IR – Hardwired Distribution

Smart Home Diary

You run hundreds, maybe thousands of metres of cable round your home. People look at you funny, some point at you and snigger.

This week the advantages of a having a cabled home were realised once again. After a 12 month “sentence” using the Pyramid style IR-RF-IR repeaters we were so fed up. It was always a balancing act trying to get them to work. Some nights you were walking round the bedroom upstairs trying all sorts of different angles to try and control the TiVo or DigiBox downstairs.

So..hardwired IR distribution was high on the adgenda for James Hoyes annual Automate-a-thon. Here is how we got it all operating.

The first 3 rooms chosen to have IR receivers fitted were the master bedroom, the Kitchen and the AV Room itself. When we were building we put a spare wall box with 2 x CAT5s beside every light switch. If you are retro fitting you might find you have spare cables (you need 3 cores) in your alarm PIRs you could use? All the wall boxes in our house are the deep 47mm ones. These are take the Xantech and Buffalo receivers with a little room to spare. This picture shows the kitchen wall box.

Mounting the barrel type of Xantech or Buffalo IR receiver in a blank faceplate is a quick and easy method of producing a tidy (wife friendly) installation. These receivers can be hidden in lots of other places – furniture, speakers or anywhere else you can drill a hole. Use some tape to easily find the centre of the faceplate for drilling.

A 13mm bit was used to create the hole for the receiver. A nut secures the brass tube at the back of the faceplate…

…and the lens screws on the barrel at the front.

 

The Xantech receiver is very similar. It doesn’t have the screw down terminals on the back (just bare wires) but it does have a clear lens and a nice flashing talkback LED.

The Xantech 791-44 is the “brains” of the operation. This is where the receivers and transmitters meet. You can connect up to 12 receivers into this one unit. Its outputs can be connected directly to mini-emitters or passed on to other connecting blocks.

The work carried out on James’s trip last year to put all the “control cables” into Krone blocks is paying off now. The CAT5s the receivers are wired to in each room are already patched down onto the Krones so connecting them into the Xantech is a simple operation.

A cable was made going from the Krone blocks to the patch panel (both in Node Zero). This feeds the IR output of the Xantech block to an RJ45 socket behind the equipment in the AV Room. On the AV Room side another cable was made with RJ45 plug on one end going to another small connecting block. From it the mini-emitters are plugged in and attached to the front of the equipment.

 

The finished article. This receiver is in the AV room and allows us to pass IR back to Node Zero to control HomeVision.

While the Xantech stuff clearly is not cheap I have to say it is impressive! There’s a lot to be said for something that installs and works first go. Its now a joy to operate TiVo from the bedroom etc. The expandability is there too, adding receivers in other rooms will just be a matter of punching a few wires into the krones.
On another (old) topic – I have 8 CAT5s behind the AV equipment. I thought this was a ridiculous amount and I’d never use half that. However, currently I am using…

1. Phone line for TiVo
2. Data for TiVo
3. Data for DDAR
4. KAT5 In
5. KAT5 Out
6. IR

Leaving just 2 free! The old UKHA adage about thinking how much cable you will need in your wildest dreams – then double it – still holds true.

All the Xantech IR gear is available from Lets Automates IR Section (the Buffalo receivers are much cheaper but they have very few left – they are orderable by the part number (10068), or by searching on “Buffalo”).

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