A large, newly built home in Sussex illustrates that it is perfectly possible to blend traditional design and construction with smart home technology. Experienced property developer Ricky Gatland pulled off this apparent paradox by embracing home automation within his latest project.
Approached along the twisty lanes of the High Weald, England, the property is situated in an area of designated Outstanding Natural Beauty and occupies an elevated position overlooking one of the South Eastís finest golf courses. Although this property captures the rural dream, it also captures visitorsí images as they pull up to the imposing oak gates. From the pillar-mounted CCTV cameras, they are displayed on any one of the plasma screens throughout the property, bringing to light the security-conscious reality of rural life in the 21st century.
The construction project originated when Gatland purchased the plot to build something larger and more appropriately sized than the previous property on this prime location. With five bedroom suites, galleried reception hall, gym, cinema room, games room, swimming pool and the surrounding acreage, the new development certainly befits its enviable position.
Construction work was already well underway when Gatland called on local system integrator Bugle AV to complement the propertyís impressive credentials with a complete home automation and entertainment system. Andy Mawdsley, technical director at Bugle AV says the call came at a relatively early stage in the project and therefore just at the right time.
ìWorking on a new-build is a completely different experience to retro-fitting,î Mawdsley observes. ìWe had a blank canvas, which gave us plenty of scope for adding in extra zones of audio for example, as well as giving us the freedom to fully future-proof the installation to allow for upgrades and the inevitable changes in equipment specification which occur on this type of project.î
A Crestron CP2E control processor forms the backbone of the installation, with each element of the home automation system integrated and made accessible through the processor. The CP2E has three built-in COM ports, eight IR/Serial ports, eight I/O Versiports, eight isolated relays, and an Ethernet connection to provide for control of the lighting, security, basement home cinema room, the plasma screens and DVD players in each room.
All the plasma screens are wired for multiple source display: DVD, Sky HD or Freeview. The Sky HD proved to be a singular challenge, as Mawdsley explains: ìDue to the HDCP issues regarding distributed content we had to combine a Crestron AAE Adanto expander with a matrix switcher and configure the set-up to allow YUV component signals to be passed, while breaking off the audio to allow it to be distributed to the various zones via the Crestron AAE Adanto expanders.î
A Crestron CEN-TIA telecom interface allows the client to answer the front gate remotely from any of the wall mounted touch panels, while a Kramer VP16 composite-to-component upscaler is used to deliver images from the front gate camera to the plasma screens.
The basement home cinema incorporates a JVC HD1 Black projector, which takes genuine HDMI feeds from the sources in the room, allowing it to operate as a stand-alone area as well as an integrated part of the system as a whole. Audio in the room is sent to a Kef 5.1 surround system via a Denon AVR 4308 AV receiver, which also acts as an HD switcher. Integration in the room is uses a Crestron QMRMC Quick Media system, allowing control of the room from the main rack via a single Cat5 cable.
Crestron ML600 handheld control remotes and TPS2000L wall mounted touch panels feature in rooms throughout the house. The lighting control system features a mixture of Crestron CLX-2 DIM8s and Crestron CLXi-1DIM4 dimmer packs, providing control for the multiple zones of lighting. There are coloured, dimmable LED lights featured in some rooms, which provide ambience and harmonise with the time of day, or the clientís mood. Scene setting is controlled from wall mounted Crestron keypads, CNX- B12 and CNX- B8.