Author Topic: Advice On New System  (Read 3195 times)

twodogs

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Advice On New System
« on: September 03, 2009, 12:56:47 am »
Hello All,

I'd like a confidence check on my proposed setup. I have much of the equipment and I'm getting ready to start wiring. If you want to see our home renovation you can check my blog (greenrenovation.wordpress.com).Some details of the planned system are below, along with a few questions...
First, I hear that integrating DirecTV is troublesome, but the spouse needs tennis channel. The only thing on the market is the HD PVR and drivers are in early stages. I also hear that it puts a decoding strain on a media director so I went with a new e5200 computer. I'm using an older core because the PVR handles the encoding chores. Any comments on my selections?
Second, I think my wiring needs will be met by two cat5e cables to each major location. I can't see how I'd use coax since all my video will be HD. Should I put in some more/different wiring?

The Plan
It's a green home so I'd like to keep power usage to a minimum
Overall goals
   Stream DirecTV
   Watch DVD
   Stream music
   Control a small number of lighting scenarios
   Control sprinklers
   Control HVAC
   Stream HDTV
   Voice alarm for streetsweeping day to avoid the monthly $50 ticket!
   Home security with front and back video cameras
My wiring closet will be in the basement - lots of room and it's cool down there
   Core running LinuxMCE0810 (Intel D865PERL, GeForce 5200, 3Ghz P4)
   stereo amp with speaker wire run to the kitchen above
   Insteon modem
   DirecTV set top box
   Hauppauge HD PVR
   Elk M1
Living Room
   Media Director (ASUS P5N7A-VM, integrated GeForce 9300, E5200, net boot)
   Denon AVR3805 with RS232
   LG Plasma with RS232
   5.1 speakers in wall
   Microsoft Gyration remote
Upstairs Loft (not purchased but similar to living room setup)

Thanks,
John
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 03:44:08 pm by twodogs »
http://greenrenovation.wordpress.com/home-automation/
system:
ASUS P5N7A-VM
integrated GeForce 9300
E5200 processor
Fusion 5 lite HDTV card
2G RAM
SYBA SY-PCI15001 6-port serial card
Denon AVR 3805
LG 42" Plasma
Gyration GYR3101
Cisco SPA3102 analog telephone adapter
Cisco 7971G IP phone/orbiter

merkur2k

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2009, 01:38:00 am »
you didnt address the video adapter in the md, hopefully you are planning on using an nvidia based adapter if you want to use UI2.
its still too early to think about the hdpvr, so you will have to use a sd capture solution or plan on ditching dvr features and watching direct.
you will probably find the ms remote lacking when compared to a gyration remote or even a wireless touchpad orbiter. probably need to throw in a usb-uirt at least for control of the directv box, and at any of the MDs if they have IR controlled equipment. or if you are planning on going with the ms remote anyway (the ms supplied dongles do not work very well).

twodogs

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2009, 02:01:30 am »
I was afraid the DirecTV might be pushing it. I have an Fusion 5 Lite card for OTA HDTV so I guess that can start me off. Good call on the Gyration. It wouldn't cost much and would allow for much smoother control. We also have an eeePC that we could use. I modified my original post to say that my MD has integrated GeForce 9300.

John
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 01:55:34 pm by twodogs »
http://greenrenovation.wordpress.com/home-automation/
system:
ASUS P5N7A-VM
integrated GeForce 9300
E5200 processor
Fusion 5 lite HDTV card
2G RAM
SYBA SY-PCI15001 6-port serial card
Denon AVR 3805
LG 42" Plasma
Gyration GYR3101
Cisco SPA3102 analog telephone adapter
Cisco 7971G IP phone/orbiter

tschak909

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2009, 05:27:28 am »
keep in mind, that the DirecTV reciever can be controlled via IR at least, and if you have your AV equipment properly integrated into LMCE, LMCE can switch inputs/etc to be able to view/control the DirectTV box, and automatically switching to LMCE when necessary, while you can attach the device to an SD tuner to digitize it and push it through the house.

-Thom


twodogs

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2009, 01:34:04 pm »
That brings up a problem I've been wrestling with. The basement is by far the best place for the wiring closet with core and DirecTV box. The living room is 50' away - too far for a DVI cable. So with the system I've designed, I would not be able to watch HD from the satellite box, only SD. My initial idea was to buy a converter to send HD over cat5e, but these are expensive and require wall warts at both ends (9/24/09 edit - wrong!). We're setting up a solar panel array and, even though we'll be grid connected, I'm still trying to keep our power usage under what our array will produce. Philosophy aside, two wall warts won't break the energy bank, but there is another problem. If I make the core into a hybrid with AV cables running 50' to the living room, I would not need a media director in that room. But, then I'll have to run to the basement to play a DVD! There is probably a way around this, but I can't think of it.

John
« Last Edit: September 24, 2009, 04:59:47 pm by twodogs »
http://greenrenovation.wordpress.com/home-automation/
system:
ASUS P5N7A-VM
integrated GeForce 9300
E5200 processor
Fusion 5 lite HDTV card
2G RAM
SYBA SY-PCI15001 6-port serial card
Denon AVR 3805
LG 42" Plasma
Gyration GYR3101
Cisco SPA3102 analog telephone adapter
Cisco 7971G IP phone/orbiter

totallymaxed

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2009, 01:51:02 pm »
That brings up a problem I've been wrestling with. The basement is by far the best place for the wiring closet with core and DirecTV box. The living room is 50' away - too far for a DVI cable. So with the system I've designed, I would not be able to watch HD from the satellite box, only SD. My initial idea was to buy a converter to send HD over cat5e, but these are expensive and require wall warts at both ends. We're setting up a solar panel array and, even though we'll be grid connected, I'm still trying to keep our power usage under what our array will produce. Philosophy aside, two wall warts won't break the energy bank, but there is another problem. If I make the core into a hybrid with AV cables running 50' to the living room, I would not need a media director in that room. But, then I'll have to run to the basement to play a DVD! There is probably a way around this, but I can't think of it.

John

Hi John,

We do installations of our Dianemo system all the time that use HDMI->CAT5 converters & USB->CAT5 converters to remotely distribute the outputs/connections of the Core or the MD's. By the way if you rip your DVD's first then you dont need to go down to the basement with a physical disk when you want to play one upstairs.

All the best

Andrew
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd
United Kingdom

Read My Blog; http://ellipticalcurve.com

Contact me for Smart Home consulting advice here;
@herron on Twitter, totallymaxed+consulting@gmail.com via email or PM me here.

Get a Dianemo S License: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.0
iOS Orbiter: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Dianemo_iOS_Orbiter
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twodogs

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2009, 02:03:30 pm »
Andrew,

I was hoping to hear from you. I've searched for and read many of your previous posts about distributing A/V. Ripping doesn't really work for us because we own few DVDs and get our movies through our Netflix account. What do you think about an external DVD drive in the living room connected to the hybrid in the basement via USB>cat5e converter? Can you recommend any specific HDMI and USB to cat5 converters? Also, I believe I would need some kind of switching device in the basement because I would have two video sources: the video card of the hybrid, and the DirecTV box. Any hardware suggestions on this?
My thinking has gone down this path in the past. My rough cost estimate was $1500USD or about $500 a pop for the two converters and the switching device. I've never seen such a system in operation, so I was a bit concerned that I was creating an expensive Frankenstein with lots of moving parts. For instance, let's say my wife is watching DirecTV and wants to check the program guide. MCE would have to send a signal (IR?) to the video switching device to change the source from the DirecTV box to video card on the hybrid in order to display the stored guide info. Maybe it would work great, but maybe there would be a big time delay, or perhaps the IR signal didn't make it to the switching device. Then my wife would make me put down the margarita and get out of the hammock to go down to the basement and fix the problem. These doubts have prevented me from diving in. That plus the fear that, with my luck, as soon as I got this fairly expensive scheme working the HDPVR solution would become viable.
Am I over-thinking things? You apparently have this kind of system working smoothly

John
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 02:46:14 pm by twodogs »
http://greenrenovation.wordpress.com/home-automation/
system:
ASUS P5N7A-VM
integrated GeForce 9300
E5200 processor
Fusion 5 lite HDTV card
2G RAM
SYBA SY-PCI15001 6-port serial card
Denon AVR 3805
LG 42" Plasma
Gyration GYR3101
Cisco SPA3102 analog telephone adapter
Cisco 7971G IP phone/orbiter

Viking

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2009, 03:23:13 pm »
Hi,

see to that you have nvidia cards in all PC's. And be sure the the Media Director Mainboard (Livingroom) is supported/tested with LinuxMCE. Otherwise you can get into lots of trouble.

Greetings
Viking

totallymaxed

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2009, 03:50:41 pm »
Andrew,

I was hoping to hear from you. I've searched for and read many of your previous posts about distributing A/V. Ripping doesn't really work for us because we own few DVDs and get our movies through our Netflix account. What do you think about an external DVD drive in the living room connected to the hybrid in the basement via USB>cat5e converter? Can you recommend any specific HDMI and USB to cat5 converters? Also, I believe I would need some kind of switching device in the basement because I would have two video sources: the video card of the hybrid, and the DirecTV box. Any hardware suggestions on this?
My thinking has gone down this path in the past. My rough cost estimate was $1500USD or about $500 a pop for the two converters and the switching device. I've never seen such a system in operation, so I was a bit concerned that I was creating an expensive Frankenstein with lots of moving parts. For instance, let's say my wife is watching DirecTV and wants to check the program guide. MCE would have to send a signal (IR?) to the video switching device to change the source from the DirecTV box to video card on the hybrid in order to display the stored guide info. Maybe it would work great, but maybe there would be a big time delay, or perhaps the IR signal didn't make it to the switching device. Then my wife would make me put down the margarita and get out of the hammock to go down to the basement and fix the problem. These doubts have prevented me from diving in. That plus the fear that, with my luck, as soon as I got this fairly expensive scheme working the HDPVR solution would become viable.
Am I over-thinking things? You apparently have this kind of system working smoothly

John

Hi John,

Well there are a number of different approaches that can be taken to address your type of situation - there is no 'right way' or 'wrong way' as such...but usually the customer has a preference for one or the other. So below is one approach you might consider...and its one we have deployed for customers;

- You locate your Core and the DirectTV box in the basement. You use an 1->N (where N is as large as either your requirements or your budget allows) splitter on your DirectTV box...this take one input and gives you multiple identical outputs (so that you can use those to route the video output of the DirectTV box to a number of other locations around your house if you later want too). One output from this splitter goes into one of the inputs of an rs232 controlled 4-1 combiner (this could be a 2-1 as 4-1 combiner would give you spare inputs you dont initially need) one of the other inputs is the video output from your Hybrid Core. Now your Core can control via rs232 the input selected by the combiner to be routed to its output. The output of the combiner is routed to an HDMI->CAT5 converter and sent upstairs to your TV (via a converter to take it back from CAT5->HDMI). You have in addition a USB->CAT5 converter that allows you to locate a small USB HUB near your TV so that you can plug in an MCE IR Transceiver and any other USB devices you would normally attach directly to the Hybrid Core. Now you have IR remote capability upstairs that is directly controlling your Hybrid Core. When you want to watch your DirectTV box you would select it from the Media menu and this would using a custom template automatically send a command to the 4-1 combiner to route the DirectTV boxes input through to its output and hence to via the CAT5 converters to the screen upstairs...IR control commands from your MCE remote upstairs would be routed to the DirectTV box via a blaster. This would mena you could now have full control of the DirectTV's UI/menus using the MCE remote...if you want to switch back to the video output of the Hybrid Core's Orbiter then we would usually trigger that by using the 'Green button' on the remote...pressing that would send a command back to the 4-1 combiner via rs232 to switch to the output of the Hybrid Core...now you have the video output of the Hybrid core onscreen and also the IR commands are now directly controlling the Orbiter and not the DirectTv box. If you want to go back to watching the DirectTV box again just select it from the 'Media' menu and its instantly back on screen again.

I know the above sounds complex...but its actually not in practice. It does require some special configuration though and custom device templates...but thats about it. We have several customers who have multiple Sat boxes located centrally in basement Racks with all of their MD's located in the rack too (we have systems with upto 8 MD's located like this where the customer wanted NO equipment other than the screen in the rooms around his property). All of these essentially use the configuration that I described above.

The HDMI->CAT5 converters using 1 single CAT5 are now about $100 USD for each endpoint...so this is not too costly if your thinking of this type of installation.

All the best

Andrew
« Last Edit: September 03, 2009, 03:54:17 pm by totallymaxed »
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd
United Kingdom

Read My Blog; http://ellipticalcurve.com

Contact me for Smart Home consulting advice here;
@herron on Twitter, totallymaxed+consulting@gmail.com via email or PM me here.

Get a Dianemo S License: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.0
iOS Orbiter: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Dianemo_iOS_Orbiter
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dianemo-Home-Automation/226019387454465

Sales & Info:
http://www.dianemo.co.uk

twodogs

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2009, 06:37:50 pm »
Andrew,

Wow. Great explanation. That addresses my concerns about control and expense. Maybe I can pull this off after all. Results of my product research to follow shortly...

Thanks,
John
http://greenrenovation.wordpress.com/home-automation/
system:
ASUS P5N7A-VM
integrated GeForce 9300
E5200 processor
Fusion 5 lite HDTV card
2G RAM
SYBA SY-PCI15001 6-port serial card
Denon AVR 3805
LG 42" Plasma
Gyration GYR3101
Cisco SPA3102 analog telephone adapter
Cisco 7971G IP phone/orbiter

twodogs

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2009, 03:49:36 pm »
Here is my latest system design that implements my understanding of Andrew's advice. The left side with the media director will be basically a mirror image of the right side. The Denon AVR 3805 will handle component switching, plus it has an RS232 control input.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2009, 10:36:56 pm by twodogs »
http://greenrenovation.wordpress.com/home-automation/
system:
ASUS P5N7A-VM
integrated GeForce 9300
E5200 processor
Fusion 5 lite HDTV card
2G RAM
SYBA SY-PCI15001 6-port serial card
Denon AVR 3805
LG 42" Plasma
Gyration GYR3101
Cisco SPA3102 analog telephone adapter
Cisco 7971G IP phone/orbiter

totallymaxed

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2009, 10:22:05 am »
Here is my latest system design that implements my understanding of Andrew's advice. The left side with the media director will be basically a mirror image of the right side. The Denon AVR 3805 will handle component switching, plus it has an RS232 control input.

Hi again John,

I think your going in the right direction. You can use a Denon to do the input switching for you so that would work fine. I assume that the MD + Denon on the left hand side of your diagram are to server a second upstairs room and in that case your diagram looks fine as the splitter allows you to route the output of the DirectTV to both rooms simultaneously. Obviously with only one DirectTV box every room can only watch the same channel on that box at any given time. In additional if you purchase a splitter that has enough outputs for 'future expansion' then you will be able to add additional MD's + Denon's for other rooms later which allows you to spread the cost of installation over time.

All the best

Andrew
Andy Herron,
Convergent Home Technologies Ltd
United Kingdom

Read My Blog; http://ellipticalcurve.com

Contact me for Smart Home consulting advice here;
@herron on Twitter, totallymaxed+consulting@gmail.com via email or PM me here.

Get a Dianemo S License: http://forum.linuxmce.org/index.php?topic=8880.0
iOS Orbiter: http://wiki.linuxmce.org/index.php/Dianemo_iOS_Orbiter
Follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dianemo-Home-Automation/226019387454465

Sales & Info:
http://www.dianemo.co.uk

wombiroller

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2009, 10:45:52 am »
Small note on the 3Ghz P4...for something that is on 24/7...they use a fair bit of power don't they?

twodogs

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2009, 02:57:52 pm »
My old P4 does use a lot of juice. It was to be the core in my original design until the budget allowed swapping it. The main thing I want to do now is to figure out how many wires to run inside the walls. I'm setting up the system in the garage first to make sure I'm happy with everything. Then I'll wire the house and install in the equipment in its permanent location.
But the point you raise makes me think. We won't need the media director for a few months (until both floors of the house are livable). I'll throw a hard drive into my Asus/E5200 media director and put it to work as my hybrid. Then when the house is finished I can either use my Intel/P4 as a media director (now that it won't have to decode H.264), or perhaps bite the bullet and get something new.
http://greenrenovation.wordpress.com/home-automation/
system:
ASUS P5N7A-VM
integrated GeForce 9300
E5200 processor
Fusion 5 lite HDTV card
2G RAM
SYBA SY-PCI15001 6-port serial card
Denon AVR 3805
LG 42" Plasma
Gyration GYR3101
Cisco SPA3102 analog telephone adapter
Cisco 7971G IP phone/orbiter

skeptic

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Re: Advice On New System
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2009, 06:17:03 pm »
Take it from someone who is finishing their basement and have a wiring closet downstairs.  Run extra wiring, it's very cheap to do at the time, and $$ later.  My basement is almost finished and I'm already finding places where I wish I would have run more.  What I have is sufficient and fits my plans, but more wiring up front means more options later.  Little stuff like running cat 5e from the wiring closet to 2 walls in every room instead of just the one where I plan to use it.