The WGL All Housecode Transceiver V572RF32
Author: Bobby Green
The V572RF32 is the brainchild of Warren Lohoff, a San Antonio electronics engineer and home automation expert and head of WGL Associates.
It is their flagship transceiver, and receives all 16 housecodes of X-10 RF instead of the very limited single housecode modules like the TM751 and RR501. The V572RF32 has some other tricks up its sleeve as well not shared by its less expensive sibling, the V572RF. The incoming RF signals can be filtered by an optional user defined list of allowed house and unit codes. If your neighbor uses X-10, you can just “tune out” any of the offending housecodes.
Folks who had trouble getting their X-10 keyfob to turn on the lights even when they were standing at the front door now find the X-10 signal can get through from several houses away.
In the previous issue, I wrote about improving X-10 powerline signal reliability using Jeff Volp’s X-10 signal level boosters, the XTBs. This month I am going to tell you about a similarly magical device that does for X-10 radio controlled devices what the XTB does for powerline controlled devices. It’s the newest All Housecode Transceiver (AHT) from WGL, the V572RF32.
This tiny powerhouse, weighing in at a bantamweight 3.3 ounces, is no larger than a pack of cigarettes but runs rings around its larger rivals. The V572RF32 is the brainchild of Warren Lohoff, a San Antonio electronics engineer and home automation expert and head of WGL Associates. The V572RF32 is their flagship transceiver, and receives all 16 housecodes of X-10 RF instead of the very limited single housecode modules like the TM751 and RR501. The V572RF32 has some other tricks up its sleeve as well not shared by its less expensive sibling, the V572RF. The incoming RF signals can be filtered by an optional user defined list of allowed house and unit codes. If your neighbor uses X-10, you can just “tune out” any of the offending housecodes. [See Screen Shot 1]
Not only can it hear all 256 normal X-10 RF codes and put them on the powerline, it can also receive and take programmed action on 32 of the additional X-10 security codes. The 32 bit RF data from X10 devices like the DS10A and MS10A PIR detectors can be mapped to any regular X10 address the user can select one of four actions to be taken [See screen shot 2] and transmitted over the power line. Filters and linked actions are programmed by briefly connecting the unit to a PC serial port with the supplied cable and then running a simple configuration program. The settings are retained even when power is lost.
Even though X-10 has finally gotten the message and released an AHT themselves, they once again failed to get it ALL right. The CM15A, judging from net reports, is afflicted with the same limited range problems as its older siblings. Enter Warren’s device. While the V572RF32s filtering and security capabilities are impressive, they pale in comparison to the feature that just blows the doors off the competition: the V572RF32’s immense sensitivity. As soon as I had plugged it all in I realized I now had an incredible reception range that proved unmatched by any of the many X-10 RF transceivers I have tested.
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Folks who had trouble getting their X-10 keyfob to turn on the lights even when they were standing at the front door now find the X-10 signal can get through from several houses away. While the WGL’s V572RF32 can “hear” with incredible sensitivity, it still must communicate the RF signals it receives to the power line. Warren’s unit corrects a severe “location” limitation imposed by most other AHTs. The V572RF32 can be bought for under $100 “stripped down” or slightly more for a kit with a detachable powerline interface, power supply and antenna. These detachable components provide far greater flexibility in device placement. The powerline interface (normally a PCSO5) and the unit’s weatherproof antenna can be located some distance from the transceiver itself. With most AHTs (including the newest CM15A and Leviton’s all house-code device, the Leviton Decora HCPRF) if you want to mount the antenna high up for better coverage, you’ll need something like an outlet on the ceiling to plug in the transceiver. I ended up with a TM751 mounted (well, lying, really) on the top of a tall bookcase plugged into an extension cord running down the back of the bookcase. Not very elegant.
People who were unable to get their X-10 RF devices like HawkEye Motion Sensor (MS13A) and wall switches to work for more than a dozen feet like me report incredible range boosts. I can now activate my X-10 lights with a SlimFire Keychain Remote KR19A. One of the reasons the V572 shines, reception-wise, in comparison to its X-10 counterparts is that it comes with a quarter-wave whip antenna and a length of coax cable. This usually enables the user to mount the aerial in a more centralized location than single house code transceivers. The high performance aerial in addition to the greatly improved receiver design leads most users report at least a doubling of the range provided by stock X-10 gear and in some cases, much, much more:
Also check out Google’s info on the poor RF reception range of the CM15A:
to see why so many people have switched to the WGL device.
Warren, when asked why his AHT gets such better reception, says that “the principal difference is X10 has low cost as the highest priority while WGL has best performance as its top item.”
Unfortunately, memory limitations mean that not all security codes (low battery signals, for instance) can be recognized. Also, filters for housecodes can only be set in groups of eight units. There’s also no support for extended X10 codes for those of you who might need that capability but that’s more a limitation of the TW523 powerline interface device..
I am quite happy to report that upon finding a problem using the V572RF32 with some ancient 25 year old X-10 gear like my belt clip transmitter, Warren worked diligently to provide a solution and returned my unit with the new program fixes in short order. X-10 has known about the problem for some time with its older transmitters and wireless switches, but never quite got around to resolving it. Their solution was to place a warning in with the instructions that said certain switches and transmitters would not be able to receive or transmit on unit banks 5-9 and 13-16. Hats off to Warren for again succeeding where X-10 has failed.
The V572RF32 can use a number of different powerline interfaces (TW523, PSC05, Smarthome’s Powerlincs or Jeff Volp’s incredible XTB series of X-10 amplifiers) to couple to the powerline.
If you have a dedicated computer you can use for home automation control, then you should look at using the W800RF32 receiver. Warren’s set up a comparison chart here to help you determine which one is best for you.
WGL has also developed a three phase, 433.92 mhz version of the V572A, for use with most X10 RF transmitters sold outside of the U.S. and Canada. It requires the user to furnish a 9 to 20 VDC 50ma or greater power supply and a 220V version of a powerline interface like the XM10 or Jeff Volp’s 50Hz custom versions of the XTB. These products are available in Europe from IntelliHome and in Australia from Smarthome AU.
You can also order the device from Smarthome packaged with their version of an X-10 powerline interface, the Powerlinc II as item 4831K.
To contact Warren for further information: