Author Topic: Advice on using MCE for Home automation with current structured wiring  (Read 2403 times)

cpayne

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Need some advice

Before finding out about MCE, I paid to have my house wired for RUSSOUND basically 2 speakers in each room. No volume control, but they all run back to a wiring closet . CAT5e in each room for the keypad. WIres for the pads are wired configurable for Master or subzone (Maybe Russound lingo)
The media room has been wired for 5.1 surround, HDMI 3.1a (for future DLP) and Cat5E and RG6 X2
 All rooms have Cat5e and RG6.
Storage
I plan on a thecus n8800 starting at 5 TB for storage. of Music and DVDs I have a couple of TB of media already.
I haven't bought a system yet, as I was more concerned with the wiring.
Here is what I want to achieve. Automation of home to include (Security,lights, thermostats temp, audio, HD video) basically the works.
How could I leverage the wiring I have to get these controls and services?
What would I get for core/md (I'm looking at an eee box, but reviews are not good on either for HD)
I saw the post about Squeezebox for whole house audio. That system would work, but can I utilize the existing speakers without amplification and wall plates in each room?

Thanks for any advice and suggestions on components in advance


Charles

PcCowboy

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First of all props for pre-wiring!!!! even if you have to add some or if you have more then needed at the time! Some wiring is better then none!!! and Cat5e or Cat6 is great and a must!! via balins you can run about anything over Cat5e-Cat6 (including HDMI if you have two or more.).

You really have a nice MCE friendly set-up from what i see, Depending on how you want it to work....

if all the rooms have Cat5e your purty much set for MD's talking to the core.  Just put in a Gigabyte switch at the termination point and plug stuff in. Bam, you have video w/HD capabilities, phone, security, lighting, temp controls, ect... (assuming a properly setup and compatible Core of course.).

now on to audio....
first i would find out are the speakers 2-4-6-8Ohm or 70v?  In the media room are ohm type speakers prob, but the others idk.

now how do you want it wired?? i'm not sure quite what you mean by "Master" "Subzone" those are common but general terms.  I'm guessing you are looking at one of three main setups.

1) all room speakers play the same thing, volume is controlled via wall mounted Vol controls or controls back by the amp, the media room is separate.
2) all room speakers are separate, (separate level and media, ect...) and of course the media room is separate.
3) a combination of the two

   [By the way, the dif in an Ohms type setup versus a 70v is basically 70v can be feed to many many speakers daisy-chain style, the number or speakers
   depends on the amp power, any and all speakers can be controlled using volume controls without the need to run home runs. The downside is quality.
   70v tends to not carry the full spectrum of audio, so less highs and lows mostly and mid range mix. And its unpractical for stereo and VERY unpractical
   for 5.1 systems. Ohms Setups on the other hand can only have 1-3 (in most cases) speakers per channel (most amps are two ch) but they tend to be
   more gutsy and carry the full range of whatever you put on them (you dont see a lot of 70v subs do you...). But since it's only 1-3 speakers per channel
   it's easy to separate out rooms, making it more flexible.. So if you want it to sound like listening to the radio in each room 70v is fine. If you want it to
   sound like your in a small theater in each room or separate your sources Ohms is the way to go.]

Option one is easy, the core can feed music to either a 70v amp that feeds the speakers, or split off to feed multiple amps feeding an Ohms type setup.
Option two is a bit more complex, you will need feeds from each room's MD the the amp for that rooms speakers. You might be able to use the RG6 for that
   (assuming it all terminates in the same place). Or go and pull your wires down to your MD and put your amp in the same room. This option gives you
   complete control and flexibility.
Option three is either use all Ohms type setup or a combnation of Ohms for rooms you want control of and use 70v for rooms where you want the same
   media to play.

In all options you use whatever 5.1 system you want in the media room and run it to the MD for that room.

The Ohms option;
PROS:
flexibility
control
power
quality
CONS:
price goes way up
need for feeds from each MD

The 70v Option:
PROS:
Price goes down
easy to get sound in all locations with existing wiring.
good for background type sound.
one or two amps
CONS
only one signal per amp/channel
Lower quality sound (but still good mind you..)
less flexible

 
all that said i dont see a way to do it without some sort of amplification. (idk if squeezeboxes or any other options provide internal amplification or what-have-you...)
also they do have subs for 70v, and they have 5.1 Ohms type amps. as always there are exceptions to every rule. And i might be missing something or there could be something better for you that someone else knows of (hey thats why its a fourm, two heads and all that....)

This is my 2 1/2 cents, take it or leave it. :-)
∞PcCowboy

(also if your looking for equipment i can hook you up)
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 05:33:09 am by PcCowboy »

cpayne

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All I have is wiring at this point. I cant move in until august. I can't get into wire anymore either. All the speaker wire are home runs.(I don't have any speakers yet. I just wanted it wired and the only wiring contractor I could use was a russound shop.
That said. I can go either way at this point. I would like more info on the baluns and running things over cat5.
I think I can sneak more wiring in after the inspection as I may need more cat5e.
I'm looking for great deals on equipment right now.

Thanks for any and all assistance

PcCowboy

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If your close to Ohio I might be able to
Help more. 

But just google "cat5 balun" the have ones for audio and video hdmi, vga, component, composite, ect some have audio plugs to send audio also. Some are passive, some are powered. The better ones have built in filters to remove any interference and blocks to stop voltage spikes.  They can get a lil pricey. But they are great for small places where you can't get larger wires and cheaper for long runs. We run vga 300 foot with em.

If you really need I can get them and ship them to you or something.
But if they look like something you want check them out at some sites.

cpayne

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I found  a site that gave a pretty good tutorial on baluns. http://www.intelix.com They also sell them.
Thats a nice offer thanks. I'm in Richmond VA about 10 hurs from Marion OH (By Grandparents live there.)

Since I have wired for russound keypads, is there a style of orbitor I could put in the place of a keypad (Basically one Gangbox at light switch height containing one Ehthernet run

I'm intersted in building/procuring following.
Amp  to drive the speakers that come back to the closet.
I'm hoping the core I build will accept many sources and out to many zones.
Really don't want a bulky pc as MD. Something slim like the eee box but could handle HD .  Basically emulating a russound keypad and CAV 6.6s2
Automation I have some X-10 modules but they are glitchy. Looking into Z-Wave. (Teenagers leave the lights on wherever they go.

Any suggestions on hardware to purchase or build.
I have a line on some 8 inch Pyle Pro Speakers 18 for 497.00 dollars
LinkSys 24 port Gigabit unmanaged switch.


Thanks again


PcCowboy

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Intelix is who we would prob get them thru. Great company.

My dad owns a audio/video install company and we are in the richmond area sometimes so ill talk to him and see if we could get you a price to do it.

Figuring the wiring/head-end stuff would be no prob.
As far as the orbiters go you will have to get that info from someone else here, cuz I have no idea. :-)
The amp and stuff is no prob. But as far as the core, md, and z-wave questions and mce setup goes I could not do much except via the fourm cuz of licensing stuff and so I'm not stealing market from pluto. :-)
Plus others here would be more help then I. I'm still a ice newbie myself.

Ok well send me a link and ill take a look at them.

cpayne

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I'll try to post some links over the weekend to the items.
If I go the MCE route, I'm not worried about configuration. I have 60 open SUSE and SLES8,9,10 servers I maintain, so I'm familiar with Linux.
I'm typing this from an Open Suse 11.1 machine :)

Building the CORE and MDs  would not be a problem , although I stopped building servers and workstations a while back because the money saved by searching for the best prices was usually voided by having track and keep up with return or reordering different parts. Using the warranty was a nightmare
I would rather get a mainstream system with decent components and warranty.

 I looked at the Pluto site, but the links to the partners always throws an error. Whera can you get that gear?
 I also looked at picking up the a FireEngine as a core and fire stations as md, but fiire seems to be defunct now.
Other thatn a couple of UK companies I havn't found anyone that builds a nice system like the Fiire features and size.

Thanks

Charles


What amp should I look at? I have never been an audiophile.     

cpayne

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Here is a link to the speakers http://www.pyleaudio.com/itemdetail.asp?model=PDIC81RD 47.70 a pair

brake16

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A couple of quick tips, take 'em for what they're worth.

  • With a wiring closet, it sounds like you want a core, not a hybrid.  Build it yourself using the mobo guide (http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/How_to_Select_Mainboards_for_Your_LinuxMCE_System) and the components guide (http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/How_to_Select_Components_for_Your_LinuxMCE_Computers).  For your setup, find a case with room for lots of hard drives and lots of PCI slots.
  • Pluto is out of the hardware business, and Fiire is out of business (http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/Fiire).
  • For your Media Directors, have patience and see how the Acer Aspire Revo works out (ie: follow what others say on the boards: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=7929.msg53809#msg53809).  If VDPAU support is added (either 'PnP' or thru hacking), you'll be all set.
  • For your distributed home audio, find an amplifier with discrete channels.  It doesn't sound like you want the same audio playing in all parts of the house, so you'll need 1 channel per speaker pair.  The amp will go in your wiring closet.  If the world were perfect, you'd be able to find an amp that had an RS232 port (or ethernet port) for control.  I don't know about the availability or cost of such a beast.
  • For your 5.1 theater room, find it's own amp with an RS232 control port (or ethernet port).  You'll be glad you did.
  • With LinuxMCE controlling you whole house audio, you'll likely not need the volume control boxes in each room (someone correct me if I'm wrong).  Just connect the wires so that the lines aren't interrupted and put blank cover plates on.  Orbiters will control the audio (and much more!).

Bryce
The Second Empirical Law of Lasers is to not look into the beam with your remaining good eye  - Anonymous

PcCowboy

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I'm not sure about price but a lot of newer amps have RS232 or net ports on them. They usually use a PC based program (sometimes free) so I'm not sure how that would interface with mce

I would take brake16's advice for mce hardware. I'm looking at the revo myself.
And brake you are right about the volume. Once you get your amps set at the nominal level mce will take care of the rest.

(ugh...I need to add "mce" to my blackberry's word list. Every time I say "mce" it replaces it with "ice"...lol)

PcCowboy

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That's as good a deal as I could get on speakers so if that's what looks good to you go ahead. :-)

Pcc

cpayne

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A couple of quick tips, take 'em for what they're worth.

  • With a wiring closet, it sounds like you want a core, not a hybrid.  Build it yourself using the mobo guide (http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/How_to_Select_Mainboards_for_Your_LinuxMCE_System) and the components guide (http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/How_to_Select_Components_for_Your_LinuxMCE_Computers).  For your setup, find a case with room for lots of hard drives and lots of PCI slots.
  • Pluto is out of the hardware business, and Fiire is out of business (http://wiki.linuxmce.com/index.php/Fiire).
  • For your Media Directors, have patience and see how the Acer Aspire Revo works out (ie: follow what others say on the boards: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=7929.msg53809#msg53809).  If VDPAU support is added (either 'PnP' or thru hacking), you'll be all set.
  • For your distributed home audio, find an amplifier with discrete channels.  It doesn't sound like you want the same audio playing in all parts of the house, so you'll need 1 channel per speaker pair.  The amp will go in your wiring closet.  If the world were perfect, you'd be able to find an amp that had an RS232 port (or ethernet port) for control.  I don't know about the availability or cost of such a beast.
  • For your 5.1 theater room, find it's own amp with an RS232 control port (or ethernet port).  You'll be glad you did.
  • With LinuxMCE controlling you whole house audio, you'll likely not need the volume control boxes in each room (someone correct me if I'm wrong).  Just connect the wires so that the lines aren't interrupted and put blank cover plates on.  Orbiters will control the audio (and much more!).

Bryce

My core will be a larger box and I'll look at the wiki. 
Storage I have chosen thecus n8800 http://www.thecus.com for storage starting with 6 TB (16TB max) and a hot spare.  Drives are WD 1TB 7200 RPM Blacks.  Configured as Raid 6
MD
I'm iffy on the Revo's, as the reviews on the HD video delivery are either "Awesome" or "struggles with 720P. I do want something small like this, or smaller that will netboot. 
Ideally I would like to get some decent lower end notebooks. Hoping one day the orbitors can play video etc...

AMP

This is the amp I'm looking at http://www.htd.com/s.nl/it.A/id.632/.f?sc=12&category=3658 . The higher end models have no rs232. The keypads have a mic and ir in them but no metadata
is available.
I have the wiring for the pads already. I was hoping to utilize the wiring.

Thanks for wall the suggestions.

 

 

Looking at Nokia N800s as orbiters.

The amp I'm looking at is

cpayne

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That's as good a deal as I could get on speakers so if that's what looks good to you go ahead. :-)

Pcc

I think I'll pick them up this evening.
Thanks for the advice

ivanp

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Looking at Nokia N800s as orbiters.

N800 is nice Orbiter, but believe me go for WebDT 366. I have 3 of them and i just love them. They are perfect. You cam mount them on a wall and have kind of "central" control i every room, and have one or two mobile and carry them from one room to another.
N800 is great, but kinda to small. WebDT 366 is just the perfect size.

cpayne

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Looking at Nokia N800s as orbiters.

N800 is nice Orbiter, but believe me go for WebDT 366. I have 3 of them and i just love them. They are perfect. You cam mount them on a wall and have kind of "central" control i every room, and have one or two mobile and carry them from one room to another.
N800 is great, but kinda to small. WebDT 366 is just the perfect size.

Is ther a link to get more info and to purchase those?

Thanks