How to Customise the ELAN Home Automation Screen

I have been involved with the ELAN Control System for over 8 years, and in that time I’ve trained installers, provided technical support and sold and programmed many systems and yes I really like the ELAN Control System 🙂 … it just works.

One of the things I really like is the ability to customise the user screen by changing or adding back ground photos. So this blog post is a quick how-to-walk-through.

Firstly, your ELAN system must be one of the SC controllers on a fairly recent firmware version, at least Version 8.4 Release 10 (when you go into the settings page, the version number is on the bottom left hand corner).

So, these are the steps you need to follow to get started:

Step 1 Go to Settings Page
Step 2 – Enter your PIN code
Step 3 – Navigate to Configure Themes page
Step 4 – Choose an Existing Theme or Create a New One

ELAN have already created a number of themes which you can play around with, however you can also create your own.

Step 5 – Choose a Photo Background

This is a photo I took of Bond’s Bridge in Co Armagh.

Step 6 – Choose what style of Icons you will use

For this photo, I like the Varicon style

Step 7 – Customise the appearance

This is where you can really experiment, however I’ve found that it’s usually best to keep it simple and leave most settings on the default values. I’ve also found that it may be best to use Preserve Aspect ratio so that the photo is not stretched or squashed when your phone is in landscape or portrait modes and playing around with the transparency might improve the look.

Step 8 – Apply your Theme

You can Apply your theme just to this screen or Apply to All screen (ELAN touch screens, iPhone, iPad, Android, PC and Mac). So, it’s probably best to experiment a little on your own first as you can change a lot of the look and feel before inflicting it on everyone in your house.

And that’s about it. Just by way of finishing and to show how customisable ELAN is, this is a page I created to show some of the traffic cams on Dublin’s M50 motorway.
If you knew the M50 in normal times, you will know these are extraordinary times….

If you have any questions or if you would like some more info, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

🙂

Kanto YU2 Speakers

At AVctrl, we are big fans of the Kanto range of powered speakers. A powered speaker has an inbuilt amplifier which means that all you need to do is connect something to it and press play.

The Kanto range starts with the tiny YU2 which has USB and 3.5mm connections and is best for your desktop setup. The YU4 and YU6 add Bluetooth and turntable inputs and the TUKs are just better at everything. They are available in a range of finishes and you can add a sub-woofer to add a bit more oomph to the bass.

On our last order for a client (YU6, 26″ SP stands and a SUB8) I added a pair of matt white YU2s for my own desktop along with a pair of the 16° desk stands, laptop is connected via USB and this morning (Friday) I’ve been trying to get a proposal done, however I’ve a little problem…

As you may know Van Morrison was 75 this week (31st August) and Hot Press (#RaveOnVanMorrison) put together a YouTube tribute with leading Irish artists performing Van the Man’s greatest. Some of the recordings are definitely at-home recordings however, most are studio quality and are amazing.

My favourite and most surprising so far is the Michael D Higgins version of Rave On, but I was stopped by David Keenan’s version of Slim Slow Slider. It’s set outside and you get real dynamics and soundstage.

The YU2s really perform great in a close-up, desktop setting, they provide a vivid soundstage, are very articulate and even have acceptable bass without a sub. Of course, add a sub and things get even better. They also really make video conferencing so much clearer and less tiring.

The YU2s will really enhance your desktop setup whether it’s listening to music, spending too much time watching YouTube or more serious conference calls. If you can, connect them via USB.

Please get in touch if you need any more info.

Oh well, time to get back to work… but Gary Lightbody with Miriam Kaufmann & Iain Archer just started playing Into The Mystic:)

What do you need to listen to your vinyl collection?

Vinyl is currently going through a purple patch and really is the new “cool”. You can buy new albums in trendy fashions stores, supermarkets or bargain dive in charity shops. You may even have a collection of LPs, EPs or 7” singles hiding somewhere in the attic from back-in-the-day.

If you want to get back into vinyl or just want to see what all the fuss is about, what do you need to get started?

You will need four things:

  • Turntable
  • Pre-amplifier or phono stage
  • Amplifier
  • Speakers

Turntables

The turntable is obvious, there are many models to choose from and they range in price from very reasonable to extortionately, eye-wateringly expensive. If this is new to you will find many reasonably priced tables which sound fantastic, but 2 brands which will not disappoint are:

  • Audio Technica provide a great range of turntables but he classic is the AT-LP120 which has been around for years and has a very impressive sound
  • Any of the Pro-Ject Audio turntables are great, I have the Essential III but the Primary E is incredibly good value and you just need to fit he belt, platter and felt mat, unwind the twist wire which holds the arm in place and you’re good to go

There are two choices of turntable, belt drive and direct drive. Both have pros and cons but the main difference for beginners is that if you want to play a mix of 331/3 (LPs) and 45 (7” singles) on a belt drive table you have to move the belt from one roller to another, with a direct drive table there’s a switch. You can also get automatic tables which stop and return the arm at the end of the album, there are USB tables which enable you to transfer your LPs to digital format and even Bluetooth versions.

My advice… keep it simple, don’t buy what you don’t need.

Pre-amplifier

As standard the moving coil (MC) cartridge on the turntable produces a very low audio signal which must be amplified before going to your sound system. This is the job of the pre-amp or phono stage as it is also known.

Now this is one of the gotchas you may experience when buying a turntable. You can buy turntables with the pre-amp built in, you can buy amplifiers or active speakers with the pre-amp built in or you can buy a separate pre-amp. You just have to make sure you have one somewhere.

Taking the examples above, all the Audio Technica tables come with pre-amps but you have to make sure you select the Phono version of the Pro-Ject tables (e.g. Primary E Phono). If a turntable does not have a pre-amp built in, it will come with a stereo phono cable with a little earth wire.

Home cinema AV receivers such as Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, etc. do not have built-in pre-amps but many stereo amplifiers do. If in doubt, get a table with a built-in pre-amp.

Amplifier

Given that you have sorted the pre-amp you can use any amplifier to drive your speakers but if you are using your home cinema system, it will sound better if you switch the sound mode to stereo for the turntable input.

Speakers

Again, obvious but you do need speakers…

You can buy all-in-one suitcase systems but please do yourself a favour and save for a little longer and buy something which will sound infinitely better.

We are big fans of the Kanto Audio range of powered speakers and the SYD, YU4, YU6 and TUK speakers all come with pre-amp, amplifier and speakers in one incredibly great sounding package. All you need to add is any turntable and your rolling.

And Finally

If you need a little help, you can find out more info on connecting a turntable to the Kanto Audio speakers here and this YouTube video gives you a detailed setup guide.

Second hand is a great way of adding to your collection, so as well as bargain diving in your local charity shops, two online sites I use in the UK are:

It really is simple.

Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the music…

Controlling Sonos from Alexa

It has been possible to control Sonos from Amazon Alexa for some time. The Play One and Beam come with Alexa built in, but you can use any Echo device to control your music on Sonos. You do however, have to remember to say the right words in the right order.

You can make controlling your Sonos system from Alexa much simpler by creating Alexa groups. So, for example, instead of saying “Play Bruce Springsteen in the Kitchen”, you just say “Play Bruce Springsteen” or “Volume up/down” and Alexa also knows to turn the Sonos volume down automatically when you’re asking something.

Follow these simple steps to set it up…

  1. First you need to add the Sonos skill on the Alexa App and for this you will need your Sonos account name and password to link accounts.
  2. Next you have to run Discover Devices on the Alexa app or say “Alexa, discover devices” to add your Sonos players.
  3. Next, on the Alexa App go to the Devices tap
  4. Let’s assume that you have a Sonos Play 5 and an Echo Dot in the Kitchen. In the Alexa App there will be a Kitchen group which you need to select and then click Edit.
  5. Add the Kitchen Echo Dot to this group
  6. Make sure that the PREFERRED SPEAKER is set to the Kitchen Sonos Play 5
  7. That’s it, done.

You can take groups further by creating a group which includes a number of Sonos players for music, Philips Hue for lighting, etc and you can control all the devices at the same time… Party time 🙂

Check out the screen shots from the Alexa App for more details.

Rediscovering Rex Bob Lowenstein

It has been a very long time since I posted on this blog and we have been keeping ourselves very busy making buildings smarter, but something happened recently which has inspired me to get back.

A parcel arrived at home from that rainforest company which was around 12 inch square, thin and looked suspiciously like a long-playing record addressed to Number 2 Son. It turned out to be a Foo Fighters vinyl LP and no2 son now wanted a turntable to play it on. Now I have a large-ish record collection but like most people around my age, it has been in the attic for a very long time and have no working turntable.

So, no2 son and I are proud owners of Pro-Ject turntables. No2 son alsp added the Stereo Box S amplifier and E-Line speakers which sound amazing for a very resonable price and I setup mine as part of the Living Room Home Cinema system.

Now back to the title of this post. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… while at Queens University, our poor student flat ended up with a Linn Sondek LP12, Denon PMA250 amplifier and Wharfdale Super Diamond speakers and walls lined with LPs. I spent much of my meagre grant (back when we were paid to go to uni!) at Knights Records on Botanic Avenue, Good Vibrations then on Howard Street and Lyric Hi-Fi on the Stranmillis Road. One of my favourite records was Marc Germino’s Caught in the Act of Being Ourselves and my favourite track on the album was Rex Bob Lowenstein. The only person I have ever heard playing this song on the radio was the late, great Gerry Anderson and it was one of his favourite songs. Having not heard it for years, this was the first song I played and yes, it still sounds amazing.

I love the ability to stream music from Spotify, TuneIn, etc. and it is part of my everyday life. My day-job is making music simple to access in any room of the house but there is a lot of fun flicking through LPs, selecting your favourite, carefully removing it from the sleeve and placing on the turntable, positioning the needle, letting it slowly fall and sit back, sleeve notes in hand and listen to the wonderful sound of vinyl. It is much more of an event and it has meant that I have bought my first physical music for years.

So, do I love tech – yes and do I love making it simple to use – yes; but there is a lot of miles left in vinyl and taking the time to enjoy great sound.

And don’t start me on no2 daughter finding my old Sony Walkman and a load of cassette tapes in a garage clear-out…

Have fun and let’s be careful out there 🙂

Nest now works with RTI

The Nest Learning Thermostat is one of our favourite bits of kit – a room thermostat which learns how you use your house, anticipates your schedule and saves you money. All this and it looks cool. RTI the home automation system, can now control the Nest Learning Thermostat™ and Nest Connect: Smoke + Carbon Monoxide™.

RTI and Nest

This means that you can add the Nest Learning Thermostat to your central heating system and fully integrate it into a single app or remote which controls all the tech in your home. We can make it simple for anyone to use.

Please get in touch to learn more.

AVctrl is now an authorised Sonos dealer

We are delighted to let you know that AVctrl is now an authorised Sonos dealer.

Sonos is the leading wireless multi-room music system, it has a great app for both iOS and Android and you can enjoy any music in the world in any room of your home. And because it’s wireless, there is no mess and no new cables to run. We have been using, selling and installing Sonos since it’s UK launch and love it.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require any more information.

Nest Now Available in the UK

The Nest learning thermostat is now available in the UK. Heating control just got a whole lot cooler.

Nest Stand

The Nest Learning Thermostat remembers the temperatures you like, creates a custom schedule for your home, and turns itself down when you’re away.Use your phone, tablet or laptop to control your home by adjusting you’re home temperatures while you are on the move.

 

Check out info here

 

Elegant Heating Control

We all need to control our heating systems so it is important to make sure that the thermostats are easy to program and cater for our changing use of the rooms during the day. However, thermostats are probably the most ugly and boring pieces of kit we put in our rooms.

So what are the options?

KNX is a complete building automation system and includes lighting and heating control. There are currently 339 manufacturers producing 8000+ products which all talk to each other. It is possible to have the KNX switch combined with an internal room stat or just an LCD display for a simple and elegant finish.

Gira KNX Switches

The Gira range of KNX room controllers combine lighting, heating and window controls in a simple beautiful solution. And because it’s KNX, control can be easily added from your favourite mobile device from anywhere in the house or via the Internet.

Heatmiser Neo Stat

Heatmiser neo control system offers a simple touch screen display which can control a zoned heating system. There is also an app for complete control.

Nest Stat

The Nest thermostat is still not available in Europe but does take the design of a boring room thermostat to a new level. Google though so too and bought them.
We wait with anticipation for the UK launch…

If you would like to see how we can help, please get in touch.

IP CCTV

AVctrl is passionate about designing and supplying the best solutions. CCTV camera solutions have traditionally been either very poor quality (you know there is a dark shadow there but no idea who it  is) or very expensive. IC Realtime supply a superb range of high quality cameras and DVR’s which have a host of features and are remarkable affordable.

IC Realtime Interfaces

Solutions include:

  • Residential and commercial
  • IP Megapixel Cameras and NVRs
  • Analogue cameras and DVRs
  • HDCCTV – full HD over coax
  • Hybrid – combining analogue and IP technologies
  • Access from iPhone, iPad and Android mobile devices
  • Supports any platform, Windows, Mac or Linux
  • Remote access via a secure Internet connection
  • Complete integration with RTI and ELAN g! home automation systems

Please contact AVctrl to see what you can do.