Home Automation Castle Evolves Over Time

Fourteen years of continuous updates keep tech in home fresh

In 2007 the owners of this 10,000-square-foot “castle” began a journey into home technology by incorporating a multi-room audio system. Installed by custom electronics professional John Goldenne of Digital Home Technologies, Palatine, Ill., the Elan HD system piped music from radio tuners, a CD player and a laptop (which was plugged into an Ethernet port) over cabling to speakers installed flush with the ceiling in several rooms of the house. Video traveled from a central rack of components to TVs, as well, and at the time, analog was the best thing going. The owners controlled the system via hard-buttoned keypads and touchpanels mounted to the walls. “It worked well for its time,” says Goldenne.

But times change, and do so quickly in the world of technology; By 2010 the owners were ready to update the system. So began the construction of a dedicated theater in the lower level, again, handled by Goldenne. Installed was top-notch equipment for the time, including an Espon PowerLite Cinema projector, SpeakerCraft TIME Five 8 ceiling speakers, Sunfire subs and amplifiers and a 110-inch Stewart Filmscreen screen. For control, a MX-980 handheld remote/MCS-400 controller combo was used. Although designed primarily for movie watching, the theater was tied to the home’s existing Elan HD system so that music could be distributed to this room too.

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Fast forward to 2014. By now the homeowners’ collection of music had grown to incorporate downloaded music from the Internet, stored on several different iPhones. Apple TVs had become popular as had media streamers, and the owner was ready to invest in both. The Elan HD had served its purpose well, but the owner’s much larger, more extensive collection of media would require a system with more horsepower, a more robust Wi-Fi network, and a more elegant interface than the 7-year-old touchpanels he had been using. Also by now, HDMI had secured a firm foothold as the preferred transfer method of audio and video signals. Again, Goldenne was hired to complete the third phase of the home’s tech update. “We tore everything out and replaced it with Elan’s latest home control system, the Elan g!.” The old HD touchpanels were swapped for Elan’s modern and TS-7 touchpanels and in-wall docking stations for the owner’s iPad minis and iPods. An Atlona HDMI matrix switcher was added for uncompressed transmission of digital audio and video throughout the house. Finally, the home’s existing wireless network was upgraded to an enterprise-grade system of Luxul products.

For now, the Elan g! system is focused on access and control of the owner’s audio and video systems, but it’s capable of also managing the home’s lights, thermostats and other electronic equipment. The integration of these amenities is likely for Phase 4, says Goldenne. Stay tuned.

More home tech ideas:
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