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Mega-Size installation and I'm fried from info-overload

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  • Sean S
    Guest replied
    Thanks Brian.

    I didn't respond to Rupp's suggestion that I might go with a pro' install.

    I'd like to stay away from that because the Pro's usually go with what "they know" or are familiar with...not always the best product, and then charge you umpteen dollars to make their product try to do what you could have done with the correct product in the first place. In addition, installers like to keep "the keys" to their installs...for ego if nothing else.

    Personally, I am capable of wiring just about anything. I have a full machine shop in the place and work on my own CNC machines. Imagine a single machine that has *thousands* of wires to it with each extremely sensitive to voltage, data...even temperature.
    In addition, in my youth I used to be a high-end home stereo installer. The tech' at that time was hardwiring IR ports/repeaters throughout the home so not too exciting by today's standards but I am comfortable wiring anything from audio to coax to eithernet to flat ribbon or optical.

    Fortunately my ignorance about putting together the right solution for HA doesn't cross over to my abilities to install it.

    Of course, my stubborn DIY streak will probably (as usual) end up with "famous last words" attached to it


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  • Sean S
    Guest replied
    Thanks for having the courage to reply Rupp, I know that the first post is "one of those".
    I am also involved in some machinist boards and like HA, there is always some newbie wanting a simple solution when there are almost endless options and solutions to any one problem.

    For me, coolness factor aside, HA is a matter of not having to walk so much. Forgetting to turn out the lights in the shop at night means 2 flights of stairs and a 100' walk. Same goes for being in the shop and wanting to check the answering machine in the house...or see who's knocking at the door in the *other* side of the building. If the alarm goes off by accident, the police will show up before I can get to the panel (not really 'cause I get a phone call but you get the idea).

    The premise is really not any different from most HA installations as far as I can see...just a bit more wiring and expense.
    The idea of course is to be able to do *anything* from *anywhere* I happen to be in the place (at least where a station is installed).

    Of course, the server/network approach seems the best for this and having ethernet through the building is a great start towards this.

    Where I get stuck is that the approaches to this vary so much.
    For instance... some systems use "browsers" to talk to the server computer, but I cannot tell if they have the ability to stream video back to the browser from the server. In other words, they can tell the server what to do, but don't really interact with it to much extent.

    Other people try to run multiple touchscreens physically back to the individual "server" so they are just making a remote control station.
    This approach seems to make sense except I have *1* Cat5 to each room and don't really want to run speaker wire...IR...etc in addition.

    I'm just lost as to approach.

    I guess the question though is still simple...

    If you had 30 rooms, a central server room running eithernet to all of them, and wanted to add HA to the existing duties of the LAN, what software/hardware would you buy?

    Ok, well maybe the question isn't so simple because it makes sense that you would want to...for instance...get signal from your security cameras *back* from an area through the same Cat5. It makes sense that any "kiosk" computer could have I/0 go into it and get relayed back to the server (example...USB IR to kiosk computer > eithernet > server takes action > sends result back to kiosk).
    Short of this, IP devices would work (example: Video camera > eithernet in >server >eithernet out >display on kiosk).

    Here's the ironic part...X10...
    X10 I've read gets more unreliable over distance and crossing phases (I have at least 10 electric sub panels), but the LAN has no trouble passing data to computers even at the farthest ends of the place.
    Why doesn't the server send the X10 "command" to a remote IP (or kiosk) translator. Then the actual RF transmission would be 20 feet from the reciever?

    Of course, even 10T 100T ethernet can pass tons of data...well enough to distribute even uncompressed audio in realtime (I've tried it). Forget Gigabit ethernet...that would be well even better.

    There are hardware devices that do some of this. IP audio distribution systems, but the darned computer is already doing that so why spend $300 on additional hardware to get what the computer in that area already can?

    Ok, so I'm lost and obviously rambling again. Of course anything that can be done via the internet can be done better via the ethernet.

    If this response is worth anything, it is a testiment to how confused I am.

    All I really want to do is get started and I'd like to get started on the platform that...when added to over best for my situation.

    (and thanks)

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  • tobad78
    AS for the alarm system you may want to contact He is knows alot about alarms and helpful.

    If you want to stay away from X10 try Zwave enabled products. There are only a few products on the market but more will be available soon.

    Regarding your new shop/home it will be reall interesting to read all about it when you do get it done.

    As Rupp stated you may be better off contacting someone local but I thought I would give you another option if you didn't.

    Maybe TechLiving can do a feature on it when finished?

    Leave a comment:

  • Rupp
    This is a first and is overwhelming to say the least. I'm not sure something of this magnitude is within the realm of a DIY installation. This is such a large and complex project that contacting an installer for advice might be your best bet. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    Leave a comment:

  • Sean S
    Guest started a topic Mega-Size installation and I'm fried from info-overload

    Mega-Size installation and I'm fried from info-overload

    Hi All, I'm new here but I've been reading about home automation on and off for quite awhile now...the result is that I'm just burnt out on it again because there's so many paths.

    The reason I titled the thread "Mega" is because I have purchased an elementary school that I am converting to a home/shop.
    The place is 3 stories and 30,000sqft+ on 2 acres.

    Some specifics...

    The building already has 2 alarm systems (DSC 832 and some Ademco dinosaur). The wiring for the sensors in "in series" at the panels in that they have "outer parameter" as a "zone" even though there are many sensors...likely because they just went cheap on the alarm panel and didn't need to know exactly which window/door/motion was tripped.
    The alarm is remotely monitored by a local security service (currently alerted by the phone capabilities of the alarm panels).
    The new system must be able to communicate with the remote service and also act independantly if the HA server crashes...for both fire and alarm.

    The building has a darned nice fire system (55 grand to install)...which I believe can communicate with a computer.

    The entire building is wired with Cat5 ethernet and I have several computers on my 100Tbase LAN in different parts of the building.

    There is a "server room" centrally located in the bottom floor which contains the switches and routers for the building (and hopefully eventually an automation server).

    Ok...well this is probably not unique but what I would like to do is...

    Consolidate the alarm system to a single panel...100 zones would be nice...64 minimum. I would like to be able to monitor movement on a blueprint "overlay" of the building to visually reference motion in an area (there are too many areas to remember "south window #3" and I would like to be able to see that motion "travel" through the overlay as different sensors are tripped. I would like to be able to see this on any of the GUI panels that will be installed. I would like to be able to activate/deactivate zones as scenes in the automation program, and I would like live video on any of the GUI's to be able to switch (and better yet track) the motion.

    Audio: I would like to be able to distribute syncronized audio through the building but allow any "GUI station" to listen to its own audio and/or control the audio of any other area. As mentioned before, I already have Cat5 and would like to be able to use this instead of a central audio switcher.

    GUI's: I would like to be able to use a mixture of touchpanels, industrial computers, home computers, and SVGA monitors. I'm a bit lost as to whether to have stand alone touchscreens or full touchscreen industrial computers since often the entire computer can be found used for less than a touchscreen alone. I like the idea of industrial computers since you could say...bring a CD to any station and play it through the whole building (in theory) Premise software seems to have a jump on this...not sure about Homeseer?

    Because of the nature of the building, wiring is not a problem from room to room, but it would be nice to only have to install new switches (and not replace the wiring to those switches). I can pipe *whatever* through Cat5 into a room but would like to keep the original house wiring intact (don't know if the better lighting systems require hardwire control to the switches). I absolutely hate the idea of chasing line noise and other X-10 problems I've read about...the installation will be hard enough as it is.
    I will also need motion detection on the exterior to control floods (dozens)from several sensors and be able to program their response via the HA.

    Add to this the usual bag of being able to listen to internet radio, XM radio (PCRXM), MP3, weather, thermostats, door/gate openers...and the whole host of usual HA capabilities.

    So what do I buy? Of course finding stuff on ebay is great when you can, so that's a consideration.

    I see products like HAI and cannot figure out if *that* is controlling the place, or if the Homeseer should be controlling the place, or what order things go in...etc.

    I cannot figure out if it is better to purchase 10 industrial computers and put them on the LAN with some LAN based HA solution, or run some sort of non-proprietary VGA touchscreens back to the server, or use proprietary touchscreens?

    One thing that I do know is that aside from the fire/burglary systems, I would like to have as much as possible going through standard PC's/componants and standard wiring since the technology changes so much, I'd like to be able to upgrade almost any capability at will.
    I would like a distributed/updating GUI that can view/listen/control the entire system (audio/security/camera/lighting/sprinklers/web access/telephony/..etc) from several stations.

    So I have to ask...if you were in my place, what systems would you purchase, how would you connect them, and why?

    Your help is GREATLY appreciated since I am new, the place is complex, and after several 3 day attempts at figuring it out, I still can't figure out the best/most cost effective solution.

    Many Many Thanks