IVB\’s Home Theater and Home Automation

You don\’t have to spend a lot for that smarthome.

Almost done with the HA Announcements.

Posted by IVB on June 4, 2007

Well, it only took 14 months of having the stuff in my parts closet, but I finally have zoned HA announcements including doorbell ring, CallerID, and TTS!  Not completely done, but 80% of the way there.

I created 3 zones of HA announcement speakers using the Elk (intentionally not using my A/V speakers). Right now there’s only the CQCServer as the source (ie, not the Elk M1 output1), but that does:
1) Doorbell ring (different per door) (ripped out regular doorchime, i’m now Elk-only)
2) Custom WAV playback on callerID. I recorded 4 of our friends so far, and play back their greeting.  This is actually the AWESOME bit, as I used strictly CQC for it, meaning I can sell off the Elk-930 Doorbell detector, Elk-120 4channel Recordable board and Elk-129 computer sound interface. And, since I’m using CQC and WAV files, I have infinite file capability.
3) Custom TTS (text to speech). I’ll probably get a custom voice, I really want to try out one of the nuance ones as I think my kids would get a kick out of a british female accent, but it’s $90 and there’s no demo. I know Kate is a tried&true voice, but it just seems so bland.

Some techie details for those of you who care:
– Doorbells are rigged up directly to Elk zones using CAT5, so they’re very simple open/close circuits.
– I’m using an Elk-800 amp which can handle 2-16Ohms
– For each zone, I used a relay on the M1XOVR relay expander
– I mounted 3 of the 32Ohm Elk speakers in parallel so I get a 10Ohm resistance on that leg
– I mounted 1 Elk 8 Ohm External speaker and 1 Elk 8Ohm internal speaker on two seperate legs.
– I *will* be added either a 32Ohm single gang speaker or an 8Ohm regular speaker on leg#4, haven’t quite decided which form factor I want.

I’d never run all of them together, but even if I did that’s still 2.1->2.6Ohms total, which is above the minimum.

If you want to calculate it yourself, the formula for parallel resistance is
1/x = (1/R1) + (1/R2) + (1/R3) + … 
or, to put it simpler
X (resistance) = 1 / ( (1/R1) + (1/R2) + (1/R3) + …   )

Here’s the revised overview screen. I know all the HA speakers don’t look like that, but the ones my wife can see do, and one icon is simpler than 3.

Final piece is to step down the M1 output to line level and use the $50 mixer i got off eBay to blend those two, and sell off the Elk-930, Elk-120, and Elk-129. If I get decent $$, I may take a gamble on the Nuance voice.



3 Responses to “Almost done with the HA Announcements.”

  1. Ryan said

    I’ve been reading your blog & forum posts (on AVS) for awhile. Thank you for sharing such detailed information. I have a question regarding the integration between your audio distribution system (Concerto?) and your Elk home automation announcements:

    From what I have read it sounds like you have 2 different sets of speakers & amplifiers. Can you explain why you implemented the HA announcements this way? Also, is the ‘final piece’ you mention above relating to the integration of the HA announcements & audio distribution?

    Thank you,

  2. IVB said

    2 main reasons for using two systems:

    1) (less important) I have the Concerto, not grand concerto(has a paging zone), so I’d have to turn on & switch source inputs. It’s a little too slow for that.
    2) (more important) After mucking with it a bit, we found that if the a/v was on as we were watching TV/etc, it was actually pretty annoying to have it pause or miss the audio due to doorbell/telephone. This way we can have both sounds at once, and the tiny Elk single-gang speakers are pretty unobtrusive too.

    The final piece is merging the two audio sources:
    1) Elk M1 output1 alarm notifications
    2) CQC Server for TTS/doorbell/CID stuff.

    I won’t ever merge the audio distribution stuff with the HA announcements, those will always be 2 seperate systems.

    Hope that helps, let me know if there’s anything else. Thanks for reading.

  3. Hey, nice tips. I’ll buy a bottle of beer to the person from that forum who told me to visit your site 🙂

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