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 Dual Band Switchlinc Dimmer(s) not communicating
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VodunAutomation
Starting Member

Canada
5 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  07:13:58 AM  Show Profile  Visit VodunAutomation's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello,

I haven't been able to easily find an answer to my question, so here's my first post. I have installed two Switchlinc Dimmers (Dual Band) within 5 feet of each other, with another Switchlinc Relay approximately 10 feet away. Located one floor below is my Smartlinc.

The issue I am experiencing is that I am not able to communicate to either Dimmer, while the relay works perfectly. I believe they're all on the same phase, and all contain a neutral wire. I've attempted to linc the two Dimmers as well to see if they were communicating, and nothing. The only thing I have left to try is install another Relay next to one of the dimmers as they are contained in a 3 gang box and see if it the process of elimination rules out a product issue.

With that said, does anyone have any idea what could be the issue?

oberkc
Advanced Member

USA
2374 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  09:50:09 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Without knowing certain details (such as between which devices are you experiencing communication problems and how you are attempting to "linc" the two dimmers), my initial suggestion is to confirm that you have a dual band device on each leg of your electrical system. While I understand you "believe" they are all on the same phase (why do you believe this?), it is better in my mind to follow the instructions in your dual band devices and make sure.
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
10869 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  11:02:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
What is the result of the 4-tap test?

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VodunAutomation
Starting Member

Canada
5 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  11:08:49 AM  Show Profile  Visit VodunAutomation's Homepage  Reply with Quote
The 4 tap test on the set button (pushed on any of the three devices) affects none of the other two devices.

I believe they are on the same phases because when I look at the panel I'm assuming conventional phasing (ie: circuits 1, 5, 9, etc. and 2, 6, 10, etc. are A phase. Circuits 3, 7, 11, etc. and 4, 8, 12, etc. are B phase.)

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oberkc
Advanced Member

USA
2374 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  11:31:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would still consider device failure less likely than other potential causes. If you are confident enough in the likelihood that all insteon devices are on the same leg of your electrical system to disregard that potential cause of your problems, I would next consider the possibility of some type of communication problems. Given that the smartlinc communicates with all devices always, I would first check this.

What other devices are on the same outlet and circuit as the smartlinc? Is the smartlinc plugged into a surge suppressor or UPS? Have you tried locating the smartlinc to another outlet or circuit (using an extension cord, if necessary)?

Edited by - oberkc on 08/15/2012 11:32:18 AM
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VodunAutomation
Starting Member

Canada
5 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  11:37:06 AM  Show Profile  Visit VodunAutomation's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I like the idea of relocating the Smartlinc to test this. Thanks, I'll be sure to test ASAP. I also read I could further test for a phasing issue by turning on my electric stove (220) and then seeing if the device(s) operation changes, may try that as well.
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oberkc
Advanced Member

USA
2374 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  11:45:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
While some stoves may provide a communication bridge, I don't think one can rely on this. Furthermore, this suggests you have some remaining doubt about whether all your devices are on the same electrical leg. If turning on the stove DOES help, perhaps this can be viewed as evidence that you have devices on both legs.

If this is the case, I suggest installing at least one dual-band device on each leg of your electrical system, confirmed by the method described in the manual (4-tap test).

Edited by - oberkc on 08/15/2012 11:47:00 AM
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stusviews
Moderator

USA
10869 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  11:55:57 AM  Show Profile  Visit stusviews's Homepage  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by VodunAutomation
I believe they are on the same phases because when I look at the panel I'm assuming conventional phasing (ie: circuits 1, 5, 9, etc. and 2, 6, 10, etc. are A phase. Circuits 3, 7, 11, etc. and 4, 8, 12, etc. are B phase.)


That depends on how you panel is numbered and whether you have any half-height breakers. In general, breakers on the same horizontal level are on the same leg and, in the case of full height breakers, alternate legs vertically.

Dual-band devices can give a false negative, that is, not indicate that they are on opposite legs when, in fact, they are. They do not display a false positive. In particular, if the 4-tap test indicates that they are on opposite legs, then they are.

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EVIL Teken
Advanced Member

Canada
1223 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  4:15:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by stusviews

quote:
Originally posted by VodunAutomation
I believe they are on the same phases because when I look at the panel I'm assuming conventional phasing (ie: circuits 1, 5, 9, etc. and 2, 6, 10, etc. are A phase. Circuits 3, 7, 11, etc. and 4, 8, 12, etc. are B phase.)


That depends on how you panel is numbered and whether you have any half-height breakers. In general, breakers on the same horizontal level are on the same leg and, in the case of full height breakers, alternate legs vertically.

Dual-band devices can give a false negative, that is, not indicate that they are on opposite legs when, in fact, they are. They do not display a false positive. In particular, if the 4-tap test indicates that they are on opposite legs, then they are.



I have read this a few times from various posters including you. Can you, or anyone else explain how it can display a false negative, yet a false positive could not be found??

Teken . . .
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Tfitzpatri8
Administrator

USA
8278 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2012 :  4:50:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
The way I understand it, the objectives of the test are to ensure that two devices are a) communicating via Insteon RF signal, b) communicating without any intermediate signal hops, and c) observing opposite voltage polarity. All three are necessary to effectively couple signals between the two sides of your utility feed and pass the test. If one or more conditions fail, signals are not being effectively coupled by that pair of devices and the receiving dual-band device's indicator light shows a negative result.

That negative doesn't tell you whether or not those two units are on the same or opposite legs, only that those two aren't set up where they can couple signals across the two legs.

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ELA
Senior Member

315 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2012 :  06:52:04 AM  Show Profile  Visit ELA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Hello Evil Teken,
I am curious what your opinion is on the use of the terms false negative in the 4-tap test?

Here is what I posted last time this came up:
quote:

Personally I prefer not to use the term false negative in regard to the 4 tap test. Not saying it is incorrect, just that I prefer not to use it.

My understanding is that the 4 tap test is an RF only (over the air only) test, in terms of communications messaging. Devices do monitor the power line to determine relative phases (legs).

Other Dual band devices within range that can "hear" the message blink their status LED in one of two different status indications. They either indicate same leg or opposite leg via this blinking action.

A total lack of any blinking indicates that they are not "hearing" the message. I prefer not to refer to this as a false negative. I would call this an "out of range" or "no RF detection" indication failure.

If this occurs then you might want to run the 4 tap test from another dual band device that is closer to the unit that does not receive. If you cannot get that to work then put two units right next to each other and run the test to be sure the non-responding unit is not defective.
This is based on my best understanding to date and current Access point LED status definitions.

Insteon Test Data ->: http://www.elavenue.com/insteon_test_data.html
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EVIL Teken
Advanced Member

Canada
1223 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2012 :  07:48:44 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ELA

Hello Evil Teken,
I am curious what your opinion is on the use of the terms false negative in the 4-tap test?

Here is what I posted last time this came up:
quote:

Personally I prefer not to use the term false negative in regard to the 4 tap test. Not saying it is incorrect, just that I prefer not to use it.

My understanding is that the 4 tap test is an RF only (over the air only) test, in terms of communications messaging. Devices do monitor the power line to determine relative phases (legs).

Other Dual band devices within range that can "hear" the message blink their status LED in one of two different status indications. They either indicate same leg or opposite leg via this blinking action.

A total lack of any blinking indicates that they are not "hearing" the message. I prefer not to refer to this as a false negative. I would call this an "out of range" or "no RF detection" indication failure.

If this occurs then you might want to run the 4 tap test from another dual band device that is closer to the unit that does not receive. If you cannot get that to work then put two units right next to each other and run the test to be sure the non-responding unit is not defective.
This is based on my best understanding to date and current Access point LED status definitions.



I read your reply in the previous thread, and the manner in which you expressed your thoughts did make sense to me. The problem I am having is that my personal experience does not always match up to what has been stated here from various forum members.

I have seen where I have performed the 4 tap test on one sending unit and the results were no blinking. Yet if I walked across the room and performed the exact same 4 tap test on the target device. It would indeed show a blinking status from the sending device??

My question still stands: How can one sending unit not *hear* the target device? When the reverse is NOT true??

If target device can hear the first sending device with the associated blink / flash. Its impossible for anyone to state the opposite can not happen?

That is the problem I am having with this whole false negative etc statements. This problem is prevalent in the new dual band KPL's. As I have performed 9 installs since they came out and each time there is at least one case where the 4 tap test did not match what reality was.

Teken . . .

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ELA
Senior Member

315 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2012 :  08:51:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit ELA's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I agree that the new dual band keypadlincs add a new twist that can make things very confusing. It is much easier with access points and colored LEDS than looking for on/off/blinking/fullbright ....

If I am correct that your question is:
Why can the test between any two dual band devices, show intact RF comms in one direction but not in the other?

I have this exact situation between two keypadlincs in my home.
When I initiate the test from unit#1 I get blinking leds on unit#2.
When I initiate the test from unit #2 I get no LED indication on unit #1.

I explain this by the fact that no two devices will have the exact same RF transmit strength or receive threshold.
In addition the RF signal path ( and/or multipaths) in one direction will often be different in one direction than the other.

(e.g.) Take two RF devices and test them in open air. Slowly increase the distance between two. At some critical point one will stop "hearing" the other. It is very possible that they will still communicate in the other direction at that same "critical" distance.
This due to differences in transmit strengths and/or receive thresholds.

Within a home you may also have large metal objects that introduce reflections ( like my refrigerator). It is very close to one of the keypadlincs and far away from the other. The two reflective RF paths (multipath) are very different.

In the scenario of my two keypadlincs I have measured the received signal strength (on a 3rd unit). I can observe the signal strength change as well as see the status LED go from non blink to blinking just by moving the device sideways by 2-3 ft. Not increasing the distance between units, but instead changing the angle between the two ( changing the mulitplaths).

Insteon Test Data ->: http://www.elavenue.com/insteon_test_data.html
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EVIL Teken
Advanced Member

Canada
1223 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2012 :  09:02:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ELA

I agree that the new dual band keypadlincs add a new twist that can make things very confusing. It is much easier with access points and colored LEDS than looking for on/off/blinking/fullbright ....

If I am correct that your question is:
Why can the test between any two dual band devices, show intact RF comms in one direction but not in the other?

I have this exact situation between two keypadlincs in my home.
When I initiate the test from unit#1 I get blinking leds on unit#2.
When I initiate the test from unit #2 I get no LED indication on unit #1.

I explain this by the fact that no two devices will have the exact same RF transmit strength or receive threshold.
In addition the RF signal path ( and/or multipaths) in one direction will often be different in one direction than the other.

(e.g.) Take two RF devices and test them in open air. Slowly increase the distance between two. At some critical point one will stop "hearing" the other. It is very possible that they will still communicate in the other direction at that same "critical" distance.
This due to differences in transmit strengths and/or receive thresholds.

Within a home you may also have large metal objects that introduce reflections ( like my refrigerator). It is very close to one of the keypadlincs and far away from the other. The two reflective RF paths (multipath) are very different.

In the scenario of my two keypadlincs I have measured the received signal strength (on a 3rd unit). I can observe the signal strength change as well as see the status LED go from non blink to blinking just by moving the device sideways by 2-3 ft. Not increasing the distance between units, but instead changing the angle between the two ( changing the mulitplaths).



Exactly, I could not have expressed it any better! The reason this is of concern is that sometimes I do not have a AP device available for my installs to confirm proper bridging / coupling.

There for I must rely on the KPL to confirm the phase coupling for that clients install site using only what I have at hand. This becomes increasing frustrating when you look at the idiot lights and they do NOT correlate to what I know is true.

To be fair: My deployment methods are done in a fashion to ensure redundancy and network integrity. Even if a client says they don't want a AP or a dual band device on all four corners of the house, level, zone, etc.

I build in the cost(s) to ensure each and every zone, floor, area is covered to ensure proper RF and coupling is present. So far it has worked 100% of the time. The problem arises when the client is on site and watching you do the install and asks why are you running around the house watching these idiot lights??

You then go down a path of (eating crow / embarrassed) trying to explain this 4 tap dance which does NOT reflect accurately via these dual band KPL's

Teken . . .
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cruzmisl
Starting Member

3 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2012 :  05:32:00 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wow, this is way more complex than I thought. I just wanted to hook it up and work with it. I only need it to control two outlets and that's it. SO by the explanations if I plug the smartlinc into the same circuit as the receptacle it should all work? Can someone point me in the direction of a bridging device to make this stuff work?
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oberkc
Advanced Member

USA
2374 Posts

Posted - 10/10/2012 :  07:39:58 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
SO by the explanations if I plug the smartlinc into the same circuit as the receptacle it should all work?


The only hesitancy I have in providing a positive answer to this question is the obvious tendency for people to plug smartlincs into outlets and circuits that also power computer equipment, including UPS and surge suppressors. (Such equipment can have the tendency to intefere with insteon communication.) Barring this, or a filter for this computer equipment, I would expect a smartlinc being on the same circuit at the receptacle would work very well.

You mentioned "two" outlets. Are both on the same circuit?

quote:
Can someone point me in the direction of a bridging device to make this stuff work

Search smarthome for "access point", or "signalinc". Alternatively, search "dual band". You will require two (any two) dual band devices, following the included instructions to ensure that you have one on each leg of your electrical system. I happen to prefer access points (not installed in metal boxes with complete flexibility on placement), but if I had a house full of other dual band switches and outlets and modules, I might forgo the access points.
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