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Articles - Repairing a dead push button on X10 light switches

Publication date: 12/20/14

HISTORY

I have added X10 system to my whole house about 10 years ago (in-wall light switches, remote controls, HVAC thermostat, etc.). Over the time few X10 light switches failed and were replaced with the new ones, which I bought from E-Bay. Recently two more failed, and, when I checked E-Bay X10 inventory, I was pretty shocked with prices. The price has doubled (and even tripled in some stores).

Anyway, this was a time to get to my secret stash and see whether I can repair dead switches. It turned out, most of the failures were related to the button, that controls the lights, and not to the electronics.

Ahead of the story, I can mention, that I successfully repaired 3 out of 4 switches (I simply was not cautious with the first one and broke plastic latches on it). My experience were only to WS12A/RWS17/XPD3-W models, but you may discover some other modules, where the same repair technology may be used.

NECESSARY TOOLS AND PARTS

Set of screwdrivers, pliers, soldering iron and related supplies, SMD 3x6x2.5mm buttons

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

DISCLAIMER: Procedure below describes my experience and is intended for technically experienced people only. I DO NOT TAKE any responsibility for any kind of damages, caused by it.

  1. Assembled X10 light module:
  2. Using a small screwdriver push 4 small latches on the corners and pull the back cover:
  3. All 3 wires go through the L-shaped channel inside, pull them in and carefully release, so you can have some spacing between the front assembly and the back cover:
  4. To disconnect the board from the aluminum plate (which also serves as a cooling radiator, take the screw and the nut off:
  5. Disassemble the front:
  6. Take the further front stuff out by pushing and releasing 3 latches (1 at the top and 2 at the bottom):
  7. Here is the current state. Release 2 side latches, close to the bottom of the switches - this will allow you to take the board out of the front:
  8. Now you can also take the aluminum plate off. Be careful with the on/off switch, it has a tiny spring with a ball-head, plus a switch membrane - don't lose them:
  9. This is the push button - you can clearly see only one of the contacts, the other one is broken:
  10. Release 2 more latches of the on/off switch cover, not we have fully disassembled unit:
  11. Here is the board - you can clearly see a broken piece of the push connector, stuck to it:
  12. Broken pieces from other switches, that I disassembled earlier, for your reference. This is a common problem:
  13. Push button - I used pliers and broke the other contact, I no longer need it:
  14. Alcohol is your friend (for cleaning the dirty contacts, of course). I used a paper towel and some ear cleaning sticks. Alligator clamps do a good job holding it in place:
  15. I am going to solder SMD push button (3x6x2.5mm) right to the plate. Since the button has a metallic case, I will put a thin piece of paper at the bottom to prevent any short circuits over there:
  16. Use alcohol one more time, to remove the flux. Besides, this is a good idea to use your multi-meter to check it's functionality and ensure no short circuits:
  17. Now, we have to assemble the unit back. Put the dials back (looking from the inside - red is on the left, black is on the right):
  18. Put the board back (top goes first, them bottom, until the latches click):
  19. Put back on/off switch. Here is the toughest part. Seriously... I had to repeat it 5-10 times for each switch, before I succeeded. You have to put the metal membrane to the holders, then put the ball-head with spring inside of the switch holder, then push it against the membrane and lock the latches. Couple of hints: the spring may suddenly fly away, so make sure easy to find it in the surrounding area (remove debris, put covers, etc.). You may want to push it against the front cover first, and, while holding it, slide it to the position. The only thing you would have to do after that is to lock it down.
  20. Make sure the push button goes all of the way down, when you press it (and SMD button clicks, of cource). I had to shorten a central pole by ~2mm on WS12A/RWS17 switches, but somehow didn't have to do that on XPD3-W.
  21. Put the metal place back and tie the screw and the nut (don't forget to put the washer in between):
  22. Assemble the front and put the back cover on:
  23. Assemble the front (cont), note the "top" sign from the back of the push button cover:
Congrats! You just saved some money and gained some experience - welcome to the next level! :-)

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