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X-10
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What is X-10?

The X10 is a standardized home automation protocol (any manufacturer can develop products based on this technology), which uses the existing electricity network in a house for the transmission of commands (on/ off, increase/ decrease brightness, etc...).
Its low cost, ease of use and variety of equipment have made the X10 the most known home automation protocol in the world, with greater expression in the North American market.

The X-10 technology uses the distribution network of electrical power as the main means of communication among the different devices. This is a key aspect of this technology and its major advantage when compared to other home automation protocols. This technology uses a decentralized architecture, not requiring any central element to function.

An X-10 system can be simply made up of a set of devices that are directly controlled by the user. For example, via a remote control RF (radio-frequency), one may send a command to the X10/RF receiver, which is transmitted through the electricity network to an X-10 actuator, which, in turn, operates the device.

X-10 operation

Since each module can receive all signals circulating in the electricity network, the system must be able to address each message. To solve this problem the X-10 protocol implemented a simple addressing system that uses 16 home codes (using the letters from A to P) and 16 device codes (1 to 16), allowing to address 16x16 = 256 devices without ambiguity.

X10 AddressingThe assignment of addresses to the various X-10 devices is done manually on the devices by operating on two rotary selector switches. On one of them we select the code of the house and on the other the code of the device. The user ensures that there are no devices with repeated addresses. If there are two or more devices with the same address, both of them respond to the commands sent.

This limitation does not imply that only 256 devices can be used in an X-10 network, since there may be several modules using the same address. In this case, a signal sent to that address will be read and executed by all modules configured to that address.

Apart from direct operating systems it is possible to design more complex systems using X-10 specific controllers. These controllers enable, through an interface RS232 (serial), the communication with a PC from where they receive, for example, hourly schedules to connect or disconnect devices and sets of actions to be triggered in certain circumstances. The PC can be only used in the controller’s programming, because to create of a simple set of actions the controller can operate independently, switching on and off devices according to the defined hourly schedules and triggering multiple actions by simply pressing a key.

Currently, there are several X-10 equipments that allow the integration with a variety of applications, namely with central heating systems (SM10E) and with electronic equipment that receive infrared signals (S3011 – Converter X10-IR).

In order to facilitate the development of new products based on the X-10 protocol two PLC interfaces were developed which allow any manufacturer to include an x-10 communication module in their products. This solution allowed the emergence of various equipments (alarm consoles, electrical appliances, etc.) which are compatible with the X-10 system.

As an example of security systems compatible with the X-10 system we have HomeProtector and PowerMax, by Visonic. The IP communicator of Jablotron systems is compatible with the VisãoWeb application, which remotely allows, through any mobile phone, PDA, computer or even television, the control of all X-10 equipment.

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