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How it works
PixController RF (Radio Frequency) is a wireless camera
controller which works in conjunction with the X10 wireless PIR
motion sensor. The PixController RF boards "listens" for
wireless commands sent from a X10 wireless PIR motion sensor
when the motion sensor is tripped. When the RF board receives a
trigger event it will trigger the attached camera or camcorder
to take a photo or record video.
X10 home automation networking has been around for about 20
years. Pico Electronics of Scotland developed X10 as a home
automation system and the first products were produced in 1978.
Since then, the original patent has expired and prices for
X10-compatible devices are now more affordable and common
through out many homes today.
Setting X10 PIR Sensor Addresses
Each X10 PIR sensor can be
setup to send out a unique address. X10 PIR sensors are assigned an
'address', which consists of a 'House' plus a 'Unit' code. There are 16
'House codes' (A to P) and 16 'Unit codes' (1 to 16). Each House code
has 16 Unit codes, which provides for 256 possible addresses.
Examples of House/Unit codes
are as follows: A5 ; C7 ; B13 ; D4, etc.
Remove battery cover:
H = House Code Button
U = Unit Code Button
To change the House Code that the X10 PIR transmits: Press
and hold the House/On button (under the battery
compartment lid) the red LED flashes first and then blinks the
current setting (once for A, twice for B, etc.). Release and
immediately press the button the desired number of times for the
House Code you want to set (once for A, twice for B, etc.) and
hold the button on the last press. 3 seconds after the
last press (while holding the button) the red LED blinks back
the number of times for the code you set. Release the button.
To change the Unit Code that the X10 PIR
transmits: Press and hold the Unit/Off button (under
the battery compartment lid) the red LED flashes first and then
blinks the current setting. Release and immediately press the
button the desired number of times for the Unit Code you want to
set and hold the button on the last press. 3 seconds
after the last press (while holding the button) the red LED
blinks back the number of times for the code you set. Release
For the PixController RF board controlling
"Trigger Sensor or A Sensor"
must be set to a House Code of "A". It does not care what the Unit code
"Wake Up Sensor, or B Sensor"
must be set to a House Code of "B". It does not care what the Unit code
For the PixController
RF board setup for a Personal Detection Zone:
"Zone 1" must be set to a
House Code of "A", and it does not care what the Unit code is.
"Zone 2" must be set to a
House Code of "B", and it does not care what the Unit code is.
"Zone 3" must be set to a
House Code of "C", and it does not care what the Unit code is.
"Zone 4" must be set to a
House Code of "D", and it does not care what the Unit code is.
Setting up the X10 wireless PIR sensor
The X10 PIR
sensor "sees motion" using passive infrared
(PIR) detection. "Passive infrared detection" is
basically the detection of a change in
temperature, often from body heat. If someone
walks into an area protected by a sensor with
Passive Infrared (PIR) Detection, then their
body heat is detected, and the sensor is
triggered. When the temperature is returned to
its normal level, the motion sensor resets.
Detection vs. Motion Direction For best results, mount the X10
PIR sensor so the person entering the area cuts across its field
of view. Do not mount the X10 PIR sensor near heating or cooling
sources (direct or reflected sunlight) as this may falsely
Remove the battery cover on the front of the X10 wireless PIR
sensor and install two new AAA alkaline batteries. Leave the
cover off for now. A fresh set of AAA batteries will give you
the best detection. The unit defaults to House Code A and Unit
Code 1. To test the X10 PIR: Press the House
button once. The X10 PIR transmits the "device ON" RF signal and
the red LED flashes. Place the X10 PIR on a wall or a tree or
mount it on a wall at least 6 feet above the ground. Let it
settle for a minute and then walk past it. This will send a
"device ON" RF command to the PixController RF board and sound
If the PixController RF board is setup
in walk test mode it will:
Beep once for a X10 wireless sensor setup for a House Code of
Beep twice for a X10 wireless sensor setup for a House Code
Beep three times for a X10 wireless sensor setup for a House
Code of "C".
Beep four times for a X10 wireless sensor setup for a House
Code of "D".
Basic Theory of Operation
The basic operation of the PixController RF
controller in conjunction with the X10 wireless PIR sensor can be seen
in the graphic below.
||A target, such as an animal or
person walks past the X10 wireless motion sensor and triggers an
||Once the X10 wireless motion
sensor is triggered it sends out a RF "On" command.
||The RF PixController board is
listening for X10 commands and picks up the RF "On" command sent
from the X10 wireless PIR sensor. It will decode the RF commands
House Code and Unit Code and make a decision on what to do.
||If the command send is to
trigger the camera or camcorder a photo or video will be
Powering up the PixController RF System
The photo to the right shows a typical
Digital Camera system using the PixController RF board. This system
is built into a Pelican 1040 case using the Sony DSC-S600 digital
camera, PixController RF board, 18" internal coil antenna, and 4 AA
battery holder with on/off switch.
To power up the system turn the Power on/off switch to the "on"
position. You will hear a short melody from the PixController RF
board letting you know it's powered on. Next there will be a 30
second delay. After this time expires you will hear 4 quick beeps
which lets you know the system is going into a 1 minute auto walk
test phase. If you walk past the X10 sensors at this point you will
hear 1 beep for a "A" Sensor or trigger sensor, and 2 beeps for a
"B" sensor or power up sensor. You may want to keep the case open so
you can hear this from a distance.
After this 1 minute walk test phase expires you will hear 4 quick
beeps again letting you know the system is going "active". After
this point the system is ready to take photos.
Setting up the PixController RF
Simply place the X10 Wireless PIR
sensors with the "A" address in front of your PixController RF
system or anywhere you want to photograph or video from a given
detection area. If you are setting your system up with the "B" PIR
sensors then these sensor are placed off to the side of the
PixController RF unit so that when the target passes in front of
them moving towards the PixController RF unit it will power it up in
a mode to be ready to snap a photo the instant it moves in front of
the "A" sensor.
Note: If you are setting the RF unit with "A" and "B" sensors
there are a few things you need to know. If a subject moves in front
of a "B" sensor but never moves in front of the "A" sensor the
PixController RF unit will power down after 30 seconds. Basically
the subjects needs 30 seconds to move in front of the "A" sensor to
trigger a photo or video. Also, if the subject moves in front of the
"A" sensor without ever passing in front of a "B" sensor then the
PixController RF unit will just power up and take a photo or video.
There are no limits to the number of X10 Wireless sensors you can
use or how you use them. You may want to setup a video RF unit with
"A" sensors up the trail and down the trail. This way when a subject
moves in front of the "A" sensor the camera will already be
recording by the time the subject moves in front of the unit.
Lastly, you can also setup multiple PixController RF systems to
respond to 1 or more X10 Wireless sensors. For example, you can
setup 1 "A" sensor on a trail and have cameras at both sides of the
trail. When the "A" sensor is triggered both RF units will take a
photo/video at the same time. This is useful if you need photos of
both sides of the subject, or multiple angle shots of the subject.