9:50:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
A pair of Insteon 2443 Access Points is used to bridge the opposite legs of the split, single-phase electric supply. It matters most that there is one correctly located on each leg (as directed in the Owner's Manual). Close to the panel is best, but not required. Dual-band devices have an identical function.

The earliest Access Points had antennas. They're long gone because they coupled powerline signals only and not the Insteon RF signal.

BTW, Access Points have been renamed to Range Extenders, which is why you can't find them on the web site.

Info only: A power strip has no electronics at all, it used to distribute power much like an extension cord with three outlets and does not need to be filtered. That does not mean that something plugged into the powerstrip does no need a filter. That's not necessarily true of surge suppressors.

The Insteon 1626 is a FilterLinc and is as good as the newest ones (unless it's gray, white is OK). Any FilterLinc is useless unless a know errant device is plugged into it.

That said, let's get back to the original problem. Which specific Insteona devices are errant? What kind of load doe each problematic device control? Are any secondary buttons involved. Do scenes work when manipulated manually (from the Admin Console)? What about devices?

Details, details, details.

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Edited by - stusviews on 01/30/2018 9:51:36 PM
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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 01/30/2018 :  11:42:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I was happy. I actually found my Heathkit Tunnel Dipper. Unfortunately it only goes to 260 MHz. When I built it there were limited things of interest to amateur radio above a few hundred MHz. Oh well.
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westom
Starting Member

11 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2018 :  6:01:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Disconnecting anything not required to make communication work is easy. Trip off its circuit breaker for every circuit not involved. No reason to unplug those potentially offending devices. Disconnect them by flipping a breaker.

You don't care what is on the breaker. Just keep disconnecting more appliances until communication finally starts working.

Remember this is not linear communication (like AM radio). Disconnect each item (appliance) one at a time until suddenly one more item causes everything to work. Then communication suddenly goes from zero to 100%. Restore (connect) some other offending device and communication goes from 100% back to zero.

A protector at the breaker box clearly is not a filter. No filters do hardware protection. A protector inside power strip (also not a filter) only has two things in common with one at the service entrance. They both connect to AC electric. And both are called protectors. Neither do any filtering or power conditioning. Both do completely different protection. Never assume they are similar because both share a same 'subjective' name - surge protector.

A protector (power strip, wall receptacle protector, etc) not located at the service entrance degrades signals. Connect one and it degrades a signal. But communication is 100%. Connect a second. Signal degrades more and communication is still 100%. Connect a third. Signal degrades a little more and communication drops to 0%. Best is to start by removing all plug-in protectors (in the building) that 1) do not increase protection and 2) are destructive to powerline communication.

A completely different 'service entrance' device actually does 99.5% to 99.9% of the protection (per IEEE). And does not degrade powerline signals. A Leviton 'whole house' protector was popular with the early X-10 community. For reasons provided above.

Difference exists between an access point and range extenders. Access point is simply a radio transceiver in another location. Range extenders feature new technologies: mesh networking.

Edited by - westom on 01/31/2018 6:03:02 PM
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stusviews
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USA
15836 Posts

Posted - 01/31/2018 :  6:51:32 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Not so. Power strips have no filtering nor protection. They are merely power distributors, the same as an extension cord. An exception is a power strip with a built-in circuit breaker which simply protects the power strip from overcurrent, the same as a circuit breaker.

Surge suppressors, OTOH, do have electronic protection. They're main purpose is to minimize or better yet, to eliminate damage cause by a voltage spike. Inherent in their design are components that can absorb home automation signals. Some, usually more costly surge suppressors deliver cleaner line power, too. Yet others do not affect home automation signaling. But they all protect against spikes.

You are correct, whole house surge suppressors do not adversely affect home automation signals.

And then there are line conditioners

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Edited by - stusviews on 01/31/2018 6:53:19 PM
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westom
Starting Member

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Posted - 01/31/2018 :  7:26:38 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stusviews

Power strips have no filtering nor protection. They are merely power distributors, the same as an extension cord. ... Surge suppressors, OTOH, do have electronic protection. They're main purpose is to minimize or better yet, to eliminate damage cause by a voltage spike.


Cited are myths promoted by advertising, hearsay, speculation, and subjective reasoning - no numbers. Reality follows:

Power strips exist with and without protector parts. Discussed were power strips that claim to be surge protectors.

Second, fuses do nothing for protection. As usual, the statement is then followed with numbers. No numbers justify that mythical 'circuit breaker' protection assumption.

Potentially destructive transients are done in microseconds. Fuses and circuit breakers take tens of milliseconds or even minutes to trip (time numbers vary with other numbers). Over 300 consecutive and destructive transients could pass through a circuit breaker before it even thought about tripping.

One should have known those numbers before posting. More numbers. How does a millimeters gap in a breaker stop what three miles of sky cannot? Please learn that subjective reasoning is akin to a scam.

Moving on. Third, no surge protector does or even claims to provide cleaner power. Worse (and we engineers literally traced the resulting damage path), an adjacent protector can compromise what is routinely superior and robust protection inside electronics.

Four. Yes, a plug-in surge protector also has high capacitance - subverting power line signals. A completely different device (called a surge protector) located at the service entrance typically does not do that. Which is why a Leviton device (and other equivalent devices from companies of integrity) are recommended.

Five, line conditioners come in many varieties. Even knots tied in wires inside a fancy box can sell as a line conditioner. Will it degrade a signal. As always required, spec numbers must be posted. Otherwise wild speculation becomes a recommendation.

Line conditioners, power strip protectors, and series mode filters do not even claim to protect from potentially destructive transients. They do make that claim in color glossy sales brochures - where lying is legal. Valid claims are only found in specification numbers.

Effective solutions always answer this question. Where are hundreds of thousands of joules harmlessly absorbed? Any recommendation that does not answer that question (that means with numbers) is probably a scam. Virtually every plug-in protector does not and cannot answer that question.

So, first get powerline communication working by opening every circuit breaker not involved with that communication. Once that good condition is established, then restore connections (restore circuit breakers) to determine which circuits are subverting communication.

Collecting facts this way is always essential long before even considering any solution. Facts are always collected long before making any conclusion. A shortage of necessary facts currently exist.
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stusviews
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USA
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Posted - 01/31/2018 :  7:55:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
That's absolutely incorrect nor have you provided and facts nor figures.

I'll stick with one simple item, a power strip.

From Wikipedia: A power strip (also known as an extension block, power board, power bar, plug board, trailing gang, trailing socket, plug bar, trailer lead, multi-socket, multi-box, multiple socket, multiple outlet, polysocket and by many other variations) is a block of electrical sockets that attaches to the end of a flexible cable (typically with a mains plug on the other end), allowing multiple electrical devices to be powered from a single electrical socket.

From Tripp Lite:
What is a Power Strip?

A Power Strip is a block of electrical outlets that distribute AC power to electrical devices such as computers, audio/video equipment, appliances, power tools and lighting. Several housing styles are available, including strip, rack-mount, under-monitor and direct plug-in.

From Leviton:
20 Amp (16 Amp Max Continuous Load) 125VAC, Medical Grade Power Strip With 6 NEMA 5-20R Outlets With Locking Covers, 15-FT Power Cord

None of these mention surge protection. They are meant just to deliver power, nothing more.

If someone wants/needs surge protection, then they need to specify such. That's not the function of a power strip/

I won't bother with a whole list as you seem to have made up your mind. I have researched the fiend thoroughly as it's part of my business which includes simple power strips, quality surge suppressors, line conditioners, whole house suppressors and even USBs.

Edit: Maybe I'm naive, but I tend to believe APC, Tripp Lite, Leviton, Cyber Power and a whole host or reputable manufacturers of surge protection devices.

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Edited by - stusviews on 02/01/2018 12:20:33 AM
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westom
Starting Member

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Posted - 02/01/2018 :  06:59:22 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stusviews

That's absolutely incorrect nor have you provided and facts nor figures.


Why do you only want to argue. Only defined in that irrelevant arguing are are power strips without protector parts. Also existing are protectors with protector parts. Also called plug-in protector, point of use protector, power strip protector, SPD, TVSS, or surge protector.

A power strip without protector parts should have a UL 1363 listing that defines protection of human life. A power strip with protectors parts should have a UL 1449 listing to also define protection of human life. Different UL numbers for different types of power strips.

Power strip protectors have a joules number in its numeric specifications. This is typically hundreds or thousand. Power strip without protector parts define no joules in its numeric specs.

With or without protector parts, that power strip should also have a circuit breaker to protect human life after an electrical fault has occurred.

Unfortunately, adjacent (plug-in) protectors can also compromise what is superior protection inside electronic appliances. And also create another problem recent described and pictures in:
https://www.reddit.com/r/HomeImprovement/comments/7oxmpn/quick_question_regarding_electrical_house_almost/

All is irrelevant to the OP's problem. Power strip without protector parts do not create power line communication problems. Power strip with protector parts (also called a surge protector) create those problems due to high capacitance of protector parts.

Edited by - westom on 02/01/2018 07:02:47 AM
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stusviews
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USA
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Posted - 02/01/2018 :  1:14:06 PM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I don't want to argue at all, only clear misconceptions.

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westom
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Posted - 02/01/2018 :  3:26:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stusviews

I don't want to argue at all, only clear misconceptions.


Some power strips are not protectors. Some power strips are surge protectors. Some of those protectors have filtering - to make a surge created fire a little more difficult.

That filter would do nothing to eliminate noise to appliances. But it can also be detrimental to power line signaling. Just another reason why best is to eliminate all plug-in protectors to first get a good power line signal connection.

If a power strip has a UL1449 listing, then it is a surge protector. If it has a UL1363 listing, then it is probably a power strip without protectors. If it does not have either, then suspect it is a threat to human life.

Its circuit breaker is strongly recommended to protect human life. It does not protect hardware or keep power strip protector parts from creating a fire.

Edited by - westom on 02/01/2018 3:30:15 PM
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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2018 :  3:27:10 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I did not really intend triggering the posts above. I tried to make it clear what devices I am using. Didn't work. In reference to an "I'm an EE" comment I think is somewhere above. ME too. Things I have tried to clarify:

I am completely aware of what the distribution devices I am using on the various power circuits do. Every single one is a surge protector, as I stated, regardless of your opinions. Some may also have signal sucking filters. With the exception of the "Filter Links", which I have said I have between the "whatever you think they are's" and a power outlet to provided some noise isolation. The function they are made for. And I understand circuit protection breakers.

I know 240 VAC lines are a single phase circuit, presented as 2 120 VAC legs. I have tried "leg transfer" with Insteon bridges at the panel. No useful results.

I know RF (in this case) is not sent over the power lines. I know what RF is.

Going though the house and unplugging everything that may cause a problem is not really an option I find acceptable (possibly necessary; but not acceptable).

I believe I need two things to make a useful attempt to find problems. And some of these may simply be a crapped out Insteon device (I have found several).

I need a device to measure the amplitude (level above noise, etc.)of the power line signal. Something I can plug into a nearby outlet and see how things are working. Can the old X10 troubleshooting devices work satisfactory with the Insteon signals? I understand the frequencies are fairly close; but do the devices work usefully with Insteon frequencies.

I need a device to measure signal strength of the RF levels around an individual Insteon device. So far, the best option seems to be an application on an Android phone to do a spectrum analysis. I don't have an active cell phone; but I can. The cell phone, with a simple inexpensive external hardware antenna/amp/sensing device on a USB port, can do the necessary signal strength measurements.

Sticking to the questions asked (or an extended interface viewpoint), what suggestions for implementation do you have? Interpreting Insteon code could be useful in a device being used to track signals. Any further suggestions/insights to this approach.

Any input to this are gladly accepted. There are a whole bunch of experts out there. I am not one of them.

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oberkc
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USA
3649 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2018 :  04:28:08 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I am unaware of any off-the-shelf device that measures insteon signal strength. I suppose an oscilloscope could be used to look at a waveform (and I believe some have done that around here).

I also second the question from BLH post (if you responded, I missed it): have you tried the communication test?

I would not discount the possibility that the surge suppressors (or ups, if any) could be causing some of your problems. Personally, I would temporarily remove all of them not on a filterlinc and see if that helps.

Are you using some type of controller or hub? Could the problem be associated with electronic devices surround it?

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BLH
Advanced Member

5669 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2018 :  06:28:37 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The discontinued ELK ESM-1 will show a bar graph of the Insteon signals.

The JV Digital Engineering's XTBM also shows the Insteon signals and show an "I" indicating it thought it is an Insteon command.

Both will also show noise around the 120KHz frequency.

They are not that sharply tuned. So both noise and the Insteon 131.65HKz signals can be displayed.

Since the Insteon system is dual mesh. Where each module sends the signals back on the power lines. Hard to see the original signal. You may see the closest module sending the commands back on the power lines.

I have tried a Seeed Studio RF Explorer fairly low cost RF spectrum analyzer. To look at the relative strength of an Insteon RF signal.
With mixed results.

The RF signals from the Switches can be effected by what they are mounted in. Metal boxes will shorten the distance. Also their RF antenna is on the rear side of the module. So that can also effect the RF distance.


Edited by - BLH on 02/15/2018 06:53:08 AM
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westom
Starting Member

11 Posts

Posted - 02/15/2018 :  06:56:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alternety
I need a device to measure signal strength of the RF levels around an individual Insteon device. So far, the best option seems to be an application on an Android phone to do a spectrum analysis.


Software cannot do anything without hardware. Amazing that some think software alone can do things. Obviously, a cell phone cannot measure 120Khz. And has no hardware to measure power lines. Software can only talk to hardware. First hardware must exist. It obviously does not inside an Android.

Power lines would have many millions of frequencies. Which one is relevant? A spectrum analyzer must be $thousands of hardware to isolate that one frequency from all others.

So again, only option was clearly defined in a previous post (with reasons why and what every layman needs to know to do it).
quote:
So, first get powerline communication working by opening every circuit breaker not involved with that communication. Once that good condition is established, then restore connections (restore circuit breakers) to determine which circuits are subverting communication.

As BLH said,
quote:
You may want to try unplugging some electronics then seeing if anything has changed.
But do not only unplug some things. Disconnect everything not needed for communication - even clocks. Obviously if that does not get communication working, then stop trying; go buy something else.

Or spend $thousands for a spectrum analyzer.

Edited by - westom on 02/15/2018 06:57:53 AM
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alternety
Junior Member

USA
56 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2018 :  12:09:17 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
westom - please try to follow along. I don't want to get nasty here, but I have had enough. You really ought to do some serious and extensive reading before you post crap. There is the signal on the power line AND there are signals on RF (which is not a part of the power line transmissions - this is why it is called RF {radio frequency})

An android based phone with a < $20 add-on will work as a spectrum analyzer (For, wait for it - RF). And that is probably what I am going to do to track the RF part of things.

Since there may be more than one problem point, the idea of disconnecting things will only work fairly well is if everything is removed first and brought online individually. Otherwise you may not be able to reasonably discern which device is really the problem. Multiple devices can be concurrently causing issues. I am not going to disconnect literally hundreds of devices and add them back one at a time to find the problem. IF that is the only recourse, I may toss everything out and buy a more reliable system. Insteon is expensive, fails with power surges every other device in the house survives, does not play well with LED lights, generates too much heat just sitting in the wall doing nothing, and prices getting a bezel of the required color at a ridiculous amount (and only makes bright white switches). And I spent a very significant amount of money originally buying a lot of devices advertised as dual band; that weren't. You have to keep buying PLM every year or two because of crap parts. My patience with the whole mess is running out. I like the system - if it just was reliable. I can't trust it. This brings back the hit or miss X10 systems (which I started with).

Thanks BLH. I am going to look around for some of those old devices. I have seen some on ebay. I understand the issues with bunches of dual band devices in figuring out the sending device. But I think it is workable. You are really trying to find the field for individual devices. If I can make each RF one do something repeatedly I stand a change of mapping coverage.Even with others repeating. I have to try it to know. For power line,if the detectors can see enough noise I may be able to track down problem items. My boxes are all plastic. Putting the antenna in the back seems like a rather stupid design choice. There is still a whole bunch of assorted copper up against the back of the box. My wife has endured much and is running seriously short on patients. She wants me to tear everything out and trash it. Put in normal switches.
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westom
Starting Member

11 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2018 :  08:27:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alternety
An android based phone with a < $20 add-on will work as a spectrum analyzer (For, wait for it - RF). And that is probably what I am going to do to track the RF part of things.

So the Android has hardware for sub-AM radio frequencies? Since it is so easy and cheap, then so many have been recommended. None recommended because necessary hardware inside an Android does not exist.

Since so emotional, then this is for others who would learn. Two have suggested a best solution. Disconnect everything unnecessary to make communication work (ie trip off all unnecessary circuit breakers). Once that communication works, then reset(connect) items until communication is lost again. That takes probably less time than it took to post a meltdown. Read what was written. Just trip all unnecessary circuit breakers. It may only take a few minutes.

If everything else is disconnected and it still does not work, then pay attention to a wife who has also lost patience with obstinateness. Go to a wired solution. Or investigate repeaters that use mesh networking.

Edited by - westom on 02/16/2018 08:29:48 AM
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lilyoyo1
Senior Member

209 Posts

Posted - 02/16/2018 :  10:33:58 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by alternety

westom - please try to follow along. I don't want to get nasty here, but I have had enough. You really ought to do some serious and extensive reading before you post crap. There is the signal on the power line AND there are signals on RF (which is not a part of the power line transmissions - this is why it is called RF {radio frequency})

An android based phone with a < $20 add-on will work as a spectrum analyzer (For, wait for it - RF). And that is probably what I am going to do to track the RF part of things.

Since there may be more than one problem point, the idea of disconnecting things will only work fairly well is if everything is removed first and brought online individually. Otherwise you may not be able to reasonably discern which device is really the problem. Multiple devices can be concurrently causing issues. I am not going to disconnect literally hundreds of devices and add them back one at a time to find the problem. IF that is the only recourse, I may toss everything out and buy a more reliable system. Insteon is expensive, fails with power surges every other device in the house survives, does not play well with LED lights, generates too much heat just sitting in the wall doing nothing, and prices getting a bezel of the required color at a ridiculous amount (and only makes bright white switches). And I spent a very significant amount of money originally buying a lot of devices advertised as dual band; that weren't. You have to keep buying PLM every year or two because of crap parts. My patience with the whole mess is running out. I like the system - if it just was reliable. I can't trust it. This brings back the hit or miss X10 systems (which I started with).

Thanks BLH. I am going to look around for some of those old devices. I have seen some on ebay. I understand the issues with bunches of dual band devices in figuring out the sending device. But I think it is workable. You are really trying to find the field for individual devices. If I can make each RF one do something repeatedly I stand a change of mapping coverage.Even with others repeating. I have to try it to know. For power line,if the detectors can see enough noise I may be able to track down problem items. My boxes are all plastic. Putting the antenna in the back seems like a rather stupid design choice. There is still a whole bunch of assorted copper up against the back of the box. My wife has endured much and is running seriously short on patients. She wants me to tear everything out and trash it. Put in normal switches.



Instead of getting snippy with those trying to help, maybe you should step back and listen to those with more experience. Personally, I have over 100 devices and have seen insteon installs with more than that without the issues you are having. Those installs were done to weed out potential issues. With that said, do you really think a 20 dollar device that connects to your phone (if one really worked)will provide enough information to troubleshoot your system?

Stusviews recommendation of unplugging devices in your home was made for a specific reason. The powerline and rf are timed to the zero crossing to avoid collisions. The powerline signal also travels farther and faster than rf so if you fix that, you've made your system that much better. More than likely there's a culprit spitting out a lot of noise on your powerline and once found and corrected, your reliability will be there. Arguing and looking for short cuts will not help you troubleshoot anything. Especially when the 1 surefire recommendation you refuse to do.

Lets say your tool does work. You do realize insteons repeating happens faster than you could ever react to know something came specifically from that device. Before your meter could start to register something,other devices have already started repeating (if not acknowledging) by then. At Insteon, devices are tested 1 at a time in shielded rooms using spectrum analyzers. The time and money you spend doing your way will result in more time and frustration and still wont allow you to solve your issues.

Where did you get your devices from and what did you receive that was single band and not dual band? Depending on what devices you have and age, they may not play well with LEDS were not prevalent like they are today. With that said, this is a problem that plagues all dimmer manufactures. Some work better than others (generally the best ones are made specifically for LEDS). Even the bulbs themselves matter. Unfortunately LEDs are electronically driven. Just like everything else, quality of parts matter greatly.As I stated earlier, this isnt an insteon issue. This is an industry issue in general. Newer LEDs by Phillips, Feit, Cree, and others work really well with Insteon.

If you are in an area with a lot of surges, investing in a whole house surge protector will work wonders for your system. I have 1 at my panel and 1 on my meter (im not getting into the grounding system as your house is already built). Just like people take the time to put their tvs and stereos on surge protectors, I feel you should do the same with your switches. Due to the sheer size of tvs and other electronics, they have the space for larger capacitors as well as larger filters. This can help standard house electronics withstand changes in power much better. This is coupled with the fact that most standard electronics have some type of transformer which also helps. An insteon switch (automation switch in general) doesnt have as much protection regardless of spin.

Another thing about heat. I would ensure that you are not overloading your switches. If they are side by side they need to be derated.
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