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self build barn conversion 1st fix question?

Discussion in 'Smart Home, Climate Control & Security Forum' started by diesel, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. diesel

    diesel
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    Hi.

    I haven't visited the forums much for the last 12 months or so as I am currently engaged in a self build barn conversion.

    At times it seemed like I would never get to this stage, but I am finally (well nearly) at 1st fix stage for electrics and plumbing.

    As well as a dedicated home cinema room I am hoping to incorporate home automation.
    Specifically I would like to wire the house to allow viewing/listening to different audio/video sources throughout. I would also like to be able to view CCTV from any display, control the lighting, connect to the internet, the whole shebang really.

    Unfortunately we wont initially have the budget for those fancy wall plate controllers that change sources etc.

    My plan is to get the wiring in and then add the controllers as time and finances allow.

    will each zone that has a display and or speakers need to be fitted with:

    2 (or more) runs of Cat 5 ethernet cable
    2 runs of coax.
    2 (or more)pairs of speaker cable
    1 run of CCTV cable (not sure whether this is coax)
    etc...

    or will I be able to route all this technology to a central 'hub' and then just select between sources in each zone by means of an ethernet connection back to the hub?

    Sorry if the above doesn't make sense :confused:

    I have done so much research on this that my head is spinning.

    If anyone is interested I have a diary website for the self build:Hilltop Barn

    Any pointers would be very much appreciated.

    Cheers

    Andy Brown
     
  2. rowlandhills

    rowlandhills
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    Andy,

    This looks like a fascinating project. We've recently had to pull out of having our own house built (with full automation) and are in the process of buying a barn, although ours is already converted. I hope to try and add some cabling later, but SWMBO has made it clear that we can't afford any of that until we've been there for at least six months...although that's probably a good thing as I can plan it all better!

    I'd recommend running more than two Cat 5 cables myself, and also consider running some Cat5 from your main outlet area in each room to a box on the wall where you could add a control faceplate later. You should probably leave it unterminated until you know what you'll actually be using on it, as some systems use cable conventions which are not the usual data configuration for Cat5. I had planned to use Linn Knekt, which is an example of non-standard Cat5 config.

    Best of luck with the build.
     
  3. neilball

    neilball
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    I'd run 2 x Cat5e to every location where you will have any kit, and double this around main components such as TV, HiFi etc. I would also run 2 x Cat5e to your light swtich locations to allow for lighting & audio controls if you are planning add these later. In the meantime you will need to wire all of your lighting circuits back to a central location along with the switch cables and use junction boxes to terminate the cabling just now. This will allow a relatively easy migration to lighting controls by replacing the junction boxes with the dimmer panel of your choice & then re-terminating the cables appropriately.

    If you are planing for in-wall/in-ceiling speakers then do remember to out in the speaker cables. If you want to have centralised A/V kit then also think about the coming HD stuff - if it needs HDMI or DVI and your cable distances are more than 15m then you will need expensive fibre optic cabling & interfaces. If you want to have the kit local to the screen then make sure you run more CT100 for the UFH/FM/Sky feeds.

    For video distribution over Cat5e at sensible prices take a look at www.kat5.tv.

    Most of these systems utilise proprietry wiring or data protocols so cannot be run via ethernet hubs or switches so you will need to make sure you have enough cables at each point to cope with your plans.

    If all that sounds too much then consider Rako lighting controls & Sonos audio as these are wireless. If you want heating controls then go for the Sensible Heat Hometronic system as this is wireless as well.

    HTH
     
  4. diesel

    diesel
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    Hi
    Thanks for the advice guys.
    In terms of HD stuff, I will probably set this up locally in the cinema room only.
    The place is nearly 400 square metres so fibre optic cabling is probably cost prohibitive.

    Is CT100 some high quality satellite co-ax or something else?

    I kind of understand the description of the lighting circuit but will speak to my mate the sparky to see if he understands the info fully.

    I'll try and post a diagram of how I have interpreted the lighting info to make sure I am on the right lines.

    At the moment I plan to share signals from:

    Sky digital.
    DVD changer
    MP3 music on some kind of hard drive based system
    DAB radio tuner
    CCTV imaging and video entry control.

    I would then also like the ability to control lighting and the U/F heating centrally as well as creating a phone network/intercom system.

    Like I said initially it will be wiring and speakers only. We will then complete the install one room at a time as we finish the build.

    Thanks

    Andy Brown
     
  5. neilball

    neilball
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    Hi Andy

    CT100 is good quality 75ohm coax cable - the stuff Sky use when from the dish to you box. Remeber to install 4 cables from the Sky dish to your central area plus UFH & FM. I've not yet had to deal with DAB but I'm sure that this uses a 50ohm cable for the aerial.

    You're right about the DVI/HDMI over fibre interfaces - cost is around £650 for a 30m kit & which does not include the Cat5e cable which is also required. Keeping the connections local means you can use cabling that is less than 1/4 this price. Make sure you have 2 no. CT100's from here to your cinema for the HD Sky box if you plan to use this so you can get use a local HDMI cable between the box and your display.

    If you are distributing a number of sources you really do need to plan on what you want to do. Simple UHF distribution & control over CT100 using something like ChannelPlus will be around £800 depending on the number of rooms that receive signals but this is the lowest in terms of quality.

    A Cat5e distribution system using something like Kat5 is around £140 per transmitter/receiver pack but depending on the number of sources being distributed you also need additional kit at each TV as you will probalby have more video inputs than sockets on the displays.

    That puts you into video switcher/matrix territory where costs can quickly mount up. I've had good results with the Scion video distribution ranges so that could be a good place to start looking. The main benefit of the switcher is that it allows simultaneous distribution and control of video equipment to a number of rooms generally over Cat5e. You need to decide what standard of video distribution you want - composite, S-vid, RGB or component & then price the kit that can provide this. For example, a Scion 16x16 VGA/RGB/Component switcher is around £8,500 and the local room receiver is around £250! Composite & S-vid are much cheaper. There is a Kat5 switcher in the pipeline which will be much more wallet friendly.

    Finally, if you do decide to use a video switcher other than Kat5 then remember to check the cabling requirements for the inputs & outputs. You may need to run some multicore video cable from the cinema back to the central distribution point for DVD & Sky distribution. You may also need 50ohm audio cable for the same reason.
     
  6. vex

    vex
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    Andy,

    CT100 is high-ish quallity coax approved by Sky and suitable for most tv applications.

    The Kat5 system is great, but it only offers point to multi-point solutions. At this moment there is not a matrix based system available from them. (it is coming though)

    The problem with any cat5e based distribution system is that anything above composite video distribuiton has to use a second cat5e cable or drop audio signals and possibly IR control in order to carry the increased number of video signals. Whilst for domestic distribution composite is fine (in fact we have a good commercial installation running composite) especailly as you can have all your sources in the your cinema room for better quality signal and connections.

    A good alternative to the Scion box is the Nexus, www.avnex.co.uk, which runs a room or source connection over a single cat5e. The system accepts both audio and video sources, offers a home networking cabinet, patch panels and an audio amp and sounds like it could fit your bill perfectly.

    C.
     
  7. diesel

    diesel
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    Thanks for all the info guys.

    I think I've decided on a nexus system as it seems to do everything I want.
    Having to run extra cat5e is not so much of a problem as the cable is relatively inexpensive.

    I am still looking at lighting control as I haven't managed to get my head round all the different options.

    Anyway, once again thanks for the help. I'll post a picture link to the first fix when we start it.

    Cheers

    Andy Brown :smashin:
     
  8. shahedz

    shahedz
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    Andy, that looks brillaint, your website is so informative as well. i will defo keep an eye on progression, looks amazing!
     
  9. diesel

    diesel
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    Thanks Shahedz. The site needs updating to be honest. Hopefully will get it done over the weekend.

    I've been looking more closely at the avnex system. Am I right in thinking that it only supports composite video? I may have to have a re-think if that is the case.

    Although I don't have the budget to buy all the kit in one go, I already own 2 plasma panels and 2 pj's which I will be incorporating into the scheme. I am not sure that a composite video signal will give me the video quality that I want.

    Just when I thought I had it sussed :(

    Andy B
     
  10. vex

    vex
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    Andy,

    The Nexus does only work at composite level, but that is the only way to video, audio, power and ir over a single CAT5e cable.

    Although many here will say that the performance of composite is cr*p we have a commercial project with 18 screens running with composite and it is very good.

    What are you trying to do with the screens? The advantage of the Nexus is that you can have the sources scattered around the property just like your viewing points. This means that you could have a DVD player locally with each of you plasma's playing into the screens as component / svideo whatever and then around the rest of the house on composite.

    Happy to talk about it off line if you want to.

    Chris
     
  11. noel-pilot

    noel-pilot
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    take a look at something like a loftbox for your aerial distribution which can also distribute your other sources around the house through an RF return feed.
    cctv can also be distribute in this way depending on your cctv method itself. I'm currently planning a Geovision cctv setup with a dedicated geovision pc server with the video out from the graphics card going to an RF modulator and into the loftbox for distribution to all tv's round the house

    www.automatedhome.co.uk there is a great wiring guide on there that will help you a lot.

    http://www.automatedhome.co.uk/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=2

    HTH
     
  12. diesel

    diesel
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    Chris.
    If I ran a second (or even third) cat5e cable drop to each location would this faciliate a higher quality video signal capability, or is composite the best that the avnex system is capable of?

    Cheers
    Andy
     
  13. TooManyHobbies

    TooManyHobbies
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    Andy I would consider installing cat6 to give yourself a bit of future proofing.
    As things are changing so quickly have you considered installing truncking and running draw wires so you can install the specific cabling after. Plastic tubing is fairly cheep and on a first fix you can errect it very quickly.
     
  14. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    Hi Andy

    great project - really nice that you have built a website to chronicle the progress etc.. As you have already concluded, for running plasmas and projectors you can forget composite video - it just doenst cut it (sorry vex!) other than its simplicity in delivering a solution. The big question though is how to get the better image quality that you are looking for? That depends on whether you want centralised devices, or you are happy to have players in each location. It really does need a lot of thought to get it right..For audio, there is a 'no brainer' solution - and that is Sonos..simply load up your audio on to a hard disc (or standalone NAS drive) and thats it, job done :)

    for video though it is much more difficult. To give yourself the most flexibility, then you should run multiple cat5 to every room , also a feed for satellite and regular TV. This means that you can then choose whether or not to go for central or local AV sources later on. You might also want to consider in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, as this gives a more discrete installation and can still deliver very good quality.

    lots of choices...but the planning is the most fun, right? :)
     
  15. vex

    vex
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    Hi Andy,

    Sorry I missed you question, unfortunately the Nexus can only run at composite it doesnt have the option to run higher quality images.

    Hi dave.

    I did orginally agree with you but having see the installation at the Orange Studio in Birmingham which runs about 14 x 42 and 50" plasma and a number of projectors it can be down to the quality of the network and the screens rather than just the composite signal.

    In Daves application I would use the dvd located with the HC system and have that playing into the main screen / projector as component and then run the rest of the house at composite. Chances are that most of the screen used in the rest of the house are either smaller LCD's or TFT's which will 'cope' with the composite signal better.

    One issue with wireless is the type of selfbuild that Dave is doing, if it is faily open plan or uses traditional plasterboard it would be fine. If however you are using higher spec Plasterboard then this is usually foil backed and unfortunately it can reduce the penertration of the signal.

    I think Sonus is a great product in a retro fit environment but in high spec custom builds it may have some wifi issues.
     
  16. David PluggedIn

    David PluggedIn
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    re composite, it depends. If the display has decent internal video processing (e.g. DCDi) then sometimes it can look ok. But we would never recommend it..but each to his own!

    re the Sonos, then each Zoneplayer has 4 x cat5 connections on it, so its perfect for custom builds as these tend to have cat5 present. In that scenario, wireless transmission issues are minimised as the signal just has to travel between the remote and the zoneplayer, which are probably in the same room. Also Sonos uses its own special 'repeater' technology to extend the range of the wireless coverage...

    good point about the reduced range though - many other wireless devices could easily fall foul of that..
     

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