It shouldn’t happen to a HA installer

October 20, 2006

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.

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The work begins

October 17, 2006

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. 

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Renovation tribulation

October 5, 2006

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 »


From concept to cable plan

September 30, 2006

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. 

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What do I need and where do I put it?

September 20, 2006

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.

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Why Idratek?

September 5, 2006

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

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Planning a smart automated home

September 4, 2006

In the summer of 2006 my wife and I bought a house that needed quite a bit of “updating”.  For my part I decided that I wanted a home network and TV distribution.  As I investigated the kit I needed I discovered that the science-fiction world of “smart-homes” was a reality for enthusiasts as well as the super-rich.  As we always planned to be in the house for many years I thought it made sense to include “standard smart home wiring” so I could add devices on the end as time and money allowed.  I soon discovered that there is no standard wiring scheme!

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