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Hello everyone! I am looking for advice and suggestions.


I am installing all-new structured wiring, and speaker/wiring in our newly-bought hundred-year-old house. It is a rockin' three story, 6 bedroom, 4 full bath, with full basement, and it has basically never been updated. Some of the rooms don't even have lights (I am also installing the electric, but that is for another discussion).


So I am going to wire this sucker to death! Lots of Cat6, RG6/U quad shielded, and 12 gauge speaker wire in the living room, kitchen, and wiring in every bedroom (if not hooked up to a speaker immediately, wire drops will be left in place and marked for future hook-ups.


I have been successful in identifying runs through the structure of the house and the plaster and lath walls, though it has taken a lot of patience. The electrical and structured wiring will be going through two separate walls of the house and when they meet (if ever) I will run them perpendicular to each other if not also at least 6 inches apart. In the basement I have identified a central point for the structured wiring control panel, whole house server, and home theater system. My specific plans are as follows:


(1) Living Room - Home Theatre System


a. The only thing I want in this room is the television, IR repeater, and universal remote control. I would like to place all of the components for the system in the basement, including the receiver and amp.


b. Hooked up to this receiver are a Roku Box, Net Top computer (such as the Asus EEBox EB1012), DVD player, and BluRay. The Net Top will be connected through CAT6 to the home server for movies, music, etc.


c. I will run 1 x HDMI cable, 2 x CAT6, and IR repeater wire, to the 55'' LCD TV.


d. I will run UL 12 gauge speaker wire from the amp in the basement to the usual 7.1 home theatre speaker placements.


e. The runs for all cable in the Living Room will be 100 ft. or less. I figured on using 12 gauge speaker wire everywhere because what the hell.


(2) Kitchen - Television and Speakers.


a. I am planning on mounting a 32 LCD in the kitchen with a pair of in-wall speakers on either side of the TV.


b. The receiver for this system will be in the basement alongside the Living Room home theatre system, structured wiring panel, etc. Also hooked up to the receiver are a Roku Box and a Net Top computer which will be connected through CAT6 to the home server for movies, music, etc. No DVD or BluRay player needed.


c. I will run an HDMI cable, 2 CAT6, and IR repeater wire, to the kitchen TV.


d. I will run 12 gauge speaker wire from the receiver in the basement to the two speakers.


(3) 6 Bedrooms - Individual Home Theatre Systems


a. I would like each bedroom to follow the same general standards: Each room is wired with 12 gauge speaker wire in a 5.1 style, with the receiver in the closet (and all speaker wire originating with this receiver).


b. Also hooked up to the receiver are a Roku Box and a Net Top computer (such as the Asus EEBox EB1012), which will be connected through CAT6 to the home server for movies, music, etc. Again, no DVD or BluRay player needed.


c. Made available to the receiver, Roku, and net top box in the closet will be 4 x CAT6 ports and 2 x RG6/u ports .


d. Like the Living Room, the only thing I want in the actual bedroom is the 32 LCD TV, IR repeater, and universal remote.


e. I will run an HDMI cable, 2 CAT6, 2 RG6/U, and IR repeater wire to the wall behind the TV for redundancy.


f. I will also have two other ports in the walls of each bedroom with 4 x CAT6 and 2 x Coax, most likely in spots of the room where a desk may be placed in the future.


(4) Bathrooms - Common Speaker System


a. I would like to have an in-ceiling speaker in each of the four bathrooms. All of the speakers can be connected to the same receiver located in the basement.


b. The receiver plays either a continuous loop of music from the Whole House Server or a radio station.


c. The channel played in the bathrooms can't be changed in the bathrooms themselves (you would have to go to the receiver in the basement to directly change the channel) but the individual speakers can be turned on/off and the volume adjusted via an in-wall control knob.


(5) Bonus CAT6 drops


a. CAT6 drops by each of the six bedroom doors, kitchen, living room, dining room, and library doors for a future intercom hookups or Control 4 if we win the lottery.


b. CAT6 drops by the front door, back door, and driveway for future POE surveillance cameras.


The general scheme is to have individual home theatre systems in the living room (7.1) and each of the 6 bedrooms (5.1), each of which is simplified to a TV, universal remote, and IR Repeater. Each individual Home Theater System receiver is linked to a Roku for online movies, and a Net Top box for access to the Whole House Server via CAT6 and gigabit internet. The Net Top will most likely rum XMBC or Boxee. The living room is the only room with a DVD and BluRay (for immediate satisfaction before it is ripped for back-up protection).


The ubiquitousness of CAT6 is so that I never have to run any again.


The redundancy in coax is so that I never have to run any again, as well as so that I can split off the feed from the Living Room Home Theatre so that you can watch whatever is being watched therein any room of the house.


The speakers in the bathrooms are mostly so that I can listen to NPR in the morning when I take a shower and clean up.


Once everything is installed in the walls and ceilings, I am going to poke 1 holes between each joist, fire block, and ceiling space and fill them with blown cellulose insulation for heat/cold as well as intra-house noise insulation.


This is the plan as best I can write it out. My designs on paper are difficult to verbalize.


What am I doing wrong? What should I do differently? What would you do to jazz it up? What additions would you make that I have left out?


(1)I would love to find a way to play the same source of music on every theatre system house-wide. How exactly would I do this?


(2) Could I change the radio channel or music line-up in the bathroom, besides turning the sound on or off?


(3) Do I really need to use 12 gauge speaker wire everywhere, or is this total and absolute overkill?


(4) What Net Top box would you use for each room's system? Would you use XBMC? Boxee? What computer setup would you use for the Whole House Server?


(5) I haven't even considered cable or satellite television. Any thoughts? I am in a Bright House neighborhood.


The questions above are only the first to roll out of my brain. I'm looking for anything and everything you can suggest. This is the house I never thought I would come across and I can do anything I want with it! Help me make this awesome, and I will provide results and pictures!
 

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With all that gear, you should definitely look into the Matrix Switches for video distribution and flexibility. And a whole house audio system (NuVo, Russound, others) that would give you local control (keypads) and multiple sources/switching.


The only 'problems' I see are that you're counting on all centralized sources for everything. That's great for set-top boxes and media servers, but a PITA for physical media. If you have to go down to the basement to load a Blu-ray, you're not going to be happy. Not saying you shouldn't centralize, but in 'key' areas (living room), you probably want to plan to have the ability to add local content.


Same goes for iPods for music - the whole-house audio systems have local iPod docks that can allow them to be used as local sources.


If you are going to run all of the speakers to the central closet expecting to put all the A/V receivers there, do yourself a favor and loop all the wire through a wall plate in the room (probably under the TV), in case you end up wanting to put a system in the room...


The key for structured wiring is to maximize flexibility - I think you've got a good plan, but if things change in a year, you want to make sure you can adapt the setup to new technology or usage models. The "local iPod dock" is a great example.


If you've got the walls opened up, think about dropping some flex conduit to areas that will be inaccessible (and/or filled with insulation) later. Running long HDMI cables may not be the best choice, as it's very possible they would be obsolete in a decade. Cat5e/Cat6 as you mention, will probably have a very long useful lifespan. But nothing beats flex conduit.


Jeff
 

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I'd go with 14 AWG, or 16 AWG, for the audio, and not 12 AWG.


Research your options to death, so you only repair plaster and paint once.


Lots of awesome ideas for crap that you really don't need, but would be cool, at cocoontech.com forums. Also lots of good ideas toosed around there for the 'budget-minded'.


Don't forget you need a doorbell.
 
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