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Audio Componets: Computer Controlled Speaker Relay

I have always wanted the ability in my automation setup to control which speakers were on or off around the house. This would allow me control which rooms the house music system will output music to so that if someone was sleeping or watching a movie downstairs, I could listen to music in another room without disturbing them. It would also give me the ability to control which rooms the house would speak to, if specified. For example, if I pressed a button on the wall in the master bedroom that prompted some speech output, the house would only speak to me in the master bedroom – thus not confusing or bothering anyone else in the house

 


Before Install

After Install
 



I decided I would use the Weeder WTSSR-M serial controlled relay board. It has five computer controlled relays, and since I have five speaker zones in my house it would work perfectly. If I ever decided to add more speakers I could simply just add on another relay board and have them both controlled at the same time without any hassle. Plus, since it has a relay interface, MisterHouse can control the boards easily.

The relay boards from Weeder (or any other serial circuit boards they sell) are not really meant to be mounted on a wall. Because of this, you have to think outside the box in order to mount them. I ended up going to Home Depot and buying a simple piece of wood project board. I used wood screws and standoffs to mount the four corners of the board to the studs in my wiring closet. The standoffs would ensure that the objects I screwed into the project board would not go through the board and into my drywall so long as I used screws that were not too long.

 

After the project board was installed, the next step was to mount my two WTSSR-M modules I have (I used another WTSSR-M in my security system to control the deadbolt). My solution was to carefully remove two of the screws diagonal from each other that held the serial port connectors down on the boards and replace them with longer wood screws. This way I could mount the relay boards without having to drill another screw hole in them, which could be very dangerous to the electronic components.

The next step was to mount the two terminal strips. These serve as the place where the speaker wires all connect up and go into the relay board. The strip on the left in the picture connects to all the speakers around the house, and the strip on the right goes to the Sima SSW-4 speaker selector. In the middle of the two strips is where the WTSSR-M module connects the two strips together.

 

I wanted to place the Sima SSW-4 speaker selector on my project board as well so that I would not have to run a bunch of wires to a shelf. The only problem is that the speaker selector has absolutely no mounting holes that I could see without tearing it apart. It took some brainstorming, but I finally figured out a solution. On both sides of the speaker selector there are air vents that keep air flowing through the device. I found some old blank PCI slot inserts that are used to cover up unused PCI slots on the back of a standard PC computer case. The flat points that would normally hold the insert into the PC case fit perfectly into the slots of the air vents on the speaker selector. With this in mind, I took a pair of pliers and carefully bent back the inserts to make a mounting bracket that would hold the speakers selector up. I then took my drill and drilled a hole in each so that I could screw it into the project board. This worked perfectly, is very sturdy, and looks great!

 


SSW-4 Mounted

Another View
 



Once everything was installed, it was pretty easy to interface it all with MisterHouse. The only complicated task was figuring out how to handle speech output to specific zones when the house was already playing music in other rooms. Since I only have one channel and the music and speech both are mixed together on it, I had to come up with the most logical solution:

 

If there is no music playing in the house:
Then the speaker system will output the speech to the correct room with no problem.

If there is music playing in one or more rooms:
Then leave the speakers on in the rooms where the music is playing AND turn on the speaker in the zone or zones I need to speak to. At the exact same time also turn the volume down to 15% on the music so that we don't startle the people in the rooms where there was no music playing before. Then output the speech to all the zones. The speech will be much louder than the music so that the rooms who need to hear what is being said can, and the rooms who are just listening to music still hear the speech in their zone too, but they at least won't loose the beat of the song they are listening to. Once it is finished speaking, it resumes everything back to the way it was quickly.



iPhone Control of Speakers
 

I also created a new iPhone interface page that is called overrides. This page lets you control which rooms have their speakers turned on or off so that you can manually override each zone you are in. The house still has the power to speak in the rooms with the override if it chooses, it just won't play music. There are also other things you can override in each zone as well such as automatic lighting.

 



Jon Scott 2012 -- All Rights Reserved.