This page shows some more detailed photographs of the various components of our Home Network. You can move your cursor over any part of the pictures on this page to see what that component does. Most of the equipment that creates our home network is located at a central point in our basement. This is typically called the "Node 0". Click on any part of this picture to jump to the point on this page that explains that component.
Node 0 - The Nerve Center of Our Home Network
The heart of the system is the FutureSmart Networks patch panel. This provides a flexible interconnection point for all wiring in the home as well as Telephone, Video, Data and Audio hub services.
Home Network Patch Panel and UPS
This panel provides connections to one or two multimedia wall jacks in each room of the house. Rooms such as the office, family room and master bedroom that have heavy data or other multimedia requirements have additional jacks which provide more high-speed data, satellite network or telephone connections.
Typical Multimedia Jack
Our Home Network provides wired and wireless LAN services as well as secure access throughout our home to the internet. A LinkSys VPN Router/Firewall is the heart of our home LAN. This device uses Network Address Translation (NAT) to allow the single cable modem connection to the internet to be shared by all computers in the house be they wired or wireless. It also provides a stateful firewall which keeps our network secure.
Cable Modem and Router/Firewall
Wireless Access Points are connected to our home LAN to provide 802.11a and 802.11g (50 Mbps) wireless network extensions our wired LAN. This is very useful for taking a laptop computer outside or for quick use with hooking up. It is also allows our PocketPCs to access the internet or as wireless remote controls to control our AudioTron networked music players.
Access Points for Wireless LAN
Another important component of our network is our Home Server. It consists of an Intel Pentium-based PC running Windows XP Professional. This machine has 4 Terabytes of disk storage which is used to hold over 12,000 audio files, 11,000 graphics files and central file storage for our home network. This server can be accessed by an PC in the house, by the TiVo's and AudioTrons for display of graphics files and playback of our music collection. This machine is also acts as a web server for www.anita-fred.net (your are using our home server to view this page). Finally, it provides centralized backup for all of our PCs as well as basic network services such as DHCP and DNS services. If you are setting up your own home server, you might consider some of the applications that we are using on ours:
SimpleDNS Plus - Provides DHCP and DNS services
HostMonitor - A useful network monitoring tool
Syslogd - A Syslog Service for Windows (used for network devices that log information via SNMP or Syslog traps
If you are interested in any of these tools and have questions about how they can be used to build a home network, please feel free to contact us via e-mail.
Our Home Server
The next major component of our home network provides an in-house generated video network. This network has three different sources of video signals. The first is an HDTV capable satellite system.
DirecTV Multi-Satellite Dish
Satellite TV services is distributed the rooms in our house via a satellite 8-way multi-switch and our patch panel.
Satellite Multi-Switch Provides HDTV Capable Signals to All Rooms
The other source of video signals in our house is an off-air UHF antenna system that is housed in the loft above our garage. This antenna is used primary for the reception of off-air HDTV signals. The antenna has a mast-mounted signal amplifier and a rotator system. The rotator system is controlled via a small unit at the Node 0 in our basement. This unit is interfaced to the IR network in our house so that any of the Pronto Remote Controls can change the direction the antenna is pointing. All of this is transparent to the user as the antenna direction is automatically changed whenever an off-air HDTV channel is selected.
Off-Air UHF Antenna with Amplified and Rotator for HDTV Reception
Antenna Rotator Control at Node 0
The signals from the Satellites drive TiVo enabled Satellite Receivers. Each of these receivers provides access to 2 different satellite channels simultaneously and each provides Personal Video Recording features via the TiVo Service. What TiVo does is to learn each of our viewing preferences and then automatically record programs that TiVo believes we would be interested in on its hard disk storage devices. We can then watch these programs at any time during or after they are recorded. TiVo also provides the ability to skip commercials and record recurring episodes of a series.
TiVo Personal Video Recorders (3 in house) Provide Dual-Channel Satellite Reception and Personal Video Recording/Storage (PVR)
Our house is also connected to our local cable system which provides 75 channels of additional programming as well as local channels and content. A third TiVo Personal Video Recorder is connected to the CATV network to provide video recording and storage for CATV content. This PVR is also available on all TVs within the house. This TiVo unit is also networked via the home LAN. It can play music or display graphics from the home server on our TVs. It can also be programmed to record shows while we are way via any standard Web Browser and the Internet from anywhere in the world.
TiVo Home Media Options - Photos and Remote Scheduling
Another major component of our video network is a number of shared video devices on in-house created TV channels. This allows a source of high-quality video to be viewed on any TV in the house. We currently have a DVD changer (holds 200 DVDs and CDs), all of our TiVo personal video recorders and one of our AudioTron Music Players connected to our video network in this fashion. This allows us, for example, to select one of our DVDs or CDs from any room in the house and play it. It is also possible to watch any program stored in our TiVo units from any room in the house. This is possible via the use of Stereo Digital TV modulators which create the TV channels for these devices along with a whole-house wired IR network which allows an IR remote control in one room to control a specific video device (such as the DVD changer or TiVo unit) in another room. The outputs of the modulators are routed via a second coax cable (which is available in every room in the house) to the Patch Panel at our Node 0. The modulator channels are combined there with the CATV service and then distributed to every room in the house.
Video Modulators Create TV Channels from DVD Changer, TiVo Satellite and Cable Receivers and AudioTron
IR Network Provides Control of Video Peripherals from any Room
The combined channel lineup for our "in-home" CATV system looks like this. The in-home channels generated via the modulators are channels 114-134. The channel lineup also list the Off-Air and Satellite HDTV channels that we get. We also receive a total of 275 standard definition digital Satellite TV and audio channels which are not shown below.
Our Home Channel Lineup
To complete the video portion of our network, we have installed a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound system in our family room along with our big screen TV. This equipment provides Dolby Digital Surround sound from DVDs and our Satellite Receiver/TiVo unit.
A-V Equipment and Big Screen TV in Family Room
The entire video system is controlled via individual Phillips Pronto Remote controls that are custom programmed for the room that they are used in. These units are programmed to integrate the overall control of our home network and present a simple graphical interface. As an example, selecting an HDTV off air channel via the broadcaster's logo might configure the IR router to control the HDTV satellite receiver, turn the receiver on, switch the TV to the direct digital input connected to the HDTV receiver and command the Off-Air Antenna Rotator to point the antenna at the correct city.
Custom Programmed Pronto Pro Remote Controls Provide Control of Entire Audio-Video Network
Our home network also provide distribution of three telephone lines and high-quality stereo speaker cables throughout our home. The house is wired for a fourth telephone line to allow for possible connection to broadband services such as DSL or Fiber to the Home that may be provided by the telephone company. The speaker cabling is not currently used but may be in the near future!