Monday, 1 June 2009

Audio on the cheap...

Well - as part of my project to implement a doorbell using my HA setup I quickly realised that without any kind of MFP I would be sans audio... I did however realise that I could quite easily piggyback off of the audio bus and with some advice I have successfully integrated a small audio amp (courtesy of Maplins for 5 quid) onto the network. Short of a few bleeps and squeaks (from the network traffic), it's OK.. Fits into a standard 1g back box and also takes its power from the network.

Doorbell/Camera Microphone

Right - more (very sporadic) updates.... This bit of the HA install was actually completed in September so it shows how on the ball I'm not. Anyway this little thing I fabricated from -
s/s flush plate
some Lexan
a vandal resistant s/s push
a small colour camera
a microphone and preamp
a cheap cat5 to video balun

In fact, all 3 of my cameras are connected using these 'ebay special' baluns, and they're not that bad. I may upgrade to Kat5 kit, but right now it does for me....

The whole assy is fed with 1 cat5 cable which covers across the 4 pairs audio, video, power and a contact for the push. The push activates a doorbell input on cortex via an octal input module. The audio output for cortex is a bit of a non standard setup..

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Just checking....

If my blog still works... I have to type in a strange word now everytime I want to add a post as blogspot's 'smart'? algorythms think this is a spam blog..... Hmmm..

Anyway - here's a picture of on of the two speakers in my dining room ceiling, music and radio through them courtesy of a Squeezebox and slimserver on the HA server.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

16mm Backboxes

If you've got 16mm backboxes and are retrofitting Idratek modules then you'll soon notice that they won't fit. 25mm is the bare minimum required and it could cause a lot of messy and noisy work chopping out the brickwork to the required depth.

I found a way round this problem with Lutron spacers - with some judicious modifications depending on the module required to fit, they work quite well. Idratek modules are not really that flush anyway, so the extra 16mm provided by the spacer doesn't IMHO make too much of a difference to the aesthetics. The keen eyed among you will notice the door contact in the frame that connects to the DRB's switch input.

More belated updates...

I chose to run Cat5 feeds to every room in the house that might need it - I do understand that just about every type of signal can be pushed down Cat5 nowadays, but I also added some screened twisted audio cables to certain places, along with a smattering of good old CT100 as well. The Idratek wiring was catered for with the pink Clipsal mains rated Cat5 cable from the c-bus shop - thanks to for that information.
I pulled the Idratek Cat5's to central points in the ceiling of each room for a combination of IR and PLT, or just PLT alone. I managed to save a lot of chasing work by being able to pull Cat5 down the same capping as the lightswitch cables. (part P anyone?)

I also built a false chimney breast to house the HTPC Xbox360, Sky Box, and 5.1 amp. This was wired with multiple cat5's (6) and an Idratek cable, plus a 21 core Scart lead, 75ohm video cable, and audio cables to feed the surround sound speakers.
After.... (apologies for the picture on the TV!)

So - where do all these cables go?
eBay furnished me with a 24U rack, and a nice 4U server case.

Not bad for 30 quid!

Note the his and hers slippers for negotiating the splinter ridden flooring....

The now more populated server, in carpeted surroundings (we've binned the slippers!)

This is the cupboard where the server lives - yes, it needs tidying up... (does anyone have a tidy server cupboard?)
Note the separate alarm system. I know Cortex is capable of implementing a security system but I wanted the extra reliability of a system that doesn't run Windows... In fact the alarm system (Texecom Premier) can control X10 with an add on board, but for my purposes I'm just using it's digital inputs and outputs to interface with Cortex, particularly to take advantage of its connected door contacts and PIR's.

Monday, 31 December 2007

Progress report

Well, I haven't put anything up for some time (in fact you'd be forgiven for thinking the blog was dead) but now I have a little breathing space *deep breath*

So - I chose Idratek for the automation system. Seemed to have the best value and level of functionality for my needs. The fact that Idratek are based in Newcastle might have just swayed me a little too..

Our house is an extended 70's number which we bought before the extension was fully completed - ie. the floorboards loose, no decoration apart from copious magnolia and just generally needing some attention. Ideal for me in the fact that I could get on with the business of whacking in lots of cat5.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

First Post

I started this blog to share my experiences with my forthcoming home automation project. I intend to integrate the following into the system:

Anything more I can think of

I'm most likely to use an Idratek system for the core automation, and will interface it with other separate systems as closely as possible.