Setting up basic x10 for newbies

Turning on and off your lights with a non-ir remote is really easier and cheaper then it looks and sounds. This how-to shows how to configure an x10 remote for 2 lights. Also shows using a label-making machine to label the remote.
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Step 1: What is x10, and what is this project about?

x10 is the next step towards home automation. Can you imagine opening your garage with a remote when you come home from work, and also turning on your lights wiht a different remote? Sounds like it would cost alot of money and technical understanding. But the truth is, and the x10 wiz people don't want' you to know this, it's easy to do and pretty cheap. I picked up this remote and 1 reciver for $20 at Radioshark. I got the other reciver later. they can be REALLY cheap on ebay.

Step 2: What you need

Here is the run down on what you need for this how- to.

(1) x10 remote
(2) x10 recivers
(2) lights that are plugged into the wall
(1) flat head scewdriver or other flat thing


(1) brother label maker

Step 3: What lights are you going to use, and more on x10

Pick two lights. Here is what i used

unit 1: ps2 neon sign
unit 2: some random lamp

Pick the light closet to the spot where you want the remote. This is where you will put the reciver with the antenna. The other one is transmitted over power lines, so it will not matter, unless you're afrid of some lag. Because of this, removing the antenna one will disable the system.

Step 4: Labeling the remote

The first button is always the antenna, this cannot be changed. This will be my ps2 sign. The second one can be changed, but we will get more into that later.
1) Set your label maker to the smallest size and type in "ps2 sign" or "room lamp"
2) print and cut the label from the maker
3) compare the empty plastic "shell" to the label.
4) cut to size
5) stick it in the shell and put it on. You don't have to remove the paper on the back.
6) repeat for each light
bombmaker24 years ago
o wow i hav the same exact label maker, except for the label that says PAUL'S LABEL MAKER
geo8 years ago
I also have full source code for an x10 daemon program I wrote, which allows you to control your whole x10 system from a PC running Linux. Please let me know if anyone's interested, and I'll post the file in a new project
I'd like to see your X 10 code.
driggs geo8 years ago
Yes, please. It would be much appreciated...
Take a look at Each module shown above with the antenna can control up to 16 different functions and a 16 switch hand held remote and a 4 button key chain remote available, With the 16 numerical items there is also A to Z Alpha settings for a combined capability of 256 controllable functions using multiple Transceiver modules. You can even get a programmable TV remote with the X-10 controls on it. They also have a "Whole House" option which allows you to control things with your computer they can even control your house function by internet. X-10 also has a great line of remote cameras.
Fluorescent lamps can be turned on & off by using an "APPLIANCE MODULE" instead of "LAMP MODULE" but they cannot be dimmed .
I have pulled the appliance module apart & removed the AC plug & receptacle & "Hard wired" the module into the fixture. I have also done the same thing with ceiling fans. See Geo's Instructable
Chico7 years ago
Nice instructable! My only issue/disappointment with x10 is that it doesn't handle flourescent lightbulbs. So if the circuit you are controlling has some, plan on using incandescent bulbs instead. Otherwise, it will drive you NUTS!!!!
AlexPDL Chico6 years ago
X10 Can handle fluorescents... I think there are issues with dimming fluorescents though. Just make sure it's a fluorescent compatible x10 module. I use three X10 items with fluorescents... two wall switches and a lamp plug module. Never had a prob.
sunyi7 years ago
Nice instruction! Isn't The first word in step 7 should be "mounting"?
geo8 years ago
See also my project here, about modifying your x10 wall switches to add local dimming capability: