Jonathan's Site

Audio / Video / Cars / Gadgets

Automation

To manage such a complex system, it is helpful to have solutions that allow coordinated setting of all this gear. Therefore I have a Home Control PC. This is a dedicated PC that runs a home automation control program and has the necessary hardware interfaces to control Audio/Video, lights and power systems. My HCPC runs the best HC program out there: CeBotics HouseBot.

Using HouseBot and either my Viewsonic VP110 10" touchscreen or a Dell Axim v51 PDA device with WiFi, I can see in real time the status of the power system, the lights and the audio gear. It is the later trick that really is hot. I can see status and control functions of the various pieces of gear from the CE device. Very, very cool!

Recently I added a way to check on the status of my preamp from anywhere in the world using my iPhone and my company's product: Rover Retriever

Here's what the status summary display looks like when viewed on Retriever:

Rover Retriever - Denon AVP Status

The HCPC also has full control of the power subsystem, so it manages the sequencing of power up and down via relay controls. Actually, cascaded relay controls, as the ADI relays in turn control much larger AC power relays from the EquiTech.

The lights are fully controlled via Z-Wave wireless protocols from both the automation system and dedicated remotes in the HT. While most light control is Z-Wave, there are still three or four legacy X10 devices around as well.

The HCPC is also host to several other key applications that I use to manage and tune the system with:

  • DBX DriveRack software to manage and configure the crossovers, EQ and other parameters of these very flexible speaker processors. Being able to see the UI of the app from a laptop via RDC and tune from the listening seat is very handy.
  • ETF and R+D from Acoustisoft to measure the room and the speakers so I can tune crossovers, delays and parametric EQ's. I also use that information to tune acoustic treatments as well.
  • Run the Audyssey Pro calibration software.

The music is served up form this machine as well. It has over 2TB of storage for music and other media. The music is now all in FLAC formats for the media players. The Audio media server (dbPowerAmps Asset) can transcode the FLAC's to WAV when needed for certain playback devices. But FLAC is becoming more widely supported. it works great with the Denon Preamp. I also have high bit-rate VBR MP3's of all the music as well for the portable media players and Squeezeboxes around the house. Music was ripped using EAC with optimized settings, but is now ripped with dbPowerAmp.

The HCPC is on the gigabit network backbone so the WiFi connected devices (Tablet, PDA and Laptops) can access it and so it can talk to IP based devices (Global Cache) as well as access the other Media servers.

 

Control

ViewsonicVP110


HCPC Layout

Double-click on image for full-rez diagram of Automation subsystem