Introducing Maximum PC Lab North


Introducing Maximum PC Lab North


As in many homes, our activities frequently revolve around the kitchen, so I asked Greg to integrate a desk and file cabinets into the kitchen cabinets. I put an HP IQ775 TouchSmart PC on the desk (the successor to the IQ770 I reviewed last year). We using a saddle stool instead of an office chair because we can tuck it away to regain floor space when we're not using it.

If I had this to do over, I would have had Greg figure out some way of hiding the surge suppressor and the cables; maybe a false panel in the back?

I absolutely love having a PC in the kitchen. Family members can check email and surf the web without having to skulk off to a bedroom or the home office. The machine has a built-in TV tuner, too, which is connected to the second tuner in our satellite set-top box in the media room. The TouchSmart also acts as a server for the Logitech WiLife video-surveillance system we have installed. This machine gets more use than any other computer in the house.

You can never have enough USB ports, and since I needed to drill a hole in the desktop to route the cables through anyway (the desk is attached to the wall), Belkin's powered four-port In-Desk USB Hub (left) was the perfect solution.

I installed Intermatic's InTouch CA600 dimmers (for incandescent ceiling cans), CA3000 switches (for fluorescent ceiling cans and ceiling fans), and CA3500 receptacles throughout the house (right). The InTouch devices use Z-Wave technology, which enables me to control all the lighting remotely and to monitor the status of the lights from anywhere I have Internet access. I also have several CA5000 multi-button scene controllers in the house, which allow me to store and recall multiple lighting scenes for different rooms. The one drawback to the InTouch products is that the dimples don't match the conventional Decora faces. Intermatic started offering Decora-style faces after our construction was already finished.


This is what the WiLife Command Center looks like running on the host PC, but you can also monitor all of your surveillance cameras from the Web with a remote PC or a smartphone.

Logitech's WiLife outdoor security cameras are weatherized, so they don't need expensive enclosures. They use power-line networking technology, so they need only be plugged into a receptacle to work. John suggested cutting the plugs off and hardwiring them inside weatherized in-wall electrical boxes, and the results look so much better than the typical bubble enclosures would. But when I told Logitech what we'd done, they politely pointed out that we'd just voided the warranty on the product. D'oh! Do not follow our example.

Page 1: Introduction 

Page 2: The Media Room

Page 3: The Media Room: Wiring and Video

Page 4: The Media Room: Audio

Page 5: The Home Office and the Home Run

Page 6: The Kitchen and the Video Surveillance System 

Page 7: The Garage

Page 8: The Solar Power System




+ Add a Comment


I'm currently remodeling my home and would love to have more info on the Z-Wave stuff you selected, how you configured it, etc.



I was also interested in more about lighting control and more information on Z-wave. I was planning on starting to do my home automation and was reading about Z-wave. Maybe another section added to the forums on this topic would be great for ppl to reply back with ideas and feedback.

Good article and very interesting.



Great stuff! Thanks for writing this up and walking us through your experience.

Did you hook up your HVAC to z-wave functionality? I'm curious to know more info on what you decided to do in this area...




Interesting stuff you got going on there. I see that you're using a piece of carpetting to help dampen speaker vibration on the pull out trays. Not too many people think of doing that. I use a small piece of cork between my speakers and the carpetting to help deaden the noise from the woofers so that I don't disturb my neighbors below.

- mike_art03a
IT Technician
Gov't of Canada



I think I'm drooling. Someone slap me.



So when's the PC lab north BBQ and music festival???? I'm there!

There's no time like the future.



that is a absolutely stuningly tech out home good job!



you sure went to lengths to make this house tech-ed out!

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