Author Topic: Building new house - Setup questions  (Read 802 times)

KirkD

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Building new house - Setup questions
« on: June 11, 2014, 06:25:29 pm »
I'm building a new house and have the ability to choose loads of options including all the media related options.  I could go crazy on this one and get a fully automated house if I wanted - control the door locks, climate control, etc. remotely.  I'm not going that far.   ::)  But, I do want to have some media options and LinuxMCE looks like the best place to start, but I need a bit of guidance on equipment, setup and expectations.

Here's what I would like to achieve and what will be set up in the house:

There will be a data center in the basement where internet, cable, etc. will come in and where I will set up the primary controls, a data server, etc.  The house will be Cat5e wired so I'll have Cat5e in the living room, the basement (entertainment/workout area), master bedroom, and upstairs loft.  I'm also opting to have speakers installed in the ceiling of the dining room/kitchen/living room (open floor plan) as well as the loft.  We currently have a Samsung SmartTV (I forget the model number - a couple year old) that has wifi connectivity as well as a Cat5 jack, and has Roku device embedded in it.  We can easily get NetFlix, Amazon, etc. through wifi on this set.

Under ideal circumstances, I would like to accomplish these scenarios:

I would like to be able to select the audio being played in the kitchen/dining room and the loft independently.  Ideally this would be selectable from an iPad or an Android phone (I suppose these would be "orbiters") - I could choose the source of the music - files on the server, Pandora, etc. - and the destination kitchen/dining or loft. 

It would be great to be able to stream video to the SmartTV from the data server.  For movies, etc. it is easy enough to go through the embedded Roku device, but the sound will obviously not be piped into the ceiling mounted speakers.  Any way to accomplish that??  Not a priority.

There will also likely be a TV in the basement that can be connected to the network with a Cat5 or through wifi, and I'd like to be able to pick what I watch there from the data server.  I do a lot of biking and in the winter I would like to watch my collection of Ironman Triathlon videos which I have ripped to .iso media.  I could also rip my biking training videos (Sufferfest), my wife's PX90 videos, etc.  These would be selectable from an Android phone or iPad and streamed to choice of TV.  Again, pick the source and the destination.

And that covers the main things.  The questions I have are:

Do I need a computer at each TV to serve as a Media Director?  This would connect to the network through the Cat5 and provide a video out (HDMI most likely) to connect to the TV, correct?  Or, can I stream directly to the TV if it has a Cat5 connection?

How about the audio?  How do I set up the server room such that I can pick different locations to receive the audio output?  Also, how about selecting a source?

And, of course, what other considerations I need to take into account now?  I have the full list of options available to me, so I can set it up any way I like. 

-Kirk




posde

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2014, 08:07:28 pm »
Adding a PC to each location where you have a video display is helpful, if you want to utilize the full abilities of LinuxMCE with regards to media playback. What you can do, is put the thing out of the way, as you do not need to see the PC at all. Some people put longer HDMI cable into ducts, and have there MDs in a central closet. I put my main MD into the attic, and drilled a whole to get the cable down.

Regarding network cable: Put as many as you can afford into the wall. Each room should have at least two outlets. Kid's rooms should have an outlet in each corner of the room. Living room should have one in each corner as well. In general: Whereever you put a power outlet, a network outlet should follow.


KirkD

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2014, 08:17:16 pm »
Thanks for the info. 

Regarding the MD computers that go along with each TV, what are the minimum system requirements?  Of course I'm trying save $$ there.

How about the audio control question?  Is that one possible, and if so, what considerations?  Would that essentially be another MD for each room's audio? 


pigdog

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2014, 01:28:32 am »
Hi,

I don't know if you have ever set up a system, but, if you have not, please do so just to see how things work.

Dual boot (PXE via BIOS with a Window system), add another HDD, etc.

With only 1 or 2 posts (newbie) it seems like a hands on approach might help you determine your requirements.

Set up at least a Core/Hybrid and MD and play.

Cheers.

KirkD

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2014, 01:38:47 am »
Hi,

I don't know if you have ever set up a system, but, if you have not, please do so just to see how things work.

Dual boot (PXE via BIOS with a Window system), add another HDD, etc.

With only 1 or 2 posts (newbie) it seems like a hands on approach might help you determine your requirements.

Set up at least a Core/Hybrid and MD and play.

Cheers.

Absolute, you're correct.  I have 6-9 months of time to plan this whole thing, and I'm definitely going to try to go through a dry run before the house is even built.  Probably multiple dry runs.

I think I have a good idea of what to do, but I'm still wondering about the audio side simply with respect to capabilities.  Any ideas there would be really helpful.

pigdog

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2014, 01:52:26 am »
Hi,

If you are after audio (always avoid alliteration) there are solutions.

I'm not doing that presently have plans.  There are lots of audio approaches which is why I say play, play, play.

Search on squeeze for audio, intercom, etc., you can go down so many rabbit holes on this project.

I've been 5 to 7 years playing on LMCE and I only use 10% to 15% of what it can do.

Play, play now, while you have the chance!

Cheers.

KirkD

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2014, 04:08:07 pm »
Let me be a little more explicit in what I'm asking.

I'm currently talking with the low voltage contractor and I want to make sure I have all the pieces set up properly.  I have to make decision as far as what to have installed and where soon.  Once those structural decisions are made, I can play all I want and tweak the system to my likings.

For video, I'm not concerned there at all.  I can have Cat5e cable available at each TV location without a problem, so that's a given.

The audio is the unknown quantity.  I want to have speakers in the ceiling in the kitchen/dining room and the loft.  Those speakers will terminate in the media closet in the basement and they can have in line volume controls in each room for local control.  I've been looking through many pages of tutorials and I'm spinning from all the great things I can do, but there are a couple of structural questions left open.

First, I assume the speakers are fed by a stereo receiver which will live in the basement next to the core, and will be fed line in from the core, correct?

Second, do I need a media director for each room?  I assume I do, but does that media director need to be in the room and connected to the speakers?  Can the media director for audio in any given room live in the media closet next to the core and the stereo receiver but still be controlled for where it derives its source audio from an orbiter?  Here's the big dilemma - if the MD for each room has to be attached to the speakers directly and it has to be accessible in the room where the speakers are, I'm out of luck.  But, if I can connect the audio MDs to the speakers in the media room where they are out of sight, and I can control the audio source from an orbitor, I'm good.  If I need to see/touch the MD in the room where the audio is playing, that's a problem.  Does that make any sense?  The problem is that the speakers will terminate in the basement and the audio rooms are on the 1st and 2nd floors.  So I need to make sure I can control the audio source, the room, etc remotely.

Third, these audio MDs are fairly minimal, I would think.  Can I use a Raspberry Pi for them, or do I need something with a proper sound card?

Again, for audio, the vision is to be able to go into the loft, pick up my Android phone with the LinuxMCE app, pick "Loft", pick my music source (Pandora, ripped audio on the server), and bam!  Music is playing in the loft, but not the living room.

Once I get a structural representation in mind I can tell the LoVo guys what to do and then I can collect components to start setting up a mock system before the house is built.


posde

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #7 on: June 12, 2014, 05:19:52 pm »
If you terminate audio in a central location, you are fairly free as to what to route to it. With regards to inline volume controls, I am sure your clow voltage contractor will love to sell you those. I would NOT utilize them, but would work with stuff that works by controlling LinuxMCE, i.e. Z-Wave buttons, Orbiters, KNX Buttons what ever. Way more flexibility, and you can control the volume for any room in the house *from any room in the house*. And you do so by controlling it at the amp which is located centrally, and not by some potentiometer

If you terminate everything centrally, you decide what sound goes where. You can have your TV sound come out in your living room, as well as on your patio. And can control everything with the Orbiter.

If you use those analog controls your contractor wants you to install, you loose all that.

Do you need a MD in each room? Not really. Depending on the length of your cable runs to your central location, you can have a few MDs in the central location, which feed HDMI over the amp runs to your TV sets and audio outputs to all the rooms.

I've setup my home to have a MD near the place where my video display is. And would add another MD at each other location where I would want a video display. I use squeezeboxes (or rpi's with the corresponding image) in locations where I want audio only. And I have the amps near the MDs / squeezeboxes. I use Denon amps exclusively as they are quite inexpensive used, and are easily controllable via RS232 from the MDs.

If I were you, I would see if you can find some of the LinuxMCE maindevs local to your site, and get him to make a plan on what you need, what you can do, what you can't do. Might cost a grand or two, but will make sure, that you have everything you need.

PS: I am in Germany, so probably not near you. I would do it for expenses paid though, if you could wait til mid of July (13th to be exact).

KirkD

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2014, 05:34:33 pm »
If you terminate audio in a central location, you are fairly free as to what to route to it. With regards to inline volume controls, I am sure your clow voltage contractor will love to sell you those. I would NOT utilize them, but would work with stuff that works by controlling LinuxMCE, i.e. Z-Wave buttons, Orbiters, KNX Buttons what ever. Way more flexibility, and you can control the volume for any room in the house *from any room in the house*. And you do so by controlling it at the amp which is located centrally, and not by some potentiometer

If you terminate everything centrally, you decide what sound goes where. You can have your TV sound come out in your living room, as well as on your patio. And can control everything with the Orbiter.

If you use those analog controls your contractor wants you to install, you loose all that.

Do you need a MD in each room? Not really. Depending on the length of your cable runs to your central location, you can have a few MDs in the central location, which feed HDMI over the amp runs to your TV sets and audio outputs to all the rooms.

I've setup my home to have a MD near the place where my video display is. And would add another MD at each other location where I would want a video display. I use squeezeboxes (or rpi's with the corresponding image) in locations where I want audio only. And I have the amps near the MDs / squeezeboxes. I use Denon amps exclusively as they are quite inexpensive used, and are easily controllable via RS232 from the MDs.

If I were you, I would see if you can find some of the LinuxMCE maindevs local to your site, and get him to make a plan on what you need, what you can do, what you can't do. Might cost a grand or two, but will make sure, that you have everything you need.

PS: I am in Germany, so probably not near you. I would do it for expenses paid though, if you could wait til mid of July (13th to be exact).


Thanks for the response!  That is incredibly helpful.  As you can imagine, it brings up some new question, though.  8^)

Regarding inline volume controls, if I have those in place, I don't necessarily restrict the the ability to control volume through MCE, do I?  Won't they simply act as an upper limiter?

I agree that I'll likely have an MD at each video location but not the audio only locations.  You did mention that you have squeezeboxes in the audio only locations and amps near the squeezeboxes.  I'm a bit confused here.  If I terminate my speakers in the central media closet, but the amps are in the audio location, how do I connect speakers to audio sources?

Thank you for the offer of helping to design the system, but July 13th will be too late.  I need to make the structural decisions soon - a couple of weeks - and then I can start putting together components for a mock system.

I'm very excited about all this!!  (Can you tell???)


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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2014, 07:38:46 pm »
Well, *I* have the squeezeboxes and amps near the audio zones, because *I* do not like long media runs (audio or video), but prefer to utilize network runs only. Others prefer to have all their equipment in a central location and use media runs. To each their own.

If July is too late, I am sorry, as before that I would only be available for a weekend trip, meaning fly in on Friday and return latest on Sunday, which, IME is taxing the ability to really make a difference. My first couple of LinuxMCE installs took at least a week of working together with the target to get a feel of what s/he wants to really hammer out what is needed, and how to best achieve SWMBO happiness, THE only measure of success imho. From my experience, I would say that these days I need around 2-3 full days. 1 day to talk to everybody involved (meaning the people going to live in the install), 1 day to talk to all the local constructors, and 1 day to show the final plan to everybody.

KirkD

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #10 on: June 12, 2014, 07:42:08 pm »
Well, *I* have the squeezeboxes and amps near the audio zones, because *I* do not like long media runs (audio or video), but prefer to utilize network runs only. Others prefer to have all their equipment in a central location and use media runs. To each their own.

If July is too late, I am sorry, as before that I would only be available for a weekend trip, meaning fly in on Friday and return latest on Sunday, which, IME is taxing the ability to really make a difference. My first couple of LinuxMCE installs took at least a week of working together with the target to get a feel of what s/he wants to really hammer out what is needed, and how to best achieve SWMBO happiness, THE only measure of success imho. From my experience, I would say that these days I need around 2-3 full days. 1 day to talk to everybody involved (meaning the people going to live in the install), 1 day to talk to all the local constructors, and 1 day to show the final plan to everybody.

And by "media runs" you mean the cabling, correct?  That makes sense.  And it is great to know that there are so many options to make this a truly customizable system.  I'm looking forward to getting into this one.

Thank you again for all your help.  I'm sure I'll be back.  8^)


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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2014, 07:55:02 pm »
A quick note: If you want to utilize the LinuxMCE game player for your MAME collection, you would need to have a MD for all the locations where you want to play. And remember, the LinuxMCE game player allows multi player games in your house. I thought this might be of interest for you ;)

KirkD

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2014, 08:00:11 pm »
A quick note: If you want to utilize the LinuxMCE game player for your MAME collection, you would need to have a MD for all the locations where you want to play. And remember, the LinuxMCE game player allows multi player games in your house. I thought this might be of interest for you ;)

I'm glad you brought that up!  Yes, MAME and MESS are a couple of big ones for me.  I'll likely run MAME on any given media location or even just my laptop, and I'll want to pair a game pad/joystick to the MD.  For MESS, I work with the TI 99/4a and Atari 800 emulators and will want to have those running either at a media location or a laptop.  For those, I'll want a keyboard and mouse paired with the MD. 

For the joystick, gamepad, keyboard, and mouse, is it correct bluetooth paired devices are possible at those locations? 

This is just too much!!  I've wanted a setup like this for years and just couldn't make it happen.  Now with the new build, I'm excited to get all the prewiring done so that I can tweak it to my heart's content.



KirkD

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Re: Building new house - Setup questions
« Reply #14 on: June 12, 2014, 08:48:01 pm »
I work on the Game Player device, some vids for you.

OH, CRAP!

Ok, you've just pushed me WAY over the edge now.  There's absolutely no turning back at this stage.  I have a feeling I'm going to need a bigger data server.