Fred has built quite a home network in our current New Hampshire home. We have gotten a number of questions about how this and the associated computer infrastructure in our home works. We've created this section of our website to attempt to explain this. Note that you can move your cursor over any part of the pictures on this page to see what each component in the picture does.
Our home network provides the following services to every room in the house:
Wired 1 Gbps Ethernet connectivity via a local LAN
Access to the Internet via a Cable Modem and Router/Firewall
Wireless Access in the house and on the property via both 802.11a and 802.11g wireless LAN service
High-Definition Dolby 5.1 Digital Direct Broadcast Satellite System with DirecTV Service
Two DirecTV Digital Video Recording Units
Two networked TiVo Series 2 Personal Video Recorders which support Home Media Option via our Home Server
A server-based audio system using several Turtle Beach AudioTrons which provides access to a centralized copy of our audio collection
Satellite Radio via SkyFi™ Satellite Radio Tuners which provide 100+ channels of CD-quality digital audio
A home video network which includes CATV services as well as capability to share video components by all TVs
A wired IR system that allows all shared video devices to be controlled from any room in the home
Off-air HDTV via an off-air antenna system with rotator that can be controlled via a remote from anywhere in the house
Pronto Pro programmable graphics remote controls that allow the use of our home video network and components
All of this equipment and technology provides a variety of multimedia services in various rooms within our home. Probably the most interesting setup is out Home Theater. This system uses a Theater Grade DLP Projector System and Video Processor from Runco to create Cinescope (2.35:1 format) images on a 96" screen. The system also features a Fireball Media Server from Escient which store our CD collection (over 800 discs) on a hard drive and provides indexing of over 1,000 DVDs stored in four changers which it controls. The Escient system will lookup all of the jacket information for any new DVD via the internet and displays a nicely organized view of all of our discs providing easy access. The sound system is based upon premium components from Anthem, Aerial, and Sunfire with over 5,500 watts of power delivered to 7 speakers plus an additional 1,500 watts delivered to Bass Shakers in the four theater chairs in the room. It's quite an experience with the volume up when a big explosion occurs in a movie! Most all of the source devices have some form of Internet connectivity which allows us to download and player movies and TV shows via the Internet as well as access local video and audio content stored on our Home Server. The most useful devices for this purpose are the AppleTV, the DirecTV DVR, and the Playstation 3 Game console. All three can access high quality content over the internet. Our system has access to High Definition content via BluRay discs, our DirecTV Satellite System, and via the Internet. Finally, we have our Playstation 3 and Wii Gaming consoles hooked up to the system which provides an alternative to watching video. Again, these systems are linked to to the Internet via our home network to support networking gaming and access to content around the world.
A-V System in Home Theater
We also have a fairly extensive A-V Entertainment Center in our Family Room. This system also has a 5.1 surround system and an rear projection TV as well and Satellite Radio, TiVo DVRs and a DVD Changer.
A-V Equipment and Big Screen TV in Family Room
Another interesting aspect of our home network is support for a centralized database of digital music which can be played from most any room in the house. This system used the Turtle Beach AudioTron (or the TiVo with Home Media Option) to select from our music collection which is stored on our home server in MP3 format.
Turtle Beach AudioTron and XM Satellite Radio (Game Room Stereo System)
The AudioTron uses our home LAN to communicate with the server and provides a web-based interface for selection of music. This interface can be accessed from any PC in the house.
Interface to AudioTron via a PC and Web Browser
The backbone of our home network is called the "Node 0" and it is located in our basement. This equipment provides multimedia services to each room in our home as well as wireless broadband access to the internet anywhere on our property.
Node 0 - The Nerve Center of Our Home Network
A variety of multimedia services are provided via wall jacks in each room similar to the one shown below. Some rooms use multiple jacks to provide additional Data, Video or other connections where they are needed.
Typical Multimedia Jack
An important component of our network is our Home Server. It consists of an Intel Pentium-based PC running Windows XP Professional. This machine has a little over 5 Terabytes of disk storage which is used to hold an extensive collection of audio files, graphics files, video files and our work and home related computer files. The server and the information that it stores can be accessed by an PC in the house, by the TiVos and AudioTrons for display of graphics files and for playback of our music and video collection. This machine is also acts as a web server for www.anita-fred.net. Finally, it provides centralized backup for all of our PCs as well as basic network services such as DHCP and DNS services.
Our Home Server
Our Home Server is based upon a custom built PC system. It is Windows Home Server machine with a storage capacity of 9 Terabytes. For more details on this system, click here. To see more details on our home network and the related Audio-Video (A-V), Data and Communications Equipment, click here.
We have a total of 7 PCs in our home; 3 of which are a combination of work and a personal laptop. We use our PCs for a number of different tasks and hobbies including:
Desktop Publishing (check out our newsletter from this past year)
Communicate with Friends via E-mail
Digital Video Creation, Editing and DVD authoring
Digital Audio Production and CD authoring
Track and Manage Our Personal Finances
Create Computer Graphics and images
Use Map and Travel Programs To Plan Trips
Play Computer Games
Browse the World Wide Web
Web Site Development and Publishing
Java Programming (the Fireworks on our home page are a Java Applet that Fred wrote)
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