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Thread: Ideas/comments on my plans please

  1. #21
    Automated Home Lurker i-B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dippy View Post
    Hi all,

    Just decided to start using this forum as I have plans for some home automation. I'm still at the planning stage and am going through the "what else could I do?" phase.

    Hi Dippy,

    in a lot of ways EVERYONE is right there is a myriad ways of doing what you want to do, it all depends on your budget and patience.

    I will admit it, I DO have a commercial intrest here - I'm a systems integrator - so take all my coments with a pinch of salt I'm trying to flog you something

    The key to any installation is the cable infrastructure - ideally what you are looking for is a futureproof and flexible an installation as possible. There are two distinct areas you are basically looking at.

    1) MultiMedia Distribution
    2) 'Limited' Building automation

    Lets take your Multimedia distribution first - you want to distrubute TV signals round your house and as you can probably guess from the "philosophical" discussion going on above there are a number of ways you can do this. I tend to favour the single cable appoach i.e. bring all your incoming signals (SAT, DTT/UHF TV, FM, AM, DAB) into one location on good old co-ax from an antenna 'farm'. This is then distributed around your property utilising a high bandwidth twisted pair cable ("CAT8" for want of a better word as mentioned in previous posts but BE careful with that term, we prefer to use the analogue bandwidth designation as it is more descriptive but I'll explain more below).

    The key to the cable lies in the analogue bandwidth - or to put it more simply if you imagine the cable as a copper pipe its the amount of liquid it can carry. A UHF/DTT TV signal needs a pipe that is capable of handling 862MHz - dont worry about the MHz bit it doesn't matter, it could be chicken pies, pints, elephants,etc the important bit is the number - a digital sattelite signal needs a pipe of around 2300MHz (chicken pies, pints, elephants,etc ) to talk to from the box to the dish BUT 862MHz from the box to the TV (in other words the 2300MHz bit is a carrier signal).

    You still with me? this can be heady stuff, simple once you get your head round it but it can be difficult to grasp the concept at first... ok right I'll carry on

    Cable comes in various bandwidths and you have to be careful especially when dealing with data type cables (i.e. twisted pair) as they can have two different bandwidths - analogue and digital - the digital applies to the amount of DATA the cable can carry and will be expressed as a digital figure so CAT5e will be about 1Gbit depending on the manufacturer going up to CAT7 at around 10Gbit (CAT8 is well over 14Gbit) - note the use of BIT not BYTE. Good Quality TV100 or WF100 Co-Ax is capable of something like 3000MHz

    When it comes to analogue signals (including "DIGITAL" sattelite and "DIGITAL" terrestrial as these are digital signals piggybacked onto an analogue carrier signal) we change from MegaBits and GigaBits to MegaHertz and GigaHertz CAT5 can manage about 100Mhz, CAT6 about 350Mhz, CAT7 about 700MHz (the exact figures vary from cable manufacturer to manufacturer) CAT8 comes in at around 1200MHz (1.2GHz) but comes in various flavours so can go all the way up to 2400GHz (2.4GHz) which is why we prefer to call it by the analogue capacity rather than straight CAT8 so we'd call the 1200 MHz stuff "one point two gig" and the 2400MHz "two point four" just to confuse matters we tend to use "one point five gig".

    Anyway to get back to the point in hand the key figure is the 862MHz or the 2300MHz because what this boils down to is whether you want your Sky box under the telly gathering dust and looking UGLY (subtle aren't I) or tucked tidily and neatly away under the stairs next to your patch panel as that gives you your cable choice in the room you'll need to run 2.4G, under the stairs you can run it on 1.5G, did you notice how I just assumed you were going to use a single cable type here.... LOL. The only issue I have with the 2.4Gig is that only ONE of the pairs is capable of taking the full 2.4G the remaining 3 pairs are rated at about 1.7G. But its nice to see it on the market.

    Basically using a high bandwidth CAT8 'type' data cable will allow you to run the signal natively without any wrangling, CAT5/6/7 won't you will have to put some form of electronic balun at both ends to compress then uncompress the signal so it gets footled about with in some way - fine for a digital signal like HDMI or DVI but a strict no-no in my books for any analogue signal. You can also carry computer data on it, phone, line level audio (it will take amped up to about 40W RMS), IR control etc, if you can stuff it down a twisted pair or a combination of twisted pairs then you can fit all on the same cable, lets put it this way we've been installing this type of cable for the last 5 years and we haven't seen anything that it can't handle (within reason of course - it won't do mains the smoke come out of it and it smells funny for some vauge reason etc.).

    There are arguments about cost that will rage on and on, CAT5 is dirt cheap, easy to terminate but you have to add electronic devices which cost money in order to use it as a "one size fits all" and you only get one service per cable. CAT8 will carry the signal no problem, each pair can carry a service and the connector system accounts for this so two cables installed into a single gang socket can carry up to a 8 services (eg 10/100 ethernet requires 2 pairs, phone 1 pair, TV one pair, composite video (RGB) takes 3 pairs, gigabit ethernet needs 4 pairs, etc, ) so it is a LOT more tidy in terms of real estate on the wall BUT is more expensive to purchase with regard to the install material wise and it can be tricky to install & terminate (normally only when people DON'T read the instructions ) and you have to use adaptors to "convert" from the CAT8 connector back to conventional type connectors and some of these can be a bit pricey BUT hey pricey is relative - you have to do similar if you were using a CAT5 based system so the point is relative. When you get down to it to acheive the same functionality the CAT5 & Electronic Balun route probably costs about the same as the CAT8 and adaptor route - I personally and professionally think that the CAT8 type system looks better and gives you more flexibilty in the long term over CAT5 - you payses yer pennieses yer takes yer choice



    2)Building automation

    Right lighting, blinds, video door entry, security but you don't want to integrate the heating control...... WHY? Are you mad? if you integrate the heating control with the rest of the toys you are wanting your control system will pay for itself in about 4 - 5 years on the gas bill ALONE (or oil or coal or whatever - insert appropriate fossil fuel, hell I don't know what you burn) ok I lied - on your combined energy bill (gas & 'lectric). TRUST ME it will not only pay for itself but it will pay for your media network as well, get this stuff integrated right and you can save around 30% of your energy bills without even trying (so add up you lecky bill add your heating bill to that THEN multiply the lot by say 15% (projected fuel bill rise for this year ALONE, the figure is actually 17%) then multiply by 5 and you will see what I mean.

    One system will do the lot and a heck of a lot more besides - get the basics installed (i.e. the cables and some basic actuator panels) and you can add toys to your hearts content without having to rip huge holes in the plaster work and all the acompanying earache from the better half whenever you want

    Its a european system, over 200 manufacturers (Siemens, ABB, Hager to name a few) are making kit for it yet I bet that only 1% of the population is vagely aware of it, its called KNX (pronouced con-ex or KAY ENN EX). A single low voltage cable links all your 'sensors' - switches, PIRs, etc the mains runs from the actuator panel that houses you dimmers, controllers etc. It doesn't need a central controller though you can add one as the intelligence is contained in the devices themselves (so there is redundance in depth in the event of a failure NOT that I have seen this stuff fail. It will also integrate into your home entertanment kit so you can get it to close the curtains and dim the lights when you press play on the DVD (s**y AND energy saving).

    The downside is that it costs about 7 - 15% more than a conventional electrical installation depending on how carried away you get with your spec, a partial rewire would be needed but then you are half way there anyway, and isn't really readily user programmable (it can be set up for easy user configuration but you would be locked out from doing anything really silly) so you need a KNX systems integrator to set it up I wonder who could do that....


    Ooops that was a bit hard sell on the KNX stuff, sorry I'm a bit passionate about it, soz.

    There we go, my two penneth sorry if I went all techy on you if you want a chat then give me a bell, I'm more than happy to give impartial and honest advice, I don't know where in the country you, we're in Scotland, but if I can't help you out (and if you do actually want professional help (oooer ) then certainly give you contacts for reputable installers close enough to be able to help you out. You'll find my contact details in the clicky linky thing in my signature.
    Last edited by i-B; 12th February 2008 at 11:17 PM.
    i-B (a.k.a. Gavin )

    Intelligent Buildings Ltd.

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