Initial Setup Frustrations

cabinetmaker
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Initial Setup Frustrations

Postby cabinetmaker » Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:15 am

I'm not sure where to post this, but this seems as good a place as any.

I'm a hobbiest at best, so my experiences may be unusual, but here is my story. I've had MainLobby/Server for about a year now. I wanted something to handle my fairly large DVD collection (about 1400 discs). I decided on Cinemar software because it seemed to be a fairly cost effective and thoroughly geeky solution. I thought it's capabilities would allow me to experiment beyond DVD handling without too much hassle. The bottom line is that I'm not a professional so certain aspects of this suite can be daunting for a "weekend warrior" like myself... even with my engineering background.

Ok so I figured I'd start small into lighting. A switch to control my kitchen lights which is adjacent to my entertainment area, and a dimmer to control a pair of lights on a piece of artwork that I'm proud of. I went with UPB because it seemed to be a completely "geeky" way to control lighting. I ordered the interface and the two switches. I got the components yesterday, and installed the 3 items within an hour. I startup UPStart, and things are going pretty well. The documentation on this stuff is pretty sparse (I'm assuming that is the generally professional aspect of these items as opposed to the typical homeowner aspect), but I get it talking to my kitchen light with no problem, but I cannot get communications started on my dimmer switch. I installed these lights myself some time ago, so I start having nightmares that my wiring is faulty. I crawl into the attic and double check all my connections. I see nothing wrong, and the switch operates fine manually. I start wondering if I have a faulty dimmer, and I switch it with my kitchen switch. Now the dimmer is seen, but the on/off switch is not so it is obvious the problem is with that particular installation. I try the company's web site, but technical support is nonexistent. Like I said, I'm a hobbiest so I'm doing this at odd hours and phone support is out. I search the internet, and find the white paper on the UPB technology. It's pretty darn fascinating technology. I think hard about how it states it sends a pulse through the power line on the trailing slope of the sine wave. It states, that the pulse is able to go through a transformer to the other phase. Now things start clicking. After throwing the breakers a dozen times trying to debug my setup, I know the two breakers are side by side, and that tells me they are on separate legs. Although the white paper says the pulse will travel through the transformer, I start to wonder if it will travel through both a delta transformer and a wye transformer. So I go into my load center and switch positions of two breakers, and sure enough that solved my problem. I don't know if it's a delta/wye problem or something else weird in my wiring, but the fact is that the communication pulse was unable to traverse to the other phase of my wiring. I suppose that this means if I want to have access to the other phase of my wiring, that I need to add another interface plugged into an outlet that is on the other leg.

I don't know if the professionals out there are snickering knowing I wasted hours trying to find out what was going on, but I thought I'd post this for anyone else that might run into a similar problem, and not know what to do.

-Alan Torrey

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psaport
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Postby psaport » Thu Dec 20, 2007 6:16 pm

Cabinetmaker,
Rather than add another controller I would look into the phase coupler. This will bridge the two phases works great.

cabinetmaker
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Postby cabinetmaker » Tue Dec 25, 2007 2:31 pm

thank you Psaport. That is helpful information. As my UPB network expands, that will be an important piece of the puzzle.

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cborod
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Postby cborod » Tue Dec 25, 2007 3:05 pm

there are various units out there that will do the job. Basically any control over power lighting system will benefit.

Personal favorite unit is the Leviton HCA02-10E - 2-Phase Coupler/Repeater, works with all powerline technologies, mounts outside the load center, has usable indicator lights AND is easy to install/use~

While you're at the load center....probably the right time to add some whole house surge suppression. At $40+ per switch, your automated house can get very expensive to fix after a power surge.
ChrisB


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