X-10 (the company) is market driven. We sell products not protocols, so until recently we have not really done anything with the inherent capability that our protocol has.

We have never really seen much demand for 2-way modules. Sure engineers ask for them, but in the past consumers have never really seen enough benefit to justify the increase in price. We have had 2-way built-in to the RR501 module since 1984 but no one ever took advantage of it. This is probably in part due to there not being any controllers available that could easily display the information received back from 2-way modules.

However, last year we introduced the CM11A two-way computer interface. It is sold as part of a 6 piece kit (CK11A) and has the capability of initiating macros when an X-10 code is received from any controller. We feel this is the real benefit to 2-way (rather than just knowing that a light has turned on). However, now that we have a 2-way interface and a good way (via the PC monitor) of displaying information received from the power line, it makes more sense to have 2-way modules.

Therefore we introduced three 2-way modules: a 2 pin and 3 pin appliance module (AM14A and AM15A) and a lamp module (LM14A). These 2-way modules are the first in a new generation of X-10 products. These modules report their status back to the CM11A when turned on or off. The lamp module even reports it brightness level. The LM14A also has “soft start” and so ramps up and down slowly when turned on and off. It also has “memory dim” and ramps slowly on to its previous brightness level.

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It is perhaps a little known fact that the X-10 protocol has, since day one, included the capability of being expanded. The “basic” protocol includes 256 codes (16 housecodes x 16 units codes) and includes 16 functions (on, off, bright, dim, etc). However one of these 16 function codes basically means “when you receive this code, there’s more code coming.” These are X-10ded™ codes and are used to provide features such as preset dim in the LM14A.

The 2-way modules also incorporate auto-discovery to provide plug ‘n play when used with the CM11A. When you plug in a 2-way module for the first time it reports it presence to the computer interface (using X-tended codes). It reports its house code and unit code and tells the user through the software GUI what code to assign in the GUI (this can also be auto-configured).

The CM11A can also reconfigure the 2-way modules, for example they can be re-configured to either report their status automatically whenever the state changes, or to only report their status when polled. This re-configuration is done using X-10ded codes.

These 2-way modules also incorporate the latest in AGC technology (Automatic Gain Control) and therefore operate in harsh noisy environments that was previously not possible. With plug ‘n play, auto-discovery, automatic code assignment, X-10ded codes, and AGC they are the first in a new generation of X-10 products.

Although not yet implemented in the shipping 2-way modules, the new X-10 protocol also includes features and capabilities that we have incorporated into other products and systems we have developed, and shipped, including load shedding, automatic meter reading (AMR), Demand Side Management (DSM) and Time Of Use (TOU) metering. For these systems we have expanded the codes beyond 256 to 65,000 codes (and this can be expanded further). We have incorporated analog data transmission after A to D conversion. We have included encryption for secure addressing. We have incorporated hailing to reassign codes if other X-10 systems are discovered within the same distribution system (i.e. on the same pole transformer); although X-10 (the company) believes that this is not a genuine user problem as our 200A blocking filter eliminates cross-talk between homes on the same transformer.

X-10 (the company) also has an extensive IR code library (we manufacture over 1 million IR universal remotes every month!). We have incorporated this IR library into our next generation computer interface (CM14A). This, together with our RF capabilities lets you set up macros that are initiated by any X-10 PLC or RF controller. These macros can control all AC operated equipment in the home as well as control all IR operated A/V equipment. A single key press (or timed event) can initiate a macro that turns on the family room lights softly to a preset level; turns on the Home Theatre System, tunes the TV to the correct channel, selects a DVD movie, plays the selection of your choice, at the volume to specified; and does all this with no wires, with plug-in installation and without the need for any IR standard or BUS (it works with ALL existing IR controlled A/V products). It even has IR learning capability for any obscure IR codes that might not be in the X-10 IR library.

And our 2.4 GHz capabilities can be seen in our Big Picture™ System (now shipping). This lets you take the sound and picture from a PC, a DSS, or a DVD player, etc., and transmit it to your big screen TV (whether from a stand-alone DVD player, DSS, etc., or from a DVD player built into a PC). Again this works with ALL existing PCs and A/V equipment and does not require any new standards or protocols.

The next generation of X-10 products truly brings together Home Automation, Home Security, and Home Entertainment products without the need for any new wiring, or new standards.

Dave Rye

Vice President/Technical Manager, X-10 (USA) Inc.