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Home Automation - a quick introduction

If you've read my dream you may well think that it's all pie in the sky. Not so. Many of the tools and equipment required to achieve at least some of the goals in that section are available today.

Let's start at the top. How can you have control over your lights? There are options such as CeBus and Lonworks but these are quite expensive and require either rewiring your house or adding extra cabling. What you really want is something relatively cheap that doesn't require you to rewire your house. This is where X10 comes in. X10 uses your existing house electrical wiring to transmit signals to and from devices to allow control.

A brief history of X10

X10 Power Line Carrier (PLC) technology was invented and patented in the late 1970s by an engineering firm named PICO Electronics, headquarted in the UK. The PICO engineers subsequently relocated to Hicksville, New York and continued with their efforts to develop a method of remote control of "record players" using existing electrical power lines to send the control signals. They had already tried and abandoned 9 different experiments and were working on Experiment 10 when they had their breakthrough, hence the term X10, which has been used to describe the signaling technique. The X10 team subsequently named their new home automation company X10, and relocated to Closter, New Jersey. The X10 signaling method opened up a whole new world of remotely controlling almost anything plugged into the electrical power line, without adding any control wiring. This was the beginning of affordable home automation. X10 has produced millions of X10 automation products and is currently the worlds largest producer of home automation products. Basically, the X10 power line signaling technique consists of superimposing and transmitting a 120khz coded signal on the 60hz electrical power line. Using X10 transmitting device(s), the signal is sent over the power line to X10 receiving device(s) which are programmed with the same House and Unit code. There are 256 different standard X10 codes available (16 House codes: A through P, and 16 Unit codes: 1-16).

Err I didn't understand that

Don't worry, it's very simple. You plug a module into the wall, then plug the device you want to control into the module. ... more soon ..