Choices in an Home Auto system

english_1969

Active Member
Ok,

I am finally building a home (money is down and lot clearing is underway).

I have been researching/tinkering/sampling for several years now for what I would do when I build my house and how to do it without a creston/amx system.

So far:

For audio: I am planning to use 3 Russound CAV6.6s to cover the 18zones (will start with 1 and expand later). I will add a tuner and will use a computer with media center to serve up mp3s. I haven't really come up with a lot of source component thoughts yet.

For paging: I am planning on using the compoint system from russound.

For lighting: I am going to use UPB.

For HVAC: I am up in the air over RCS, Omni and Aprilaire. I guess I am leaning toward the omni since it should integrate easily with the Omni pro. I will have 3 heat pumps and will probably have a zone control for the home theater in the basement. Any suggestions or items to look out for?

For security: I am up in the air over the Elk or the Omni Pro. I am leaning toward the omnipro because of the russound integration and the video integration. I am planning on having 3 panels (1st, 2nd, basement). I plan on having 5 cameras around the house.
Question: The omni claims integration with the russound system. what does this mean, can I use an omni panel and control 1 zone or does it offer more whole house control. Does it's interface look like say the UNO TS2 keypad?

For overall control: I am planning on having a touchpanel in the kitchen (and maybe the master bedroom) running mainlobby/mlserver for total control. I am also running Homeseer for trending, other connections, etc.

For video distribution: I have a home-grown setup with a bunch of zektor switches, IR system, component video distribution amps from celabs (for common equipment) and using cat5 with baluns. I am contemplating running cat5 and something else and maybe go away from the baluns. The audio authority distribution looks interesting, but at moment, I have more flexibility with my setup. I.e. I can have a local cable box and dvd player for each TV along with the common components. It is more equipment, but it has more flexibility.

One question: In each room, I am looking at like a 3 or 4 gang box for the russound, compoint. In addition, I may leave room for a lighting scene controller in the lighting box. each room will have a switch for ceiling fan, recessed lights and for outlet. This seems like each room will then have 2 4-gang boxes at the entry door. This seems like a lot, but what other suggestions might there be?

In addition to the questions, anyone with any insight or suggestions, or comments on things I've left out would be helpful.

I have about 5-6 months before I will have access to the house to do my own pre-wire (with help from electrician).

Very exciting, but also tons of things to thing about.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
I have 2 initial thoughts.

1- If you need 18 zones of music, how is it you don't need nearly that many telephone locations? Have you thought about using a phone system instead of the ComPoint so you get paging AND a whole house phone system?

2- I think you have some serious overlap (overkill?) in the various systems you have picked. You might want to make some of the core choices Omni-Pro or Elk, and then see what needs to be managed by other systems.

Example: If you go Omni-Pro, that will pretty much determine your thermostat and security strategy. It may also determine your touch screen and camera design as well. The Omni-Pro/Russound integration may even drive you to look at the Russound media server rather than a PC based MP3 player.
 

english_1969

Active Member
Overkill is probably true at this point. That's why I'm trying to get some feedback to trim things down.

That's also a reason I'm leaning toward to the omni system because it seems to have a lot of what I'm looking for in one vendor.

That is a good point on the telephone system as the paging system. I was probably looking the compoint because its cool. The CAV has a telephone paging module that would probably work well.

I haven't read any good things about the russound SMS server. On one of the remote control boards, someone had developed an interface between the russound and the jriver media center which sounded like it worked well, but at a much better price than the russound MS. I haven't played with it directly although I plan to go to our local re-seller and take a more detailed look at it.
 

Event5

Active Member
english_1969,
Just a couple thoughts on new construction and Automated lighting.

Be sure that your electrical contractor installs deep boxes as UPB and most other switches are deeper then the switches he is used to..

Be sure he runs common to every box. Sometimes they do not run common to all switch boxes.

We always suggest that at each entrance to the house, add a blank space to the switch plate. If the electrician is installing 2 switches have him install a box for 3 switches. This will allow you to add a control panel switch for interior and exterior controls. If it's a 3 make it a 4 etc.
Good luck
Dave
 

pkoslow

Active Member
english_1969,

Once you get your floor plan finalized, give your audio zones some good thought, you may indeed want music in 18 rooms, but it's highly likely that you'll want some sub-zones and if you have an open floor plan... rooms combined into single zones?

This will result in a much better functioning system and in teh end you may only end up with 1 or 2 CAV6.6's along with some A-Bus sub zones and external amps and keypad splitters to conenct additional keypads.

For example, we're currently doing a large Russound CAV & Compoint install in a 9000 sq ft + house with music in 23 rooms and 3 outdoor areas and are only using 2 CAV's and 12 zones plus amps and extra keypads.

The HAI system basically mimics the Russound UNO-S2 keypad by using the OmniTouch screen... it allows for basic transport control and source/volume selection, but doesn't provide any metadata feedback so you actually get less functionality than the UNO-S2 and much less than the Russound TS2.

Russound_OT.gif


Unless you're planning to invest in placing HAI OmniTouch touchscreens in most rooms, I don't know that I'd let the Russound integration really cement your decision on the security panel.

Since there's already a PC involved to serve up MP3 music, you'll probably be running some type of software to integrate your PC with the CAV(s). There are a few options here... Casa Tools, Cinemar MusicLobby/Russound plugin, and shortly HomeSeer/Russound plugin. If you go with the later two, these can also tie into either the HAI or Elk and help with Russoudn integration too. With this in place, the security systme can shut off all the music when you arm the system to leave and then even welcome you home to your favorite playlist based on who's conde deactivated the alarm.

Lots & lots of pits & pieces involved here, but you've got pleanty of time to get it all figured out.

As far as video distribution, Russound has an HD video distribution unit (VM1) that should be out by the time your construction is complete. It piggy-backs onto the CAV6.6 and provides 4x4 or 8x8 video switching over CAT5 and even upconverts composite & S-Video sources. Have a look at page 3 of the following link:
Russound VM1

All this technology does create lots of boxes on the walls. For lighting, you may consider a 2-gang solution that consists of a single switch for the rooms main lighting and then a multi-button switch next to it for controlling the additional lighting and fan by using wired-in fixture modules like the Simply Automated UFD-30 whic can be controlled by the multi-button controller. This would still get you lots of funtionality while limiting the number of switches you need on the wall.

Keep asking questions... lots of talented people here to help out!

Cheers,
Paul
 

DavidL

Senior Member
English,
Good choices overall.
I would start with getting the ELK or HAI security panel wired and functional as a security system.
As you are already talking about a PC based touchscreen with MainLobby, I wouldn't worry about video integration with the HAI panels as the decision maker as you will very likely have the video on touchpanels. Cinemar is very active in that area right now and you can display full motion video on a PC now in MainLobby. We are working on new solutions that will make this even easier and will be done by the time you need it. I would plan on wiring for touchscreens in multiple locations as you will absolutely love the stuff we have working.

russound great choice. fully supported by Mainlobby Server 3. Tie in MusicLobby 3 for multizone control that also tightly integrates with the Cav6.6's.

We have support for Audio Authority as well, so no prob there. Add Video Storm, Neothings and Sonance matrix switchers to your short list.

Sounds like you will have a very capable system when you are done.
 

rbroders

Active Member
I agree with upstatemike: pick your security controller first, and work out from there. For my new house I am using ELK (its cheaper, and more programmer friendly - I'm a programmer ;-). My old house used Omni Pro II, and it wourked great though it had a lot of annoying limitations, but I taught it lots of tricks: interfacing with my old Centralite Ambiance, and my Jandy pool controller among others.

For lighting, you might want to look at a hardwired solution. I have personally chosen EDT iLine (though like you, I don't start building for a few months).

Remember the russound controls will be at eye level, and the lighting controls will be at hip level, so I think having 2 sets of 4gang boxes will be okay.

Frankly audio/video is my biggest concern. I want paging, home automation/security announcements, and telephone integration. If I pick up the cordless phone in the LR, the audio should mute. If I carry the phone into the BR, the LR audio should return, and the BR audio should mute. Maybe I need to stick an RFID tag on each phone. If someone rings the doorbell (or the phone, or Cell1 or Cell2 or Skype1), I want to talk to them from any phone, or from any touchpanel (with 1-way and maybe 2-way video also). I'd love to get a full-duplex intercom system. The compoint is at half-duplex, but at least it is hands-free if you talk within 7 seconds... If anyone knows of anything that does a reasonable job of full audio integration, I'd love to hear about it.

--Bob
 

english_1969

Active Member
Paul,

Definately agree on the talented people and asking questions. Thanks for the immediate input.

The floor plan is finalized. The main floor has living room, dining room, foyer which all open to one another and into a gallery hallway which is open to the family room, breakfast and kitchen. Finally on the first floor a guest bedroom, screen porch and deck. On the first floor I was planning to have 6 zones: 1 - Fam+ Kitchen+breakfast, 2 - living, 3 - dining, 4 - guest bed, 5 -garage, 6- porch+deck+patio (w/keypad splitter). Second floor: 1- Playroom, 2 master+sitting, 3 master bath, 4 bed1, 5 bed2, 6 bed3. Basement: 1 - utility/dogroom, 2 - exercise+bath, 3 - office, 4 - computer room, 5 - common+kitchenette+sitting, 6 - Attic.

So using this layout 2 CAVs would work.

I was going to end up having compoint panels/speakers in rooms that didn't have audio (e.g. the basement mechanical room). Although the idea of using a phone-based system is a great idea, I think I just like the look of the compoint system.

have requested that builder uses deep boxes and has a common/neutral in all boxes. Had this problem with a house a few years ago and x10.

For the security panel, it just seems like the omni is a good choice. I know the elk gets lots of attention, but the omni just seems to have the functionality I am interested in.

I have also been debating about how much and what type of wire to pull. I'm guess that over doing it while you've got the chance is the best option. Wire is generally cheap and since I'll be pulling myself with some electrician help (he has lots of low-voltage experience esp with cat5) it makes sense to pull a lot.

I am actually creating a spec with wiring diagrams overlayed onto the house plans along with equipment, wiring panel layouts, etc.

I know i will have a million questions as more detail evolve.

Warren
 

Spanky

Senior Member
ELK Products, Inc. is introducing the M1 and new ELKRM Remote Management software that runs on a PC, PDA, and Touchscreen that integrates to the Russound CAV6.6 at the CEDIA Show next week in Denver, CO. The video and IP camera version of ELKRM is about to release.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
rbroders said:
Frankly audio/video is my biggest concern. I want paging, home automation/security announcements, and telephone integration. If I pick up the cordless phone in the LR, the audio should mute. If I carry the phone into the BR, the LR audio should return, and the BR audio should mute. Maybe I need to stick an RFID tag on each phone. If someone rings the doorbell (or the phone, or Cell1 or Cell2 or Skype1), I want to talk to them from any phone, or from any touchpanel (with 1-way and maybe 2-way video also). I'd love to get a full-duplex intercom system. The compoint is at half-duplex, but at least it is hands-free if you talk within 7 seconds... If anyone knows of anything that does a reasonable job of full audio integration, I'd love to hear about it.

--Bob
I am going to be doing a similiar upgrade to my phone system in November but I use wired phones with only a few cordless units. I have a total of 20 phones (used to be 30 but I am simplifying wherever possible) and they all are speaker phones so intercom calls are full duplex. I can also page all or page by zones.

My November upgrades will add loop sense relays to each extension to allow for muting the local music. I also plan to add Voice recognition using either HAL, Homeseer, or PowerHome (still researching) so any speakerphone can be used for voice control. Of course all phones have access to all incoming lines (I have 4) and my stargate can page through the phone system to announce the mail or people at the door. The phone system supports door boxes to talk to visitors as well though I just play a wav file asking them to be patient till someone can come to the door.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
Spanky said:
ELK Products, Inc. is introducing the M1 and new ELKRM Remote Management software that runs on a PC, PDA, and Touchscreen that integrates to the Russound CAV6.6 at the CEDIA Show next week in Denver, CO. The video and IP camera version of ELKRM is about to release.
Now this is getting interesting. Will you be able to write a rule that displays an IP camera image from a door camera in response to a doorbell trigger?

Can Station info from a Russound tuner be displayed on a keypad?
 

rbroders

Active Member
UpStateMike,

Can you tell me more about your phone system? I assume it is a Panasonic PBX of some sort. Are you happy with it? My first system was Engenius long range cordless (big house and all), but my wife hated the handsets.

I used HAL in my old house and VR via telephones was very good (80%+ if you use the exact syntax). If you don't know the names of the objects, it doesn't work very well, and it is not Context sensitive, though you can fake it with clever rules. My one open air mic was extremely volume sensitive - talk to loud or soft and HAL doesn't have a clue. I'm going to try touch screens in my new house instead.

--Bob
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
rbroders said:
UpStateMike,

Can you tell me more about your phone system? I assume it is a Panasonic PBX of some sort. Are you happy with it? My first system was Engenius long range cordless (big house and all), but my wife hated the handsets.
Bob-

I am using a KX-T624 system which can handle up to 24 system phones and 6 outside lines. The current equivalent is the 824 which adds 2 more outside lines plus the ability to pass CID information to regular phone equipment (including automation systems) attached to the extensions. You can only have one system phone on each extension but you can have 1 or more regular phones or phone devices in parallel with a system phone so you can attach a lot of stuff to it. I have an Engenious cordless on one of my extensions for when I am out on the lake.

The advantage of the Panasonic over many other systems is that you can pick up on a call in progress without having to have the call "parked" or "transferred" or whatever like you would on a system designed for business use. You just pick punch the line you want and join the conversation with Grandma without having to know how to use a phone system.

In a large house it is very useful to have the ALL Page intercom to find people or get them to pick up the phone. You have a light for each line so you know if the line is in use, on hold, etc. Very handy if you put a call on hold and page someone else to pick it up... You can actually see if they heard you and picked up on the call.

You also get paging zones and the ability to call individual extensions. I use paging with my stargate to announce people at the door and the arrival of the mail. It is very handy for your doorbell to tell you exactly which of the 4 main doors you need to answer. You can also have a doorbox at the door and speak to the person who rang the bell from any phone in the house.

I can do DTMF (touch tone) control of my stargate from any extension and I plan to use the phones for voice recognition as part of an upgrade I am doing in November. I will be connecting HAL or Homeseer (whichever looks like it will work best for VR) to a spare outside line on the system. This will allow me to use the system speakerphones for voice control which should be a lot more reliable than a bunch of open air microphones all over the place. (Plus a lot easier to do since I won't need to wire microphones and mixers)

Another part of the November upgrade involves putting loop detect relays on each extension feed so I know when a phone is off hook in a given area. I am going to use this for music muting and may come up with some other uses as well.

System phones are kind of expensive (around $150 each) but you get a good speakerphone, Backlit caller ID dislay, speed dial, line in use indicators, message waiting light (can be used with a Panasonic voice mail unit or phone company voicemail, or an automation system) intercom and paging, conferening, etc.

You can also connect the phone system to external paging equipment or a whole house music system if you need even more paging coverage. There are also system cordless handsets that give you access to all lines and features and even accept All Page announcements.

What else would you like to know?
 

english_1969

Active Member
mike,

If you don't mind a few more questions about the phone system:

How does the paging work with the 624 and how does it integrate with muting audio? What are the connections needed for this?

For the doorphones, do they ring all the phones?

For paging, can you page directly from a phone to all phone and/or to an external source (i.e. the whole house audio system)?

Are all the 624 add-in cards capable of working with the 824.

After you mentioned this, I've been looking in this as an option and it appears that it will work for me.

Thanks,
warren
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
english_1969 said:
mike,

If you don't mind a few more questions about the phone system:

How does the paging work with the 624 and how does it integrate with muting audio? What are the connections needed for this?

Unfortunately the Panasonic systems do not have an external paging relay to trigger muting. Some whole house audio systems detect the audio on their paging input and provide that function automatically. If not, you may need to come up with an audio triggered relay to detect the paging output and trigger muting.

For the doorphones, do they ring all the phones?

You can program the ring pattern for each door, which phones ring , and I believe what times of day they ring. You can have all phones ring if you want.

For paging, can you page directly from a phone to all phone and/or to an external source (i.e. the whole house audio system)?

YES. Dialing 330 will page through all phones. 33* will go through all phones plus the external paging equipment. 331-338 will go through just the phones assigned to paging zones 1-8. A phone can be a member of only 1 paging zone but it can be any 1 of the 8.

Are all the 624 add-in cards capable of working with the 824.

NO. If you buy an 824 system you would also buy 824 expansion modules.

After you mentioned this, I've been looking in this as an option and it appears that it will work for me.

Thanks,
warren
xxx
 
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