Some home automation questions

(I realise that this message might be more appropriate for America's comp.home.automation but I'm UK-based and, having lurked on this newgroup for some time, I know that there are some knowledgeable contributors who might be reading this.)
Since my house is being totally rewired for power, I'm taking the opportunity to cable up for as much home automation as I feel I might require in the future.
A first floor cupboard (6ft height x 2ft x 3ft) in the centre of the house with front and rear access doors will act as the central distribution point for all cables except mains power and central heating controls. I'll refer to this cupboard as "Node Zero".
As a total newcomer to home automation, I've done my best to read up on the subject and have drafted an outline spec (see below). My personal preference is to avoid wireless and X-10 technology. I would very much appreciate any comments by you experts out there on any omissions or errors in the spec but, in particular, I wonder if you could help me answer the following questions:
(a) Is it better to have fixed IP security cameras transmitting pictures to a central server, or CCTV cameras connected back to a UHF distributor?
(b) The distance from the TV aerial to the UHF distributor in the "Node Zero" cupboard is 30ft. If I put the distributor in the attic instead, the distance would be only 15ft. Would this make any meaningful difference to the signal quality? Is there any reason to keep the TV "loftbox" away from the Node Zero LAN equipment?
(c) What hardware and cable-type is required to enable me to have an IR remote handset to select the video signal source (i.e. select terrestrial TV or CCTV cam 1 or CCTV cam 2 or CCTV cam 3) in any room?
(d) Can anyone recommend a digital audio server compatible with a networked music player and a Windows XP p.c. network?
(e) Does anyone know of a system whereby I can connect 4 intercom units over a LAN?
Here's the spec:
PC Network and Telephone...
Each room (except the bathrooms and utility room) will have a minimum of two RJ45 sockets which will be connected back to a patch panel at Node Zero by Cat 6 UTP cable. The longest Cat 6 cable run will be 200ft from the garage at the bottom of the garden.
The two incoming telephone lines, one of which has ADSL, will also be run to the patch panel so that any of the RJ45 sockets can be patched as a telephone outlet. Next to the patch panel will be a router/hub which can create a 10/100 Base-T network between any computers with an ethernet connection to the house's RJ45 sockets. It will also enable internet access to any of these computers.
Security/Intercoms...
The house will have 6 PIR sensors and 3 door contacts. The alarm code will be set on either of two keypads (front door and back door locations). Any alarm condition should cause a siren to sound and (up to) 3 telephone numbers to be automatically dialled for acknowledgement. The sensors and keypads should be wired back to a central controller (maybe in the Node Zero cupboard, maybe elsewhere).
Ideally the top floor of the house should have a "panic alarm" switch to set off the siren even if the alarm is not armed.
A wireless keyfob should operate the door strike at the back garden gate (next to the garage). If it is night, this keyfob should also operate the path lights from the gate to the house. The gate should also have an intercom linked to the house to facilitate access for non-keyfob holders.
The garage forecourt should be surveilled by a security camera. When activity is detected by the forecourt PIR sensor, the camera should record the activity either to a hard disk or video recorder in the Node Zero cupboard.
An additional two security cameras will monitor activity at the front door and in the garden. Pictures from any of the cameras should be accessible on one TV in the house (or one p.c., not sure which yet). It might also be useful (but not essential) to access the camera pictures over the internet.
There should be 4 master intercoms around the house (1 on ground floor, 2 on first floor, 1 in attic) to allow communication between four distant areas.
Lighting...
Downstairs lights will be digitally controlled (Mode Lighting's Evolution). Upstairs lights will have normal (make/break) mains switches.
Smoke alarms...
6 mains-powered loop-connected smoke alarms (Kidde or similar) will have a local control button to silence the alarms. There will be no connection to Node Zero.
Television...
A digital television aerial will be connected by CT100 cable to the input of a Node Zero UHF distribution amplifier (LoftBox?). The outputs of this distribution amplifier will be connected by CT100 to a maximum of 8 TV sockets in various rooms thoughout the house. Each outlet point should be able to receive normal terrestrial TV, FM, and DAB. Each outlet point will require a separate Freeview digi box (e.g. Sony VTX-D800U).
At the moment, I don't have cable or satellite TV, nor do I have any plans to add these.
Ideally, the three security cameras mentioned above should also be input into the distribution amplifier so that their pictures are viewable on any TV. This will require some sort of IR switching control to select the source signal. Alternatively, I could use cameras with an IP address so that I can view their pictures on a p.c. connected to the LAN.
Being able to watch the output of any DVD or VCR player in the house on any TV in the house ("whole house video"?) is not a requirement.
Audio...
Any p.c. or networked music player (e.g. Slim Devices' SliMP3) on the LAN should be able to access a single standalone LAN-connected MP3 storage device. For this I suppose that I require a digital audio server. The digital audio server should be designed for multi-zone installations so that users can simultaneously select and listen to different music in different rooms.
The bedrooms, bathroom and reception rooms will have their own local speaker connections. I do not intend to wire each set of speakers to Node Zero as I cannot see the advantage.
If I want to switch the speakers from say p.c. sound card output to TV output, I'll have to do this manually.
--
Thanks for reading this, guys.

Martin
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

point
the
preference
to
A digital surveillance system can be distributed all over the house through CAT UTP cabling, and with the appropriate amplifiers and things at the viewing TV or PC, can be watched by many at the same time. Remote control systems are also available, Magic Eye for one, to control the central DVR/CDH (digital video recorder / control distribution centre) hub in "Node Zero" from any room in the house. They are not cheap items to obtain, but if you have the money, like many of the casinos we deal with do, then you can have this type of system installed.
One small example of what's available: http://www.henrys.co.uk/cctv/dvr.htm

You want an RF modulator with amplified outputs for this job. The main antenna is connected to this in "Node Zero" and distributed throughout the house by the amplified outputs up to 100mtrs with the right one. Having 30 feet of Radar Graded Coaxial cable between the main antenna and the RF distributor is nothing to worry about when the slightest signal is being amplified before being sent out the rest of the house.
A few more examples of things: http://www.beststuff.co.uk/controllers.htm or here http://www.satcure.co.uk/accs/rfmod.htm

TV
It's always best to run a good quality Radar Graded Coaxial cable along with CAT, and even fibre if you wanted too, to all the points you want to place a recieving appliance. This gives a better choice of which signalling and control system to use everywhere. New fibre-optic systems are getting cheaper and better at sending two way comms' to and from all kinds of intergrated networked equipment, so it might be worth looking at.

networked
This site is worth looking at for this type of thing http://www.beststuff.co.uk/controllers.htm

over
There are systems that can work over a LAN, WAN or public network in the home through your normal phone system. Something like these: http://www.telecoms.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?products_id001

two
Use an amplified transmitter at one end, and a amplified reciever unit at the other, then you'll be able to send anything you want down it. You have to remember that CAT cabling can work simultanously through many frequencies, so your not just using it for one signalling system, but many devices at a time can be used without interference or cross talk.
This site is a good read: http://www.home-automation-solutions.co.uk/ht_docs/home-network.shtml

to
access
As I said above, the systems work on many frequencies and cross talk and interference is dropped to near zero using CAT or fibre networks. Low frequencies in speech can actually be transmitted over the high, or ultra-high in some cases, frequencies used in Aligned, or Asymmetric, Digital Subscriber Lines. The use of a splitter at the main hub is all that is really needed for you to have a normal phone service along with the networked PC's and internet access.
This site describes roughly what I mean http://www.fullerton.edu/it/helpdesk/what_adsl.htm

Zero
set
Modern Alarm Systems can be armed and disarmed using a mobile phone nowadays, so something as simple as this is not going to break the bank. I would advise you to also have a paid for monitoring service for the security alarm system. This gives you 24/7/365 coverage of your property, even through a networked surveillance system if you want, and a proper Police, Fire and Medical response at the touch of a button. All police, fire and ambulance services are working on a 6 minute response time to verified alarms and personal attack calls, which is great service for a few pounds per month.
This might help: http://www.securi-guard.co.uk/monitoring.htm

Very simple system.

With Digital Recording system all cameras are captured all the time, so there is no real need to have one camera being recorded here, and another one over there. Look for things called DVR with multiplexer on the web, and you'll see what I mean.
I think I've already given a link to DVR's further up. :-)

on
internet.
See Above.

on
areas.
Another very simple system to install. It could also be intergrated within your PC and phone network if needs be.

Evolution).
Mood lighting system derived from the Disco age, are also very easy to install and control. You could switch lights on all over the house using one remote control unit if you like. It's all very simple nowadays you know.

For a larger property it's best to install an actual fire detection and warning system to the whole house. Each room can have a switch sized flat plate siren on the wall to wake you out of the deepest sleep. These are law, ot just requirment, in hotels and guest houses now, so there must be some greater safety factors in having this type of system installed. We have one in our house and it's never given problems, and always feel more reassuring than those silly little smoke detector things screwed to the ceiling. Ask your local fire prevention officer at the fire brigade to advise you further on this. I'm sure he can also recommend an installer for you.

of
See the links I gave further up.

source
can
any
that
speaker
I
Well Martin, for someone who says they've looked in to this type of thing, you still seem to know very little of what technology is out there on the open market. Many of the things you want as home automation are now so common place that they are old technology now.
Modern Home Automation is having your PC call you at work to ask what you made for your meal when you come home at night, not just have a gate open up when you press a wireless keyfob. Home Automation is when your gate opens up without having to touch anything at all, just carry a credit card in your pocket and the gate opens, the alarm unsets itself and the hostess trolley come out to take the shopping bags out of your hands. Like these types of thing: http://www.tensor.co.uk/english/smart-cards.htm or http://www.simmons.com.au/accesscontrol.htm or http://www.databac.com/products/cards_and_readers/hid_proximity_cards.html
So. If I were you. I'd be setting my goals a bit higher up the Home Automation ladder, and going out to find what is available to make my life easier as I get older. There are loads of things out there that allow you sit on your arse and press a button and have your drink served to you on a silver platter. :-)
Good luck with all my friend.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
"Martin" wrote | (I realise that this message might be more appropriate for America's | comp.home.automation but I'm UK-based and, having lurked on | this newgroup for some time, I know that there are some | knowledgeable contributors who might be reading this.)
There is also uk.tech.home-automation and uk.tech-digital-tv
| (b) The distance from the TV aerial to the UHF distributor in the | "Node Zero" cupboard is 30ft. If I put the distributor in the attic | instead, the distance would be only 15ft. Would this make any | meaningful difference to the signal quality?
Depends on the signal/noise / BER of the incoming signal and the extent to which it is degraded by the cable. Google uk.tech.digital-tv for postings by Bill Wright - his website has useful PDFs on multi-outlet aerial systems. He has also just completed a 3-article series in Television magazine on multi-outlet satellite systems.
| (d) Can anyone recommend a digital audio server compatible with a | networked music player and a Windows XP p.c. network?
have a look at Myth for Linux
| (e) Does anyone know of a system whereby I can connect 4 intercom units over | a LAN?
Use a PBX. Connect the PBX exchange line ports to the telephone lines downstream of an ADSL filter. Alternatively, VoIP telephony with Asterisk running on a Linux box.
| Ideally, the three security cameras mentioned above should also be input | into the distribution amplifier so that their pictures are viewable on any | TV. This will require some sort of IR switching control to select the source | signal.
Modulate the cameras on different UFH channels. Most modern TVs will do both VHF and UHF, so plenty of free channels.
| Alternatively, I could use cameras with an IP address so that I can | view their pictures on a p.c. connected to the LAN.
Split the camera outputs between the UHF modulators (above) and PC video capture cards, and do both.
Owain
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Martin wrote:

I suppose it depends on how and where you intend to view the pictures. As your TV distribution is going to be RF-based rather than IP streaming then, assuming you want to be able to see the cameras' images on all TVs, it would probably make sense to modulate the camera o/p's onto UHF channels. You mention 3 cameras: with careful choice of modulator o/p channels you should be able to have each camera on a separate UHF channel and selectable from the TV channel changer - thus avoiding the need for central camera switching and associated remote control extension.

Not unless you're in a particularly weak signal area. The loss of CT100-type coax cables is about 0.2 dB per metre at the top of the UHF band so 15 ft. difference translates to 1 dB - usually negligible.

Yes and no. If you use good CAI benchmarked cable, CT100, WF100, etc., decent crimp coax connectors and well-screened TV distribution equipment throughout, and your workmanship is good then proximity shouldn't matter too much - although I'd still maintain reasonable segregation (50mm or so) between the Cat-6 wiring and the coax.

As I said above, if you distribute the camera signals modulated on UHF TV channels, then nothing more than the normal I-R handsets for the TVs and the DTT (Freeview) receivers. The cameras would appear as normal analogue TV channels (6 - 8, say) and DTT would be on an A/V input via SCART.

Pass. This topic came up in a recent thread though.

I know you said no wireless, but DECT phones make a good intercom system.
<snip>

It sounds as if you have no need of a 'loft box' (Global's TM) or equivalent product, or even a distribution system with 'I-R return path'. These come into their own where you want to feed the output of a VCR etc. back up to the d/a for distribution round the house - which you say a few lines later that you don't want to do.
All you need is a basic 'aerial amplifier' type of MATV distribution system to feed the antenna signals plus your modulated camera signals to the eight coax outlet points.

Or three UHF modulators, as I said.

That's useful if you want to record to HD. If you go down the RF road the same could be achieved by using a TV tuner card in the PC.
<snip>
HTH
--
Andy

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.