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Dumb Keypad Question

upstatemike

Senior Member
I was looking at distributed audio systems in more detail the other day and I began to realize what it would represent in terms of keypads. I have about 27 pairs of speakers in 23 areas which could be served by 18 zones of distributed audio. Without getting into some serious compromises this would mean installing around 20 keypads. If I were to consider using Russound and adding the ComPoint intercom system it would be about 40 keypads. Add to that 8 existing thermostats a few security keypads, about 16 existing RCS KP7 and KP8 automation keypads... I realized this was rapidly approaching the 70 keypad mark. There just isn't enough wall space for this!

I know I could consolidate some of the RCS keypads and thermostats and some distributed audio locations onto a single touchscren controller for the area, but I'm not about to buy 20 touchscreens! Besides, you can't use them in place of intercom stations so you still have at least 2 wall devices at each location.

So my question is how are other people dealing with keypad bloat? Is everybody rich enough to put touchscreens everywhere? Is there a cheaper alternative for consolidating some of this stuff? Do people really get away with hanging a thermostat and a music keypad and an intercom keypad and a security/automation keypad all in a giant cluster?

It seems like whenever I look at any idea too close, it starts to fall apart once I model out a full scale implementation!
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
upstatemike said:
Is everybody rich enough to put touchscreens everywhere?
A little OT, but I find this statement kind of funny especially when you already have the following installed in your house, err.. I mean castle: :)

I have about 27 pairs of speakers in 23 areas which could be served by 18 zones of distributed audio

Actually did you ever compare the cost of just the "raw" systems without the keypads? For instance, how much is a Russound without keypads? I think it's cheaper and may help offset the cost of a touchscreen.
 

pkoslow

Active Member
Hi Mike,

I'm drawing up a job right now that will be my largest Russound install to date and first ComPoint install. The house is ~8800 sq ft with 28 rooms + cabana/pool and several other outdoor areas so it sounds similar in scale to your place.

When the clients marked up the plans on our first meeting they had 32 pair of speakers in 26 rooms + 3 surround sound setups and 15 intercoms plus gate & door units.

Was back to meet with them Saturday and actually recommended they scale back. Still working out the details, but looks like there will likely be audio in 19 rooms & 3 outside areas using only nine audio zones. I'm expecting to use 13 UNO-S2 keyapds & 4 A-Bus keypads. Compoint Intercom stations have been reduced to 12 plus door & entry gate.

The layout of your house may not lend to additional consolidation? If you're interested, I should have these drawing done in the next week and will be happy to share them with you if you think they might give you ideas.

As far as peppering you wall with keypads, the UNO, A-Bus and ComPoint keypads can be mounted together which at least helps to visually minimize them. An Uno-S2 with ComPoint will take up a 3-gang box and faceplate. Russound doesn't have this flavor of faceplate available yet, but you can cut one divider out of the 3-gang to accomodate the UNO-S2. The Russound keypads can even be consolidated along with light switches provided the proper boxes and dividers are used to meet code. The only issue with this is the UNO & ComPoint keypads should be mounted at thermostat height (57-59") so they are easy to see and use.

I've got some photos that show some of the above that I can post later...

The "too many keypads" issue is one I've been playing close attention to... it seems very common in the large high-end homes I've been in (and seen in magazines) to have a 12-gang bank of light switches with a audio keypad and intercom above, flanked by security & thermostat. Master bedrooms seem to be ther worst offenders since this is a room in the house which requires all that technology! I don't think that people like it, there just doesn't seem to be an easy answer to get rid of them. Touchscreens can minimize the problem, but the technology and adoption of them is just now starting to take off. Offerings from HAI & Elk and others can handily solve the lighting, thermostat & security but audio & intercom is still another issue.

The next step would be a touchscreen with MainLobbby or CQC which can add the music support, but your also looking at LOTS of setup/programming time to customize and dial-in the installation.

Cheers,
Paul
 

BraveSirRobbin

Moderator
Actually re-thinking your problem, you might want to look into RedRadio RAD I/O small touch screens. The reason is no matter what system you go with you are probably going to have a computer interface for all the components.

RAD I/O will let you divide the computer screen into "components" and then distribute these components to the touchpad units. The advantage here is they are just "transfering" (two-way) whatever is on the screen, so it will be universal for anything that the computer can run.

This would have an advantage of small size, versatility, and ability to run various software components.

I don't think their cost is that outrageous either.
 

IVB

Senior Member
I use Fujitsu 3400 touchscreen tablet PCs with a wifi card in central locations, so I can roam with it. There's a TON available now on eBay for $145, $165 buy-it-now. [i'm bidding on one, please don't outbid me - there's ones without bids too:D ]

I'm putting in local volume controls as a volume reducer in every room until I can afford the RADI/O, but honestly, there's a distinct chance I don't do every room. If 3-4 rooms can share a 3400 to turn on/set source/set max volume, all I need is a volume reducer. The RADI/O isn't outrageous, but it does run ~$200 or so per room. I can get a solid quality Niles impedance-matching VC for $34. That's the difference between doing it, and wife shutting down all fun b/c i'm a lunatic who has a problem...

BTW, I'm running 18/2 & CAT5e to those gang boxes so I can decide later.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
BraveSirRobbin said:
A little OT, but I find this statement kind of funny especially when you already have the following installed in your house, err.. I mean castle: ;)

Not really a fair comparison. What I have now is about 7 stand-alone systems each running 4 or 5 pairs of speakers in their respective areas. These are the "hand-me-down" systems as I slowly upgraded my main system over the years. The oldest is from around 1978. I never throw anything away!


Actually did you ever compare the cost of just the "raw" systems without the keypads? For instance, how much is a Russound without keypads? I think it's cheaper and may help offset the cost of a touchscreen.

Uno T1 keypads are just over $100 each. I would need more offset than that!
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
IVB said:
I use Fujitsu 3400 touchscreen tablet PCs with a wifi card in central locations, so I can roam with it. There's a TON available now on eBay for $145, $165 buy-it-now. [i'm bidding on one, please don't outbid me - there's ones without bids too:D ]

I'm putting in local volume controls as a volume reducer in every room until I can afford the RADI/O, but honestly, there's a distinct chance I don't do every room. If 3-4 rooms can share a 3400 to turn on/set source/set max volume, all I need is a volume reducer. The RADI/O isn't outrageous, but it does run ~$200 or so per room. I can get a solid quality Niles impedance-matching VC for $34. That's the difference between doing it, and wife shutting down all fun b/c i'm a lunatic who has a problem...

BTW, I'm running 18/2 & CAT5e to those gang boxes so I can decide later.
I have thought about this but Idon't really have any centrl locations. I also don't have any wireless infrastructure in place at this time as I'm worried it might be used as an entry mechanism for the governments mind control waves.

I am pretty much committed to hard wired technologies.
 

IVB

Senior Member
I am pretty much committed to hard wired technologies

You could always use a hardwired cxn. As a matter of fact, i just purchased a PCMCIA 10/100 card for my wallmount as it's been a little flaky after bringing in more equipment. I'm going to hardwire/permamount the wallmounted one, and use the one I'm bidding on now in an alternate location (living room) for the roaming one.

I know it's not perfect, may not be for all folks, but I've spent so much $$ on this stuff in '06 ($3K in Elk products, $1500 in speakers&amps) that the wife will shut down anything else at this time. I need to do this in baby steps.
 

Digger

Senior Member
IVB will those tablets come with an operating system (which one) and are they suitable for ELK RM and CQC?

They seem like a good deal.

Thanks
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
pkoslow said:
Hi Mike,

I'm drawing up a job right now that will be my largest Russound install to date and first ComPoint install. The house is ~8800 sq ft with 28 rooms + cabana/pool and several other outdoor areas so it sounds similar in scale to your place.

When the clients marked up the plans on our first meeting they had 32 pair of speakers in 26 rooms + 3 surround sound setups and 15 intercoms plus gate & door units.

Was back to meet with them Saturday and actually recommended they scale back. Still working out the details, but looks like there will likely be audio in 19 rooms & 3 outside areas using only nine audio zones. I'm expecting to use 13 UNO-S2 keyapds & 4 A-Bus keypads. Compoint Intercom stations have been reduced to 12 plus door & entry gate.

The layout of your house may not lend to additional consolidation? If you're interested, I should have these drawing done in the next week and will be happy to share them with you if you think they might give you ideas.

As far as peppering you wall with keypads, the UNO, A-Bus and ComPoint keypads can be mounted together which at least helps to visually minimize them. An Uno-S2 with ComPoint will take up a 3-gang box and faceplate. Russound doesn't have this flavor of faceplate available yet, but you can cut one divider out of the 3-gang to accomodate the UNO-S2. The Russound keypads can even be consolidated along with light switches provided the proper boxes and dividers are used to meet code. The only issue with this is the UNO & ComPoint keypads should be mounted at thermostat height (57-59") so they are easy to see and use.

I've got some photos that show some of the above that I can post later...

The "too many keypads" issue is one I've been playing close attention to... it seems very common in the large high-end homes I've been in (and seen in magazines) to have a 12-gang bank of light switches with a audio keypad and intercom above, flanked by security & thermostat. Master bedrooms seem to be ther worst offenders since this is a room in the house which requires all that technology! I don't think that people like it, there just doesn't seem to be an easy answer to get rid of them. Touchscreens can minimize the problem, but the technology and adoption of them is just now starting to take off. Offerings from HAI & Elk and others can handily solve the lighting, thermostat & security but audio & intercom is still another issue.

The next step would be a touchscreen with MainLobbby or CQC which can add the music support, but your also looking at LOTS of setup/programming time to customize and dial-in the installation.

Cheers,
Paul
I thought about doing additional consolidation but when I tried to map it out I found I really need to be able to adjust the volume separately for most areas. My current setup just uses a lot of spare amps each with their own volume controls so they act as subzones for the area.

The 18 zone plan I came up with pushed subzoning about as far as I could with a Russound or Nuvo.

I guess I will just have to design some sort of Upstate Interface Terminal (UIT) that does more than a basic keypad but is still cheaper than a touchscreen.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
BraveSirRobbin said:
upstatemike said:
My current setup just uses a lot of spare amps each with their own volume controls so they act as subzones for the area.
Curious, do they have IR remote control's with them?
No. In most cases I control all the subzones in an area from the main system location for that area. For example: The North TV room is central to the kitchen, garage, and covered outdoor porches. It is easy to turn on the main system for the TV room plus any additional amps I want to use, and just set the levels from there. I don't really need a local adjustment out in the garage or out on the porches and I am not excited about wiring for keypads in those locations. Even if I got a Russound or Nuvo system I would probably cluster the keypads for those areas in the TV room and control them all from there.

Or I could use one Russound zone and keep the additional amps to do subzoning but then I would have to feed line-level audio from the Russound to the subzone amps in the TV room. OR keep the subzone amps local to the Russound and have a cluster of conventional volume controls in the TV room plus some method for remotely controlling the power on/off for each subzone amp.
 

upstatemike

Senior Member
BraveSirRobbin said:
Ah, bummer. I was trying to think of a way to possibly use your existing hardware.
There is a way. One of my options is to keep my existing setup and enhance it through speaker switching and other brute force methods of HA integration. The good thing about that strategy is it would save me about $7K on Russound or NuVo gear without preventing me from going that route t soem future time.

That does not solve the more general question of too many keypads however. I will still need to come up with an overall solution to address audio, intercom, thermostat, security, and HA. Maybe I'll have the specs for my "Upstate Interface Terminal" design figured out by this evening to see how feasible that would be.
 
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