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Monday, 30 November 2015

Budget Cinema Room Project

Hello and welcome to another blog post. We had a client who wanted a cinema room but on a modest budget. We know that these rooms can cost thousands of pounds but we accepted the challenge and came up with this…..





As you can see we start with a typical room layout.

In order to be a budget cinema room we discussed with the client about requirements and costs. We then came to an agreement and proceeded to work within the budget.

This was for everything, all materials, amplifier, speakers, lights, Z-Wave Home Automation controller and modules. The only item that wasn’t included was the TV as the client already had their 55” LG TV.

Once the room was cleared we started creating the false ceiling for the speakers and spots and the strip light effects. We also started work on the fake chimney breast as well.








Once this was completed we added all the wiring as needed.


The next stage was the boarding up stage.




Straight after it was the plastering stage.



Once most of the plaster had dried we then measured the ceiling and made all the holes for the speakers and lights.


As part of the budget deal the clients decided they would do all the painting themselves and so we left them to it, which took 2 days to do.

We came back after a week as agreed with the client and then continued with the installation of the lights, speakers and strip lighting. We also added in the Z-Wave Home Automation controller and modules.



Finally we programmed the Z-Wave Home Automation controller and created the scenes and configured the smart phone app and also a handheld keyfob, so that the client can go into “cinema mode” at a touch of a button which turns off the main ceiling lights and turns on the LED colour lighting. Also the client can select a “normal mode” by pressing a different button which turns back on the main ceiling lights and turns off the LED lighting.

Using either the smart phone app or the handheld keyfob the client can select pre-defined LED lighting scenes to choose different colours. See the demonstration video below.

Z-Wave Handheld Keyfob

Smart phone app for RGBW lighting control

Here you can see the finished room, with the ceiling mounted speakers, LED strip lighting in the new false ceiling recess and LED backlighting behind the new false chimney breast. These are RGBW LED lights so the client can pick any colour that suits their mood.


Below the wall mounted TV you can see the cabinet for the AV equipment.


Here you can see the floor sub-woofer speaker and the AV equipment such as the surround sound amplifier (AVR), SKY TV box, Playstation 4 and a Western Digital media player for movies and TV shows.

Our high-end cinema rooms tend to have a Kodi Home Theatre PC and a Home Storage Server (NAS).





All in all the client was very pleased with the outcome and happy with everything we had done.

Demonstration Video

Please don’t hesitate to contact us on for FREE no obligation quotation.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Multi Zone Heating System Using Danfoss Z-Wave TRV

Todays post is about how to create an even more efficient heating system with the use of Danfoss Z-Wave TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valve)

In your typical home we have a single boiler with multiple radiators and a single thermostat controller which is usually located in the hallway. The biggest problem with this arrangement is that once the temperature has reached the set point in the hallway, that is when the heating will be triggered. This means that even if the rooms are heated up to the the required temperature but the hallway hasn’t, then the boiler will continue to run until the hallway has reached the set point.

We can add traditional TRV to help each room reach a set temperature and this then means the temperature is then normalized throughout the house. This helps to save energy as once the room reaches the desired temperature then the heat supply is shut off and diverted to where it is needed.

These traditional TRV are manually operated valves and once you have set the temperature setting then it will continue to work at that temperature. During a typical day the downstairs is occupied and upstairs is unoccupied. So if the heating is turned on then the whole house will receive the heat from the boiler and start warming up the whole house, so unfortunately the upstairs is also being heated when it is not required. This means wastage.

By adding the Danfoss TRV instead and including them into your Z-Wave home automation network we can program in a schedule setting and adjust the required temperature setting for the upstairs rooms to a lower value during the day and to a higher temperature for the evening as required. This means that we are not wasting energy by heating unwanted rooms of the house.


By adding the Danfoss Z-Wave TRV to each radiator we can create a simple multi zone heating system enabling greater control over the temperature of individual rooms within the home.

If you are interested in purchasing home automation products and services contact us for pricing and more details.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Budget Wall Mounted Tablet for Home Automation Control

Here is a cheap little project I did at home, using an old Android tablet I had laying around and a cheap box photo frame and a long white USB cable for powering the tablet. 

I am using the excellent ImperiHome Android app which can be used to control various Z-Wave gateways such as Vera and the Fibaro Home Center 2 and some others. 

With the ImperiHome app I can control all aspects of the home automation system such as lighting, curtains, heating etc however the main use for this wall panel will be for entry and exit. To be able to arm and disarm the house / Z-Wave alarm system. 

ImperiHome has a very useful feature and this is the ability to lock down certain scenes or devices with a pin code. So for example when I press the Welcome Home scene or the Disarm House scene you are prompted to enter a 4 digit pin code like a traditional alarm panel. 

Another nice feature of ImperiHome is the screensaver option, so after a set amount of time, 1 minute in my case the screen will go black / dark.

I have configured the Android tablet to never go to sleep so it will always be on and the WIFI will always be up and running, you just need to tap the screen once to display the ImperiHome app and away you go you can then control the home automation system instantly. 

ImperiHome also has an option to start the app at startup. so if the tablet loses power or is restarted the ImperiHome app will automatically launch again. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Kitchen Cabinets Z-Wave Colour Changing LED Lighting

In this post we will show you how we can install for you colour changing under cabinet lighting for your kitchen. Many people have a standard light coming on but we can go a few steps further and give you an array of colours to choose from.


What we did was put some RGBW strip lighting under the wall cabinets and take the cable through the cabinet to above the wall units. We then put a single Z-Wave RGBW module and connected the power supply and the LED strip lights.

Once that was complete we added in the Z-Wave module to the Fibaro Home Automation controller. Here you can see that we can now set our colours or create some programmes and/or favourite colours as well.


Not all family members are big technology fans and some may not want to use the phone app or tablet app to control the lights, they may require something more simple and straight forward.

Fibaro Home Automation APP – RGBW Controls

With this in mind we added a key fob remote control, this is a wireless Z-Wave remote and does not require line of sight to function.



The remote has four buttons but importantly can be used to give us eight functions. So we programmed one of the buttons as on/off, and the remaining three buttons gave us options for six colours.

My wife loves this as she has the under cabinet lighting she has been wanting for a long time and now has six colours to choose from and all from using a simple remote control.

Of course later on if she wants to change the colours that is no problems at all and we just go into the Z-Wave controllers configuration page and make the changes to six different colours.

So instead of being boring and having just one colour we have six!

Blue Colour:


Red Colour:


White Colour:


Purple Colour:


Below is a short video showing the remote and lighting effects in action.

Don’t forget to visit us at for more home automation ideas and FREE no obligation quotations.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Emby Media Server–Why you should be using it

I’ve not done many articles lately, but I have been working on beta testing for the Emby / Kodi integration. If you are an XBMC / Kodi user or not? Emby Media Server is well worth taking a closer look at!

Image result for emby logo

What is it? Emby is an Open Source Media Server and Client applications solution which was previously named Media Browser, which initially started life as a 3rd party Movie / TV Shows views add-on for the now dead Windows Media Center platform.

In a nut-shell Emby can be used to centralise all your media content, manage its metadata and artwork, access your content on a multitude of different devices, share content with family and friends and more!

The Emby Server can be installed on Windows, Linux, NAS, MAC, FreeBSD. I have it installed on my WHS 2011 server and I removed which was still on there for legacy MCE metadata. One of the great things about the server side of things is the ease at which metadata and artwork files are automatically downloaded and can be managed using the metadata manager for example. Its pretty much 100% seamless, you add new content that is correctly named and structured and the Emby server does the rest for you.

No more messing about with 3rd party metadata managers or with several different metadata add-ons in Kodi such as the Artwork Downloader or CDArt Manager, those add-ons are made redundant. As is MYSQL as a centralised database for Kodi, with the Emby add-on for Kodi and the Emby Server back-end these replace and also make MYSQL redundant.

Emby client apps include: Kodi, Windows Media Center / XBOX 360 (MCE Extender), Android TV, Roku  / Now TV boxes, Amazon Fire TV, some Samsung Smart TVs and Emby Theatre which is their stand alone Windows client application. Also you can use the Emby’s web browser GUI to cast content to your Chrome Cast device, Emby also supports DLNA.

So plenty of apps to play with and then there are the mobile apps which include: Emby Web Client (HTML5), Android, iOS (Under development and coming soon), Windows 8.1 / 10 and Windows Phone.

As you can see its a very impressive list of client app options! I am personally using the Emby add-on for Kodi, this is still in beta and I have it installed on two test PCs only at the moment and not installed on my main OpenElec HTPCs which are connected to the TVs in the house. I am also using the Android mobile app on several tablets and the Windows 8.1 / 10 app on my new Windows 10 touch screen laptop. I have also setup the Roku app on a Now TV box for a relative so they can access content remotely over the Internet.

And that is another killer feature of Emby the remote access side of things, in native Kodi media center there is no easy way out of the box to open up your content for remote access when you are away from the home. This is where Emby really shines and the Emby Server will ensure that the vast majority of your content can be played on remote devices either by transcoding on the fly to suit devices such as tablets and phones or by allowing Direct Streaming where possible. For example another family member of mine now has a remote Kodi installation on their PC and they can direct stream movies from my server here with no transcoding required for most video formats that Kodi can play natively.

Other Emby features include cloud sync (this is a paid for option which there aren’t too many) where you can choose to sync some of your content titles up to the cloud to services like Dropbox. Mobile sync is another feature, I’ve not tried this but presumably you could choose to sync down a movie for example to your mobile devices local storage for offline playback. Parental Controls and user management to easily share content with family members and fiends. There is also an inbuilt Live TV side to Emby, which I believe only currently works for HDHomeRun network tuners.

However I am still using DVBLogic’s DVBLink Server as the back-end for my Live TV and Kodi using the DVBLinks PVR add-on for Kodi links in to this. However there is also a plug-in for DVBLink on the Emby server, this then enables Live TV to then be streamed to the various Emby client apps, some features fall under the Emby Supporter / Donator category like being able to see all your TV channels in the electronic program guide. But most of the core features of Emby are free and do not require supporter access. Other Live TV Emby plug-ins for back-end TV services include ServerWMC, Media Portal, Next PVR, TVHeadEnd, VU+.

Some screen shots:

Emby HTML5 Web Browser GUI





Movie Info Page


TV Shows


TV Show Info Page


TV Show Seasons


Season 1 / Episodes


Episode Info Page


Music Albums


Album Details / Tracks


Album Artists


Artist Info Page



To wrap this up then, Emby is well simply excellent, the forums are active and helpful to new users. There are parts of the system which are still under heavy development such as the Kodi / Emby integration and the iOS app, however there are stable versions available for Kodi if you don’t want to be on the cutting edge with the beta releases.

I would say Emby is a replacement for Windows MCE /, Plex and probably a whole other bunch of media center related software. Try it out and it won’t be long until you think how did I live without it?