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Thread: Newby introduction

  1. #1
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    Default Newby introduction

    Hello people

    I am completely new to this and my head spins when I try and research what I need to know as everybody has different ways of doing things.

    I want to integrate a level of automation into my home on a budget and need help and advice. Firstly, I have split my project into several stages so I can fully understand each area before I move onto the next.

    Secondly, this is going to be a shoestring install as I don't have a lot of coffers in the pot for my desired system, so I imagine I will not be able to achieve all I want.

    1. Audio
    2. Video
    3. Lighting
    4. Automation

    This is a long project as I am imagining this install taking me around two years as my house is in France and I only visit it three times per year to do work on it, which will hopefully allow me to research, understand, design and procure the equipment I need.

    To start with I have built all the downstairs block walls in my house and have included a room to install my kit, this is at ground floor, roughly central to the house.

    I have a predicted cable layout with CAT5 cables through the house. But this is where I begin to question my logic again.

    I have a central PC with 4 very large hard drives installed. This PC now has all my CDs ripped to MP3 and I am starting to rip my DVDs on to it. I want to install my PC in the central room and run my music and video distribution from it.

    I have split my house into zones and have 6 zones which I want to pipe music to. I would like the ability to be able to play different music in different zones and control volume, music selection by either remote control or a wall mounted touch screen control. 2 of the zones are outside, 4 are inside. If this is a real bug bear and costly idea, then I may clump some of the zones together in relation to music source, but would still like the ability to independently adjust volume via remote control.

    After speaking to several people, suggestions such as passive, active, Xbox, squeeze box.....lots of different ideas. Could I have some advice in relation to which way to go and what kind of money I would be looking at.

    My walls are up to 800mm thick stone, so WiFi is not really a solution, that is why I want to install a wired system, unless remote WiFi senders/receivers work well. One friend suggested Bluetooth and control it by my palmtop. Not really what I want to do but if it saves money, may be something I have to do as a stop gap.

    At home, my cheap solution for my conservatory was the PC sat under the stairs, line out into an amp and amp powering passive speakers. Log on to my PC with a software program from my laptop, and get my server screen on the laptop, take over the server and select music and volume etc through windows. Simple and cheap.

    I am sorry if my post jumps about and my ideas seam scraggy, but I am trying to understand what I want and how to achieve it.

    Firstly, I get the understanding that a CAT5 signal distribution network in my house is a no brainer, so I can buy several drums of the cable and install as much wire as I need on my next visit as I still have full access to all the areas in my house. I will install all the cat5 and coaxial cabling to all the locations and terminate them at the central point (I think it is called node 0).

    But one of the first things needed is some form of music distribution, whistle while you work wears thin after 15 hours.

    I was just going to sick my PC in the server room, amp and a couple of passive speakers to start with, but would rather try and commission some of the system and start the install. Should I be looking at acquiring some active ceiling speakers and send the signal down the CAT5 if so what type of kit should I be looking at aquiring?

    Hope this is not too random a first post.

    Cheers

    Dickspanner

  2. #2
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    With the Cat5 wiring, always install more than you think you need. I normally suggest to add at least one or two more sockets to what you think you need. You can always just lay the conduits and install the cable later if it turns out to be expensive, but remember if the conduit path has more than 2 bends in it its going to be almost impossible to pull the cable through. So I recommend after 2 bends put in a junction box, this also means that if a cable for what ever reason is faulty it can be changed out relatively easily, and like wise when adding more its not that difficult. And always, if possible, over size the conduit so you can fit more cable at a later date. If you are running 2 cables to a location use conduit that can fit 3 or 4 cables. Also rather than have lots of conduit going back to Node zero, we normally, if we can, we run the smaller conduit to a junction box then from there we run the cable through a larger conduit normally 50mm in diameter. And lastly label the cables at both ends and at the junction boxes. Make sure its done with a permanent marker and check that marking is still there after pulling it through the conduit, as it can get rubbed off.
    Of the rest of your tick list here goes:
    1. Audio - Sonos www.sonos.com Some think its a bit pricey, but it does what it says on the box. And as you already have your music ripped to MP3 its worth considering. Another company to consider is Sonelco, ( we install this as well as the Sonos) they do some very neat systems. Basically all you see are the ceiling mounted speakers and point the remote at the speakers. You get FM stereo radio and an Aux stereo channel so you could connect it to a SONOS zone output, plus you can daisy chain the units together to get the same AUX channel on more than one unit. And units can be switched on and off via motion sensor or a home automation controller. www.sonelco.com. If you need more info on the Sonelco range just PM me.

    2. Video - Pinnacle Show center is quite good as seems to play most video formats. I have one in the lounge connected to my server in the garage. And you can connect more than one Showcenter to the Showcenter server software running on your PC. There is also some homebrew software and a few people have hacked a linux based NAS device so you don't need the PC on 24/7. www.swisscenter.co.uk

    3. Lighting - I guess you mean control of here.
    4. Automation - for cheap and easy X10 is a good start.

  3. #3

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    Sonos highly recommended here too...

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/Revie...rm-Review.html

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/New-P...use-Audio.html

    If you don;t want to spend that much have a look at the new Squeezebox Duet...

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/New-P...nos-Party.html

    279 for a wired/wireless (un-amp'd) base with nice colour remote.

    M.

  4. #4
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    I like the look of both of these systems, and I presume I can just connect these into a CAT5 network as some of my walls are 800mm solid stone and I fear the coverage from WiFi is not going to be spectactular.

    With both the Sonos and squeeze box, you still have to get the signal to the speakers, and I want to install ceiling speakers in the rooms.

    My friend has active speakers upstairs and some form of transmitter etc, will I have to go down that route to get music upto the active ceiling speakers.

    As you can tell the music is for total low volume coverage rather than 2 monster speakers at one side of a room etc.

    Around the pool, I wanted to get these rock speakers which are waterproof and can be hidden in the landscaping(that is if the sound quality is not too poor), I will only tell when I buy a set and connect then to an amplifier etc, if I am happy with them.

    Thank you for the advice so far,

    Dickspanner

  5. #5

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    Yes, both systems can use wired Ethernet (over CAT5) if you can't get WiFi reception.

    You'll need speakers for both. Sonos ZP100 has built in amp, ZP80 and SB Duet do not.

    M.

  6. #6
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    I like the squeeze box idea, as you purchase the original set up then just add recievers etc and it can all be controlled from the same handset. I presume each reciever would be given a seperate ID, like kitchen etc, and you can control a reciever through a different reciever.

    For example, If I was in the lounge listening to music with the controller, and someone asked me to turn up the music or change the music in another room, you would be able to access the other reciever (bearing in mind mine will all be connected via ethernet not wireless) and change the settings like what is demonstrated on the Sonos website.

    Doing music outside will not be a problem as there will be an amplifier in the house and passive speakers outside hardwired.

    But for example, in the front room, if the reciever was on a shelf, how would it transmit a signel to the ceiling speakers,

    Could I use active ceiling speakers and send the signal back down the CAT5 and upto the speakers through Node 0? As I can install CAT5 to all speaker locations to undertake this task and power upto the active speakers.

    Cheers

    Dickspanner

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickspanner View Post
    I like the squeeze box idea, as you purchase the original set up then just add recievers etc
    Works same way for Sonos.

    Quote Originally Posted by dickspanner View Post
    I presume each reciever would be given a seperate ID, like kitchen etc, and you can control a reciever through a different reciever.
    Not sure, we're in the queue for a review sample to test.

    M.

  8. #8
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dickspanner View Post
    As you can tell the music is for total low volume coverage rather than 2 monster speakers at one side of a room etc.
    Dickspanner
    Sonelco are more suited to this line of coverage. They also do some very nice 2" speakers that look like halogen down lighters. And most of their systems could be connected to something like a SONOS. Their Easy System or Amplituners come to mind. And if you need more power then that is possible to.
    http://www.sonelco.com/ing/products/...ularsystem.htm
    http://www.sonelco.com/ing/products/...asy-P8107.html
    http://www.sonelco.com/ing/products/...tedsystem.html
    And they are not that expensive either. If you need prices let me know.
    Also some of their equipment has the ability to interrupt the music and broadcast one of 4 pre-recorded mesages, so you know when someone is at the door or if you have mail. This does require a special message recorder module which isn't cheap but can be added at a later date.

    As for speaker connections why not run the wires to the various locations now.

    Nuvo do rock speakers oddly enough I was looking at these just after I first replied to your post. http://www.nuvotechnologies.com/accentPLUS1.htm
    Last edited by toscal; 10th March 2008 at 02:57 PM.

  9. #9
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    I like the sound of the Duet, and it would be a sell if I could do as discussed. EG control one reciever through another reciever in a different room via a ethernet connection. Otherwise I would have to have multiple controls which is a heavy cost implication.

    I do like the sonos, and with the US dollar being so poor, when you go to multiple purchases there is not that much difference in price and I am sure they would do a better deal that they are advertising when you show them the money.

    I suppose the same question is for both units, can the audio signal be sent back down the CAT5 to node 0 for distribution to the active ceiling speakers.

    I have decided to put a cat5 termination in the ceilings of all rooms to allow for the development of the ceiling speaker solution, but if this is included on the drawing at least it can be priced up for materials purposes and a power supply for the active speakers.

    Cheers for the advice I am now moving towards a clear solution to my audio problem. (Pending the control issue and sound distribution issue)

    Cheers

    Dickspanner

    Just come back into this after reading last post:

    The reason I do not want to run speaker wire in is so there is flexibility in where the units is sited. Also my stone walls are exposed and chasing through them is not an option.
    Last edited by dickspanner; 10th March 2008 at 03:06 PM.

  10. #10
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    The active ceiling speakers may require a direct mains connection, rather than via an adapter but I guess either way it may be advisable to plan for a mains connection up in the ceiling for such a purpose. Its better to have it and not need than wish it was there when all the building work is finished.

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