Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

General Topics:

  • How does all this X10 stuff work?
  • How does Home Domination work with X10 stuff?
  • What types of computer interfaces can Home Domination use?
  • What is a sensor?
  • What is a switch?
  • What is a macro?
  • What is a quick macro?
  • What is a trigger?
  • What is a time trigger?
  • What is a sensor trigger?
  • What is a group trigger?
  • What is an action?
  • How do I set the program up for video?
  • Miscellaneous How To Questions:

  • How can I make Windows automatically log in when it restarts?
  • How can I force a periodic restart of Windows (and why would I want this)?
  • Miscellaneous Hardware Questions:

  • How can I get the CM15A to work in Vista or Windows 7?
  • Is there a way to get my VA11A to work in Vista or Windows 7?

  • How does all this X10 stuff work?

    First of all, X10 switches work by "listening" on the electrical wiring for a house and unit code that matches what it's programmed for.  So you can have numerous switches and sensors all with the same code and they'll all work at the same time because they "hear" their code on the line at the same time and do what they're told.


    When you have wireless X10 devices, like the X10 motion sensors, it sends and RF signal with the code, which is sent through the air in every direction, but is weak enough that it won't go more than about 100 feet.  Your X10 switches that listen for the code on the electrical wiring are completely oblivious to this, but if a transceiver is plugged into the wall, that will hear the RF signal, and put it onto your electrical wiring, and then the switches can hear that code and do what they're supposed to.

    Motion sensors can be set to only trigger at night or to trigger day and night, and you can adjust the amount of time that it waits before sending an off signal, so you can do quite a bit without having a computer involved.  But see "How does Home Domination work with X10 stuff?" for information about how to use Home Domination really take control of your house.

    How does Home Domination work with X10 stuff?

    In order for Home Domination to receive information from motion sensors and control switches, you'll need to have a computer interface like the CM15A, CM11A, or CM19A.  There is also a W800RF32A, which can only receive RF signals, which the computer interfaces can already do, however this has many advantages that make it worth considering.  See "What types of computer interfaces can Home Domination use?" for more info on that.

    Home Domination uses the computer interfaces to "listen" to codes on the electrical wiring or the RF signals, and also to send codes out through the electrical wiring.  You can see codes that are received by looking at the activity log.  However, in order to control macros with those codes, you'll need to add sensors.  A sensor is something you add in Home Domination and it can look at codes from any X10 computer interface, or from a specific one.  That sensor can then be used with a macro by adding a <a href="#SensorTrigger">sensor trigger</a>.

    In order for Home Domination to control switches, you can click Send X10 Code and then tell it what code to send.  That's a bit of a pain though and really gives less of a benefit than just using an X10 remote control.  In order to control switches in macros you'll need to add switches.  Just like sensors, switches let you choose the X10 code and the interface to use when controlling that switch.

    Once sensors and switches are added for all the X10 codes you wish to control, you'll be able to see the current state of them on the "Sensors" and "Switches" tabs on the main control window, although if switches are controlled directly without sending an X10 code, Home Domination will not be able to detect that.  To add sensors and switches, you can add them directly from the "Sensors" and "Switches" tabs on the main control window, or you can go into Setup and click "Switches and Sensors".

    What types of computer interfaces can Home Domination use?

    Home Domination can use the CM15A, CM11A, CM19A and W800RF32A.  There is also a W800USB, which should work the same as the W800RF32A but is a USB device instead of a serial devices.  You can use multiple devices in Home Domination at once.

    The CM15A is a USB device that can send and receive codes from the electical wiring.  It can also receive RF codes directly, although it's range isn't stellar, and the computer would need to be located centrally in your house in order for it to work, and it might have to be a small house.  So a transceiver or W800RF32A may need to be used with this. 

    The CM11A is a serial device, so you may need to have a USB serial port to use it.  It can send and receive codes through the electrical wiring, but a transceiver or W800RF32A is required to listen to RF codes.

    The CM19A is a USB device that only sends and receives RF codes, so in order to control switches, you will have to have a transceiver plugged in somewhere within the range of the CM19A.  The CM19A can control the Ninja however, so this is very useful for that.

    The W800RF32A can only receive RF codes, so it cannot be used to control switches, however it has a great range, which can eliminate a lot of problems in itself, and it also does a great job keeping the traffic down on the electrical wiring.  When more than one code is sent on the electrical wiring at the same time, there can be a collision which results in the code being mutated, in which case the wrong light is controlled, or the light does the wrong thing (on/off/dim).  Or more likely, the code will simply be lost.  Using a W800RF32A to listen to RF codes rather than using a transceiver to do the job is a great way to minimize the traffic on the wiring.

    Home Domination does not only use X10 controllers.  You can also use a U401, U421 or U451 controller to directly control devices, although you'll need some electronics experience to do this. This is much easier with the U451 though since there are two relays built in and six other pins that can be attached to relays.  You can also use temperature sensors via a U401, U421, or U451.  This requires a small amount of soldering, but is relatively easy to set up.

    What is a sensor?

    A sensor is something in Home Domination that represents an X10 code or a pin on a U4x1 controller.  The state of that X10 code or pin is monitored, and it is then used to trigger macros.  It also lets you name an X10 code so it's more intuitive, and lets you see the state of that sensor in a tab on the main control window.

    What is a switch?

    A switch is something in Home Domination that represents an X10 code or a pin on a U4x1 controller.  This switch is then used by macros to turn lights on and off.  It also makes it more convenient to turn switches on and off manually because you can name it and see and control the state of it in the switch tab on the main control window.

    What is a macro?

    A macro is a series of actions that happen when it is triggered.  For example, you can create a macro which is triggered by a motion sensor.  The trigger is the motion sensor.  The actions could be to turn on a light, 2 minutes later turn on another light, and then after 5 minutes of trigger inactivity, shut off both lights.  The actions do not necessarily have to be switching actions either.  For instance, you could make the computer beep or play a sound, or send an email.

    A macro can have one or more triggers.  If it has more than one trigger, it can be set to trigger when all of the triggers are in an active state, or when any of the triggers are in an active state by setting the Trigger When field.

    A macro can be set to only work during the day, only at night, or at any time by setting the Day/Night field.  If it is set to work only at night, then all triggers are ignored until it is at night.  See "How is the dawn and dusk time determined?" to find out how to adjust how day and night is determined.

    The macro can have an unlimited list of actions.  Each action in the list will finish completely before it goes on to the next action in the list.  When there are no more actions to process, then the macro returns to a monitoring state, where it's watching the triggers to see if it's time to start again.

    An unlimited number of macros can be programmed.  It monitors all macros simultaneously, so it's possible that several macros can be running at the same time.

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    What is a quick macro?

    A quick macro is a standard macro but with a simpler setup screen.  With it, you can quickly set up macros that will monitor a sensor and turn a switch on when the sensor trips.  You can optionally turn off the switch after a user specified time with no sensor activity.  

    Quick Macros can easily be done when setting up sensors and switches.  Just highlight the switch you want to control, and click the Quick Macro button.

    You can easily switch to the advanced macro screen when you need to have full access to all the macro capabilities.

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    What is a trigger?

    A trigger is something that causes a macro to start.  A trigger can be a time trigger, sensor trigger, or group trigger.

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    What is a time trigger ?

    A time trigger will cause a macro to start at a particular time.  A trigger can start and end at a certain time, at dawn, or at dusk.  

    The time trigger can be set to trigger once during that duration, for when it's used alone to trigger a macro, or it can be set to trigger for the entire duration, which is useful when used in conjunction with other triggers.  For instance, if you want a motion sensor to trigger a macro, but you only want it to trigger during the day, you would create a time trigger that is set to always trigger between dawn and dusk, and then you would add a sensor trigger that will trigger once.  When both triggers are set, which will only be during the day, then the macro will start.

    Time triggers can be set to recur on a regular basis, starting at the start date.  They can recur hourly, daily, weekly on specified days, monthly on a particular day of the month, on the ?th day on a particular day, or at the end of the month, or on a particular day of the year, or a certain occurrence of a specified day on a specified month.  This lets you set up macros to run on any holiday, or on any day or days of the week you like.

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    What is a sensor trigger ?

    A sensor trigger will cause a macro to start when a sensor sends a signal.  The sensor trigger can be activated when the sensor turns on or off.  The sensor can be any X10 house and unit code combination, or an IO sensor if you purchased the IO Add-On feature.  If the sensor contains data, such as when an X10 dim or bright command is sent, it can also trigger based on whether this data is greater than, less than, or equal to a specified value.

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    What is a group trigger ?

    A group trigger is a type of trigger that consists of other triggers.  This is used in case you need all of some triggers to be active to start a macro, but you may have one group of triggers which you want to be active if any of those triggers are active.  For instance, if you have a time during the day where you want a macro to occur, and you want it to happen when any of several motion sensor are tripped, then you would need to set up a time macro and a group macro, which must all be active for the macro to trigger, and the group trigger would consist of several sensor triggers, and the group trigger would be active when any of those sensors is active.

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    How is the dawn and dusk time determined?

    When you set up a macro, you can set it to trigger only during the day, or only at night, or both.  If you add a time trigger, you have the option of triggering at dawn or at dusk as well.  As you know, dawn and dusk don't stay the same all year unless you happen to live at the equator.

    So how does it know when dawn and dusk are?  Well, there's two ways that it can be done, and you set up how it is done under Setup and then Day / Night.  Here you can set whether dawn and dusk are calculated, or if a sensor is to be used.  X10 motion sensors have the ability to send an on code on the next unit code when it gets dark, and an off code when it gets light.  For instance, if your motion sensor is set up for A1, then it will send an on signal for code A2 when it gets dark out, and when it gets light again, it will send the off signal for A2. 

    If you choose to let Home Domination calculate the dawn and dusk time for you, you will need to enter your approximate latitude, longitude, and time zone.  This is more reliable than the sensor method, however it won't adjust for cloudy days.  If you use a sensor to determine dawn and dusk, then you need to choose the function that indicates night (on for X10 motion sensors).  You can use other types of sensors however.  The sensor method can be less reliable since X10 codes are sometimes lost when multiple X10 modules transmit at the same time, however it will handle cloudy days better by setting the dusk time earlier.

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    What is an action?

    An action is something that happens when a macro is triggered.  An action can be to control a switch (either an X10 or an IO switch), make the computer beep or play a sound, send an email, buffer an email to send later, or send a buffered email, start or terminate another macro, reboot the PC (to make sure memory stays clean), set a mode, take a video snapshot, or alert a specific network client user.

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    How do I set up the program for video?

    The video add-on feature is required for video, although it is also available for a limited time as a demo.  Make sure you install your video device first.  This will likely install any DirectX files you need to access this device.  If not, go to Microsoft's web site to download and install the latest version of DirectX for your computer.

    Then you'll need to go into the Home Domination main control program, click Setup, click Video, and then click Add.  This will display a list of video sources that are available to you.  If the list is empty or you don't see your video source in the list, then check to make sure your device was installed correctly and that DirectX is properly installed on your machine.  Click on the video device you want to use, select a short name that indicates which video device you are using, and a longer description if you like.  If the video source is an X10 device which is turned on and off using an X10 code, then add the appropriate switch and select it.  

    Click OK until you are back to the main screen.  Now a tab should be created on the bottom of the screen with the name of the video source tab you just created.  If you click on that tab, you should see a live preview from that device unless the preview check box is not checked.

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    How can I make Windows automatically log in when it restarts?

    You can go to Start, select Run, then type in "control userpasswords2". This will display a window with a list of users, and there is a check box at the top called "Users must enter a user name and password to use this computer." Select the user that you want it to log in as, and then uncheck that box and it will skip past the user and password part. While this is less secure, it will prevent your home automation from going down when your computer automatically reboots due to a windows update or after recovering from a power outage.

    If you want to get into another user after it automatically logs in, you can just log out and then log back in as the other user.

    How can I force a periodic restart of Windows (and why would I want this)?

    Running Home Domination in a remote location, such as a cabin, is a great way to keep an eye on the place.  You can have it monitor email for commands, or you can connect to it using the Home Domination Remote Client application. But computers are complex and it's tough to predict what will happen, especially if it's run for a long time without rebooting. If your computer is set up to reboot on a regular basis and it auto logs in using the procedure above, and it reloads Home Domination on startup, this lets the computer start from scratch on a regular basis and will help minimize potential problems.

    There are a couple ways to handle this.  You can create a macro in Home Domination, using a time trigger to trigger it daily or every n days. Then you can add a "Run" action (under Advanced). Here, under File Name, put C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe. You may want to browse to this in case your Windows directory is different.  Then under Parameters, put "/r" (without the quotes). Now when the macro is started, it will shut down and restart your system.  Make sure to pick a time of day when you're not likely to be annoyed by this, just in case you happen to be on the computer when it decides to restart. 

    Another way to handle this is by creating a scheduled task by clicking the Start button, going to All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and select Task Scheduler.  Create a basic task, choose how often to run the task, pick a day/time for the task to start, choose to run the same program as last time (C:\Windows\System32\shutdown.exe) with the /r command line parameter. The benefit of this approach is that if Home Domination happens to fail for whatever reason, the restart will still happen and Home Domination should start fresh again.

    How can I get the CM15A to work in Vista or Windows 7

    Home Domination uses LibUSB to get access to the CM15A so it can communicate with it directly.  When you run Home Domination on XP, it's fairly transparent since it will automatically install LibUSB.  However Vista and Windows 7 prevent it from doing this unless you run Home Domination as administrator.  To start it as administrator, you right click on the Home Domination icon and click Run As Administrator.  Then Home Domination will install LibUSB.  You'll only need to run Home Domination as administrator once and then it should run as normal.

    LibUSB doesn't seem to work perfectly on Vista or Windows 7, and you may see blue screens when the computer is shut down although this seems to happen late enough in the process that it doesn't seem to hurt anything.  We will be adding an option to use the ActiveHome Pro SDK instead, and if it works reliably, we'll likely default to that if the service is present.  Check the release notes to see if it's been added yet, or check the box to be emailed about new releases when you download Home Domination. 

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    Is there a way to get my VA11A to work in Vista or Windows 7?

    It's not pretty, but there is a way!  Here's a link to a post from someone who figured it out:

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