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Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.

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Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« on: August 16, 2016, 11:39:35 am »
I am a 72 year old technophobe who has been successfully using X10 with a CM15a for more years than I care to admit.

I just bought an Amazon Echo and I want Alexa to control my lights.

I've searched this forum for CM15a and X10 but cannot find what I need or can understand.

Could someone please point me to the hardware/software needed to do this?

Thank you...

TJ

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2016, 01:26:48 pm »
There is no direct integration between Alexa and X10, and I doubt there ever will be.  But people have worked out their own solutions, like what's discussed in this thread:

http://www.echotalk.org/index.php?topic=185.0

A Google search for "X10" and "Alexa" will yield more results.  But if your "technophobe" self-labeling is accurate you're likely not going to want to try any of the solutions you find.

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2016, 01:37:14 pm »
That's really disappointing.

But, technology is constantly changing and it's no surprise that it has passed me by.

Could you then recommend a brand of lamp/appliance modules that Echo can control that won't require a second mortgage on my home?

Thanks,

TJ

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Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2016, 03:04:37 pm »
Hue for LED color bulbs, TP Link for modules. If you follow Kinja they are sometimes on special pricing on Amazon.
Learning to laugh at oneself and with others is good for your soul.

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2016, 03:38:15 pm »
That's really disappointing.

But, technology is constantly changing and it's no surprise that it has passed me by.

Could you then recommend a brand of lamp/appliance modules that Echo can control that won't require a second mortgage on my home?

Thanks,

TJ

If lights are really all you're interested in controlling then the Philips Hue bridge is probably the best choice (and not just for colored lights, but plain white ones as well).  The bridge by itself can be had for $47.77 right now from Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Philips-458471-Hue-Bridge-Square-Shaped/dp/B016H0QZ7I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471375600&sr=8-1&keywords=Philips+458471+Hue+Bridge+%28Square-Shaped%29).  The "Hue White" 60W equivalent A19 bulbs are typically around $15.  But the bridge is also compatible with GE's "Link" line of bulbs, with their 60W equivalent A19s also usually going for around $15...though these can often be found on sale for less (I recently got 3 of them on a buy-2-get-1-free deal from Target, for an average cost of $10/bulb).  The bulbs have an expected lifetime of ~20 years, per the manufacturers, at least, so that cost get amortized out over quite a while.

Of course, you could always use cheaper "dumb" bulbs and go with "smart" switches to control the fixtures they're in, but that will require a different hub that will control those types of devices (like SmartThings, Insteon, etc)...which is just a little bit more involved to get set up and maintain.

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2016, 03:48:08 pm »
Thanks DParker,

So, if I understand you, with the $47 Hue hub and these Hue bulbs at roughly $15 per, I can reach my goal of controlling my lights with the Echo with out the Cm15a and additional software?

TJ

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2016, 04:10:01 pm »
Thanks DParker,

So, if I understand you, with the $47 Hue hub and these Hue bulbs at roughly $15 per, I can reach my goal of controlling my lights with the Echo with out the Cm15a and additional software?

TJ

That's correct.  Alexa (the cloud-based service behind the Echo) is directly integrated with the Philips Hue system, among others, so all you need is your Echo, the Hue bridge and some Hue or GE Link bulbs.  Bear in mind that the communication between your Echo and the home automation stuff it's integrated with is all cloud (internet) based.  This means that when you say something like, "Alexa, turn on the living room lights" your Echo will forward that voice command across the internet to an Amazon server for analysis (just like it would any other command).  The Amazon server software recognizes that the command is one that is intended to control your Hue lights, so it translates the command into one (or possibly more, depending on your configuration) that the Hue integration service recognizes.  That/those commands are then forwarded on to a server run by Philips (again, via the internet), which then translates the request(s) into one(s) that the Hue bridge in your house will understand, and sends it/them on to the bridge, which then acts on the command(s) by...once again...translating them into instructions that your bulbs understand (based on a standardized automation protocol named "Zigbee") and sending them to your bulbs via radio frequency transmission(s).

Believe it or not, this all works well...and much faster than you'd think considering all of the steps and the distances (sometimes vast) involved in all of this inter-system communication.  It does mean that you have to do a little work configuring things on your end (you need to set a few things up in both your Alexa app as well as the Philips Hue app you'll use to control the Hue bridge), and maybe making some decisions regarding grouping of lights for convenience (for instance, the aforementioned "living room lights", which is an artificial grouping you might create to represent multiple lights in..well...your living room).  But it isn't all that difficult.

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2016, 12:39:54 am »
Thanks DParker,

So, if I understand you, with the $47 Hue hub and these Hue bulbs at roughly $15 per, I can reach my goal of controlling my lights with the Echo with out the Cm15a and additional software?

TJ

That's correct.  Alexa (the cloud-based service behind the Echo) is directly integrated with the Philips Hue system, among others, so all you need is your Echo, the Hue bridge and some Hue or GE Link bulbs.  Bear in mind that the communication between your Echo and the home automation stuff it's integrated with is all cloud (internet) based.  This means that when you say something like, "Alexa, turn on the living room lights" your Echo will forward that voice command across the internet to an Amazon server for analysis (just like it would any other command).  The Amazon server software recognizes that the command is one that is intended to control your Hue lights, so it translates the command into one (or possibly more, depending on your configuration) that the Hue integration service recognizes.  That/those commands are then forwarded on to a server run by Philips (again, via the internet), which then translates the request(s) into one(s) that the Hue bridge in your house will understand, and sends it/them on to the bridge, which then acts on the command(s) by...once again...translating them into instructions that your bulbs understand (based on a standardized automation protocol named "Zigbee") and sending them to your bulbs via radio frequency transmission(s).

Thanks DParker, that is the best data path explination i've seen yet. It really does bring the whole joke of it all to real life. How many technicians does it take to change a light bulb again? The way I see it this should not really involve the cloud that much. But for some darn reason Amazon and Phillips seem to be intrested in how often I turn my lights on and off and we're paying for it. It's crazy! This should really be just a streightshot communication from Alexa to lightbulb. All Amazon needs to do is put a Zigbee radio in with it. 
« Last Edit: November 04, 2016, 12:44:34 am by damianlavalle »

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2016, 12:54:01 am »
I am a 72 year old technophobe who has been successfully using X10 with a CM15a for more years than I care to admit.

I just bought an Amazon Echo and I want Alexa to control my lights.

I've searched this forum for CM15a and X10 but cannot find what I need or can understand.

Could someone please point me to the hardware/software needed to do this?

Thank you...

TJ

O! and by the way TJ, I found this....

http://bwssystems.com/#/myCarousel

Bottom right side says X10 and it will emulate a hue. So if I miss my guess it'll just connect to your X10 and Alexa will find it as simply as it would do a Hue and you have your wish. I'd plan on having a little help though. There area a few steps, but if you can make it as far as to find and post on this forum, you have enough to understand when and how to ask for help.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2016, 01:01:26 am by damianlavalle »

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2016, 09:18:46 am »
The way I see it this should not really involve the cloud that much. But for some darn reason Amazon and Phillips seem to be intrested in how often I turn my lights on and off and we're paying for it.

How are we paying for it?

It's crazy! This should really be just a streightshot communication from Alexa to lightbulb.

There are several very good reasons for the cloud-based architecture, none of which have anything at all to do with Amazon, Phillips or anyone else being interested in how often you turn your lights on/off...and the fact is that we all actually benefit from that architecture.  If it was done way you propose then Echos/Dots/Taps would be bulkier, more complicated and significantly more expensive.  They also wouldn't be nearly as flexible and capable in terms of their ability to interface with the long (and getting longer all the time) list of HA products that they can work with now (and will work with in the future).

I'm a software engineer, and I've been designing, developing, implementing and maintaining complex computer-based systems for ~30 years now.  Trust me, doing it the way you propose would be more cumbersome, complicated and expensive...and yield less functionality and flexibility...than the way it's being done now.

All Amazon needs to do is put a Zigbee radio in with it.

Actually, there'a a LOT more involved than simply slapping an additional RF transceiver into the device.  A LOT.  And what about Z-Wave?  Or Insteon?  Or Homekit?  Or Thread?  Or LightwaveRF?  Or devices that only support cloud-based APIs?
« Last Edit: November 04, 2016, 11:46:29 am by DParker »

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2017, 09:45:18 am »

Re: Controlling X10 modules with a CM15a.
« Reply #11 on: July 07, 2017, 10:19:20 pm »
The way I see it this should not really involve the cloud that much. But for some darn reason Amazon and Phillips seem to be intrested in how often I turn my lights on and off and we're paying for it.

How are we paying for it?

Though added complexity and extra points of failure that reduce utility, not to mention the often outrageously priced "cloud"-based hardware and services. The OP had it right.

It's crazy! This should really be just a streightshot communication from Alexa to lightbulb.

There are several very good reasons for the cloud-based architecture, none of which have anything at all to do with Amazon, Phillips or anyone else being interested in how often you turn your lights on/off...and the fact is that we all actually benefit from that architecture.  If it was done way you propose then Echos/Dots/Taps would be bulkier, more complicated and significantly more expensive.  They also wouldn't be nearly as flexible and capable in terms of their ability to interface with the long (and getting longer all the time) list of HA products that they can work with now (and will work with in the future).

This is all based on a false premise. Alexa uses the "cloud" to process voice, then communicates with supported HA hardware via the local network (usually by HTTP). It finds the hardware using UPnP. The OP had it half right.

I'm a software engineer, and I've been designing, developing, implementing and maintaining complex computer-based systems for ~30 years now.  Trust me, doing it the way you propose would be more cumbersome, complicated and expensive...and yield less functionality and flexibility...than the way it's being done now.

Always leery of arguments that hinge on "trust me". Having worked with HA (and X10) for decades, can assure you that adding the "cloud" to the process of turning lights on and off is hardly a step forward for property owners. It is a step forward for companies looking to sell "modern" HA systems that require use of their services and allows them to collect and sell "big data".

All Amazon needs to do is put a Zigbee radio in with it.

Actually, there'a a LOT more involved than simply slapping an additional RF transceiver into the device.  A LOT.  And what about Z-Wave?  Or Insteon?  Or Homekit?  Or Thread?  Or LightwaveRF?  Or devices that only support cloud-based APIs?

This is the only part the OP had entirely wrong. Alexa simply downloads new software to support new hardware. This surely involves little more than a white list of devices that it will accept via UPnP. After that, it's down to sending HTTP directly to the bulbs, switches, plugs, outlets, etc. You can even set up virtual devices that spoof the ones it accepts.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 10:23:06 pm by davidmark »