How Do I Connect That??
Connecting and upgrading your old components for new control systems.
The rec room’s Onkyo receiver had to be connected to the Elan g! system via infrared controls, as it did not have a serial connection.
April 26, 2012 by Steven Castle

More and more these days, homeowners are opting to upgrade to home control systems, without upgrading existing systems like home entertainment and other components. But connecting these legacy systems can be problematic.

Frank DeFilippis, a custom electronics (CE) pro at Link Your House in Suwanee, Ga., recently had a home project (see our slide show) in which some older systems had to be connected to a new Elan g! control system, and it required some interesting work-arounds.

• The old Onkyo receiver in a rec room didn’t have a serial connection and had to be connected to the control system using infrared controllers.

• HAI thermostats were connected to the control system via a serial connection bar in the equipment room.

• Logitech remotes were retained because the family knew how to use them, but operate alongside the new Elan controllers to operate housewide audio and video.

• An On-Q intercom was integrated into the Elan g! system using a relay and a power supply.

Think About Upgrades, Too

DeFilippis offers these tips for upgrading or getting more life out of typical legacy systems found in many homes:

1.    Distributed audio system connected with a speaker selector
Replace that speaker selector with a distributed audio amplifier that can be controlled by a smartphone, such as the new Elan S1616A or Crestron C2N-AMP-4X100. Once you add a controller, you’ll be able to activate zones, control volume and manipulate sources.

2.    X10 Lighting
Upgrade to a powerline product (Simply Automated, PCS) or RF (Lutron, Control4) and enjoy control from your smartphone or tablet. You’ll find it much more enjoyable than that old plug-in controller on your bedside table.

3.    Analog surveillance cameras
Add an IP video server, such as a Vivotek 7000 series, and steam live video to your smartphone or tablet with apps priced under $5. You’ll breathe new life into your old cameras.

4.    Old 5.1 surround sound receiver
A digital HDMI video connection is not only available on just about every entertainment source you can buy, but often times it’s the only video connection. This makes old, analog-based surround sound receivers basically useless for video switching. But hold on, these receivers still have a place in the home! Most displays now ship with at least three HDMI inputs, so switch your video on the TV and your audio on your old receiver. Avoid remote control salad and get a universal remote. You’ll miss out on the latest audio decoders, but adding years to your old receiver is sweet.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

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