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94 October 2008
I am looking for an efficient,
physically very small, low parts count
circuit to provide a regulated 5V at up
to 10 mA output directly from a power
line (115 VAC) input.
I need to monitor when my sump
pump in the basement goes on and off.
The pump draws 10A l20 VAC. Any
I have an X10 lighting system in my
home that used to work flawlessly,
using X10’s “Active Home” software to
control the yard lights. Over the last
year, some zones work intermittently
and some not at all. I’ve tried to find
any electrically noisy appliances that
may be on when the system gets flakey,
but have not seen any consistent
pattern that might be causing the
problem. I do know that the new pump
motor for the pool equipment creates
problems when it’s on, but it shuts off
hours before the lights come on (or
try to). Sometimes the AH software
can’t turn on the lights, but I can do it
manually with the remote.
[#8081 - August 2008]
I'm looking for information on
power line communication systems.
Does the US power grid broadcast any
information that can be read from the
power lines coming into my home?
Are there any projects that can tap
#1 Most distribution power lines
have 60 Hz on them and that is it. If
you happen to be on a power line with
what is called the “Turtle” then there
will be data. I do not know the protocol
for this data. You don't really want to
know what your neighbor’s power
Sometimes there will be a Power
Line Carrier. This will carry data, voice,
and special signaling, like high speed
transfer trip. The problem there is it is
blocked from getting to your house by
band stop filters on the power line. The
filters are not to keep the signal away
from you so much as to remove echos
from beyond the power line receiver.
Alonzo E. Fuller
Sweet Home, OR
#2 Aclara (formerly Distribution
Control Systems) sells the TWACS
(Two-Way Automatic Communications
System) technology to utilities which
allows the utility to read your meter