Quadomated: The Building of a Smart Home for a Quadriplegic


Hey guys,

Last fall I purchased a beautiful piece of land and over the next 3-6 months will be building an automated home based on a HAI OmniproII controller and whatever else I/we can figure out over that time. One thing that makes this project a little special/different than the norm is I am a past ski lift controls engineer who after a major skiing accident is paralyzed throughout the majority of my body. I've made a blog to detail this design/construction process and am extremely hopeful that a few of you will lend a helping hand and your expertise to make sure this project is truly spectacular.

The address to the blog which I started earlier today is: quadomated [dot] blogspot [dot] com

I'm not sure the best way to gather all the information in one place so for right now I'll post my blog entries to this forum thread and do my best to keep everyone updated. Enjoy the project and please, please give a little help!

July 9, 2010 Blog Post Background: Me, my abilities, the project

Let's see... how about a little background about me and what I'm trying to accomplish here. Threeyears ago, before a skiing injury left me a quadriplegic, I was living in Utah working as a controls engineer for a large ski lift manufacturer enjoying the outdoorsy life, but still staying true to my dorky roots with my profession. I loved the challenge of a complex controls problem and thrived on the systematic approach to make them happen. This stuff I still enjoy just as much, but maybe in a little different way now that I am paralyzed and can't use my hands completely. So my project... what I am trying to accomplish over the next 6 months is to build a passively solar, completely accessible, intelligent home, designed from the ground up that will help make everything easier for me. I want automation of all the important appliances/lights, a house-wide media distribution center, and a way that I can control it with not only my hands, but also my voice. And... I need this all out of necessity, not just because it's convenient. I want to be able to safely be as independent as possible, and this home will definitely be a huge, huge step in that direction.

So there it is! I've got some experience in various different things... controls, audio/video technology, HTPCs, networks, etc. and I'm looking to all of you to provide a little of your awesome, expert advice on what has worked for you in the past, and what I absolutely should take into consideration for my project. To get as much brainpower and knowledge together I've posted this at a variety of forums... those for people with disabilities like me, those for the audio/video enthusiasts, home automation techies, voice recognition peeps and whoever else I can think of. The exact forums that I've posted to are:

AVS Forum - Audio/Video/HTPC Forum
CareCure - Spinal Cord Injury Forum
CocoonTech - Home Automation Forum
Emotiva - Audio Forum
KnowBrainer - Voice Recognition Form
Promixis Girder 5.0 - Automation Forum

Anyways, this is what I know I want to begin with. Low voltage lights leading to the front door, a video/intercom system to check out the people banging on my door, remote/electronic door locks with a powered system to open the door, controllable lights and appliances, electric shades and window operators, automatic temperature on the shower, house wide multizone video/audio, all that I can control right from my computer, wall-mounted keypads, and a wi-fi enabled cell phone/PDA.

I have experience with many of the various different automation protocols INSTEON, X10, UPB, Z-wave, structured wiring. I have dabbled with Girder 5 and NetRemote 2. I own Emotiva amplifiers, JBL speakers, and Samsung LCDs. I use an overclocked Core i7 920 for my voice recognition duties with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and also use the system as a HTPC with 8 TB of storage. Basically, I've got a lot of the pieces, just need to start putting them all together to make a beautiful puzzle.

So there is a start... where do you think I should go with this new home project. I know I need several runs of CAT6 to every room for media distribution, UPB for outlets/lights, at home automation controller to make everything work... but what about specifics? I know I'm being vague, right now, but I don't want to give too much away of what I'm thinking so that I can hopefully get some varying opinions and thoughts.


Senior Member
You may want to do some reading on Setnet.com they did a similar project i think.


Other than that i'm sorry to hear about your accident/condition. Are you typing this or is it all done with Voice Recognition?

Can you be a bit more specific on what thing you can and cannot do? This may help in recommendations.

It sounds like this is a new construction project. Do you intend to live there for a very long time?

You may want to consider carefully how the home automation pre-wiring is going to work with your building contractors work.

I've always thought about being a ski lift engineer...sounds like a fun job.


Senior Member
Good to see you posting here, Mike.

I won't be much help myself, as I know only a little bit about a lot of things; you'll most probably be finished with your OPII install before I even start.

Make sure your wiring closet is roomy, and has easy acces for you, if you can get around at all. I think a knowledgeable low-voltage installer will be your best resource, someone who is familiar with the OPII and networking. Designing the system perfectly before you start installing should be priority - you want the system to work as it should as soon as you move in. Almost any alarm installer can install an OPII, but knowledge of the details of the HA aspects of the install should be mandatory. Will take you a lot of time to learn the intricacies of the system, probably more time than you have before the installation starts.

Your electronics should be on a/several UPS, at a minimum, or you should consider a generator. I don't know how often your power goes out, or how critical your systems will be for you to function.

I'll read your blog, and good luck!


Have you looked into HAL 2000 it has Voice Recognition it can control everything, lights,video,electric locks,


MavRiv / Neurorad

Believe I just recently read many posts from you guys batting around the good and the bad of the Nuvo Music Port. Too bad that they discontinued the product because it perfectly fit the bill for how I'd like to serve my media.

I'll have to check out Setnet and possibly follow a similar route to what Steve did in his project. It is already becoming extremely obvious as I get into this building a new home business that money goes awfully quick and if one of the major vendors took a kind eye to my situation it would be so incredible. Most definitely would make a wonderful difference in my life.

To answer MavRics questions. I type this and do all of my computer communication with a combination of Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition and a plastic pointer with a rubber tip to poke away at the keyboard. When I broke my neck I shattered my C3, C4 and displaced my C5 vertebrae into my spinal column which means I have good use of my shoulders/biceps, but no use of my triceps, wrist extensors, hands, or anything south of my armpits on the rest of my body. Not the best of mobility, but certainly worlds better than many of those who can't move their arms (or even breathe on their own). If there is anything from this injury that I've learned is to be happy with what you've got, love freely, and enjoy life. Beyond that I'm in a electric wheelchair, can use a computer quite expertly, and am really looking forward to the new mobility and independence that this home will provide.

For the new home construction, I am actually building it with my folks, but plan to be there for a long, long time. If all goes well my condition will improve slightly and I'll be able to live their on my own, if not, maybe I'll just meet some beautiful chick that wants to make lots of babies and live it up. Either way I think I'll be there for 10+ years and am definitely planning to use the new construction phase of this project for its every pre-wiring advantage.

I'll probably do something like you did in your showcase thread and post a little bit of each subsection of the project in subsequent posts over the next few days.

You guys can expect the following at both here and my blog, and I would certainly appreciate any input you have for each subsystem.

What should follow is:
----- Floorplan/Elevations
----- Overall System Architecture/Vision/HA Goals
----- Room/Wire naming Conventions
----- Pre-wire Strategy (multiple CAT6 per room, IR distribution, low voltage control/relays)
----- Media Rack Design / Whole Home Media Distribution / Whole House DVR / Media Server
----- Door/Window/Shade Automation (Anderson Electric Window Operators / Electromechanical Clutch Door Operators / SOMFI Electric Shade Motors)
------ Security/Occupancy (HAI OmniProII)
------ Lighting (HAI UPB)
------ HVAC (HAI Omnistat2)

Neurorad, as for what you have to say about finding a competent security installer. I'm going to have to cross my fingers on that and hopefully find a good do it all electrician that doesn't mind getting tossed outside of his comfort zone a little and possibly being my hands. I've wired quite a few control systems myself (just can't do so anymore) and as much as I'd love to hire a high-end integrator I live in a pretty rural part of northern Maine that doesn't have much for those sorts of businesses/people. Maybe I'll just have to put in a phone call to a few of my ski lift electrician buddies from Utah to get em out here to wire this house up just like it's a ski lift control system.

Expect lots to follow in the coming days.


Senior Member
yeah, if you can't find a good LV professional then a sparky who gives you a descent hourly rate and is willing to take your direction and learn is probably your best bet.

It sounds like you've read my showcase so you'll know what i did with conduits to attic and basement. I am still very much a fan of this approach...but it's mainly beneficial to run additional wires later that you didn't plan for...in your case proper planning and doing it right the first time will be more important i think.

Hopefully you have a lot of time to figure out what you want between now and then. Like you have probably already read on this forum...focus less on the hardware and more on the wiring you'll need. Investigate the hardware and if for example multiple audio system have the same pre-wire requirements, then don't spend more time deciding now and move on to the next item.

I am still very much happy with the naming convention that developed and following and actually now follow through with it in the naming of the devices within my HA package. The same naming for the wiring can equally apply to the devices themselves. I've also done some development on a convention for the use of the cat5 conductor colors (not the cable color itself), you can find the thread under my name somewhere. Especially if you may end up having to get multiple people to work on your system documenting and standard/conventions will be key, otherwise you're paying for the learning curve of each guy.

For Media consider SageTV, many of us here use it and it's very integratable and well liked. I don't think it would be too hard to link a VR system with sagetv to change the channel by voice command.

You mentioned you use some sort of rubber pointing device to do some typing in combination with voicerecognition. Would a descent size toucscreen with relatively large buttons be a good solution for you? I think i would get tired of talking to the computer all the time, but i guess if there's not many other options you do what you have to do.

I am happy to donate some time to help out....no sure where you are located now. For setup and configuration of software i think some of us could 'be your hands' to speed things up a bit. I can imagine voircerecognition and the rubber pointer may be ok for typing but not as useful moving files around, setting up backup schedules, etc. Even if we may not be familiar with your systems (for example i use ELK instead of HAI and ALC instead of UPB) it's probably still easier/faster if you provide verbal direction via phone or something and somebody else does the typing.

Building touchscreen interfaces and setting up automation rules takes a tremendous amount of time and trial and error (at least for me)....just be ready for that.

On the wiring. Yes, cat6 is still harder to terminated and the keystones for it are more expensive and at this point there is still no benefit in speed over Cat5e using consumer grade devices that top out at 1Gigabit. To save cost I went with 1 cat6 to most locations plus multiple cat5e's. The cat6 is used for LAN, the cat5e for other things like IR, music system keypad, etc.


Active Member
With software like logmein or windows remote desktop I think you could get remote help for programming so the key is getting the wiring done.

Sagetv can be controlled via home automation software that may be a good bet.

The wiring to the TVs should be standard. I run a HDMI, a mini-component, and wire that has 2 CAT5 plus 2 COAX. Others wire similar configurations maybe a few more cat5s The key is going to be what extra things you are going to need based on mobility issues.

Couple of things I was thinking/wondering
* How do you control Dragon Naturally speaking - is this something that is part of your chair? Can you talk to this outside the room with your computer? Is there any need to remote mics in other rooms? Do you think that would even work?
* Occupancy sensors - This may be of extra help to you for light and other controls based on your presence.

CQC is going open source, this might be good software to tie some of this together.

I am a builder in NJ with a electrician in my family. I have accounts with a few distributors of products mentioned above, ELK, HAI etc.. I will offer any parts that my distributors stock at my cost and we could drop ship to keep the shipping costs low.

The key at this point in the game of course is the wiring, I wanted to a cat5 camera in my babys room, I missed that during the prewire. I spent more time/money getting that cat5 up to the attic then I did wiring half the house. Your needs could change as the technology advances, so I would certainly follow the advise of others here and get a few empty conduits from basement to attic.

If I can help you with any product let me know.


Senior Member

read the wiring your house 10X series linked in my sig, there is alot of basic info as to cables to locations you might not have thought of, if you can work a computer well, then some type of touch screen control application (homeseer, CQC, Elve, etc..) are all going to help you alot, coupled with a controller/touchscreens located around the house, or one intergrated onto your wheelchair. How far up in ME are you?


Staff member
Welcome to CT!

You definitely came to the right place for help, we'll be able to answer most questions, and probably create a few more :( For what it's worth, CT offers a free Blog feature, which makes it easy for forum members to interact with your blog without having to sign up for a new account. You can configure it in your control panel. Do you still live in Utah?


Wow! Incredible!

The response back between you guys, some of the other communities, and my previous professional colleagues since I started this blog just a few days ago has been incredible. Thank you for the response, and I so appreciate anytime/dealer discounts/whatever you're willing to do to help the cause.

I really had no idea of the potential for this project, and people that might want to get involved, but judging from the 25+ e-mails I had this morning, and the responses from some pretty high up people in the green building community I think this could hopefully go from a fun/modest project to something truly special.

To follow up on some of the things you guys posted.

MavRic, I need to speak with my electrician more about the details of my home automation goals and what it might entail, but right off the bat he seems more than interested in working with me and possibly letting other people friends/family/techi gurus help out with some of the low voltage wire pulling and just oversee/make sure everything is up to par and meets code. Depending on where this goes and how complicated the design gets, I might even reach out to some of my former automation colleagues at The Foxboro Company and Doppelmayr to see if they might be interested in spending a weekend or two enjoying the evenings at my uncle's camp on the lake and doing this up just like it's a ski lift or some industrial controls wiring job. Guess we'll just have to see what sort of interest my blog and e-mails bring.

I've browsed through your build thread, but will definitely have to read through it closer when I don't have so many dang e-mails to respond to. If anyone else has a great showcase documenting their home automation build please send me the links because I am definitely learning tons from reading/looking at others work. Probably what I'll do is start talking about one subsystem at a time, and try to delve deep into all aspects of it before heading on to the next.

For media, I've been thinking about centering everything around Windows Media Center, using Ceton's soon to be released InfiniTV quad cable card tuner with Xbox 360s acting as extenders in the different rooms to access my content and the TV. From what I understand Windows Media Center is the only platform that supports high-definition cable card enabled tuners. Does Sage and their tuners/extenders work with playing this DRM protected material?

As far as touch screens/my interface to everything. If possible, I would definitely like to make a lot of this voice enabled, but quite often (especially when I'm up in my wheelchair) I interface/control a lot of things and actually have pretty fine tactile dexterity with my hand/pointer. You should watch me write a text message some time on my cell phone... quite the sight. For the voice recognition, I'll probably need several overhead microphones, and then some sort of mixer to get all the signals together in one place. I'll definitely put more information up about this once we detail into that subsection of the system in a subsequent post.

And yes... I am all about sorting out the prewiring needs now, especially, and figuring out some of the hardware and how to integrate this all together as the house is being built. I just want to make sure I prepare for everything and place conduits if necessary to be prepared for anything.

Personalt, I so appreciate the offer about the products. As we delve into this further, I'm sure that will provide me with a huge savings that will hopefully allow me to do a bunch more. Also, where you are a builder, I will so appreciate any thoughts you have about the floor plan/construction method I plan to discuss and post sometime tomorrow. I did much of the design work myself, and think another set of eyes will definitely pick up anything I may have missed.

Mustangcoupe, I've placed your wiring or house series on my Kindle and plan to read them at the lake tomorrow. Looks like a ton of great information!

Dan, not in Utah anymore, but up in northern Maine. I should've thought about posting my blog over here, but it seems that I've already gathered a bunch of followers and enthusiasm at my blogger location. Guess I'll just have to copy some of my post and make sure they make it here as well so that everyone can follow/keep up.

Again guys, thanks so much, and I am really looking forward to this project. Think with everyone's input/enthusiasm it's going to really be a lot of fun!

Hey... when will CocoonTech start letting me post links? I'd like to post a link to my blog and some photos.


--- July 11, 2010 Quadomated Blog Post

Last fall I set forth to find and purchase the perfect piece of land. I can remember driving my wheelchair all over town with my mom/dad in tow next to me on their bicycles.

What we wanted seemed like an impossibility. In town, but still quiet and secluded, beautiful view, southern exposure. The spot needed to provide some way to make these cold Northern Maine winters seem a little less unbearable, and ideally with the right view/sunshine we could almost make the indoor space feel just like you're right outside.

We found a couple possibilities, but none of them seemed just right. A few were a little too far from town, one was close to town but nestled in the shadow of a hill (with no view or sunshine), and the third well it was way more land and far more than we could afford. So we kept looking, and eventually I mentioned our pursuit to just the right person who had a family member with the perfect piece of land. Only thing... it wasn't exactly for sale. Nothing adventured... nothing gained, so I explained my situation to this person, how much I wanted to move/live back here in Northern Maine, and how important it was that I had the perfect spot to help me make it through those very long winters. Well obviously this person took compassion on my situation or quite possibly I'm just that smooth of a talker, because...


So everyone can see how truly amazing the spot is, we took a few pictures and a video this morning.

Check out the actual blog at http://quadomated.blogspot.com/ to see the photos and video.


Senior Member

Just took a look at the blog, and wow, what a piece of land that is!

I cant wait to see this whole project progress, and depending on how far in "northern" maine it is, I am only over in NH, so a trip might just be in order if I can convince my wife of it...

And I wont take the credit for the wiring guides, I just try to point it to people when they need it, They were Dan's originally


Well it's pretty northern, but not all the way up to Canada!

I'm sure having a nice place to stay on a beautiful lake might make the drive worth it.


Active Member
I see on your blog you were looking at multizone radiant. check out http://www.nrtradiant.com/contact.html These guys designed a mutlizone system for me in NJ but I think they are up in your neck of the woods.. They are the great guys, the plans they designed made it so easy to assemble the systems.

I will keep at eye for you next post. If you have some pdf plans to check out I would be interested in checking them.


--- July 12, 2010 Quadomated Blog Post: The House Design

A lot of different ideas/themes/principles have gone into the designing of this house. Accessibility, open floor plan, passive solar, and universal design all floated through our heads as we worked on revision after revision. Hundreds of hours later we have arrived at a floor plan that seems to make everyone happy, with minimal sacrifices and a whole lot of openness.

A couple things that were kept in mind during the design process.
1. I am 28, extremely independent, yet still building a home with my parents. This floor plan needs to have plenty of separation from me/them so that we could still live our own lives and then come together when we feel like it.
2. My disability is significant. When I broke my neck I shattered my C3, C4 and displaced my C5 vertebrae into my spinal column which means I have good use of my shoulders/biceps, but no use of my triceps, wrist extensors, hands, or anything south of my armpits on the rest of my body. I have good dexterity/use of my arms and use a plastic stick with rubber pointer attached to my hand to do all the fine motor stuff like using the keyboard/texting. The house has to be a single level and very open floor plan with modifications throughout to accommodate my electric wheelchair and disability. Significant use of home automation systems are planned to make all sorts of things easier.
3. Winters here in Northern Maine are extremely long, cold, and dark. The house MUST work to make this 6+ month time feel a little more bearable. Before my injury there was nothing I'd rather do than be outside. This is still the case, but because of the quadriplegia my body does a terrible job of keeping warm. If we could somehow bring the outside sunshine/view in with liberal use of windows it would make life so much better!
4. We have a modest income, and must consider the future of this house. Ideally I will either get stronger enough to someday live here on my own or find a lady that rocks my world who wants to live here with me. The house must be modest enough that I could someday in the future pay for it myself.

Stemming from the design challenges mentioned above note the following:
1. My parents side of the house is on the east, my side the west, and there is a large open living/dining/kitchen area in the middle where we will come together.
2. The open area of the living/dining/kitchen will have a 4/12 pitch, the family room a 6/12 pitch. All other areas will be standard 8 foot ceilings.
3. There is liberal use of windows on the south to bring in the sunshine/beautiful view and less windows on the north to keep in the heat.
4. All living spaces are on one floor with no basement. The house will be built on a 6 inch monolithic slab with thickened edges around the perimeter.
5. There is enough space between the two garage doors to unload from my van.

For pictures of the floorplan, exterior elevations, and additional 3-D renderings check out the blog at: http://quadomated.blogspot.com/