July 20, 2009
by Arlen Schweiger
Having basic audio in the backyard that you can set up from inside and leave alone is fine for most. Being able to fully control it, and integrate other important controls back there (like security and intercom) is another ball of wax.
At first, this pool area in the backyard was just going to have rock speakers around it. The homeowners could program from inside the house what music will be played on it.
“That was fine, but they really wanted to be able to control the entire Digilinx music feature as well as the intercom capabilities from the pool area,” says Gregg Butala of Erie, Pa.-based custom electronics pro Whitetail Electronics, which installed a full NetStreams system. “The problem was the keypads are not weather proof, nor will they work in below freezing temps. Erie’s winter can be harsh!”
Whitetail’s solution was to install burial-rated Cat5 enhanced wire in conduit from the house to one of the pillars (see photo below) located around the pool. The homeowner did not want to see any conduit along side the pillar, so Whitetail managed to run the wire inside the fence post and attach an adapted weather proof enclosure to fit the keypad.
That wasn’t the only problem. “There was also a wire distance problem that we had to overcome,” says Butala. “We had to move the IP-addressable amps [of NetStream’s IP-based audio system] to another location to cut down the distance. At winter time, the homeowners can simply un-plug the wire connecting the amp to the pool area keypad.”
Audio is only one facet to Whitetail’s backyard install. The outdoor lighting for the pool area is part of the home’s Lutron lighting system, and the homeowners can view the pool area from any of the LCD touchscreens and televisions in the house.
The doors (from the house) leading to the pool area needed to have a separate Annunciator to alert you that someone was going into the pool area (For Code), Butala says, so Whitetail was asked to resolve this dilemma without requiring another notification system. The security system has a chime zone feature, but not the ability to hear it throughout the house, so “we addressed this issue by installing a ‘door links’ module from NetStreams and it now has its own customized ring tone and/or programmable wave file that plays on every speaker throughout the house and outside,” Butala adds. “The driveway probe system also has this setup.”
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.