Sign in to follow this  
well_armed

My HTPC, XBMC, and Control4 Integration Thread

73 posts in this topic

As some of you may have seen before, I tried doing a Control4 and Mac integration project a little while ago. I was unhappy with the results (mostly the limitations of the Mac, its display capabilities, and my component switching needs). http://www.c4forums.com/viewtopic.php?id=4947

So I now return with my updated version of what I think is the perfect Control4 distributed audio/video solution. Some of this will be redundant content from my earlier thread, but since it is an all new topic (and some wont see the old thread), I figure I would keep it as reference to my project.

I recently purchased my house in June of 2009 and started a fairly large remodel of the interior. Since I was doing a lot of gutting, I figured I would finally take advantage and put in my dream media system.

Objectives:

-Install a system that anyone can use

-Control HTPC's from any monitor located throughout the house, & play media in any zone utilizing XBMC and Alan Chow's Control4 IP Driver

-Media computer stores all of my media (music, pictures, movies, etc)

-Home Automation

OVERVIEW:

To start you off, the following picture is of my Family room, which I consider to be my main T.V. viewing area (no theater room, sorry!). The original design of the house had traditional bookcase shelving and a deep box cutout (right of t.v.) for your larger CRT televisions and equipment (VHS?). I basically covered the holes up with new library style paneling & hidden shelving, and utilized what was a storage closet in the office located directly behind the main family room as my Main Equipment Closet (to the left of the t.v.).

IMG_5709.jpg

HOUSE LAYOUT:

For some background, here is a basic layout of the house with the different zones I am trying to reach. I wired the entire house with multiple Cat6 drops to all rooms (either for monitors or for regular ethernet hookup), with accompanying stereo wires.

Slide2-1.jpg

Slide3-1.jpg

SYSTEM DESIGN:

Now for the fun part. I wanted to have two seperate Media Center feeds for the house, that way someone could watch a movie in the family room and also up in the bonus room at the same time. To do this, I built two HTPC's from scratch and hooked them into the system through the Pioneer Reciever (Family HDMI Source), and second HTPC to the Key Digital component switch (Component Video Card installed). I control both HTPC's utilizing the Control4 IP XBMC driver created by Alan Chow. This was easily implemented and works flawlessly with my system.

Slide1.jpg

NAS or rather...DAS: Direct Attached Storage Domination

Having a gigabit ethernet wired around the house, I can also utilize a rack mounted DAS RAID drive and store/access all of my media on that drive. HTPC 1 has a eSata card installed and it controls/pulls the media content from the OWC mercury pro Hardware RAID (Rack mounted 4 hard drive system) at 3 gb/s speeds, and computers on the network can pull/push their content at 1 gb/s.

It acts as a local drive that will be shared across the network (Windows SMB file sharing protocol) by the HTPC server. HPTC 2 essentially has the DAS mounted as a drive on the server, and it pulls its content at network speeds. (OWC> HTPC 1 > Network > HTPC 2)

HOME AUTOMATION:

One of the other large objectives of the house build was to also utilize Control4 as a home automation solution. With Control4 I am now able to control all my light switches, thermostat, ADT security system, camera's, fireplace, garage doors, etc. What does this all mean?

A couple of examples:

-I have a keypad at the top of my stairs near the master bedroom door. This keypad allows me to shut down the entire house with the push of one button (televisions, garage door (if its open), fireplace, lights, etc), and also program for certain light dimmers to go on at a certain level (say 10% for the back staircase).

-I am leaving, and by the garage I also have a keypad that allows me to not only turn everything off in the house with a push of a button, but also turn on the alarm (2 minute delay), and put some of the house dimmers on 15% in case its dark when I get back.

-My wife and I are laying in bed, I want to turn the lights off in the bathroom, turn on the television (watch a movie on the Mac of course), and quickly check my daughters room to see if she is awake (IP Camera hooked into the Control4 system), all with my iPhone.

HTPC Build List:

Graphics: HTPC 1: SAPPHIRE 100284L Radeon HD 5750 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16/ HTPC 2 VisionTek 900286 Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power

Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

Mother: GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD4 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Processor: Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I7860

Cooler: Dynatron K987 92mm Ball CPU Cooler (to fit the 3U case)

Optical: LG Black 8X Blu-ray Burner SATA Model WH08LS20

Storage: OWC 50GB 2.5" Internal SSD

Case: nMEDIAPC Black Aluminum / Acrylic / Steel HTPC 5000B Micro ATX Media Center

I am running Windows 7 on both machines.

HTPC CONTROL SIDENOTE

I can control both HTPC 1 & 2 from the family room monitor, as of course I have component going to the family room for other video sources (not to mention the C4 GUI). I utilize the HTPC2 feed when I want to do any distributive audio/video for parties or multi-zone broadcasting (since HTPC 1 only does HDMI to the Family room speakers).

HTPC5.jpg

System Pics:

Building the HTPC's

HTPC.jpg

HTPC1.jpg

HTPC4.jpg

IMG_5712.jpg

Slide3.jpg

Slide5.jpg

Running XMBC

HTPC3.jpg

HTPC2.jpg

I have over 400 titles all available from the click of a remote control.

Edited by well_armed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As another sidenote, I returned my Samsung and got a close out price on the Pionoeer Kuro 60" plasma.

The reason being was that the Samsung had a very loud power supply, so much so that I could hear it from the kitchen counter when no music was playing with a white background.

Much happier with the Pioneer now!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just curious, what did you pay for the Pioneer? I have three of them, a 42", and two 50"s...I am trying to find a 60". The one that I can find the guy wants all that and then some....in my opinion.

I would love to know what you paid for yours, and where you found it. I have yet to find a TV that I like anywhere close to as much as these Pioneers. Also, is it an Elite? Not that it matters...two of mine are Elite's and one isn't...other than the case I can't tell a difference.

Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oops...just looked at the pic...it isn't an Elite. Oh well, who cares. I would still love to know where you got it and what you paid for it, if you don't mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just curious, what did you pay for the Pioneer? I have three of them, a 42", and two 50"s...I am trying to find a 60". The one that I can find the guy wants all that and then some....in my opinion.

I would love to know what you paid for yours, and where you found it. I have yet to find a TV that I like anywhere close to as much as these Pioneers. Also, is it an Elite? Not that it matters...two of mine are Elite's and one isn't...other than the case I can't tell a difference.

Thanks.

$4,000 closeout price.

Call Magnolia A/V in Bellevue, as for Ryan Welch. Tell him Doug sent you.

Edited by well_armed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just curious' date=' what did you pay for the Pioneer? I have three of them, a 42", and two 50"s...I am trying to find a 60". The one that I can find the guy wants all that and then some....in my opinion.

I would love to know what you paid for yours, and where you found it. I have yet to find a TV that I like anywhere close to as much as these Pioneers. Also, is it an Elite? Not that it matters...two of mine are Elite's and one isn't...other than the case I can't tell a difference.

Thanks.[/quote']

$4,000 closeout price.

Call Magnolia A/V in Bellevue, as for Ryan Welch. Tell him Doug sent you.

Well, maybe the one I found isn't so bad. I can get the 60" Elite for $3,850 + tax...I just didn't want to spend that much. I'm not going to be using it for a few months, I just know they're getting really hard to find.

The problem is guy sold me my 42" Elite for ~$1,800, my 50" Elite for ~$2,500, and my 50" non-elite (Kuro?) for ~$2,000 (this was had been used in his showroom for about a month). He gave me great pricing a few years ago when they were still available and I was buying a bunch of gear, but now since this is his last one he is wanting to make some $$$ on it I guess. He crys when he thinks about them not making this line anymore...he said it was the last TV that had a good profit margin...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just curious' date=' what did you pay for the Pioneer? I have three of them, a 42", and two 50"s...I am trying to find a 60". The one that I can find the guy wants all that and then some....in my opinion.

I would love to know what you paid for yours, and where you found it. I have yet to find a TV that I like anywhere close to as much as these Pioneers. Also, is it an Elite? Not that it matters...two of mine are Elite's and one isn't...other than the case I can't tell a difference.

Thanks.[/quote']

$4,000 closeout price.

Call Magnolia A/V in Bellevue, as for Ryan Welch. Tell him Doug sent you.

Well, maybe the one I found isn't so bad. I can get the 60" Elite for $3,850 + tax...I just didn't want to spend that much. I'm not going to be using it for a few months, I just know they're getting really hard to find.

The problem is guy sold me my 42" Elite for ~$1,800, my 50" Elite for ~$2,500, and my 50" non-elite (Kuro?) for ~$2,000 (this was had been used in his showroom for about a month). He gave me great pricing a few years ago when they were still available and I was buying a bunch of gear, but now since this is his last one he is wanting to make some $$$ on it I guess. He crys when he thinks about them not making this line anymore...he said it was the last TV that had a good profit margin...

That is a good price, take it!

(that was with tax, so I think I paid a similar price)

I couldn't tell a difference between the Elite and the non-elite even in the showroom. All I cared about was the 72hz pull down. Those who are serious picture people like the Elite's due to the customization of the picture (ISF something).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see where you mention the OS on your HTPCs. Linux, Windows or Hack?

Do you run MakeMKV on the HTPC with the DAS or do you run it elsewhere?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't see where you mention the OS on your HTPCs. Linux, Windows or Hack?

Do you run MakeMKV on the HTPC with the DAS or do you run it elsewhere?

Sorry. I am running Windows 7.

MakeMKV runs natively on HTPC1, destination folder being a seperate seagate hard drive. I drag and drop onto the DAS when complete.

The DAS is also running (4) Western Digital RE4 2TB drives

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
well_armed,

How do you integrate your cable DVR?

What I mean is, do you have a multi room dvr so that every tv can access the same recorded programs? Or, do you have it as a source of your video distribution? Thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well Armed, we have a very similar setup. I am still in the process of wife proofing tests and configurations.

Using Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit on a Moncaso 312 HTPC with Blue Ray, 4 Core Intel under an ASUS P5E-VM motherboard with direct HDMI outputs. OS mounted on a Raid 0 and thought of using a NAS but now that USB3 is available I ordered a USB3 PCI to attach it to a Buffalo DriveStation USB3 of 2TB, I will use 2 or 3 of these units as the system grows or until a RAID unit is available. I already have around 200-250 DVD ISOs on a NAS unit that will be copied to the DriveStation.

XBMC is a learning curve now after trying Meedios for a while, I think XBMC is an easier front end to work with. When HTPC is chosen on the Control4, TV appears with the XBMC screen, I use a Logitech DiNovo mini for navegation and several USB extension cables with bluetooth antenas on their tips for signal range.

Denon 4810, Pan AE4000, 120" Elite Screen, XBOX 360 and DirecTV DVR also in the mix. The HTPC records from the Tivo and I am still trying to organize the TV series in order instead of being individual videos. Meedios did this easier than XBMC.

By the way things are going I will not be able to show my stuff for another 3 months, too much to do at work at the moment and the testing is being done in bits and pieces. Alarm system, Lights, Security Cameras, electric Curtains, PJ lifts, and some other toys still need to be integrated.

I will be checking this thread and hope you complete your setup so I can learn from the experience.

Thank you for taking the time to post.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
well_armed' date='

How do you integrate your cable DVR?[/quote']

What I mean is, do you have a multi room dvr so that every tv can access the same recorded programs? Or, do you have it as a source of your video distribution? Thanks.

Sorry if I don't understand your question, as both of your comments seemed appropriate to my cable dvr.

I will try and clarify a little. I have a direct HDMI cord going from the closet (pioneer out) to the T.V. in the family room. Since the cable DVR can do simultanous output...

Cable DVR HDMI Out>Pioneer Reciever>Family Room T.V.

Cable DVR Component Out>Key Digital>Distributed to all TV's in the house (technically I could access the component cable from the family room T.V. if I wanted too)

The Pioneer controls all of the HDMI switching, as I only utilize HDMI in the family room (Pioneer Plasma)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well_armed

Thanks for the clarification. I was thinking that you had it set up somehow so that different TV's could watch different recorded programs off the same dvr. There is a product by cetoncorp.com that isn't quite out yet, but if their website holds true, will do just that. It also works in conjuction with WMC so the C4 driver theoretically should work with it. I haven't had a chance to talk to my dealer about it yet to see if he has done any research on it. A friend of mine has ordered one (but doesn't have Control4). I'll wait to see how it works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my case I have all the DirecTV Tivo recorded material is sent to central storage NAS. Then any room using its HTPC input could see any material from that storage.

J

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In my case I have all the DirecTV Tivo recorded material is sent to central storage NAS.

You are using an actual TiVo version, not a DirecTV DVR? Does it get you HD? Can you store recordings of premium channels like Showtime and HBO on the NAS?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just downloaded the air mouse pro and XBMC app for my ipad, now I have a great way to navigate my entire system with cover art, etc...all from my ipad. Its slick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  
    • 11 Posts
    • 391 Views
    • 135 Posts
    • 8588 Views
    • 36 Posts
    • 909 Views
    • 33 Posts
    • 4037 Views
    • 12 Posts
    • 622 Views
    • 120 Posts
    • 13397 Views
    • 9 Posts
    • 447 Views