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  • #16
    Originally posted by stipus View Post
    Are you certain PLCBUS and UPB are the same ?
    Hi , PLCBUS and UPB are not the same.
    When the factory make the PLCBUS power point presentation , they "copy" UPB 's presentation file and change it into PLCBUS so that why it mislead the people PLCBUS = UPB .



    • #17
      Originally posted by stipus View Post
      The company making PLCBUS devices is Shanghai Super Smart, and I don't see any PLCBUS PC Controller on their site.
      They didn't put on the web yet. Suppose this PLCBUS PC Controller come with one Home Automation software ( Design by one of Distributor )

      But the software not yet ready , so that they didn't put this device on the web.


      • #18
        Originally posted by stipus View Post
        The company making PLCBUS devices is Shanghai Super Smart, and I don't see any PLCBUS PC Controller on their site.
        Another new PLCBUS device not show on their web.
        That is Table Top PLCBUS controller , it support DIM\Bright Level Enquiry , ON\OFF Enquiry , Noise Level Enquiry ....etc


        • #19
          Kevin ,

          Both those devices look interesting - do you have the communication protocol for the controller?

          What about the x10/plc converter - does that pass back the status commands, so you get 2 way notifications from the plc devices?

          Any better pictures of the tabletop controller - that looks like it could be a really nice device.



          • #20
            Thanks Kevin
            At least we know that they are not the same but that there is a PC controller out there, is there a possibility we can get one to somebody who would be able to write a plug in for us?



            • #21

              Could you post the protocol spec so we can take a look at the interface requirements for the control unit - you could unlock another market if the controller can be got working.

              Also - any more details on how the x10 converter works - is it 2 way? how do you translate the x10 "device code" into the plcbus device you want to control?



              • #22
                Hi all,

                I discovered PLCBUS on the X10-HK website towards the end of last year. After researching it for a while, I concluded that PLCBUS is similar to UPB, but not compatible with it. Both systems appear to use the same signalling method (sending pulses at particular points in the mains cycle), but the data transmitted by each system can not be understood by the other. Plus, UPB is 120V and PLCBUS is 230V!

                I'd previously looked at (and discounted) a number of other technologies:
                X10 - Slow, reliability issues and no status feedback from most modules.
                Z-Wave - No 230V micro modules available.
                Rako, Cbus, etc. - Very nice, but expensive.

                PLCBUS appeared to offer a decent level of functionality at a reasonable price, so I decided to get hold of some modules to experiment with.

                Shopping List

                I initially purchased one each of the following:

                Micro Modules:
                One Load Lamp Micro Module
                Two Load Lamp Micro Module
                One Load Appliance Micro Module
                Two Load Appliance Micro Module

                Plug-in modules:
                Appliance Plug In Module (UK 13A Plug)
                Lamp Plug In Module (UK 13A Plug)

                Command Center

                Radio transmitters:
                10 Key Micro Remote (Encrypt)
                Computer Interface (Encrypt)

                Radio receiver:
                Transceiver Module (Encrypt) (UK 13A Plug)

                Not all of the items I ordered were in stock at the time, so I ended up receiving two separate deliveries - the first arrived around a week after ordering, and the second around a week after that. I got hit with VAT and import tax on the first delivery (which was the larger of the two), but not the second. Maybe next time I'll place a number of smaller orders rather than one large one in an attempt to keep the price down!


                I started by getting the micro modules installed. Although they were smaller than I'd imagined, they weren't quite small enough to fit in my (shallow) back boxes. This didn't prove to be too much of a problem though, as I'd already planned to mount them outside the back boxes and just run the necessary wires into the back box and to the wall switches. The micro modules may optionally be connected up to standard wall switches (not momentary ones) for local control, so you can re-use your existing wall switches (as long as they're simple on/off switches and not dimmers, of course). I should also mention that all the micro modules require a neutral connection. I'm lucky enough to have this behind most of my wall switches, but it is fairly uncommon in the UK, especially in older buildings.

                Before using the modules, I had to program each with an address. This involves pressing a button on the module (while powered!) and then sending an address from the command center. I had to keep the modules hanging out of the wall so I could get to the setup button, although I believe this only has to be done once as a module's address can be changed remotely provided it already has a unique address. The addressing scheme is similar to X10 (A1-A16, B1-B16, etc),

                but the addition of a 'user code' ensures that nearby properties will not suffer interference from each other. (In the UK, this is unlikely to be a problem, but it's good to know it's there!)

                The plug-in modules are largely identical to the micro modules. The only differences are the form factor and the fact that there's a built-in button that can be used to switch the module on and off locally (replacing the local control connections on the micro modules that can be connected to wall switches).


                Although the command center can be used as a controller, I decided to try the '10 key Micro Remote' and the 'Computer Interface' instead. The remote is a typical radio transmitter with four pairs of 'on/off' buttons, plus dim and bright buttons. The signal is received by the 'Transceiver Module', which plugs in to a standard UK socket. The transceiver module must be taught to recognise the remote (to ensure only 'authorised' remotes could control the system) - I believe a number of remotes can be supported by a single transceiver. The addresses transmitted by the remote are configurable, but they must be a consecutive block of 4 addresses. I've not yet done a range test on the remote, as I tend to use it in the same room as the transceiver module. It appears to work reliably though, at least at short range.

                The 'Computer Interface' is a small box that connects to (and draws power from) a PC serial port. It too is a radio transmitter, and so requires the transceiver module to convert the radio signals into PLCBUS signals on the mains wiring. A basic software app is supplied to provide on/off/bright/dim control. I also obtained the serial protocol and have been able to write my own code to control PLCBUS devices. This works nicely, but it's worth pointing out that the interface is a 'transmit only' device. It isn't possible to get confirmations from devices, to query device states, or to listen in on other PLCBUS signals being transmitted by other devices. It would appear that the soon-to-be-released USB interface (which connects directly to the mains) should be fully bi-directional, which will be a big improvement.

                Using Scenes

                As well as sending on/off/bright/dim commands, all PLCBUS modules feature the ability to store up to 16 scenes. A scene stores whether the module should be on or off, and lamp modules can store different dimmer levels for each scene. Every scene has an address associated with it, and multiple modules can be programmed to respond to the same address. This allows a single command to trigger multiple modules to recall individually programmed dimmer levels, as required for scene-based control. I find this is perhaps the most useful feature, and I've set up my system to use scenes pretty much exclusively.

                If a module is configured to respond to a particular scene, it will do so when it receives an 'on' message sent to that scene address. If an 'off' message is sent to the scene address, the module will switch off. This provides an easy way to switch off all lights in a particular scene, but may be undesirable in some circumstances.

                A '4 scene micro module' is also available, but I haven't tried it. I believe it stores one or more addresses for each of its four switch inputs. When the switch is switched on, 'on' messages are sent to the stored address(es). When the switch is switched off again, 'off' messages are sent to the same addresses. This unfortunately makes it unsuitable for use with momentary switches, which I feel would be the most useful interface for recalling scenes.


                Although I've been largely impressed by PLCBUS, there are a few limitations I've run into.

                Response time.
                Although this is listed in several places as being 0.1 seconds, it actually takes around 0.75 seconds between pressing a button and the module responding. I believe this is roughly the same as X10. Initially, I was quite concerned about this. After a few days though, I found I had become accustomed to it and it no longer bothered me. The saving grace here is that you can configure scenes so that a single command will trigger lots of modules, so the latency is never any worse than 0.75 seconds.

                Fade rate.
                The fade rate appears to be fixed. It takes about 2 seconds to dim from 0% to 100%. If a scene is triggered with one module at 50% and one at 100%, the first module will complete its fade after 1 second, while the second module will take 2 seconds. This is not particularly a problem, but isn't quite as flexible as some of the more expensive systems that can be told to fade to a particlar level over a specified number of seconds.

                Local control.
                Using existing wall switches for local control is very useful. However, this is limited to on/off control - dimming can only be performed remotely.

                Two load module bugs.
                I've found that the two load micro modules suffer from a couple of bugs:
                • Triggering a scene usually causes the lamp to fade to the pre-programmed level. If however the pre-programmed level is 'off', the lamp will switch off instantly without any fade. This is different to the single load micro module which will fade the lamp down until it's completely off.
                • If both local control switch inputs are switched at exactly the same time, sometimes only one of the loads responds. This doesn't always happen, but it happens frequently enough that I've had to change my habit of flicking both switches simultaneously on a double wall switch. I now switch one before the other, which works fine.
                As a result of the above two 'bugs', I'm planning to only use single load micro modules. In the few places where I have double wall switches controlling two separate circuits, I'll just buy two single load modules. It's slightly more expensive this way, but probably worth it to avoid the above issues.

                Other Observations

                When a lamp module is switched on locally, it fades up to the last dimmer level it was sent. Triggering scenes does not affect this memorised level, so it's possible to always have the lamp return to the same level when switched on, regardless of which scenes have been triggered recently. The level fades up gracefully from 0% without having to jump to 100% first and then fade down (as is required by some X10 modules).

                The protocol for the new USB interface suggests that it should be possible to perform status requests to query a module's current output level. It is however not possible to configure modules to send out 'status changed' messages when they are switched on/off locally. For a program such as HomeSeer to accurately keep track of the current state of all devices, it would be necessary for HomeSeer to periodically request the status of each module. This is potentially inferior to some (admittedly relatively expensive) X10 modules which send out the new status in real time.

                The protocol for the new USB interface also suggests that it should be possible to command modules to fade to a specified level at a specified rate. It's not clear whether this rate would get stored in scenes or not.

                Reliability seems to be excellent. I've never yet had a command 'missed' by a module. The only weirdness I've experienced is that one plug-in lamp module has a habit of turning itself on over night once every couple of weeks. Suspiciously, this module is currently addressed as 'A1', so I may be able to fix the problem by changing the address. No other modules have exhibited this problem.


                I'm planning to get hold of the USB interface as soon as it's available (which I believe is imminent) to see if it performs as claimed. If so, I suspect I'll be ordering a number of PLCBUS modules to completely fit out my home. If anyone would like to suggest an alternative system that might be better, I'd be very happy to listen...

                If you've got any questions about PLCBUS, feel free to ask... I'm no expert, but I'll be happy to help if I can!




                • #23
                  Many thanks for this great review of PLCBUS modules !


                  • #24
                    I would be interested in PLCBUS if there was a computer interface and a Homeseer plug gin.

                    Is there a no neutral version for UK wall switch and if yes is it still two way?


                    • #25
                      Thanks for the detailed comment Chris it's very much appricated.


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Jim'll View Post
                        I would be interested in PLCBUS if there was a computer interface and a Homeseer plug gin.

                        Is there a no neutral version for UK wall switch and if yes is it still two way?
                        Couldn't see any "2 wire" no neutral wall switches on Kevin's site. _SHAME_



                        • #27
                          I will go for the PLCBUS but I´m waiting for the USB PC Controller. I will buy from Kevin. When will you hawe this in your shop ? I know other has aksed.
                          Thank you Cris Deighton for your review of PLCBus modules, that's why I deside to go for PLCBus. Was thinking of X10 2 before!!
                          Last edited by lunkan; February 26th, 2007, 02:37 AM.


                          • #28
                            Just post on the shop. Also can download the hardware communication protocol.


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Malarcy View Post
                              Couldn't see any "2 wire" no neutral wall switches on Kevin's site. _SHAME_

                              Just got the news from China , One Load PLCBUS Micro Module has 2 wire version. ( Micro Module install at the ceiling and need to use with Momentary Switch - Normal Off to control ON\OFF for live wire to that micro module device )
                              I will test this installation later and will post the wire diagram .



                              • #30
                                Great news!

                                Oh, I'm quite excited now! Thanks to Chris for the review and to Kevin for the new info on the PC controller and the 2 wire modules, now all we need is the Plug in!!

                                Making an order today, will let everybody know how I get on...