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Chapter 4. Make Your House Talk > Whole-House Audio

4.4. Whole-House Audio

In this phase, you'll create a system for distributing audio from your computer to your bedroom. In Chapter 9, Create Time-Shifted FM Radio, I use an FM transmitter to send sound to the radio located in my bedroom. I don't want the weather announcements to depend on me having the radio turned on, though, so I'm going to add a second set of speakers under the bed.

Like most of you, I have several boxes of computers parts in the basement. Among those parts, I have two or three sets of cheap computers speakers that came with something-or-other that I bought once-upon-a-time. This is the perfect opportunity to get some life out of those speakers. My computer isn't in my bedroom, though, so I'll need to use a wireless link to connect the speakers.

The wireless link and the speakers will be used for only a few seconds per day, and they occasionally make clicking and static sounds. Therefore, I want them to turn on only when they're being used, and off otherwise.

4.4.1. 1. Install X10 appliance modules

You don't want to leave your speakers and wireless audio devices on all the time, so you're going to plug them into X10 appliance modules so that you can turn them on and off from a script on the computer. Follow these steps to connect the appliance modules:

  1. Set the house code of the appliance modules to N. If you're already using a different house code, feel free to set it to that code, but you'll then need to edit the Perl script.

  2. Set the unit code of the appliance module to 3 (or any other unit code). Make note of which unit code you use in which room.

  3. Plug in one appliance module near your computer and the other in your bedroom (or wherever you'll be listening to the computer audio). You'll be connecting two devices to the appliance module in your bedroom, so connect an extension cord or power strip to that module.

4.4.2. 2. Install speakers

You almost certainly have a spare set of speakers lying around somewhere—it doesn't matter how cheap they are. In fact, you don't even need two speakers—a single speaker will do just fine. The only requirement is that they have to turn on automatically when power is applied. If they have a "soft" power button that needs to be pressed each time you plug them in, they won't work with your X10 interface.

Position the speakers wherever you want them; I placed them on the floor under my bed, pointing directly up. Then, plug the power supply into the power strip that you connected to your X10 appliance module. Turn the speakers on and adjust the volume to a moderate level (unless you like being shouted at in the morning).

4.4.3. 3. Install wireless audio

Now, connect the wireless transmitter to your computer's sound card. The Kima wireless audio set that I'm using included a pass-through for a local set of speakers, so all I needed to do was unplug my desktop speakers, plug them into the Kima, and then plug the Kima into my sound card where the speakers had been connected. Plug the transmitter into the X10 appliance module—hopefully it'll turn on automatically, like my Kima transmitter did. If it doesn't, turn it on manually, then unplug it and reconnect it to power. If it defaults to being off, you'll have to bypass the X10 appliance module and leave the transmitter turned on all the time.

Next, plug the wireless receiver into the power strip connected to the X10 appliance module, alongside your speakers (my setup is shown in Figure 4-6). Turn on the receiver and speakers. And that should do it—you are now ready to test out the wireless audio by making a sound on your computer. Open a terminal and execute the command:

	C:\homehacking\ReadWeather\Say Slashdot rules my life

Figure 4-6. Speakers dug up from the basement, and a wireless receiver.

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