whole house audio /video

HI my name is Scott and i'm a newbie to your forums I have a directv tivo unit in my bedroom,and a directv regular reciever in the living room,also a suurround reciever;dvd,vcr,cd player.I have eight tv,s around my house that I would like to control my 2 directv recievers,dvd400disc juke box vcr.surround sound reciever,xbox360.From about 6 different zones.I was thinking about using modulators from crossbar media ,To get the sources to the different zones,and using a harmony remote to control it all. I would also like to stay up to date on the latest technolgy and control automation .I don't have unlimited funds to spend on the project thanks scott.
What type of wiring do you have throughout the rooms?

Modulating is certainly an option, although most folks nowadays choose to use hardware switchers like the Autopatch or Extron to route sources to zones, and either IR-RF remotes (ie my MX850) or cheap touchscreens (ie Fujitsu 3400 tablet PC for $160) combined with HomeTheaterAutomation software to control it.

The issue I personally had with using an MX850 only was that I couldn't tell what was currently playing/in use, and whether the stereo was on/etc. That's where I ended up using the 3400's. Check out the site in my sig for screenshots.
Ivb after I posted this I found your web site.Man you got one great setup!It's exactly what Im looking for.Right now I only want to do the ht part of your setup ,but would like to do the rest eventually.I have RG6 running dtv throughout my home.I have about 3000 wma files on my home hardrive and about 250 dvd's on my sony 400 jukebox.I see the trick thing to do is have a HTPC .Almost all of my audio video is in the living room by my main tv.
Just the one RG6?

How hard would it be to run more?

Any speaker wires distributed throughout your house?
I have 2 pairs running to every location I have a tv. I ran all my wires through the attic so adding wires is not a problem.As of right now I only have speakers running outside to the patio.I seen your set up and that's what i wan't to do.I seen that you did it affordable so thats makes it worthwhile.Ive seen Zantech ,elan,and whole house systems that cost 5,000 dollars.But don't want to spend that.I downloaded the 2.0 software you use, and been following your thread .What's the first step?My plan is to access all my wma files ,dvd's XBOX360, etc from about 6 diff locations.
Hey IVB, you are the man!

I love the vlad graphics you've chosen. One of the weak links that I've seen in so many DIY HA projects has been the GUI. Frankly, that's where so many people end up rolling with a Crestron or AMX system. You have certainly inspired me with your setup and now that I've bragged on you to my wife and shown her your website, I think it's time I start acquiring some more gear and contact Dean at CQC! She's as into it as I am.

One question, I currently have a Companion 8 running my HA. It requires Flash for graphics. Are you using Flash for your CQC graphics? I would ultimately want to keep the C8 but have it seamlessly mesh with any tablets I bring in.

dirtracinfan, please continue to post on your progress as I think I'll be right behind you.
dirtracinfan: Steps: Answer these questions:
Q1) First step (for me) is to understand what the a/v equipment you already own is,

Q2) What PCs do you already own that you'd like to use? For example, I have an office PC that I'm using as a 2nd video renderer when not in use. That way I have an easy way to get more concurrent video sources, and don't have to deal with a ton of DirecTV receivers or TIVO units. I have 2 DirecTV receivers and an OTA HD antenna feed SageTV, and use the HTPC's to act as infinitely more controllable video sources.

Q3) 2nd step (for you) is to understand where your zones & sources will be. (ie, this zone has HDTV, this zone is SDTV, this zone is audio only, etc)
Q4) get your wiring down, so you can connect it to the right equipment, so you can actually have CQC control something.

My caveat: I haven't used ML since V2, so everything I walk you through will be based on my understanding of how I've used CQC to make this whole thing actually work. I'm attaching a diagram I wrote up for another user if you want to see a sample. In addition, I've begun documenting my setup here if you want to see that . Ignore everything after Chapter 1 - that's based on the V1.5 version of CQC, haven't yet updated that bit.

AnthonyZ: CQC doesn't support Flash, which is entirely fine by me as I personally dislike the use of animation in my interfaces. For my target audience, which is a bunch of complete non-techies, if it's not on the screen they're not going to understand it. Even my wife, who uses the web heavily, detests Flash menu's with a passion.

If you must use Flash, look into MainLobby. It's not as powerful or secure as CQC, esp if you have multiple PCs or PPCs, but it does support flash.


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one more thing: If you are actually interested in using CQC to do this, there's many of us who've made our templates freely downloadable. You can import those to see how they work and also use them if you'd like.

I have my actual art-based templates available, so you can use my exact ones if you'd like. This link has them without the copyrighted vladstudio art, if you want the ones with the actual art I'll email you a link if you PM and email me confirmation that you've purchased a subscription to vladstudio.com. That way I know i'm not distributing any intellectual property to non-licensed persons.

However, before you go running off to download & install, you should probably do the following:

1) Watch the video tutorials up on the charmedquark.com website
2) Read the written tutorial
3) At least scan the doc above, so you can begin getting familiar with the concepts

Only at that point should you try and
4) download templates, install CQC, and try doing something. I know it's more attractive and instant-gratification to just have at it, but taking the 1hr or so to do the above will really help you not waste your time.

Then, you can do:
5) Join one of the CQC user group webexes (1/6 or 1/27 are the January ones) where we walk both newbies through some stuff as well as the advanced folks through some advanced stuff. It's usually split 50-50 between those twp audiences, so everyone gets what they want.
Thanks IVB for your quick replys ,and helping a newbie.I spent about 8 hrs on the computer yesterday trying to learn every thing i can about your system and the system,s you use.I,ll have 8 zones to cover.I don,t have HD now but would like to. Q#1 Living room HT room HDTV,7.1Digital audio_Onkyo txsr6747.1 HT with 3 in 2 out hdmi and upconvert to hd.Sony Dvp-cx995400 disc dvd player,Directv rec with home contol(upgrade later to hd)HD antenna ( upgrade later)That means i want them just don't have them now.jvc SUPERVHS HRS4600U,Xbox360,onkyo tuner t-401,onkyo cassette ta rw-303,xbox.Sony cpu PCV-RX550.All this is in my living room right now and would like to hide it.Master bedroom Directv r15 tivo,Toshiba sd3960 dvd player.Kids room Mintec portable dvd DDP-1810.That's all my equipment.Q#2 MYpcv rx-550 is my home pc and has all the wma files on a 160 gig harddrive.Would like to build a new one for HT and wma's and dvd's. Q#3 8 zones#1 Living room,pc,HDTV,Digital Audio.#2 kids room analog video and audio .#3 Kids room analog audio video.#4 master bedroom hdtv (upgrade later) analog audio.#5 Kitchen analog video and audio.#6 patio analog video audio.#7 downstairs analog now hdtv later digital audio later.#8 garage analog aud2io and video. i would like to contol all with a single remote or keypad. Q#4 wiring?I know the directv rec has home contol and the r15 has rf contol but do't know about the rest.Thank you Scott.
I'll mock up something quick with that, but the intital scan shows that none of your equipment has RS232 control. This means you'll have to use 1way IR control to control it.

Or in other words, you cannot create a screen like the attached where you have:
1) The current status/volume/source of the onkyo HT room
2) The current DVD loaded in the megachanger
3) Using the DirecTV R15 DVR, you cannot tell if someone is using it, which may not be important to you.

It also seems like you've got all SD video sources (ie, no HD sources). I know you said you want them, but confirming that as of right now you have no need for that.

Can you cut out 2 of those zones or consolidate them? There's a variety of products that can do 6zones, but it seems that the 7th/8th zone drive up the $$.

Regardless, you could get something as simple (but expensive) as a Xantech MRC88 a/v switcher/amplifier with RS232 control and use that as the main engine driving all the zones. There might be a Russound product also that you can use, but I only know of the CAV66 and CAA66 which only have 6 zones. The xantech is about $2K, russound is a tiny bit cheaper but only 6z.

Obviously that's a ton of $$, more than I personally spent. I waited around for a cheap Xantech ZPR68 6zone switcher with RS232, scored it and the EXP9 zone expander for $400 total. I bought cheap amps off eBay as they came available, so I ended up getting 8zone control via the Xantech & amps for about $1K. I doubt you could get it that cheap now, but the 8zone total would still be around $1500 or so. Upside is that you can build it in pieces.

Let me know about the zone consolidation, and i'll draw up a diagram to boot.


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OK IVB here,s the deal.I thought running all the zones would be cheaper now instead of later .so i can drop some.I have looked at elan,russound,zantech and thought that was pretty expensive.I guess having a system like your's you need RS232 control.I'm willing to do whatever to make it work.I will be building in pieces so we can take are time.What is most important is access to my music and dvd's at the zones,and control them.plus I would like to monitor lights,security,etc later.zone#1 ht roomI can buy hd with RS232 contol right? I have onkyo now but can upgrade to denon with RS232 contol.let me know.
What exactly do you mean by "hd with RS232 control"? Do you mean the TV or the receiver?

You can certainlydo this in pieces, heck i'm not even done with mine and it's been almost 16 months of a/v automation. There's 3 rooms that i'll be wiring up over the next month that'll finish it off.

For you, the best place to start if you're willing to take some time and wait for the bargain basement deals is to take a step back and plan out your wiring design so you don't run wires to the wrong place (like I did in the beginning) and leverage those multiple PCs you've got. The nice thing about CQC is that it's a whole-house license, so you can use as many PCs as "video/audio servers" as you want without any add'l cost.

1) think about how wiring could work, where you'd want to put this stuff if it's all centrally controlled and wired.
2) Rip your DVDs (if that's what you want).
3) (If there's a PC in each zone you want now),
3a) run a PC video output into each video zone you want now.
3b) For audio in the HT, run it into the Onkyo.
3c) For audio in other rooms, look for cheap amps on eBay with signal sensing (either 2ch or multichannel), take your PC headphone output, run it into that amp. You'll have to use the PC vol control now and will have to map 1 audio output to 1 zone, but once you find a cheap xantech/russound/etc, you can automate and distribute that too.

For 3c, do you actually own speakers for all these rooms, were you going to use in-wall/in-ceiling speakers/something else? The sticky point in that plan is where the wiring will run in the interim for non-HT rooms.
I meant the reciever.I,m having trouble figuring how this all works.You use a zantech zpr68 to distribute the audio?And 2 250 gig hardrives for the wma files and CQC.and what is the audio delta 410.Your using the autopatch 4ydm to run the video?and a seperate computer for the ripped dvd's?The cats eye hdtv tuner ( Is this for standard hd or directv hd).PVR 250? do you use this as your tvdvr?What is the theater tech for ? does this come with the new2.0CQC software?I have a megachanger like you , But your is RS232 controled so you can turn it on and know if it's on or off?How do you control it all? with a remote or a laptop?thank you for all the patience you have had with me for not knowing all the ins and outs of ht. scott
the ZPR68 is a hardware based switcher that allows you to send any source to any zone. But, if you do this in pieces and you have multiple PCs, you can just send the output for each PC to local speakers, and bypass the need for a switcher in the short-term. It's obviously not scalable as you wouldn't want 8 PCs for all 8 zones, but it may work in the beginning.

Don't worry about the 410 for now - it's just a multichannel soundcard that allows you to have multiple concurrent CDs playing on the same computer, but if you don't have a switcher you don't need that now.

The Cat's eye and the PVR250 are my TV tuner cards. The Cat's eye is an HD tuner for my HD antenna, the PVR250 is for regular TV.

TheaterTek is a software DVD player that does the actual playback of ripped DVDs. You'll need to buy either it or ZoomPlayer Pro (competitor) in order to use CQC (or any HA package) to playback ripped DVDs.

My 777ES is RS232 controlled so I can tell if it's on/off/etc.

I'm redoing my personal site right now, but I can use either a remote, my HTPC, my laptop, my Fujitsu 3400 tablet PC ($160) to control it. I use my HTPC directly to select a DVD or TV show for playback, once it's running I use a regular remote control linked to a USBUIRT IR receiver for play/pause/skip/vol up&down.
Thanks IVB for all your knowledge.So all the equipment I have will work it's just not 2 way controllable because it's not RS232.Can you access all your Dvd'sfrom the remote or tablet without selecting them on your htpc?When you get time could you draw up some diagrams for me thanks.I guess my first step is I'M going to find a matrix switch from autopatch for 8 zones.