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So how does the Mac talk to your Home ?

Be sure to see our WIKI site for even more !

You will need a device that connects your Macintosh with the power lines.
This is called an 'interface' or a 'controller'.

And for all those remote controls and wireless sensors, you will want a wireless receiver.

The Powerline interface fits in like this :

Interface ?
A Mac, and a cable
to the
'Powerline interface',

...which is plugged into
a wall socket.

Please note that Sand Hill does not produce any of the interfaces.

If you have a late model Mac that has no serial ports, you can easily use the Keyspan USB to Serial interface to talk to any of these supported X-10 interfaces.

And with the new OS X version, XTension supports the native USB controllers :
the PowerLinc USB*, and the ActivehomePRO.

So what about the LynX-10 and the "Two-Way" ?

Some of the older X10 powerline interfaces like the LynX-10 and the "Two-Way" require a second device called the TW-523.

They connect to the powerline through the TW-523 like this :
A Mac, and a cable
to the
'LynX-10' or "Two-Way",

And another cable from there to the
...which is plugged into a wall socket.

Remember that these are product names, all are capable of sending and receiving X-10 signals.
Third Party ?

And then, along came Marrick's new LynX-PLC
which offers some new options
and no longer requires the TW-523

Compact, no TW-523 needed

Handles All X-10 message types

Offers the ability to change the
transmitter output level as well as
the receiver sensitivity level.

Note that in modern Macs
which have no serial ports,
you will need to use a
Keyspan USB-Serial adaptor.

And now XTension for OS X supports these interfaces
using the latest USB communications technology.

The Smarthome PowerLinc USB (1132CU)

The X10 Activehome PRO
combines wireless and powerline in one unit !

Can you help me decide which to buy ?

If you are running OSX, then the PowerLinc 1132U is definitely the cheapest solution for purely powerline operations. It does not require a USB-Serial adaptor, and currently sells for about $29.95.
(Note: it appears that the 1132U is no longer available. XTension also supports the 1132CU which is still available but costs $69.95).

However, if you also use a lot of wireless sensors, and specially want to use the X10 'security' (burglar alarm type) sensors, then you need a wireless receiver that can send these directly to XTension.

For the normal wireless signals, you would need a MR26, and a USB-Serial adaptor... a total street price of about $50.

Or use the WGL Designs W800RF32 which can handle both the normal X10 wireless signals and the 'security' types. It requires a USB-Serial adaptor...for a total street price of about $90.

Add the cost of the powerline controller, and another USB-serial adaptor, and you pay between $120 and $160 for just the hardware at the Mac end.

OR you can use the new X10 Activehome PRO, which does powerline, wireless X10 and 'security' devices all in one, and does not require a USB-serial adaptor... and sells for $50....

So, if you only want to play with the powerline side of things and don't need any wireless sensors, the PowerLinc USB for $29 is a great entry point.

And if you think you want to play with everything at once, the Activehome PRO is a hard act to beat for $50.

The only down-side of the Activehome PRO is that it is the newest and the least 'time tested' of all.

As you grow, and your system becomes more important in your life, you may find that the LynX devices are well regarded as the most stable interfaces for simply powerline functions.

But if you already have a CM11, or any of the interfaces below, there is no doubt that XTension works with all of them, as well as any software, on any platform.

New wireless receivers !!

XTension now supports the RFXcom USB WiFi and Ethernet based RF receivers.

Which bring a wonderful array of new sensors into the XTension world.

Such as the Oregon Scientific 433Mhz weather and lifestyle devices.
Which includes temperature, humidity, wind, barometer, UV levels, atomic clocks,
and even such things as bathroom scales and BBQ/Oven thermometers.
These new receivers also support the Cent-A-Meter powerline monitor.

And the RFXcom powerline monitoring and 1-wire temp/humidity sensors.

And now the KlikAanKlikUit (KaKu) and HomeEasy devices in both the UK and the EU !!

If you prefer to run your home from an older Mac,
you can use any of the following interfaces with the
Classic Version of XTension

Here's pictures of the LynX-10 and the "Two-Way"
followed by those of the CM11a and the LynX-PLC.
Following each is a simple comparison....
Please note the included picture of the TW-523.....

The LynX-10

The "Two-Way"

Most reliable in tests
against all others.

Requires wall mount
transformer and TW-523.

Most expensive in
Plug & Play versions.
($120 street)

without box or as a KIT ( $50 )..

Smallest of all. (It looks like a connector, but that's it ! )

Takes power from Mac serial port. (no wall transformer needed)
Requires the TW-523.

Stable with battery backup on Macintosh.

Mid-priced ($100 street).

Please note that some of these are available in 220V versions.

The CM11a / Activehome

The LynX-PLC

Least expensive of all
two-way controllers.
( $50 with a 'starter kit' ! )

Does not require wall mount
transformer or TW-523.

X-10 support

Does not require wall mount
transformer or TW-523.

A little pricey ($80 street price)

good XTension support

Recommendations :

If you have no problem with money, buy the LynX-10.

If you don't mind the lack of the pretty metal box,
buy the LynX-10 assembled (no box).

If you have no problem with soldering,
buy the LynX-10 KIT.

If you adventurous and think you want the 'leading edge' in X-10 controllers,
then buy the LynX-PLC

If you are middle-of-the-road, buy the CM11a. ***

And of course you'll need the appropriate version of XTension
for whichever you choose...

May be found with different 'brand names', but all are compatible with XTension :
X-10 CM11x (various letter endings, for different voltages and countries)
IBM - HD11 (they claim to have fixed the 'hang up' problem of the CM11)
Radio Shack - Plug and Play Computer Interface. Looks like the rest.

OK, where can I find this stuff ?

Back to Home Page
What was 'Two-Way'?
Where do I go?
Where to get it all

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Mac Made

Last modified: December 25, 2009
Michael Ferguson, webmaster@shed.com