Computer Control of X10 devices

Update: 2008-12-09

I recently moved this over to my linux box and now am controlling the Firecracker device with a small piece of software called BottleRocket. This was super easy. Now, turning on the Christmas tree (device a1) is as simple as:
> /usr/local/bin/br a1 on
Read on for my original directions for setting this up on windows.

Problem

I have some cheap X10 modules lying around and I want to use my computer to turn them on and off, and also schedule them to turn on and off at certain times.

Solution

This is actually very easy with a Firecracker X10 device. It is a device that plugs into your serial port and will let you command X10 modules using the X10 software. The software GUI looks just like a remote so it is very easy to use. So why write a page about it? Well, I wanted something that I could execute at the command line that would let me control X10 modules. A command line utility would allow me to schedule X10 commands using a task scheduling utility (such as the built in Windows Task Scheduler). It would also allow me to have the ability to send X10 commands from scripts such as Perl or Python.

Software

The software that I found that allows me to control X10 modules from the command line is some freeware called "Fireck32" written by Scott Fisher. Here is an exceprt from the README:

The Fireck32 utility was designed so that you can control X10's Firecracker module under Windows 9x/ME/2000/XP from either a DOS prompt or a shortcut. I wanted to be able to do some basic scheduling of lights and appliances with the Firecracker but did not want to pay the extra money for the elaborate software that X10 sells since I really only need basic functionality. I don't like elaborate software packages that include their own scheduling utilities sucking up resources in the background since Windows comes with its own scheduler, anyway. Thus Fireck32 was born.


Scheduling Commands

The documentation explains how to use the utility pretty well. To schedule X10 commands, I use the following syntax with the scheduler in Windows XP:

"C:\Program Files\Fireck32\fireck32.exe" /com=1 /house=a /device=2 /action=on

That should give you a pretty good idea of the usage, but it is all explained in the documentation with the utility. Another job can be made to turn the device off. I usually have another set of jobs aruond Christmas time to turn the Christmas tree on and off with.

Thanks

Thanks Scott for such a great utility. It did exacly what I wanted and has worked flawlessly since day 1! And most of all, thanks for making it free!


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