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post #1 of 36 Old 10-24-2000, 11:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm in a great situation where I can spend around $70,000 dollars on a complete home entertainment system/distribution system. I'd like some feedback into exactly what equipment I should buy, and what brands.

As you can guess, I'm "hands-on". What I'd like is a modulated system where I can have a DVD, ReplayTV, VCR, a Computer, and Satellite in one location (call it the control center), and then each signal is distributed throughout the house. I'm guessing modulation is the way to go, but I guess the computer signal would be difficult.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. If their is something better than modulation, let me know.

Thanks
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post #2 of 36 Old 10-25-2000, 08:17 AM
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I'm not sure if I can help you spend $70K, but for about 3% of that amount, you could:
  • Do home runs of cable from each room to the central location. You should run at least 2 RG-6's, Cat-5, and speaker wire.
  • Use a ChannelPlus 5645 modulator in the central location. This will accommodate 4 A/V inputs and modulate them onto 4 different TV channels (Cable or UHF) with MTS stereo.
  • Hook your incoming cable/antenna & the 5645 output to the inputs of a ChannelPlus 8200 distribution amplifier with IR engine. Outputs go to one RG-6 going to each room.
  • Use ChannelPlus 2173 IR emitters at the central location for each A/V device that you want to control. Use ChannelPlus 2133 IR targets in each room where you want to be able to control the A/V devices.
  • If you want more than 4 sources and/or more than 8 outputs, you can use multiple 5645's and/or 8200's.
  • For computers, I'd use a separate PC in each room rather than trying to use one central PC. I'd network them together with a 100Mb Ethernet switch (cost approx. $100).
Maybe others can do a better job at helping you spend the entire $70K. The above works great for me, though.

Regards
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post #3 of 36 Old 10-25-2000, 08:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Bob!

You idea is exactly what I've been thinking, but since I have some extra money to spend, I want to make sure I'm getting the best. I've heard good things about ChannelPlus, and I love the simplicity of a modulated system, but I'm wondering, is their a way to distribute DVD, and keep the high quality video signal and 6.1 or 5.1 Audio? Is there such thing as a HDTV modulator out there? I'm starting to feel stupid.
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post #4 of 36 Old 10-25-2000, 10:28 AM
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As of now, there are no HDTV modulators available (that I know of). You can get HDTV signal to other rooms by running VGA cable or component via a bunch of RG-6 cables, but I'm not sure of what the practical length restriction is on that.

You can get DTS and Dolby Digital to other rooms by using the Coax digital output of your AV Receiver/Sat Receiver/DVD & running it to the other room via RG-6. You'd obviously need an AV receiver on the other end to decode the digital signal / amplify it / and send it out to your 5.1 speaker system.

Another thing to consider is whether you want your satellite receiver(s) to be centralized or to have one in each room. A run of RG-6 (with appropriate switches) will allow you to get your satellite signal out to each room -- which will let you watch different channels in each room. We have 2 satellite receivers at the hub (each modulated onto a separate TV channel), but wired extra RG-6 in order to do it either way.

As you can see, running lots of RG-6 from the central location to each room is key to giving yourself flexibility to do things with your system.

Another thing that is cool to do with a modulated system is to hook up security cameras & modulate them so that you have front door on channel 30; garage on channel 35, etc. This way, you can monitor security cameras from any TV in the house.

One more thing to consider... in order for the IR engine to work, you need separate runs of cable to each location. If you put splitters in between, it can mess things up.

Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help.

Regards
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post #5 of 36 Old 10-25-2000, 07:27 PM
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If you're dealing with that kind of budget; I have to ask, just why you'd even think of using modulators?

Here's what you are doing with a modulator. You're taking a perfectly good, high quality video signal, you're modulating into the FM band (along with the audio) and you're doing it with far, far less than broadcast quality stuff, sending that mucked up low quality signal to a questionable quality TV tuner and having a go at it.

You'd end up way ahead of the game with an Extron, AutoPatch, or Telec matrix switch (yes, you can matrix switch composite, component, Y/C and/or RGB). You can use a similar process for the SPDIF digital audio stream or line/speaker level audio and do it all in a many to many configuration.

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post #6 of 36 Old 10-26-2000, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dennis Erskine:
You'd end up way ahead of the game with an Extron, AutoPatch, or Telec matrix switch (yes, you can matrix switch composite, component, Y/C and/or RGB). You can use a similar process for the SPDIF digital audio stream or line/speaker level audio and do it all in a many to many configuration.
Ohh, yeah I like it. I don't have a clue what you're talking about, but I like IT! See, I have the money but not the clue. Can you elaborate on this equipment? I suspect it is professional grade switching products. Quality is of course always important, but key is simplicity, which is why I like the modulator idea. It is very easy for me to explain to my wife that the DVD is on channel 100. She knows how to change the channel. So I can put a remote control (or LCD control panel) in every room, and she'll always be able to use it.

Having everything in one control center is another way to make it simple. I love my ReplayTV, and I like having it available on every TV, so I suspect I'd need it in a central location. I'll look those companies up. Thanks for the info.
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post #7 of 36 Old 10-26-2000, 04:06 PM
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In this scenario, the DVD is not channel 100, it is "DVD". Once completed a system like this is very intuitive to use. On the other hand, it takes a "been there, done that" type to put the system together (design, layout, cabling and initial programming).

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post #8 of 36 Old 10-26-2000, 10:02 PM
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Hi Stzaske,

I, like you and many before us, have been in a similar situation. The best thing you have done so far, aside from developing a large war chest for your project, is post your question where Dennis Erskine could set you on the right track. He, like our host, is extremely knowledgeable and fair-whatever one's budget happens to be.

BTW Dennis, couldn't you incorporate a few of those Isis panels in Stzaske's setup?

Rich
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post #9 of 36 Old 10-27-2000, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
BTW Dennis, couldn't you incorporate a few of those Isis panels in Stzaske's setup?
Well, the first challenge is to get electrical service to Beaverton. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

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post #10 of 36 Old 10-27-2000, 04:35 PM
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If you want to distribute the VGA (HD) signal, look at some products designed for computer networking use.
http://www.raritan.com/relatedprod.asp

For example, the VideoShare distributes a VGA signal to up to 16 displays.

The Cat5 Reach sends keyboard, video and mouse up to 650 ft using a single UTP (Ethernet) cable.

Bryan
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post #11 of 36 Old 10-27-2000, 08:56 PM
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For example, the VideoShare distributes a VGA signal to up to 16 displays.

Do you know the cost of a unit like that.

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post #12 of 36 Old 10-27-2000, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Are you trying to rip on Oregon? And you live in Georgia? http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif
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post #13 of 36 Old 11-26-2000, 05:44 PM
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Dennis:

I am not familiar with the stuff from Pragmatic Systems. I'd need to look at it an see what they are doing. The theory says you have the bandwidth to do the job. The real key would be in the quality of the encode/decode units. My guess is, if they are of good to excellent quality, you'd save money with a more traditional wiring plant.

There's another thought here. If this is old construction and the cost is prohibitive to post wire the house properly, it may be worth the while to check out what Pragmatic has. On the other hand, if this is new construction, wire the house with the proper Coax and CAT5 runs to each room. If you only run CAT5 and the encode/decode method is flawed, you're stuck.

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post #14 of 36 Old 11-26-2000, 06:37 PM
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Dennis,

In a situation with a budget of $70,000 would you recommend running conduit
to multiple locations through out the house?

With such a budget I would envision the use or Elan Via and Elan HD-Type control systems with Lutron Homeworks (or similar) lighting control. You can easily exceed $70k on this stuff, but the most important thing to do is to wire for the future.

I tell people that you never know what will be next. Fiber optic in every room? You never know. In most cases I prescribe a minimum of 2 RG5, 2 Cat5 and 2 16/4 runs to each room. Since you can run IR over cat 5 or coax, your control is taken care of. I also recommend the home run location to be more than a hole in the laundry room wall.

Any other suggestions? I am somewhat new to new-construction wiring, and my experience is limited to Elan, Phast & Lutron.

Thanks!

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post #15 of 36 Old 11-27-2000, 07:18 AM
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I would certainly wire for Lutron HomeWorks. Rather than Elan, I'd look to Crestron...a far more extensible system in terms of what you could do with it as you move forward. Phast has not proven to be the most reliable system out there.

I think from a wiring distribution plan, I suggest running two coax, two cat5 and two dual mode fiber optic runs to each appropriate room from a distribution site. This can be purchased as a single cable. As to the speaker cabling...you should run a four conductor and cat5 to a single gang box from the distribution panel...from there, two 2-conductors to the speakers (and don't put the ceiling speaker in the center line of the room!). This will give you the option of using anything from a simple volume control to a Crestron (or other) LCD touchpanel.

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post #16 of 36 Old 11-28-2000, 05:22 PM
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Didn't say anything was "wrong" with Elan. What I was saying is that, in the longer term, the Crestron system can provide far, far more capability than the Elan system. IE, it is more extensible, more expandable, more flexible...etc.

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post #17 of 36 Old 11-28-2000, 06:28 PM
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Dennis,

I agree with you. After looking over some of the Crestron product that is available, it looks great. In fact, I had them send me some lit on their product line. Hopefully, (recently being bought by a Crestron Dealer) I can get a copy of their installation manual (the bible) and see how this stuff really ticks. I just love how everything is programmed, and it looks much easier and more "inviting" than the Elan and Phast systems.

By the way, do you know of a Escient/Crestron package? I assume a crestron system could be fooled into controlling the Escient, but I really like how Elan VIA! has teamed up with Escient to create a great package.

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post #18 of 36 Old 11-29-2000, 06:11 AM
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Dan:

Escient is an I2P partner with Crestron. There is a software module from Crestron for an Escient interface.

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post #19 of 36 Old 11-29-2000, 07:36 AM
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Design Goal:
2 ReplayTvs...1 Sony DSS.....1 WebTv in one closet. I intend to distribute to the whole house, keeping it simple to stem the end user(family) revolt.

In an earlier post bb80301 tells about his system:
ChannelPlus 5645 modulator
ChannelPlus 8200 distibution amp with ir
ChannelPlus 2173 ir emitters
ChannelPlus 2133 ir targets

My question would be about the two ReplayTV units in the same location.
How the ir from the target in any location understands that I want to control RP #2 insted of RP#1. Is it as simple as assign RP unit #2 to channel 80, then turn to channel 80, use either replay controller,
then power on ? Am I getting the drift, or am I still clueless in San Luis.

alien8@thegrid.net
Thanks
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post #20 of 36 Old 11-29-2000, 10:17 AM
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Dan:

The solution to your challenge is tricky. The IR repeater in a ChannelPlus system (or any IR repeater system, as far as I know) is not selective -- any IR signal that's sent to any target will get repeated to any IR emitters that are used. If you have 2 identical pieces of equipment (e.g. 2 Replay units), you'll have a problem because they'll both respond to any remote commands.

The channel that your TV is tuned to doesn't make a difference.

Sometimes, equipment allows the use of 2 different sets of codes to avoid this problem. You would set the receiver & the remote to operate under an alternative set of IR commands -- I don't know if Replay offers this feature, but I kind of doubt it because it is unusual. Another possibility is to use 2 different brands or models. For example, I use both a standard Dish satellite receiver and a Dishplayer satellite receiver in my system. It works because the Dishplayer uses different IR codes from their standard receivers. You'd need to check this out, as this isn't going to be listed in specifications / brochures / etc. and salespeople aren't going to know. Another way to check is to see what codes are used to program universal remotes (e.g. One for All) -- if 2 units use the same code, it won't work; if they use different codes it MIGHT work.

Perhaps some others will have additional ideas...

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post #21 of 36 Old 11-29-2000, 11:25 AM
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You could go a step further and buy a device that does IR Routing. We have had to use these in the past when clients wanted 2 or more DSS receivers or if they had 2 VCR's of the same brand.

I'm not sure who of the lower end carries these, but I know the PHAST and Crestron systems are able to work this way. Dennis, do you know of a lower cost IR Router?

Dan

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post #22 of 36 Old 11-30-2000, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dennis Erskine:
I think from a wiring distribution plan, I suggest running two coax, two cat5 and two dual mode fiber optic runs to each appropriate room from a distribution site.
Dennis,

I'm about to start wiring my house. In fact, I've already bought a 500' spool of structured cable with 2 rg6 and two cat 5. The place where I bought it also had cable with 2 fiber cables, in addition to the other, but the sales guy suggested against it, saying that not much could take advantage of it right now or in the near future.

Yet you're suggesting laying fiber, and frankly I tend to agree with you. Are there any current uses of fiber in residential whole-house systems today? Is there anything comming up around the corner? Cool suggestions would greatly increase the WAF (wife acceptance factor) of the whole project. http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif


BTW, I definitely agree with those recommending Crestron elsewhere in this thread. Although I haven't purchased or used it (yet), my research tells me it's the most extensible and flexible system out there. And their LC-1000 (mono lcd) & CT-1000 (color lcd) 4.8" touch pads w/buttons are fairly inexpensiveand, especially when compared to larger touch screens, and look [i]really cool[i]!

Dennis, do you sell Crestron by any chance? What's this Crestron bible that was mentioned--is that purchaseable by mere mortals (not Crestron dealers)?

Max
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post #23 of 36 Old 11-30-2000, 05:15 PM
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Max:

I've heard the story about nothing using fiber yet so why bother? I'd suspect unless you ran a fiber optic network (or toslink to the master bedroom), you'd not have much real application for fiber. Now, having said that, your house will be there in 50 years, yes? When you go to sell your house in 3-5 will there be application (or about to be)...would that help on the resale? Four years ago, I heard that manufacturers (and Telcos) did not anticipate fiber to the door, or application for fiber in the home until 2050. Two years ago, DSL and broadband internet were 5 years away.

Yes, I am a Crestron dealer. I don't know what they were referring to when they said "Crestron Bible".



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post #24 of 36 Old 11-30-2000, 08:59 PM
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Let me clear up the "crestron bible" issue as it has gone a bit out of hand.

Many manufacturers make a book that is availible to certified installers and dealers that tells the specific instructions on installation. I know the Extron, Phast, Lutron and many others offer this type of book. We call it the "bible" around here because it answers every question.

Sorry about the confusion.

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post #25 of 36 Old 12-15-2000, 02:44 PM
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Regarding the cabling issues for the "futureproof" home, it would be a good bet to put conduit (3/4" emt mimimum) in on any lower floor areas or outside walls with stub-ups to the attic or feeds to your home wiring center. As a Voice/Data/Video Cabling Contractor and Owner I can tell you there is no way to "futureproof". As to fiber optic cabling - multimode step index fiber (62.5 /125mm) will always be a good bet if that's the way your leaning and always install a quad shielded RG-6 cable for video if you can along with good Cat.5E (enhanced - minimal cost difference with better bandwith) cabling.

Hope this helps.
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post #26 of 36 Old 12-15-2000, 04:42 PM
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Doesn't Crestron have a multizone cat5e muxer/driver with remote demuxers for rgb 110mghz and digital audio? That should solve the problem.

I like the Crestron but it is sad that Simpl Windows is not as developed as the mini touchpanel software. Last time I checked the software driver libraries were non existant, and incompatible with the driver libraries of the mini system. SOMETHING CRESTRON CONCEALS FROM YOU UNTIL WELL INTO THE PROGRAMMING PHASE.

Also somethings like Changing a digit in the rs 232 stream Macros of say a meridian surround unit requires ridiculous skill, it should be a field on SIMPL Windows. That is so you can drive up to 8 meridian devices thru one output port instead of 8 (which they prefer to sell to you but is not streamlined design,but wasteful). Without having to use Meridian gear, but perhaps a small stack of Denons 58 consider making some of the secondary zones (living room, back yard, master bedroom) full discreet surround so you can enjoy non-mixed-down DTS, MLP, and sacd. Believe me That, you will truly enjoy.

Robin of Advanced Home Theater here in Miami has briefed me in the Panja Landmark problems of the past and most confidently swears by it's current degree of reliability and flexibility of install, I trust him. Supossedly that system is more object oriented than the SIMPL Windows. Any other recent horror stories.

Hardware wise Crestron and AMX should be comparable in built quality and reliabilty. They are both in my career the biggest chance for the customer installer to get a late arriving demerit ( for unforeseable, or misled software variances or non existant capabilities), a late demerit can wipe out all the great accomplishments of a picture perfect landmark installation.

In retrospect, and with so many lawyers recently left singing dixie around here, I think both companies should be scrutinised in class action fashion for all the damages done, in my experience I cannot overstate the callousness of these companies when confronted with their lack of software development pace as previosly projected by their forward looking statements.

Their Arguments seem to protect
: The established base of programmers.
The sale of the most Hardware (serial ports)
by leaving out Macro string edit windows
for multiple adress ID values for same product
within a stack, ie. software addresability.
Catch my drift...?

And until recently their ridiculously low margins did not begin to do justice to the complexity and somewhat half baked nature of their software.

Then some of these Official Crestron programmers like one whose name is not WC Fields, Nor Groucho Marx but very very close. Have no political skills and if by any chance you have him contact your client directly to obtain software information can drop "doubt Bombs" out of sheer negligent ignorance, and lack of field knoledge, that injustly affect your stature of confidence with the client.

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post #27 of 36 Old 12-15-2000, 11:23 PM
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I loved your post, atleast the parts I understand.

As a "want-to-be programmer" what does this all mean?

Dan

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post #28 of 36 Old 12-16-2000, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by CINERAMAX:

I like the Crestron but it is sad that Simpl Windows is not as developed as the mini touchpanel software. Last time I checked the software driver libraries were non existant, and incompatible with the driver libraries of the mini system. SOMETHING CRESTRON CONCEALS FROM YOU UNTIL WELL INTO THE PROGRAMMING PHASE.

Well the Crestron Database is a well built with a wide variety of selection. I just arrived home from and install with a Vision 3, Krell (processor and amps, with a quad, graphic eye, LD, DVD, CDR, CD, dtc-100, motorized screen and drapes. It works like a charm. "Simple" is simple. Its the equipment that can be a pain. The party of 175 people is going and my cell phone isn't ringing. knock on wood.

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Watch HDTV!!! Nothing else comes close!

[This message has been edited by David Richardson (edited 12-16-2000).]
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post #29 of 36 Old 12-18-2000, 12:50 AM
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This is IMPORTANT!


If you are correct, You have programmed a Crestron SIMPL Windows, CNSMX THX, in Object oriented Drag & click fashion. By using Crestron Based internet downloaded Macro drivers, for command.

This was not so a year ago. So make sure ... look forward to stand corrected... Peter M.

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post #30 of 36 Old 12-23-2000, 07:51 PM
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I think I'm starting to get lost in here somewhere. Here's some general info that should get inserted in here somewhere. Phast and AMX are now one company, Panja. Phast made Landmark, which is leaving VERY soon, and AMX makes Axcents, which will be around for awhile yet. Landmark uses a drag and drop Windows method and Axcent programming has it's own C-variation language. There is a Windows drag and drop type program, but this is for really simple systems. I haven't used Crestron systems yet, but my understanding is they're fairly comparable, though a little prettier to look at.
Escient works with lots of different companies to push Tunebase (and now Powerplay) into the home theater mainstream. I work for Escient Solutions, the home theater installation part, and we primarily deal with Lutron HWI for lighting, Panja for control, Channel Plus for modulation and Xantech for all the miscellaneous other things.
To answer the original question, I'd probably get an Autopatch and use keypads throughout the house to control the inputs/outputs. The higher end models even have component video switching with something like 8 source inputs and 12 room output. You won't get anywhere near 70k, but you could spend quite a bit.
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