The prime aim of this stage of my home automation project is to build a future-proof infrastructure that will allow rich and flexible solutions to be added as time and finances allow. To this end I have used conduit extensively so that I can replace cables in the future without damaging the walls of rooms. What I have discovered is that such flexibility comes at a cost…
Everything is moving fast at the moment, builders everywhere, materials everywhere, dirt everywhere, floor boards – few and far between. I have spent seemingly endless hours grovelling on the floor with my arm up the floor-boards between the joists struggling to reach a cable or a string/ wire etc attached to cable so that I can pull it through. Once I’ve pulled it through one section, the process is repeated along the entire length of the run. As I lie there in my overalls late at night, my face sometimes pressed into the dust as I strain & stretch 1mm more the thought that comes to mind is that
this is about as pleasant as a vet helping a cow to birth
as immortalised by James Herriot’s books. So with that thought firmly in mind here are some more pics as the installation progresses to the first floor.
I have tinkered with some parts of the installation for a while but it is now in full-swing. The installation of the infrastructure is in two main phases: upstairs and downstairs which aligns with the other works in the house. However as the house has a solid ground floor all the downstairs cables have to go into the upstairs floor cavity, so while the upstairs is progressing, I won’t be able to finally put the floor (or floor coverings) down until everything is finished down stairs too. I am working top down trying to work ahead of the builders as they tackle the structure of the building putting insulation in, sorting out the rot etc.
One of the challenges of renovation is that you just do not know for sure what problems you may face until work starts. On this project we certainly face some unwanted challenges… Read the rest of this entry »
Having decided on the end points at room level and termination, the next issue has been noting the different types of cable required for each purpose and the routes they would take, bearing in mind the requirements to keep mains cables and HA control and data cables separate and also separate from hot pipes, gas pipes etc etc.
After I made the decision to use Idratek, the next stage has been to work out what needs to go into each room and where to centralise equipment I wanted hidden from view.
Initial investigation revealed that a common set-up was to choose a lighting control mechanism (e.g. C-bus), link it into a sophisticated alarm to provide movement/presence detection (e.g. Comfort) and then add higher level functions via a computer-based controller (e.g. HomeVision). If appliance control was needed it was typically X10 based. This seemed about as standard as it got, but the complexity of the overall architecture shocked me as my experience with big telco systems is that the grief exists in the interfaces between systems, and here there were plenty of interfaces! Although I was keen to have a smart home I knew that to win any kind of acceptance (WAF ) it had to “just work” and while I looked forward to the challenge of building it, I didn’t want to constantly have to tinker to maintain the status quo. Then David Gumbrell suggested I take a look at Idratek and his excellent blog.