Audio for every room.

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Audio for every room.

Postby AshaiRey » Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:52 pm

Sorry for the long post but this was my project for the last 2 months.
I hope you enjoy it.

What was my goal?
Listen to audio throughout the whole house and audio only in rooms that are occupied.

What do I have?
1 House with many rooms.
1 Server on the 1e floor.
HomeSeer 2.x
Small budget.
Patience, lack of knowledge and an understanding wife

Fase 1 - The conception
Because I had no idea of the problems I will face I thought that starting small isn't a bad thing. The kitchen, situated at ground level will be the first room to fix. I had already a wired coming from the 1e floor to the kitchen. On the server end I made a 3.5mm jack plug and plugged that into the soundcard of the server. The sound coming from the soundcard isn't strong enough to get a descent volume so in the kitchen I placed a small amplifier with a bass speaker and two smaller speakers. A small speaker set used for the PC for only 16.95 euro. I added a 'KlikAan KlikUit' YC-1000 switch and a MS13a motion detector to complete the setup. After I made an event and a trigger in HomeSeer I was set. When I enter the kitchen the amplifier turns on, WinAmp start with an internet radio url and music is playing in the kitchen till the motion detector doesn't see motion for more then 10 minutes.

Audio setup 1
setup1.jpg (7.24 KiB) Viewed 5473 times

Fase 2 - Exploring
This taste for more. Next would be the bathroom, laundry and the dress room. Since the bathroom and the laundry are all tiles and glass the acoustic is terrible. Even a good quality speaker set won't do well here. Another point is that a bathroom tends to be a wet place so electric wall sockets are sparse and the one I have there is already in use. The dress room on the other hand muffles sounds badly. Adding these points up I decided to place a speaker into the ceiling without an amplifier, I found a waterproof ceiling speaker for 7,- euro that would fit in to a hole for a standard halogen spot. I pulled some wired from the rooms to the 1e floor. First obstacle ahead. Remember that the output of the sound card was the low and that I had to amplify it. I came to a point that I had to rethink what I was doing.

Fase 3 - Understanding the system
I had to find a way to distribute audio to the different rooms. To do this I came up with an SpeakerSwitch box. With a few relays and some other components is made a control to switch a stereo audio line on and off. Control is coming from the server via the printer port. I made a small application that can control the SpeakerSwitch and can be addressed by HomeSeer. I had 8 relays but 2 of them proved to be defect so I ended up with a 6 channel SpeakerSwitch. One audio channel in and 6 switchable audio outputs. So, back to the ceiling speakers. They need an amplified sound to be heard. Since I had 3 rooms with ceiling speakers I disconnected three channel in the SpeakerSwitch and I had to put an amplifier in between. I only need a small amplifier and making one would cost about 10,- euro of parts, work, time and there would be a change of failure. Back to the PC shop for another speaker set. This time a small 2 speaker set, 6 watt output and only 7,- euro. I ripped the print out of the speaker set, placed it in the SpeakerSwitch and connected the wires. Adding 3 extra MS13a motion detectors in the different rooms added also so much complexity that HomeSeer couldn't cope with it. I had to write a control script that handles the input and take the right actions by switching on the right channel(s) and if needed the amplifier in the kitchen. Four rooms done, more to come.

Fase 4 - Zen, and the art of bus addressing
Playing around with the audio system this far turned out to be fun and is adopted by my wife very quickly, she is pleased with it. I got permission (read: I was ordered) to do the other rooms also. With 4 out of the 6 channels already taken I had to make a choice with rooms to do. I had to pick two of these, the attic, the bedroom, the library, the living room and the basement. I didn't like the idea to pick just two, I wanted to have them all. So back to the design table again. Still remembering the wire from the server to the kitchen? That one is passing the living room too so I could split it there. Doing so I can turn on the amplifier in the living room and the kitchen separately while still using 1 channel... I took this idea further and extended that wire throughout the whole house. Just 3 wires (left, right and ground) from the attic to the basement. You just tap into it where you need it. The AudioBus was born and put in use. Now all are connected to the audio system. The ceiling speakers have an address of 1,2,4 on the SpeakerSwitch. (address 1,2,4,8,16 and 32). I gave the AudioBus the address 64 so the script will know that a YC-1000 switch need to be switched in this case. All rooms have audio now.

Final setup
setup2.jpg (28.19 KiB) Viewed 5473 times

Fase 5 - loose ends
Those 3 unused channels on the SpeakerSwitch were bugging me. I removed the bedroom wires from the AudioBus and added those as a separate channel to the SpeakerSwitch. Another channel was taken by an wireless weatherproof speakerset from Alecto (39,- Euro action price at Praxis). The have a range of 150 meters and now I have music in the garden too. Only one channel left. I can live with that for now.

Fase 6 - Fun parts
The doorbell. Just a bell at a fixed place in the house. That could be done better so I did. When the doorbell knob is pressed a trigger fires in HomeSeer. Now things get into motion. First a snapshot is taken from the current state of the whole audio system. Then WinAmp is silenced (killed) when playing. Next all speakers in all rooms are turned on and a gong sounds in every room. After that a gentle voice tells that there is a visitor at the door and that it is best to have a look. After this announcement the audio system reverts back to its previous state and WinAmp starts playing again if it was on previously. If that wouldn't impress the visitor then nothing does. Now I am experimenting the same concept when a important email triggers the system. But in this case only in the occupied room(s)
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby Herbus » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:50 pm

Thanks for sharing your solution. It's good that you accomplished to pass the WAF. I've read the discription and have a few questions:
In your setup you are using an audio cable through the whole house. Did you consider using a wireless solution?
What kind of amplifiers dou you use?
Is it possible to adjust the volume?
Can you give us more info about the home made SpeakerSwitch box (scheme) and the application?
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby drmacchi » Tue Jan 12, 2010 10:15 pm

Nice and interesting could you , please, post images and detailed schemas of electrical parts?
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby AshaiRey » Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:46 am


About the questions
In your setup you are using an audio cable through the whole house. Did you consider using a wireless solution

Yes i did try that too. I also tried audio-over-powerline but both didn't work well for me. The signal was interrupted to often to be pleasant.
Also this solution would become costly rapidly if you expand to more rooms. This is the same reason why i just considered but didn't go for putting just plain internet radio's everywhere.
The audio for the garden however is wireless (RF transmitter/receiver)
For me this is the cheapest solution.

What kind of amplifiers dou you use?

Just a normal average soundcard in the server

The amplifier for the ceiling speakers was ripped from something like this
Sweex 2.0 Speaker Set Flat Panel costing (8,- euro) ... 2=Speakers

Audio in the kitchen is powered by this device with surpricely give a nice full sound.
Trust 2.1 Speaker Set SP-3150 (17,- euro) ... 2=Speakers

In the attic i have an very old Akai amplifier with all mechanical switches. The is preferable because if you turn it on it will still be in its last state.

For the garden i use an Alecto DDS-35 set (Praxis, action price 39,-)

Is it possible to adjust the volume?

You can adjust the volume that the soundcard puts out. This will change the volume of the whole audio system. The ceiling speakers are using a seperate amplifier which output can be adjusted to. The volume in the bathroom need to be the loudest so the output of other the ceiling speakers are tuned down with potentiometers to a reasonable level. All other rooms have their own amplifier so there you can also make adjustments per room.

Can you give us more info about the home made SpeakerSwitch box (scheme) and the application?

I will make a full package including schematics,scripts and events and i will post it later.
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby AshaiRey » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:12 pm

Here's the full schematic
Complete schema
audio-domotica.jpg (82.93 KiB) Viewed 5392 times

I left out some rooms to simplify the drawing

The scripts make use of a configuration file called ZMC.ini. This is a part of the MediaCenter scripts that i am developing henche the strange name and setting in the ini

Code: Select all
; --==[ SETTINGS ]==--
; Default settings
; Which player to us
; This player must be controlable with SendKeys!
; !! The Windows Media Player isn't !!
; - Playername is the name in the top of the window
;   and is used to close the player autmaticaly
; - UsePlayer is filename and additional the path
;   that will start the player

SpeakerBox="c://Program Files/HomeSeer HS2/Scripts/Speakerbox/SpeakerControl.exe"
; Connect X10 house codes to the rooms
; Port 1-3 are pre-amplified
; - RoomX will hold the X10 code of the trigger device
;   or the word AVAILABLE. Or anything else but
;   don't leave this blank. If the room is left blank
;   then counting of the total number of rooms will
;   stop there!
; - X10OUTx is the device code that additional will be switched
;      This can be use the switch on an extra (end)amplifier
; - Manualx Will the port be switched automaticly
;      0 = No (handy for mute or so)
;      1 = Yes (event driven)
; Port 1 (status code 1) - amplified - Bathroom
; Port 2 (2) - amplified - Dressingroom
; Port 3 (4) - amplified - Laundry
; Port 4 (8) - Bedroom
; Port 5 (16) - Garden
; Port 6 (32)- AVAILABLE
; The AudioBus is one just the input
; Audio channel that is distrubuted to
; an audio bus that can address up
; to 8 devices with the present code.
; The AudioBus is address code (64)
; AudioBus1 - Attic - (AUDIOBUS)
; AudioBus 2 - Woonkamer AVAILABLE - (AUDIOBUS)

;--==[ PRESENT STATUS ]==--

This zip file contains the script and the parallel port control program
(6.86 KiB) Downloaded 116 times
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby AshaiRey » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:51 am

I changed the setup in the bathroom because the sound was to loud this way. I needed to switch to volume from soft to louder when taking a shower (and the fan is ON). To do this i used the last relay that was unused. I added an extra potentiometer to the speaker and trimmed down the volume. Now, if the bathroom fan is switched on then this resistor will be shortened making the volume louder.
audio.gif (2.24 KiB) Viewed 5358 times

Next i will focus again on intergrating this further into my VB media center script.
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby AshaiRey » Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:51 am

I've been using this audio system for more then a year now and i must say it's something that is gonna stay in the house. The WAF is fairly high so thumbs up for that. But as always you want more so i started working on version 2.0. This version need to fullfill the folowing requirements

- (Nearly) Every room audio
- Each room must have it's own volume control
- Must be able to pick more then one audio source
- The ability to call out announcements
- Motion detection and time based events controls which room will play audio

The rooms that are candidate are:
- Bathroom
- Kitchen *
- Livingroom *
- Master bedroom *
- Utility room
- Walk in closet
- Spare bedroom
- Attic *

Each room must have something like this.
audio-v2.png (5.86 KiB) Viewed 5233 times

The rooms don't need high quality audio so just one speaker will do expect for those with a * behind them. These room will have stereo. This requirement will up the scale considerabaly because now you need 12 amplifiers instead of 8 !

I've tested all the seperate parts of the chain already and now i am putting things together. When i have some picturse later on i will post them here.
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby Niels » Sat Feb 26, 2011 4:48 pm

Maybe you can have a look at something like a bi-amp Nexia, it will increase your possibility's.
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby AshaiRey » Sat Feb 26, 2011 5:23 pm

That will cost me also Nexia euro's.. which i can spend better. :0)
I build this mostly with parts i already have or that i can get for a very low price.

But anyway, thanks for the info.
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby TFL9 » Tue Apr 24, 2012 9:51 am

I was following this subject some time ago and I was wondering how the multi-room audio system 2.0 was working now. Do you have a new scheme with components?
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Re: Audio for every room.

Postby AshaiRey » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:35 am

Hi TFL9,

Version 2.0 is working far better then i imagined. All rooms have now 2 audio channels for radio/mp3/playlists/whatever and the ability to deliver spoken messages. That last item is a huge increment on the WAF scale :0)
For example: Going into the bathroom and the music of the radio follows you there. You start a shower and due to a higher humidity the fan turns on. This produces more noise so the volume of the music goes up too and you will be able to still heard it comfortabilly. But you had an appointment. The music stops only in the bathroom. An announcement will be spoken only there (or wherever you want it) and after the message the music comes right back to the original level. Now i think that's cool. I've written a plugin just for this device with lot's a functionality thati thought was usefull. I've added things like choosing the right voice for messages. Most message are in Dutch so a Dutch voice is better. I use for English messages another voice. I can add special (.wav) sound to messages to give an indication that the message is imported and so.
I have another thread open about V2.0 here. [link][/link]
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