Monday, August 05, 2013

House 2.0

So we moved to a new house 9 months ago so I saw it as an opportunity to revamp and upgrade all the electronics in the house.  Here is an room by room breakdown with links to quite a few items covered in my previous blog postings.  All the tech you see here we hand picked and installed/built/modified ourself. 

Master Bedroom:

- Yamaha RX-V473 Receiver (with airplay audio)
- Energy Take classic 5.0
- Monoprice 12" subwoofer (PID 9723)
- Soundcast SOU-SCK510 SubCast Wireless Transmitter/Receiver System for Subwoofers
- Monoprice Dual Band IR Repeater (PID 9895) (not pictured)
- Pinpoint Mounts AM20
- Furniture: Rooms To Go

So we got a full 5.1 surround system setup in here.  The front and rear speakers are prewired.  I used the Pinpoint AM20 speaker mounts which mounts directly to the single gang junction box for a clean look.  WD TV Live lets me stream all my media from the main server in the house which is on 24/7.  Silly me should have prewired for a sub but I thought the sub would if in front of the room.  After the furniture arrived from Rooms To Go it took up more space than I expected.  I moved the sub to the back corner and the Soundcast does a great job of transmitting LFE channel in pure digital format so there is no loss.  It does add about a 45ms delay so the auto calibration on the Yamaha picks up on that and adds the appropriate distance needed to compensate (12' = 10ms).  There is a very slight low hum though but you can only hear it if you put your head to the ground right next to the sub.  It's not audible otherwise.  The Yamaha has airplay for audio only but we hardly use it.  We just use the WD TV Live and stream pretty much everything.  It was hard for the harmony to reach all the components in the cabinet so I added an IR repeater which splits out the signal to 4 different emitters.  I also drilled holes for better ventilation and wiring in the back of the cabinet using a hole saw attachment for my drill:  3" for the smaller ones and 4.5" makes a perfect size for a 120mm fan.  I added 2 X 120MM low rpm fans for additional air circulation.  With the cabinet closed there is almost no noise and it keeps it nice and cool.  Fans are powered by a standard external hard drive power supply that came from a SATA / USB bridge adapter which outputs the usual 4 pin molex.  The fan power supply is routed through a Universal IR Remote Controlled AC Outlet for Appliances (110V) switch.  This gets all programmed into the harmony so the fans turn on and off with the rest of the system.  I used banana clips and matching face plate for all the prewiring that comes out of the wall (monoprice).

Family Room:

- LG Infinia 55LW5600 55-Inch Cinema 3D
- Pioneer VSX-1021-k Receiver (2 zones.  Zone 2 powers a pair of outdoor speakers on the patio).  (with airplay audio)
- Energy Take classic 5.0
- Monoprice 12" subwoofer (PID 9723)
- WD TV Live
- XBox 360
- Comcast HD STB 
- MK808 Android PC
- Monoprice Dual Band IR Repeater (PID 9895)
- Logitech Harmony Remote 550
- Pinpoint Mounts AM20
- Furniture: Ikea BestA 

This is a similar setup to the master bedroom using the same fan and IR switch system that I'm so fond off.  We pretty much standardized on the harmony 550 throughout the house for greater WAF.  Everything was prewired in this room including the sub.  Putting on your own RCA tips was interesting and required a bit of soldering.  More banana clips and wall plates from monoprice were used.  WD TV Live is the center piece for delivering media.  The xbox gets a little use here but not much.  The MK808 was my attempt at finding a substitute for an HTPC.  It's hard to see in the photos but it's really small and is sitting directly behind the wd tv live.  It was definitely an interesting project but overall it's still a bit underpowered for general web browsing.  I'm using the Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400 with the MK808.  I see a tiny Hazwell ITX htpc build in the future.  I just recently added another IR Repeater (not pictured) to improve IR reception on all the devices.

Media Room:

- Sharp 52d64u (52")
- Onkyo TX-SR707 receiver
- Energy Take classic 5.0
- Monoprice 12" subwoofer (PID 9723)
- WD TV Live
- XBox 360
- PS3 60gb with HW backwards compatibility for ps2 (upgraded hdd to 320gb)
- Nintendo Wii (with hdmi adapter)
- Logitech Harmony XBox 360 Remote
- 4 x pc's
- asus rt-ac66u wireless router
- Pinpoint Mounts AM20
- Furniture: Ikea BestA, billy bookcase, desks

This is the dedicated media room with a half wall vs those that you see that are fully enclosed.  We don't like watching a lot of stuff in pitch black so this more open concept works better for us.  I turned this media room into basically the men cave (me and the 2 boys).  On the left are the kids pc's running intel q6600/radeon hd 5850/4gb ram (upgraded this build) and intel q8200/ geforce 650 ti/8gb ram (upgrade this build) and 24" displays.  On the right we have my man cave: The pc on the left is the main server hooked up to 2 X 4 bay raid towers (though I use them as jbod with 5 of the hard drives in a 12TB drive pool using drive bender).  This houses around 27TB of total storage holding all our music, movies, tv, kpop music videos, photos, backups, etc.  One of the raid towers only has 1 drive in it so I have 3 empty bays for expansion.  Everything is over port multiplier esata so performance is pretty great.  Also on this corner shelf is the bw samsung laser printer, scanner, and 2 X sata docks for quick access to archive hard drives that aren't online 24/7 (also hooked up via esata).  The server is on an old intel core i7 860/ati 7790/16 gb ram (upgraded this build).  I just built a new Haswell 4770K, nvidia 660ti,16 gb ram gaming rig.  I've got a samsung 27" display and an old dell 2001fp 20" which is great for running my vent on.  The two displays are hooked up to two hdmi switches so I can redirect each monitor independently to either the gamer or the server.  Keyboard and mouse are hooked up through a kvm to share between the gamer and server.  I also have a long hdmi cable connected from the gamer to the 52" sharp and a xbox wireless receiver for some next gen like "console" gaming using steam big picture mode.  Audio goes through the hdmi on the 660 ti and everything just works great.  I drilled many holes into the BestA.  No fans needed this time since I went with no doors leaving everything open on the BestA which I prefer.  Everybody has headsets and headset/speaker switches.  Kids are usually using the headphones though they do have 2.1 altec lansing speakers.  I'm on a logitech z5300e 5.1 THX speakers but I haven't figured out a good place to put the rear speakers.  The asus router is daisy changed off the at&t uverse RG (basically making their RG into a dumb modem by dmz my asus router).  It was convenient have dual cat 6 drops in the media room that gave me the flexibility of placing the asus on the half wall counter top.  This allows the wireless to reach all corners of the house after increasing the transmit power.  I added a small ikea billy bookcase to hold my current gen games with some space left for next gen.  All the desks are from Ikea.

Game Room:

- Vizio m801d 80" HDTV (passive 3D)
- Yamaha RX-V473 Receiver (with airplay audio)
- Definitive Technology ProCinema 1000 Plus: 4X ProMonitor 1000, ProCenter 2000, ProSub 1000
- Monoprice 12" subwoofer (PID 9723)
- Monoprice Dual Band IR Repeater (PID 9895) (not pictured)
- monoprice 5X1 HDMI switch
- MED600X3D media player
- XBox 360 with Kinect
- PS3 20gb (upgraded hdd to 320gb) with Move
- Nintendo Wii U
- furniture: BDI Avion 8529 (espresso), Ikea expedit, pax
- Logitech Harmony 550 remote

This is what we use as our main home theater room.  Gaming is great too on the 80".  All the motion (wii u, kinect, Move, rock band) based games are here since we have the space.  It's good for when families are over and they want to play Wii or Dance Central.  I kept tossing around the idea of a projector but this room has a ton of windows, and I've just never been that fond of projectors.  Center speaker is in the center drawer of the TV stand.  I have the same fan system setup here too.  The devices are spread rather far apart I added an IR repeater here too.  My best speakers are in this room (which was in the main family room in the old house).  I'm considering adding a table tennis table too.  The future ps4 and xbox one will go in this room too (I have launch day preorders for both).


- 2 X Asus VE248 - 24" LED LCD Monitors:  Cheap and good.  About $180 each from frys after $20 MIR.
- Logitech mx560 wireless wave combo.  Not as drastic as a split keyboard but more comfortable than a regular straight one.  Frys had these at a great price of $40.
- Logitech Z313 2.1 speakers.  Frys $40.  So small yet they sound so clear with a nicely balanced subwoofer that fills out the low end nicely without being over powering.  Has a convenient headphone jack on the volume puck.  Satellites have a nice protective mesh but the down firing sub is unprotected.  It's odd how a lot of the higher end logitech speakers are now completely unprotected.  What is up with that?!?
- Ikea Malm Desk $150 black brown.  Sturdy, a nice size, drawer and cabinet.
- Basyx VL701ST11 Chair
- Monoprice in ear earbuds 8320 $7.  Amazing sound for the price.
- Using what use to be my server (q6600, 8gb ram, nvidia 8800gt).

This is the Ikea show case with Expedit, Hemnes, and BestA.  I've got a little dual 24" asus LED setup with my old q6600 server which I trickled down to the office.  I mostly only use this pc to remote into work.  My wife is on a mbp 13" and an old samsung 17".  So yeah this is the room where actual work happens.  The hp 2600n color laser and fax machine is also down here sitting on a shorter BestA with yes more holes drilled out the back.  Have I mentioned how much I love my hole saw?

Guest Bedroom:

- Samsung lnr-409d (40")
- WD TV Live
- logitech harmony 550 remote

This is a pretty basic setup.  This room has my first HDTV I ever bought which cost $2700 and is only 720p!  It has a WD TV Live for media streaming.  There is an ancient athlon 64 3000 (venice) sff pc that I just need to gut and rebuild someday.  It's not even plugged in at the moment.  I might just give it away.  The Samsung 40" had it's one and only hdmi port detach from the main board.  To work around this I use a Cable Matters Active HDMI to VGA M/F Cable which basically converts HDMI to vga and is even hdcp compliant.  So I have this coming out the wd tv live and into the VGA port on the TV.  It's ghetto but it works.


- Craig 15" hdtv.  We won it for free at a Bullritos store opening.
- Raspberry Pi

Not sure what to do with this horrible TV.  It has some of the worst viewing angles I've ever seen on any display.  I had it in a nook in the master bath but we never used it.  I moved it here in the kitchen with my Raspberry pi running openelec with mpeg2 and vc1 licenses installed (optimized OS that just runs XBMC) so it can stream most of my media much like the wd tv live.  I use the xbmc app on iphone to control it.  The raspberry pi is tiny and hides nicely behind the tv.  It works well enough but again we don't really use it much.

Guest Bedroom Closet:

I basically took this closet over.  The wiring is a complete mess but I have a 24 port rosewill gigabit switches in there (dirt cheap at around $78 at newegg), phone power voip, uverse, security, 3 X hd homerun with 2 tuners each, 6 tuner hd homerun prime with 2 cable cards in it, and tons of media and computer parts with each container numbered and all contents databased for easy look up.  rcTV which is a tivo like program I wrote myself runs on the server and records all those cooking, wedding, and dress shows my wife likes to watch.  With 6 tuners with access to all my cable channels I never have to worry about conflicts.  The hdhr prime also acts like a DLNA server exposing all the channels as media.  This means all 4 of the WD TV Live's I have in the house, med600x3d, and the 2 X ps3's can watch live TV streaming directly from the hdhr prime.  This is all without the additional cost of renting more cable STBs.  Can you spot the virtual boy in the photos?


I used a free program called Sweet Home 3D which lets you scan in/upload your floor plan and then set the scale properly.  From there if you have the measurements you can add furniture that is to scale and move stuff around and see what fits.  Our family room came out pretty close to what we originally planned.  The upstairs we were tossing around the idea of getting a pool table with a ping pong top but we ultimately axed the idea.  The master bedroom, Media room, and kitchen came out as planned.  The study we just kind of winged it.

Next project is the patio: grill, outdoor kitchen maybe, full AV setup maybe.  Then, finally organizing the garage, and we should be done.  But as far as all the electronics in the interior of the house goes I'm pretty much done.  Hopefully you found this overview interesting and maybe even picked up a few ideas.

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