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- August 2003 -
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Upgrading Your PHAST/AMX Landmark Automation System
by David Teel
Co-founder Avenida Network

Remember that upgrading anything means additional costs. The benefits of upgrading your Landmark system might be hard to measure in dollars, but the results from such a transplant have always seemed to bring new life to our customers and the homes in which they live.


Just as many upgrade their personal computers in search of more memory, faster processing and access to the latest software applications, you might be looking to do the same to your home automation system.

When the first PHAST (now AMX) Landmark systems were installed, they were considered the new generation in home automation. CAT5 wiring topology, hubs, networked keypads, audio switchers and amplifiers, the Landmark system extended the possibilities of residential control systems.

Six years later, AMX's dealers are providing the perfect upgrade path for Landmark home automation systems, replacing the CF10 central controller with the more powerful AMX Netlinx processor. Systems for upgrade consideration are:

  • those requiring remote network access and tech support
  • those interested in the array of AMX internet Inside applications
  • typically the larger home automation projects controlling house music, lighting, hvac, security, a home theater and other sub systems.

The Upgrade Path: Equipment and Software

Homeowners need to study the costs vs. benefits of upgrading any technology system in their house. The hardware costs of upgrading a Landmark system can be minimal (only the CF10 card frame, TCC (IR) boxes, CF2 mini-card frames, older Relay boxes and SAM modules need to be replaced), depending on the size of the system. PHAST audio and video switchers, amplifiers, DMS and IMS keypads, RF and IR boxes, touch panels and older MLC lighting systems can all remain in place. An integrated Netlinx controller will take care of most, if not all of the control needs previously managed by the Landmark CF10 card frame, depending on how many and what type of cards are in your current system.

The important cost in upgrading your PHAST Landmark system will be software related - the reprogramming of your home automation system. This is the moment to voice any desires to change anything you dislike about the functionality in your current system - since it will be re-programmed anyway. This is the moment to push the programming possibilities to the limits (warning: only to be attempted by experienced top-level Netlinx programmers), as the Netlinx programming software allows programmers to better manipulate any device in the system. Of course, the more desires you have for extravagant macros, complex algorithms and a system which can which can check the status of your horoscope before selecting the appropriate background music for your house. . . the more you will pay your friendly Netlinx programmer.

Other Additions, Thoughts, and Flashing Lights

As we have been trotting across the country, upgrading large PHAST Landmark systems, we have made a few discoveries - things you might want to consider as you plan your upgrade project:

* The AMX IR receiver + Pronto: While the PHAST IR remote has been obsolete for some time, an AMX IR receiver with a programmable Philips Pronto loaded with AMX IR codes will allow you to control a local theater, lighting, music and even security cameras. You need to have a dedicated Axlink wire for the AMX IR receiver; a home run of CAT5 will work fine.

* The AMX AXB-DTMF+ box: The PHAST DTMF card only allowed for caller ID on your DMS and IMS keypads. AMX's Axlink DTMF+ box allows for caller ID on your DMS and IMS keypads, as well as on your touch panels. Further, it can be programmed to allow for remote phone control of some basic house functions. Call up your house and open the gate before you arrive, turn on the house lights or activate a welcome mode. Secret here is to limit the number of functions - keep it simple.

* The AXD-CP4/A touch panel: Tilt version or in-wall, we have been asked on numerous occasions to install these smaller, cost-effective, 4-inch color touch panels to provide more advanced control in such hot spots as the master bedroom, master bathroom, kitchen and entry. If you have an existing CAT5 (home run, with no daisy chains) to a previous DMS or IMS keypad location, your life just got more exciting (doesn't take much in our industry to get excited). The tilt versions look great on his and her nightstands and prevent further marital disputes.

* Turn your PC into a control center: Your home personal computers can sit on the network and actually become control centers - less expensive than touch panels, but giving you advanced home control from your office, a bedroom or the kitchen PC. A small program resides on your PC, allowing you to view HTML automation pages, and at the click of a mouse, take control.

* Remote tech support access: While we love upgrading Landmark systems around the country, we don't necessarily like visiting our customers on multiple occasions throughout the year (well, except for those holidays where they invite us to be a part of their traditional feasts). Ask your programmer to take a look at your current home PC network configuration to see how remote system access is possible. Future changes or fixes to your system could be as easy as dialing for Pizza. OK, maybe not that easy, but we have managed to access systems thousands of miles away and make the requested changes without bothering the homeowner.

Remember that upgrading anything means additional costs. The benefits of upgrading your Landmark system might be hard to measure in dollars, but the results from such a transplant have always seemed to bring new life to our customers and the homes in which they live.

Any questions about upgrading your PHAST Landmark system, interpreting your horoscope or ordering pizza, please contact David Teel, Co-founder of Avenida Network at david@avenida.us or visit his company's web site at www.avenida.us

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