XTension Logo

Home | How to order | Download Page | Home Automation | Ideas | Sand Hill | Links | Mail List

Problems seem to be with the interface ?

These procedures assume that you have gone through the
first troubleshooting page
, and still have problems.

The kind of problem you could experience next, is that the X-10 interface is not responding, or perhaps it cannot issue or receive X-10 commands :

If you have no problem issuing commands sometimes but not always, then you may yet have a cable problem, or you may have a signal propagation problem with your home wiring.

If you always get an error when you try to issue a command, then your X-10 interface may be the problem :

ERROR on Every X-10 command

If your interface is the CP290, and you do not have a cable problem, it is most likely that you have a dead interface and it should be replaced. Do make sure that the power is on...

If your interface is the LynX, you should make sure that both the TW523 and its cable are ok before deciding that the LynX is at fault. The LynX is very reliable, and has had few problems, and is never 'flakey'.

The only known thing that ever goes wrong with the LynX and XTension is that is very rare cases, the LynX reverts to its default dimming mode which is different from that expected by XTension.

If you use a LynX and your scripts cannot dim lamps properly (Lamps go up and down maybe several times ), then just quit XTension and restart (not the Mac). XTension will remember to reset the dimming mode of the LynX.

Should this not correct the dimming problem, then take the XTension Prefs out of the System Folder (preferences), and restart XTension.

This is the only known 'funny' about XTension and the LynX, and it is extremely rare.

Home Intelligence Corp. "Two-Way"
This device sometimes 'falls asleep' like the CM11, and likewise, needs to be physically unplugged and it will 'revive' unless it is really 'dead'. Try a few times, without restarting your Mac, and without restarting XTension. Just pull out the serial cable, and replace it, then try to send a command. There are no other known problems with this interface.

CM11 All versions
X-10 CM11, also known as Activehome,
IBM's, Home Director (CM10),
and Plug and Power Computer Interface

Please note that the new HD11 now being offered with IBM's Home Director system is
supposed to fix the following problem. As of this date, there is no data either way.

This interface is the most notorious for 'falling asleep', but it can be very reliable if you understand some of its 'quirks' :

ERROR #35 on Every X-10 command

This can happen whenever you 'install' the CM11, for the first time, and whenever you choose to move it to another location or Macintosh.

It may appear to be dead on arrival
or it 'dies' after a long period of good behavior
or it fails to work after being moved.

This can be most aggravating, especially when you think that you understand, but still it seems to insist upon staying in it's 'comatose' mode.

How to revive a CM11

Without going into a technical description of just what is wrong, this will seem like Voodoo.

If your CM11 failed while in operation, then it is possible that you can wake it up with any command from a wireless remote or a bedside controller.

Sometimes this is enough to wake up the CM11, but not always. If XTension still can't send commands, then you must go to the next step :

If you do not follow these steps precisely,
you will think that you've been 'cursed'.

Unplug the CM11 from the wall socket
Remove batteries ( should not be present )
Unplug the serial port cable
Leave the CM11 disconnected for at least 15 minutes
ONLY AFTER this period :
Plug the CM11 into the wall socket
Then re-connect the serial port cable
Now try to send a command with XTension
If you still get Error #35, then repeat the procedure, wait longer.
Some units may require an over-night rest.

If you have followed the procedure, and even an overnight's rest does not revive the CM11, then it is possible that it is 'dead'. But...

If you just received the unit, and you have never seen it work correctly, then it is most likely 'dead'.

If you have been using the unit successfully, and now it just doesn't seem to be responding to the voodoo, then it is possible that it is 'dead', but this is very unlikely.

The record shows that in the most exasperating cases, it is usually a failure to follow the instructions completely. The most exasperated users have sent the unit to Sand Hill via overnight FedEx, and magically, it works right out of the box.

It matters that the CM11 is plugged in to the wall socket before the serial cable is re-connected.

How to avoid this problem !

The CM11 insists that it get respect
so when installing or moving it, always follow the above 'steps'.

"OK, but my CM11 just croaked in the middle of the night..."

The CM11 does not like to be 'ignored'.
It must be occasionally 'stroked' to keep it alive.

Now this is certainly voodoo, but it's easier to convey the idea.

More completely, the CM11 needs to 'see' any X-10 command from the power line or it will 'fall asleep'. It may take as little as an hour, or as long as a day, but unless it receives some X-10 command soon, it will fail.

What we have found, is that those users who report NO problems with their CM11, are also those who have the largest systems, and several motion sensors.

Outdoor motion sensors, and those which detect occupants moving in the bathroom at night, are just the things that keep the CM11 happy and alert !

If you have an old CP290 around, or even the X-10 "Mini-Timer" :

Program the CP290 or the Mini-Timer to issue periodic commands.

With the CP290, you could send one every half hour or so, but the Mini-Timer can issue only 8 commands per day, or one every 3 hours. This may be sufficient to keep the CM11 happy, and requires no computer to program it.

Not only is this a good thing for the CM11, it is also a good 'health-check' for your whole system !

By seeing these commands occur, scripts in XTension can know that things are 'ok'. Failing to see any of these commands for some time, would be a good indicator that something is wrong with your power lines ! The Mini-Timer costs less than $25 ....good insurance ?

Things still just don't work !

Try writing down what you've done and specifically the error messages. Often just making yourself revisit the sequence, is enough to help you see where you went astray.

If not, send us
email with the sequence and messages, and we'll try to help understand whether the situation is truly hopeless...

Don't forget that you can select the text in the Log Window and copy it.
Paste it into your responses to us !

If you think that it's just something that you know that you are missing but just can't take it any longer, then please call 407-349-5960. We can usually help.

Back to Home Page
Soft Problems
Other Problems

Copyright 2007, Sand Hill Engineering Inc. All rights reserved.

Mac Made

Last modified: July 1, 2007
Michael Ferguson, webmaster@shed.com