Archive for the ‘Home Automation’ Category

Replacing a Ceiling Light Fixture

For obvious reasons I didn’t like the stock fixtures in my bedroom:

Or my bathroom:

Because crappy fixtures take all the swank out of X10 dimmers.

We can see there was some buggery in here to get the bathroom fan running in series with the light (which I fixed the other day). The box is also being used as a junction box for a run of Romex I’m not clear on the purpose of. That’s fine, everything is safely capped and I don’t feel like being a hero today.

Most fixtures and chandeliers have a bracket which is installed in the electrical box. Once it is loosely secured pull the leads from the new lamp through the hole in the middle (which I didn’t do here, they run flush along  the top anyway). Use the ground wire to secure the lamp to the box/bracket since it needs to come into contact with the box anyway, now you are free to use both hands to connect the hot and neutral.

Fixtures that hold a diffuser from the bottom use a standard thread and bolt size.

Be careful not to tighten the nut too tightly, an over-tightened glass fixture will explode at random. Finger tight is too tight.


The box in the bedroom is much tidier, despite missing a screw.

Now my ceilings don’t looks so much like shit ^.^

X10 Security: PS561 Console DS12A Magnetic and GB10A Glass Sensors

The PS561 Voice Dialer Security Console integrates up to 16 security sensors with your X10 home automation system. When the alarm is tripped the console will dial up to four preprogrammed numbers and allow the party on the other end to listen in. This suffers, of course, from the fact that the mic is in the same package as two peizo sirens.

This model is the predecessor to the SC9000 which is much prettier and includes a touch tone security and X10 module control dial-in menu. Modules advertised for either system are compatible with any X10 console, even the new versions of the door/window sensors:

As you can see, the DS12A is much smaller (and therefore sexier) however the integrated magnetic sensor makes placement less versatile. The new sensors take an additional magnetic sensor through the terminals at the bottom so up to two doors or windows can be monitored with one device. This does not, however, provide exactly the same functionality as the DS10A’s external sensor as the internal sensor must be bypassed if only the external one is to be used.

You may find yourself forced to install these switches upside down on left-to-right opening vectors such as patio doors. This would be fine if the X10 logo wasn’t printed on the front.

The glass break sensors (GB10A) use an adhesive backing to stick right on your window panes. Though they can apparently detect a window breaking within 20 feet to reduce the potential for false alarms I have installed them on every pane of glass (two per window) and put them on their lowest sensitivity.
All of these modules are installed by sliding the console’s switch from the RUN1 or RUN2 positions to the INSTALL position then pressing the TEST button and, when finished installing all devices, returning the console’s switch to RUN1 or RUN2.

When the alarm is tripped the console sends alternating ON/OFF commands to the house and device code you have configured. The original purpose of this was to flash the outside lights to make your house easier for law enforcement/security to identify but some clever duck realized this signal could also be used to set off remote alarms. The PowerHorn (SH10A) is a module that screws into an outlet anywhere in your home and blasts its four peizo sirens much louder than the security console on its own. If you have a large dwelling space multiple units liberally to ensure a traumatic experience for intruders. The only drawback to these sirens is they are prone to false positives; if you remotely turn on and off the lights associated with their house and device code four times quickly they will go off momentarily which can be quite undesirable at some hours.

Last but not least, of course, the KR10A security keyfob. The lights on/off buttons control the lights on the address the console has been configured for so you can, for example, turn on the outside lights when you exit your vehicle. I haven’t had any false positives with the panic feature yet but it should be noted that the cover over the buttons dimples and wears out quickly.

Installing a Recessed Bathroom Tissue Holder

The last goon who lived here ripped the surface-mount toilet paper roll holder out of the wall.

These holes are easily cleaned and filled in with spackling paste. Cut any of the paper fluff from around the edges of the holes at an angle so that the hole is tapered inwards.

Unfortunately, bigger holes require layering.

And more layering.

Once you have a slight bulge above the surface of the wall sand it down smooth. I didn’t know at the time I would be getting a recessed holder, which would have saved me a lot of time filling in the larger hole. Since it’s the uglist of the two it’s the one to go.

I measured 5.25 inches on a carpenter’s level and used a dry-erase marker to plot my cut. It would have been a good idea to put a screw in the middle when I started cutting so I could cut straight without losing the hunk of drywall.

This holder has a bracket which clamps to the drywall. It may take some fiddling to get it mounted but it is important to secure it to the faceplate before mounting or you risk losing it in the wall.

Nice and shiny. If someone rips THIS holder out of the wall they’ll be taking the whole gypsum board with it.

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Made in Canada  •  There's a fox in the Gibson!  •  2010-12