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post #1 of 35 Old 08-13-2010, 11:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm in the planning stage for whole-home audio/video. I can't afford an expensive, professionally installed system like crestron, so I need products that I can buy/use without a dealer. I'm having trouble understanding exactly what products I need, though.

I want all a/v sources in the basement (except maybe bluray player, for disc loading), and I want multiple tv's to be able to access the sources. For instance, I'll have one or two cable boxes, and all four tv's should be able to access them. Which is where I get stuck with my planning - if I buy a 4x4 hdmi switch/splitter, I can share sources between tv's, but what about priority setting? For instance, if bedroom-1 tv is watching cable box-1, then bedroom-2 tries to access that same source, what would happen? How is this problem typically solved? I was imagining a Harmony remote for each room, but won't it cause the problem above?
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post #2 of 35 Old 08-14-2010, 07:41 AM
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Will take a lot of time to figure out, be patient.

I don't think Harmony remotes were designed for this, you'll need to learn about control. The benefit of the Harmony is the wizard based programming, and multiroom isn't an option, AFAIK. You can use much cheaper remotes than the Harmony.

Harmony can be used, but you will need more than the wizard offers. Figure out how to do it with $20 remotes first.

Search AVS for matrix switch, and read some matrix switch manuals to start.

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post #3 of 35 Old 08-14-2010, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sulakd View Post

Which is where I get stuck with my planning - if I buy a 4x4 hdmi switch/splitter, I can share sources between tv's, but what about priority setting? For instance, if bedroom-1 tv is watching cable box-1, then bedroom-2 tries to access that same source, what would happen? How is this problem typically solved?

The definition of a matrix switch is that any display can view any source, in any combination. With a 4x4 matrix, all 4 TVs can be viewing the same "cable box-1" at the same time. There's no 'priority' or other switching nonsense...

As to the Harmony remote solution, if the matrix switch has IR repeating/routing capabilities built in, you might be able to assign the switch's IR codes as your "A/V Receiver", and then the Harmony would select sources as part of your activity macros...

Jeff

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post #4 of 35 Old 08-14-2010, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

The definition of a matrix switch is that any display can view any source, in any combination. With a 4x4 matrix, all 4 TVs can be viewing the same "cable box-1" at the same time. There's no 'priority' or other switching nonsense...

As to the Harmony remote solution, if the matrix switch has IR repeating/routing capabilities built in, you might be able to assign the switch's IR codes as your "A/V Receiver", and then the Harmony would select sources as part of your activity macros...

Jeff

The "priority nonsense" is as such: a harmony (or other) remote in bedroom 1 starts an activity that turns on bedroom 1 tv, turns on a cablebox, and turns on an avr; bedroom 2 using a different harmony (or other) remote activates a similar activity - its command to turn on the cablebox, however, would actually turn if off (unless it had discrete on/off, which most of my equipment does not) because the second remote has no way of knowing that the piece of equipment is already on.
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post #5 of 35 Old 08-14-2010, 12:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

Will take a lot of time to figure out, be patient.

I don't think Harmony remotes were designed for this, you'll need to learn about control. The benefit of the Harmony is the wizard based programming, and multiroom isn't an option, AFAIK. You can use much cheaper remotes than the Harmony.

Harmony can be used, but you will need more than the wizard offers. Figure out how to do it with $20 remotes first.

Search AVS for matrix switch, and read some matrix switch manuals to start.

I don't really care whether I use harmony remotes or some other solution. I'll try to find a matrix-switch manual online to read . . . . Are there remotes available that offer more advanced programming options than Harmony's rather limited wizard?

My question, really, is what piece of equipment I'm missing/not planning for. The big companies, like crestron, seem to have rack-mountable "controllers" that must be programmed by professional installers. Is there a solution available that I can buy and program myself (programming is not a problem - I worked as a software engineer for several years). A "controller" solution, if available, might solve the problem of various harmony or other remotes throughout the house not knowing whether certain pieces of equipment are on/off.

I'm trying to keep my questions general and not specific because the final system will be more complicated - 3-4 zones of audio/video, and 3-4 more zones of audio - looking at htd.com for audio and wallpads for the rooms without video.

Thanks!
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post #6 of 35 Old 08-14-2010, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sulakd View Post

The "priority nonsense" is as such: a harmony (or other) remote in bedroom 1 starts an activity that turns on bedroom 1 tv, turns on a cablebox, and turns on an avr; bedroom 2 using a different harmony (or other) remote activates a similar activity - its command to turn on the cablebox, however, would actually turn if off (unless it had discrete on/off, which most of my equipment does not) because the second remote has no way of knowing that the piece of equipment is already on.

I thought you were talking about "not being able to access a cable box because 'someone else is using it'"... Sharing devices and remote programming is another story.

If you can just remove the non-discrete power codes, and just leave the cable boxes on all the time, that's the easiest way to deal with it. I don't recall if you can do that with the Harmony programming model, though...

Jeff

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post #7 of 35 Old 08-14-2010, 08:19 PM
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There are some automation 'platforms' that are like Conrol4, Crestron, AMX, etc, but are DIY. They might not be as refined as Crestron, but they do offer out-of-the-box solutions.

Many exist but you need to decide which one would be good for you. They include CQC, HomeSeer, MainLobby, Elve/J9, Premise, and there are others. Many of them have their own forums. You can spend months/years researching which one will be best for you. Some have trial software. Try to narrow it down to a few before trying them. Premise is free, BTW.

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post #8 of 35 Old 08-15-2010, 10:07 AM
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This is the exact same distribution scheme as I have spent the last month planning for our new construction build. I'll be using an HDMI 4x4 switch with Harmonies at each TV. I'll also have 4 zones of distributed audio using a stereo amp and impedence-matching volume controls.

I have a harmony 880 now and love it. Programing is simple and it works every time. The help function on the remote is super helpful if anything doesn't receive the IR code. (Read: huge WAF)

The solution is simple once I thought of it. I'll have 3 video sources distributed. 2 cable box's and an HTPC. I'll leave the sources on at all times (the harmony programming wizard has an option for each source to leave it on at all times). Each remote will be programmed to only turn on/off the tv in that area. My "activities" on each harmony will be as follows:

"Watch Cable 1": TV on, Switch Matrix to Cable Box 1 input.

"Watch Cable 2": TV on, Switch matrix to Cable Box 2 input.

"Media Center": TV on, Switch matrix to HTPC input

"Listen to Radio": TV off, Switch stereo amp to FM radio. Then I can control volume with the local Volume Controls. I'll add sub-activity buttons to dial directly our favorite FM stations.

"Listen to Music": Still ironing out how I want to work this. I think the best option is to turn TV on, switch Matrix to HTPC. I'll have a sub-activity button on the remote to activate iTunes. From there, I'll control music with the "remote" app on my or the wife's iPhone or our iPod touch. I can then toggle the TV off if I wish by adding a power toggle sub-activity button. The TV will basically take the place of a touch-pad graphical controller found in the expensive crestron/control4 systems. Another option here is to use media center's music function. The problem I have with this is that the TV must stay on and I have no control of the music when I am out on the deck.


This system works well for us because we don't have any kids-its just me and my wife. The only down sides to this system is that someone could come along in a different room and take control of the cable box I am watching and start changing channels. This is okay for us because I'll always use cable box 1, and the wife will always use cable box 2. The same goes for the HTPC, you can't watch a movie on there and play distributed audio at the same time. (This may be possible with more sound cards, I just haven't looked that far into it, yet.)
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post #9 of 35 Old 08-17-2010, 06:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by yobrigidey View Post

This is the exact same distribution scheme as I have spent the last month planning for our new construction build. I'll be using an HDMI 4x4 switch with Harmonies at each TV. I'll also have 4 zones of distributed audio using a stereo amp and impedence-matching volume controls.

Thanks for posting - it's very helpful to see other people's setups. For me, the issue of two tv's competing for one source would be a problem - I'm still trying to find a solution, and I'll post back when I do.
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post #10 of 35 Old 08-17-2010, 06:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

There are some automation 'platforms' that are like Conrol4, Crestron, AMX, etc, but are DIY. They might not be as refined as Crestron, but they do offer out-of-the-box solutions.

Many exist but you need to decide which one would be good for you. They include CQC, HomeSeer, MainLobby, Elve/J9, Premise, and there are others. Many of them have their own forums. You can spend months/years researching which one will be best for you. Some have trial software. Try to narrow it down to a few before trying them. Premise is free, BTW.

Thanks for the info. I looked at the websites for those products. As I understand it, the product those companies sell is software. So you would then install the software on a computer, and the computer would control the system? Does that mean that every source device must have an RS-232 port? Can one computer somehow control multiple (maybe 6-7) devices through RS-232 ports?

While I'm at it, I was originally looking to purchase a 6-zone audio system from htd.com. However, I figured out that that system cannot control source components. What's the point of having in-wall touch pads if you have to pick up a remote control to turn on and manipulate the source? Is there a way around this problem, or should I be looking at a different product?
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post #11 of 35 Old 08-17-2010, 08:29 AM
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htd makes several systems, and I'm not familiar with any of them

But, generally, keypads can be programmed to transmit IR codes. The source equipment is usually controlled with IR.

Some SW-based controllers allow the use or IR or 232, for control of components.

Spend a lot of time on the SW controller forums to figure out what is possible.

Yes, 1 PC can control mult devices with 232, and/or IR.

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post #12 of 35 Old 08-17-2010, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm on the right track - I found the speakercraft MZC-66. It does everything I need, but it only works with composite connections - no component and no HDMI. Guess I have to wait for NIRV for high def. But at least I know now that at least one company makes a whole-house controller for audio and video that can be purchased/installed by end user!! : ) I'm surprised that no one else on this forum has done research on these systems and posted a recent/updated list of available options.
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post #13 of 35 Old 08-17-2010, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by sulakd View Post

I'm on the right track - I found the speakercraft MZC-66. It does everything I need, but it only works with composite connections - no component and no HDMI. Guess I have to wait for NIRV for high def. But at least I know now that at least one company makes a whole-house controller for audio and video that can be purchased/installed by end user!! : ) I'm surprised that no one else on this forum has done research on these systems and posted a recent/updated list of available options.

I don't think I'd count that support as "video" these days. With nothing other than composite, you certainly won't be using that to distribute any sort of vide source - at least not acceptably.

We did do the research, but you started asking about control systems, and we were steering you to DIY-capable matrix video and whole house audio...

I use a NuVo Grand Concerto and MusicPort for WHA, and an Aton HDR44 for HD video. "Integrating" those two functions currently is expensive, I chose otherwise...

The SpeakerCraft system you mentioned is similar in price to what you can get a GC for if you talk to a dealer and DIY. And it, along with other similar systems, give you metadata displays, not just volume control. That's a big step up in audio support.


Jeff

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post #14 of 35 Old 08-18-2010, 03:56 AM
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I think Russound C-Series would also be an option, take a look.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. -Buddha

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post #15 of 35 Old 08-18-2010, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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We did do the research, but you started asking about control systems, and we were steering you to DIY-capable matrix video and whole house audio...
Jeff

Yeah, sorry 'bout that - my questions have been a bit of a moving target, as I didn't really know what to call the thing I'm looking for. Thanks for the help! I'll look up the systems you mentioned. I've been spending 2-4 hours per night researching online for the last couple weeks, and I think I'm more confused than when I started ; ) I did find a product on the cocoontech wiki that allows computers to send/receive IR signals,though - starting to understand the software solutions pointed out earlier in this thread.
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post #16 of 35 Old 08-18-2010, 04:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

I use a NuVo Grand Concerto and MusicPort for WHA, and an Aton HDR44 for HD video. "Integrating" those two functions currently is expensive, I chose otherwise...

Wow - pricey stuff. What would be required to integrate?
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post #17 of 35 Old 08-18-2010, 06:11 PM
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Wow - pricey stuff. What would be required to integrate?

"List" pricey stuff... "Street" not-nearly-so-pricey stuff, as long as you are willing to install it and support it yourself.

Integrate meaning one system that handles both WHA and HD-video distribution, plus generally a bunch of other stuff... My systems are essentially separate, although many of my video matrix sources are also piped to the audio system (sports on TV playing through the game room ceiling, etc.).

The MusicPort sold me on the NuVo, and the Aton is expandable to 8 zones, and the kit price was available much, much cheaper than the competitors...


Jeff

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post #18 of 35 Old 08-20-2010, 09:44 AM
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Sulakd,
I'm in the exact situation here, I have ran 2-CAT6 sheilded & 2-RG6 quad sheilded cables from every tv to a structured media pannel, but my Middle atlantic rack is around 20 feet away from the structured media pannel, I want to share the cable HD cable box, Blu-ray player, HTPC, future source, and use CAT6 sheilded to each TV, then HDMI from the wall plate, I was looking at the Octava HDMi - Cat6 mAtrix switch, which not cheap, but reasonable to other options out there, looking for suggests.
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post #19 of 35 Old 08-20-2010, 12:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Sulakd,
I'm in the exact situation here, I have ran 2-CAT6 sheilded & 2-RG6 quad sheilded cables from every tv to a structured media pannel, but my Middle atlantic rack is around 20 feet away from the structured media pannel, I want to share the cable HD cable box, Blu-ray player, HTPC, future source, and use CAT6 sheilded to each TV, then HDMI from the wall plate, I was looking at the Octava HDMi - Cat6 mAtrix switch, which not cheap, but reasonable to other options out there, looking for suggests.

Yup - I hadn't seen that particular matrix yet, but it looks like you have the same issue with tv's competing for sources simultaneously. I looked at the products offered by RTI, and it looks like they have exactly what I need, but unfortunately, this is another company that is professionally installed only. They won't sell/give me the software to program their products - I asked a dealer today ; )

Check out ADI's Ocelot controller (I think their Leopard II is more advanced, but hideously ugly). I found it on the cocoontech wiki, and the little I know about it so far suggests that it may be a viable solution. It would go in the equipment rack, receive IR commands, then issue new IR commands to the source equipment. It's DIY programmable with if/then statements, and it also allows a set number of variables. Unfortunately, it only has memory for something like 2000 lines of code.
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post #20 of 35 Old 08-20-2010, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Integrate meaning one system that handles both WHA and HD-video distribution, plus generally a bunch of other stuff... My systems are essentially separate, although many of my video matrix sources are also piped to the audio system (sports on TV playing through the game room ceiling, etc.).
Jeff

Oh, ok, gotcha - so in your setup, your audio and video systems are operated by a different set of controls/wallpads/whatever? So you would turn on the tv/cable box/receiver in one room, then turn on the audio system in the game room to hear the cable-box audio in the game room? If you have wallpads, can they operate your sources, for instance, change stations on a tuner or change channel on the cable box? Would that ever conflict with commands given by the controls in the tv room?
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post #21 of 35 Old 08-22-2010, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I saw a good deal on the discontinued Nuvo Concerto (NV- I8DM) - does anybody know if the newer Nuvo keypads for the Grand Concerto will work with it (it is just the base unit - no pads etc). Is there any reason from a DIY perspective to avoid the older model? Thanks!
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post #22 of 35 Old 08-23-2010, 07:47 AM
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I saw a good deal on the discontinued Nuvo Concerto (NV- I8DM) - does anybody know if the newer Nuvo keypads for the Grand Concerto will work with it (it is just the base unit - no pads etc). Is there any reason from a DIY perspective to avoid the older model? Thanks!

Yes, IIRC, the Concerto uses a different protocol/speed on its NuVoNet connection. I ran into this problem when I bought a demo NuVo FM/XM Tuner, which wasn't a "G" model - it wasn't compatible with the Grand Concerto.

I don't think the new keypads work with the old Concerto. You could email NuVo, however, to see if there's an upgrade path available and to verify the compatibility. They're very responsive...


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post #23 of 35 Old 08-23-2010, 07:54 AM
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Originally Posted by sulakd View Post

Oh, ok, gotcha - so in your setup, your audio and video systems are operated by a different set of controls/wallpads/whatever? So you would turn on the tv/cable box/receiver in one room, then turn on the audio system in the game room to hear the cable-box audio in the game room? If you have wallpads, can they operate your sources, for instance, change stations on a tuner or change channel on the cable box? Would that ever conflict with commands given by the controls in the tv room?

Sort of... First, the main A/V areas - family room and (future) theater have their own audio setups for 5.1 - they just get feeds from the video matrix.

Areas like the game room that have both TV and in-ceiling speakers do have two control paths. The keypads and the IR receivers placed on the displays.

Most of the video sources are also hooked up to the NuVo for use as audio sources - so effectively the TV sound can come from the ceiling speakers - exactly what you'd expect in a game room, for example.

I do have the NuVo keypads set up to control the set-top boxes as well, so you can change channels from them - the IR routing capabilities of both the NuVo and the Aton matrix allow this to work without conflicts. A set of dual-plug Xantech IR emitters helps with the sources...

Oh, and the set-top boxes are are always on - so that's not an issue.

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post #24 of 35 Old 08-24-2010, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone familiar with this: Universal Remote Control MSC400 Master System Controller w/ RFX-250 Antenna?

It's a central box that receives commands from every remote control in the house (might be limited to only remotes from this company . . .). It solves the priority issue by being programmable with if/then statements and Boolean variables. Kinda like the Ocelot, but more robust?
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post #25 of 35 Old 08-24-2010, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neurorad View Post

But, generally, keypads can be programmed to transmit IR codes. The source equipment is usually controlled with IR.

Neurorad,
In my searching, I haven't yet come across any keypads that can be programmed to transmit IR signals except the keypads that are tied to specific systems like Nuvo or Russound. Do you know of any companies that makes in-wall keypads that can be programmed by the end user to transmit IR signals to control source equipment?
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post #26 of 35 Old 08-24-2010, 11:28 AM
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Neurorad,
In my searching, I haven't yet come across any keypads that can be programmed to transmit IR signals except the keypads that are tied to specific systems like Nuvo or Russound. Do you know of any companies that makes in-wall keypads that can be programmed by the end user to transmit IR signals to control source equipment?

Xantech Smartpad3 and probably many others (Niles?)...


Jeff

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post #27 of 35 Old 08-24-2010, 06:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Xantech Smartpad3 and probably many others (Niles?)...


Jeff

Thanks - when I'd originally seen Xantech (HDMI 4x4 matrix, I think), I thought it was one of those companies that only allows professional installation.
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post #28 of 35 Old 08-25-2010, 09:15 PM
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sulakd,

I'm in the same boat as you. Looking at a DIY whole-house A/V distribution retrofit, that doesn't break the bank too much.


One interesting avenue I'm considering is using i-devices for my controllers (iPod Touches, iPads, etc). While I generally prefer real buttons, particularly for channel surfing, it's becoming hard and harder to discount the ton of apps available for home automation, etc. One of the items that really draws me towards iPods is the Sonos app. I've decided on Sonos for audio distribution (their app is pretty impressive BTW), so combing the rest of my distribution and automation needs seems like a logical direction.

Looking further, I found some pretty interesting universal remote apps. RedEye in particular has piqued my interest. The interface functions quite similar to Harmony remotes in that it uses 'activities' as the workflow instead of simply switching between components. The hardware currently comes in two flavors; the primary unit is an IR blaster (basically 360 degrees) that communicates with the iPod via WiFi, and the RedEye mini physically attaches to an iPod for local-only IR duties. The former functions similar to an RF universal, while that latter acts as a traditional IR remote. I believe activities can use both, but I need some more details.

The great thing about the main unit is that it remembers 'states'. For example, if you do an activity that turns on your cable box, and then switch to another activity that also turns on your cable box, it knows it was already turned on and will skip that step! The problem however is that RedEye is meant to be a single user blaster. A given RedEye WiFi unit can only be in one activity at a time, so if you have two iPod's connected to it, they will both display the same remote UI. In other words, while it can control a centralized distribution setup, it can't really be shared. Granted you could get around that by having two RedEyes together (or I should say 1:1 with the amount of users you expect), but then you'd lose state awareness.

While communicating to the company via email, they mentioned a rack-mountable model with RS-232 and IR emitter jacks is in the pipeline. My understanding is that this is meant to support the use-case we want - multiple users sharing devices. Assuming it handles state awareness across users, this may be exactly what I'm looking for. I'm in the process of getting that last question (amongst several others) answered. I'll post when I have more info. Let's just hope it isn't too pricey
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post #29 of 35 Old 08-26-2010, 05:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Raistlin_HT,

Thanks for the info. I'll look into the RedEye - when the rack-mountable option comes out, it sounds like it will be ideal if it handles state awareness across users, as you suspect. I've been looking into using ipads for controllers as well. The Homeseer software has an iphone/ipod/ipad plug-in that allows for custom screen design for control using those devices.

I looked at Sonos, but my understanding was that it's limited in the sources that can be distributed - i.e. no source inputs. So I couldn't have the audio from a cable box piped through the whole-house system for instance.

Please post back if/when you hear about the new RedEye product! Thanks!
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post #30 of 35 Old 08-26-2010, 07:46 AM
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Sonos does have source inputs, but they are analog. The inputs are meant more for adding an iPod in a room or some similar use-case. It's actually a nice feature since you can then distribute it everywhere, but you are correct in that it isn't meant for the type of distribution you would like. Technically you could place Sonos at your central distribution area, but you would need to add a switch (only has two inputs per unit), and wouldn't have digital audio.

The primary goal of Sonos is for distributing computer-centric audio; music you have stored on a computer and music from the web. Traditional component-based distribution is not its goal. For me though that works great since I have all of music on a server. For my setup I envision separating my audio from my A/V distribution, so the Sonos makes sense.
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