Tag: Smart Home

AmpliFi Mesh Wi-Fi System For Your Home

In this blog post we look at AmpliFi Wi-Fi from Ubiquiti and how it can help solve your home Wi-Fi troubles.

The Problem:

Most households use just their ISP provided router to serve Wi-Fi around their home.  And as a result often suffer poor performance, slow speeds and black spots.

The main problem is that the routers supplied by internet service providers are cheap.  They are designed to cater for the masses whilst maintaining the lowest possible cost to the provider. It’s fair to say that this means they are usually not the best especially when it comes to Wi-Fi. We have found that they usually struggle to provide a decent wireless service to even a modest UK home, let alone a larger home. Problems are not always immediately present or obvious.

Sometimes they present themselves as blackspots within the home where reception of Wi-Fi is simply impossible.  But more often than not the problems are much more subtle and intermittent.  Problems such as slow connection speeds, buffering of audio or video streams, connections dropping out etc are all very commonplace.  Often people just accept it as normal.  However it’s usually a very easy thing to correct by using better performing equipment.


The Answer – AmpliFi:


AmpliFi from Ubiquiti

This is where the likes of Ubiquiti’s new Amplifi mesh Wi-Fi system come in.  Designed for incredible ease of use allowing end user to install and set up in minutes.

We have lots of experience with Ubiquiti products and have been installing their enterprise class Wi-Fi solutions for years.  This however opens up professional Wi-Fi services to the masses by making it really easy to self install.

AmpliFi Router

The AmpliFi Wi-Fi Controller/Router


Being a mesh system means that each part of the system is capable of relaying it’s connection via any other part of the system.  So for example if you purchase the three device pack with a router and two Wi-Fi extenders and the second extender is out of range of the router. The Wi-Fi passes to the second extender via the first extender.


AmpliFi Mesh Multi-hop

AmpliFi Mesh Multi-hop Example


The AmpliFi system is capable of all modern Wi-Fi standards including the latest 802.11AC and has a maximum speed of 1750Mb/s.

Setting up the system is incredibly easy.  The main router can be set-up via a smartphone app, or it’s built in touchscreen display.  The extenders are simply plugged into a mains socket around the home.

The router unit also has ethernet ports built in to connect local wired devices such as printers, computers or games consoles.

AmpliFi Router Rear

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Rear view


In summary, if you are one of the many that suffers endless problems and niggles with your home Wi-Fi service, you need to install the new Ubiquiti AmpliFi system!

For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200

Introduction to Control4

Control4 EA Series Controllers

If you like the idea of a control system for your home and would like to know more about what is available from Control4, then please read on . . . . . . .

The heart of any Smart Home System will be the controller. This is the brain that receives instructions or inputs and causes things to happen depending on how it is programmed.

Typical inputs to a controller can be:

  • Touch panel, either wireless or wall mounted
  • Keypad. A wall mounted light switch size panel with configurable buttons
  • Mobile device such as a phone or tablet
  • A dedicated hand held remote similar to a TV remote control
  • Remote switches, door contacts or alarm inputs etc.

The controller can control:

  • Well, just about anything that is electrically powered!

Controller Line-up

Control4 EA Series Controllers

Control4 EA Series Controllers


The current line-up of Control4 controllers consists of the EA1, EA3 and EA5. EA stands for Entertainment Automation controller and the number represents the number of concurrent audio streams it can serve. All controllers have a number of control inputs and outputs consisting of relays, contacts and infra-red, the latter being used to control TV’s etc. In addition they all have wired and wireless network connections.

Some Control4 devices communicate with their controller using a wireless mesh network called Zigbee. The ‘mesh’ is a system that passes commands from one device to another if there is no direct connection between the device and the controller. This is a really useful feature particularly in large installations.

Bespoke firmware called Director runs on the controller. We then use a program called Composer to configure and program the system to do exactly what you want.

Examples of Control4 applications

A very simple installation could consist of an EA1 connected to a TV, surround sound audio video receiver and a satellite receiver. Therefore, with just one button push, the TV, AV receiver and Satellite receiver will turn on in the correct sequence and your favourite channel will appear at the appropriate volume.

What more could you want?

For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200

Smart Home Technology And Fire Safety

Smart Home Technology And Safety

With the recent terrible tragedy in London where a fire ripped through a block of flats. It got us thinking about how the smart home technology we install can help with home safety.

Fire call point for Smart Homes

A traditional fire alarm call point


Sound Designs Ltd has installed smart home technology and audio visual systems in residential homes since 2005. And while early systems tended to focus mainly on the entertainment aspect of home life. More modern systems are much more capable and are able to carryout a much wider range of functions.

In fact even what we would class as low level smart home technology can have some really nice safety features.

For example the Nest range of products, if you combine their intelligent heating control with their smoke detectors they are able to interact and prevent the boiler from firing in the event of a smoke alarm activation.

This is a really simple form of interaction but if a boiler developed a fault. This simple interaction could have an incredibly effective influence on the course of events and possibly save lives.


nest thermostat for Smart Homes    Nest Smoke alarm for Smart Homes


Home Automation In Current Times

As mentioned, historically a smart home system has mainly focused on AV (Audio visual) equipment as a way of creating a convenient and high performing entertainment system for the home.

However the custom install industry has increasingly expanded into other elements of technology and home life. We have been a part of this over the last 12 years, installing ever more capable and intelligent systems.

We would be the first to admit that there have been painful periods where systems try to be too intelligent and don’t end up doing as good a job as perhaps the manufacturers portrayed. At times emerging technology has caught out the whole industry (The introduction of HDMI signals springs to mind!).

But now we are in a time where smart home technology has never been better, it’s more reliable, more powerful and manufacturers are much more open to collaboration of products making interactivity much easier to achieve.

So how does this help with home safety?

When it’s easier to make different systems interact with each other, it opens up the possibility to do some very clever things.


Give Me An Example?

An example of this is a residential smart home system recently completed by us in Notting Hill, London. Due to the size of the property it required a full fire alarm system.

We installed a system that handled all of the home AV, lighting, heating and air conditioning. We were able to quite easily create a link between the fire alarm and our smart home system.

Upon fire alarm activation, the home cinema system automatically muted itself. In addition to this escape route lighting lit up all stairways and corridors which provided the safest exit possible. The last aspect of the interaction was to prevent boilers from firing.


Can It Do More?

The interaction on this project could have gone much further but the client decided to restrict it to the above. However we could have had the gates open up to give clear access for the fire brigade. Shut down air handling equipment to limit the amount of fresh oxygen entering the property. Light up further parts of the property and even contact key holders etc etc.

The possibilities are simply huge when you have a solid host system that is capable of linking together all of the systems of the home.

While disaster will never be stopped, it’s refreshing to know that it’s possible to make a real difference to peoples safety by implementing technology to take practical steps in the event of an emergency.


Sound Designs Ltd have been installing smart home systems and audio visual technology for residential and commercial clients since 2005. We are based in Northamptonshire but work all over the UK providing practical and high performing installations all designed specifically for each application.

For any enquiries please don’t hesitate to contact us either through the contact page or call us on 01604 211200