OK, call me a geek, call me “one who lives in excess..”, or just call me a spoiled brat, but when I’m home, I like to have all the media I want when I want it. (wow.. that last sentence had quite a few commas). I like to have movies, music, and whatever else I want at my fingertips. So I’ve designed what I’d like to call my ideal multimedia nirvana.
Let’s talk about what I was trying to achieve and how I went about getting it. Movies; I’m a big nut for movies. So I knew the first thing I needed was a videoserver. I wanted access to my videos at any computer or television in my house. I looked at all the different brands and offerings on the market and concluded there was nothing out there that met all of my needs. So, what to do? I built one.
Here are the specs (as of 3 years ago when I decided to do this).
The first issue was space. I wanted to be able to store lots of video, so that’s what I did. I built a server capable of storing 3 TB (that’s Terabytes for you non-techies) of multimedia content. To give you an idea of how much space that is, 3 TB can store:
- 12,600 Movies at DVD quality
- 750,000 songs
In other words, I won’t be running out of space any time soon. The next step was to figure out how to “serve” the video and music to my televisions, computers, and multimedia devices. What did I do? I simply added some software to my server; pyTivo. This little bit of software allows any Tivo connected television to access the content on my video server. The catch? I have to have a Tivo on every television in my house (which I do). One of the advantages of a Tivo is you can access the content on any Tivo from any other Tivo in your house.
So now, I have Video access anywhere in my house. So, let’s say I wanted to show pictures of that last night of debauchery to some friends? I could easily do that as well, as the pyTivo server allows me to access the pictures on my server and display them on my television as well.
What about music? Oh.. pyTivo does that as well. I can access music anywhere in the house as well.
As you can see, I’ve covered the entire range of multimedia access with one server and a bunch of Tivos. How did I interconnect it all? Category 5e wiring. Yup, every room in the house is equipped with 4 network ports. What about wireless? I have that too. It’s overlaid over the entire house. (Just in case I want to work on my patio).
Normally, this would have cost the average joe over 50-100K to do for their whole house (and I have a big house), but I’m lucky enough to own a construction company as one of my side businesses, so it cost me next to nothing. (about $30K). Total time to completion? About 2 weeks.
OK, so I’ve handled the multimedia portion of the solution. What about communications? Let’s see what I’ve done to facilitate that as well. I put in a phone system in my house, not just any phone system, but something that would put most Fortune 100 telephone company phone systems to shame. I have 16 telephone numbers coming into my house as well as remote offices connected and web access to voicemail. I deployed those really nice Cisco 7970 telephones throughout the entire house as well.
Things my telephone system can (and does do):
- Dial up Weather
- Wake Up Calls
- IVR (Interactive Voice Response)
- Call Forwarding
- Advanced Call logic
Now, let’s say I was out on the road (which I am quite frequently) and I wanted access from my hotel room? No problem. I can access my system via vpn from my laptop and watch videos, listen to music, and even make and receive telephone calls as well. All from my laptop, my iPhone, and my Blackberry. So in other words, I’m completely connected.
What if you want a system like this? No problem. I’m available for a consulting engagement (it’s a hobby of mine). For 20K + the cost of materials and labor, I’ll get a system like this up and running for you in your home as well. The project usually takes about a month to do, but when you’re done, you’ll have an incredibly robust system that just “works”. If you were to do this with any other AV consultant, you’d end up paying over 100k. My total cost with parts and labor? about 50K. (This includes my consulting fee).
Is this a shameless plug for my consulting services? Not really, but I enjoy this type of work (as it’s somewhat mindless for me) and at the end of the day, I have access to everything I need at my fingertips.
Some other things I can implement for you?
Full Home Automation such as:
- Temperature Control
- Security (Video)
- Light Control
- Gate Control Mechanisms
- Video Conferencing (I already do that)
- Voice Activated Commands (You talk to the house.. “Play the Beatles, etc.”)
Drop me a line. I’ll personalize the system for you from soup to nuts. I can also do private exhibit spaces, yachts, and jets as well. It’s been a hobby of mine for over 10 years, so I’m more than qualified and yes.. I do have references.