What would I do differently next time?

  1. AV Links.
    I am still undecided about the type of cabling I will use as I am trying to build a low cost unit to send AV over CAT5. I have seen inside a commercial unit which does this and I believe I can build a similar unit for under £25 as a stand alone adapter or about £15 if built into a piece of equipment as a CAT5 interface. Whatever cabling architecture I decide upon there will be 2 links from each location to the wiring/equipment closet (under the stairs probably).
    I hope to get the CAT5 method working as this would:-
    • Simplify the cabling
    • Maximise the flexibility
    • Utilise commercially available outlet plates (Dual or modular CAT5).
    • Cost substantially less for the cabling.
    With the increasing use of digital Audio and Video, CAT5 seems to be the obvious choice. I haven't actually tried this due to lack of digital equipment but I think it would be fairly simple to send the digital output of a CD player over CAT5 to the digital input of an amplifier located some distance away. In theory, all that would be required would be an RS485 Transmitter/Receiver costing less than £5. This should also hold true for digital TV baseband which is a 16Mbit signal at most and falls well within the 100Mbit specification for CAT5.

  2. RF Links.
    • Satellite LNB and TV/FM aerial downleads fed into the wiring closet.
    • Distribution Amps in wiring closet.
    • 1 or 2 CT125 coax cables to each room. Possibly extra to main AV ports.

    For my satellite system I currently use a Triax 85cm dish fitted with 2 dual LNB's (seperate H & V outputs) which are connected to a Satellite Solutions HQ5401 tone switch. This is a device which takes 4 LNB signals, and uses a combination of 13/17 Volt switching and 22kHz tone switching to route the required LNB signal to one of 4 satellite receivers.

    In my particular setup the LNB signals are:-

    It is also possible to connect your terrestrial TV/FM aerial to the unit so that a single cable can feed all TV/FM/Satellite signals to the room. By fitting a 3 outlet plate the seperate signals are available for use. However I would probably keep the TV/FM seperate from the Satellite by using individual cables for each.

    Another option is to have the Satellite Receivers located in the Wiring/Equipment closet with remote control from anywhere in the house. This greatly simplifies distribution and reduces "clutter" in the individual rooms.

  3. Communications.
    I plan to use a PBX to provide phone service and intercom facilities to every room in the house. This would be located in the equipment closet and use CAT5 cabling to feed the individual rooms. Rather than use expensive RJ45-BT phone socket adaptors I plan to cut off the existing plugs and crimp on an RJ45 plug. This offers a much neater solution as the adaptors do not look very neat. I could just fit standard BT style phone sockets but this would mean that those outlets were permanently "phone" unless the plate was changed. RJ45 gives total flexibility.

  4. Data.
    A central server located in the equipment closet will provide data storage/backup for the home, office and kids PC's as well as controlling the automation system. I dont have the computer yet but I am slowly collecting the parts to build it and I already have a name for it. It shall be known as "KHAN" (Keith's Home Automation Network). This will be connected to an 8 port hub which will be patched over the CAT5 to wherever the PC's are located.

  5. Power.
    Double power points located at all the locations where equipment, appliances or lamps are likely to be located. Each power point will have an adjacent Dual CAT5 outlet. Certain locations will have additional Power/CAT5 outlets.

  6. Automation.
    Due to the high cost of X-10 modules in the UK and the reliability problems which can be experienced from time to time, I plan to use a hardwired lighting system using homebuilt room controllers controlled from the PC. The room controllers will be able to operate in "standalone" mode in the event of the PC crashing.
    Keypads and Infra Red sensors will communicate with the room controllers via dedicated CAT5 cables run between the switches and room controllers. A certain amount of "redundant" cabling will be installed to enable the house to revert to "normal" wiring with the minimum amount of disruption should I decide to move house.
    Room controllers will also communicate with KHAN so that a complete picture of what the house is doing will be available via any PC or TV in the house. In addition to lighting control the room controllers will also contain relays for operating Ceiling Fans, Curtains and Blinds, as well as interfacing motion detectors and temperature sensors to the HA system.
    I also plan to install some hardwired circuits for table lamps in the main living rooms. These will be terminated in 5 Amp round pin sockets. This is to prevent any other equipment/appliance being inadvertantly connected to a dimmed circuit. I also intend to design and build some self contained Appliance/Lamp Modules similar in style to the X-10 units i.e. Adaptor Style but "hardwired" via a short CAT5 flying lead to the controller. As I plan to have a Dual CAT5 adjacent to every powerpoint there will be no problem linking the modules to KHAN.

  7. Whole House Audio.
    I plan to use homebuilt multichannel amplifiers located in the equipment rack to feed speakers located around the house. The speakers would either be concealed ceiling speakers in areas where background sound it the primary requirement or proper speaker cabinets in rooms where the music is primarily intended to be listened to. Sub-Bass units will be built into items of furniture or installed beneath the floor with small vents to enable the sound to propagate throughout the room.
    The sources will be CD, Satellite, TV and Radio either from centrally located equipment or "Local Sources" located in the listening/viewing rooms. These will all be controlled by a central AV Switcher. For radio I plan to use several secondhand car radios mounted into a rack panel and tuned to the individual stations that I commonly listen to. I may also have an old satellite receiver for picking up the satellite radio stations.

  8. Security.
    Very few details on this for obvious reasons, but suffice to say that there will be a hardwired commercial alarm system with the sensors also interfaced to KHAN to provide additional security features as well as room occupancy detection and to automatically turn on the lights as you move throughout the house.

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This page last updated : 5th October 2000