Setting Up Basic X10 for Newbies




About: w00t

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

Step 5: Setting the Corect HOUSE and UNIT

Like I said before, the main unit (with the antenna) is the first UNIT. It should be set to HOUSE A unless this is your second system.

The second light is more complex. Make sure it is set to the same HOUSE as above, the the UNIT can be 2 or 3. But why not 4? the remote has 4 buttons? IF you read on the bottom it says BRIGHT and DIM. these control the dimmer for UNIT 3. So, if you wanted to dim that light you could. I think it is more of a hassle, so I don't use the dim, and if you don't want to, you don't have to. So for this how-to the UNIT is set to 2.

Step 6: Plugging It All In

Time for the almost last step, and the first time you will see your system working.

1) Take the Ps2 sign plug and unplug it
2) Plug it into the main reciver
3) plug it back into the wall
4) do the same thing with other lamp

Then hit the first button to ON. If it works, try the second. If both of them don't work, check the HOUSE and UNIT is right, and make sure the main one is plugged in. IF one doesn't work, unplug the reciver and make sure it works by itself.

Step 7: Mounting the Remote and Closing Thoughts

Mountign the remote shoud be simple. Try to get it in a place that has form and function. Right next to the light switch with some double sided tape will work, if it doesn't exceed the range. I just put it next to my bed, on the nightstand.

this can go much further then two lights. Your whoule house maybe, even computer controlled. Take a look at to see what you can do with this great system.

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    13 Discussions


    3 years ago

    x10 modules leak a small amount of current by design. This had no negative impact in a world of incandescents, but will cause CFL and LED bulbs to flicker even when they are turned off. You can hack the modules so that they will work with these bulbs by cutting a diode on the circuit board. Here's a link

    1 reply

    Reply 2 years ago

    To get a lamp module to work with LEDs and CFLs and low-power incandescent, you have to remove components associated with the local control feature.

    If you are ok with doing mods to your appliance module, open it up and locate the 100K resistor (brown-black-yellow bands) and the 330K resistor (orange-orange-yellow bands). Chop both out of the unit. Or at least clip one lead of each.

    The local control feature won't work, but LEDs and other low-power bulbs will work fine.

    This will also reduce the quiescent power drain of the module.


    3 years ago

    The user manual here will show how to program the house and unit codes to the wall switch.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    o wow i hav the same exact label maker, except for the label that says PAUL'S LABEL MAKER


    13 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

    2 replies

    Reply 13 years ago

    Yes, please. It would be much appreciated...


    11 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    13 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!!!!

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    13 years ago on Step 7

    Nice instruction! Isn't The first word in step 7 should be "mounting"?