New house - structured wiring and audio/vid distribution questions - AVS | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 9 Old 08-26-2001, 10:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone.

I've been researching structured wiring and audio/video distribution for a new house that we'll be building. Basically, the audio/video stuff is handled by a company, but I know their prices are pretty expensive and I'd like to do this project on my own anyway. So if you guys have any input, I'd sure appreciate it. Here's a layout of the house:
http://home.tampabay.rr.com/reef/house.html

1. Ethernet network and phone
I will be running bundled wire (2 cat5e and 2 RJ6) to most rooms where I want cable modem access and a phone jack. I'd like to get a wiring pannel in the home run which will be in the upstairs bonus room closet. Do I have it correct that I'll want to make sure the main cable and phone line come into this wiring pannel, and with that I go out to each room with the bundled wire?
Any other sugestions for wiring cabinets other than: http://www.futurehomesystems.com/w200.shtml

2. Audio distribution
I'd like to have audio through out the house. The main Home Theater Rooom will be upstairs. I want to run speaker wire from the upstairs to in-wall/other speakers in multiple rooms downstairs. I don't necessarily need a lot of zones. 2 total would probably be good. I'll be using a Denon 3802 which has a 2nd zone output. I've been looking at the Kustom and Russound systems, but at $1500 or so, I have to think there's an alternative way to get whole-house audio if I don't need the many zones that the Russound and Kustom provide. Any suggestions for ideas and or equipment? I assume I'd need to buy an external amp. I saw the Xantech 12 channel amp for around a grand. But then, if I'm spending that much, should I just go with the Russound 6.4 system for a few $$ more?

3. Video distribution
I'd like to have 1 cable box, DVD and VCR in the home theater room upstairs and then be able to select any one of these from another room downstairs and view it, along with the audio of course. At one of the shops I was in, someone mentioned "video modulation" as a very cheap and effective way to distribute the video. Can someone please further explain how this would work, what equipment I should be looking for and if this is a good solution? I like the Russound PR4Z but its very expensive. If it makes a difference, I'll most likely be using Time Warner Digital cable. The SE corner of our lot is totally surrounded by huge trees so I think a dish is unlikely.

Thanks for any advice or input you guys may have. I look forward to reading your replies.

Aaron
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post #2 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 06:25 AM
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OK, for the network and the phone I wouldn't use one of the wiring cabinets. Just go to your local Graybar and get a couple of 110 blocks with legs and enough 4pair risers to cover it. You can bring that quote to the store and they will know what you mean. You will also need a 110 punch tool. Once you have the wires run I'll explain how to termincate them.

Audio - I'll let someone else talk about that.

3. Video modulation works great. In this stage what you need to do is run an extra coax line from your video source to your closet.

One peice of advise that I will give you is run extra cable. It's alot easier now.
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post #3 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 08:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ravenshadow:
OK, for the network and the phone I wouldn't use one of the wiring cabinets. Just go to your local Graybar and get a couple of 110 blocks with legs and enough 4pair risers to cover it. You can bring that quote to the store and they will know what you mean. You will also need a 110 punch tool. Once you have the wires run I'll explain how to termincate them.

ravenshadow,

Is this simply a cost issue or is there a disadvantage to have the network and phone stuff in the cabinet?

I'm looking into doing this myself.



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post #4 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 10:58 AM
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It's a cost and flexability issue. The 110 blocks cost about $25 for one that will handle 20 cables. So, I do one for data and one for voice.
Once you've got that done it's very easy to go from one telephone line to four telephone lines and a phone system. The possibilites become endless.
I'll take some pictures of a house that I just finished this with and post them here so you can see what I'm talking about.

-Mike
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post #5 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ravenshadow:
It's a cost and flexability issue. The 110 blocks cost about $25 for one that will handle 20 cables. So, I do one for data and one for voice.
Once you've got that done it's very easy to go from one telephone line to four telephone lines and a phone system. The possibilites become endless.
I'll take some pictures of a house that I just finished this with and post them here so you can see what I'm talking about.

-Mike
Cool, I look forward to the pics.

I don't have a local Graybar so any pointers to an online source would be greatly appreciated.



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post #6 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 01:02 PM
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One thing to beware of with 110 blocks - I haven't seen any that are rated past 10 mhz. So if you are running Cat5-e, your 110 blocks will be a significant bottleneck.

I prefer mounting a cat-5e patch panel to the wall, with snap-in connectors on the back. I use Panduit stuff, because I like their quality. Basically, you just attach your cable to a little female snap connector, which then snaps into a hole on the blank faceplate of the patch panel. Mount 8 wires this way, and you have an 8-port patch panel. Then from there, use stranded patch cords to connect each room to your hub.

I've seen some cheap installations where they just left 10' of wire coming out of the wall, attached crimp-on male connectors to them, and plugged them into the hub. I strongly suggest you don't do this. Standard cat-5 cable uses solid conductors, and are not designed to be moved around and flexed constantly, which can happen when you are plugging them in and out of hubs and such. Eventually, the wires inside fatigue and crack, and it can give you fits trying to troubleshoot the problem. Cat-5 patch cords use stranded wire, and are much more flexible and tolerate lots of moving around. And if one goes bad, you just unplug it from both ends and throw it away.

As for audio, if you're looking for a cheap 2-zone system, you might want to just buy a couple of cheap receivers. If they are different brands, you can get an IR blaster and put IR sensors in each zone. If they are the same model, you need a 'zoned' Infra-red controller and stick-on emitters that go over the sensor on each receiver. For background music needs, you can get a fine receiver for $200, and then each zone gets its own AM/FM tuner. Then just split off your outputs from your CD player and such and feed it into each receiver.
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post #7 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 01:13 PM
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I should be OK in that regard, at least. I only have hard-wired cat5 connections in my home office. Wireless ethernet has sufficient bandwidth for my needs elsewhere in the house.

I would be happy to just tidy up the rats nest of coax and telecom cables in the basement with an eye toward future expandability.




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post #8 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 01:40 PM
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We have a primer on multi-room video. (Old, but still useful.) http://www.channelplus.com/AP_note_files/howdoi.htm



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post #9 of 9 Old 08-27-2001, 03:24 PM
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Hello,

My 2 cents regarding your questions:

I've going through almost the same questions and found some answers that matched my needs. First, the first place to check for devices is Ebay, they have a lot of product that could be very interesting price wise.
For example, I got the Russound A-BK1 for $560. IT is retailling for a $1000. Quite a bargain for an excellent product in my sense.
So for your question:

Ethernet network and Phone.
Two runs of cat5e is definitly the minimum to go. the way you are describing it is correct. The only things I will add is to be extremly careful when you run the cable. No more than 25 pounds of pressure on the cable (cat5) otherwise you are damaging it. Be careful to stay at least 6 inches from any power line if you are running parallel. If you have to cross a power line, try to have a 90 degree angle on the cross.
One thing you might consider is an extra run of Cat5 from your bonus to every room for the IR dispatch.
If you have a distributed audio system in the house, being able to control them from any room usually avoid running up and down back and forth to change the radio station or to skip a title.
For the connection, Leviton is doing some nice "boxes" that contains everything for video/phone/network distribution (http://www.leviton.com/lin/index.html and http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS...n/pg_diy.jsp). The other benefit is the price. Pretty friendly. If you want to go fancy, you still use a patch panel but it's a little more complicated (yes not that much). I personnally have a 96 ports patch panel for phone/network distribution and I was thinking using it for audio and IR dispatch. One more time some shoppping on ebay ($40 for the 96 ports).

Audio Distribution.
The easiest solution I've found so far is to use the Russound ABus system from Russound. It is really nice if you as me. Actually I'm completly sold on it. It is carrying the sound signal through a cat 5 cable to the keypad. The keypad is performing several functions at the same time. It is amplifying the signal so you could then run speaker cable from the keypad to the speaker. They have a line output too if you want to connect a real amplifier. Drawback only two channels could be sent.
The eypad is performing an other role too: it is an IR dispatcher. Meaning that you could use the dedicated remote for changing the sound volume but you could dispatch the IR codes for the receiver from one room to your receiver in a different room.
The kit runs for about $560 on ebay these days.

Video distribution.

Channelizing is the easiest way to go but you have to keep in mind that you will loose any encoding of the sound beyond dolby prologic. There is several solutions but channel plus seems to have some basic equipment that could channelize from 2 to 4 video stream.
One of the thing I didn't really completly solve for the moment is the coupling of the audio dispatching and video dispatching. Since they are two difference systems, they don't seem to be well integrated.
Less fancy than channelizing is to have a video selector with a channel 3 or 4 modulator behind. What ever element is selected could then been sent as channel 3. You could even have 2 modulators one for channel 4 and one for the channel 3. You could then put a combiner and you're done.
By the way, a splitter used "backward" is a combiner! Just realize that a couple of weeks ago!

If you have any question, feel free to send me a mail.

Good luck with your project,

Frederik Delacourt www.bigfoot.com/~fdelacou/hometheater/main_en.html

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