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London’s Apple Building Fitted Out by Ugot – Part 2

Show 151, Part 2

SVC Podcast – Show Notes – Show 151-2

In this edition of the SVC Podcast, SVC Contributing Editor Bennett Liles resumes his talk with Bryan Vint of Ugot Simple Home Control about the installation of a complete AV, lighting and access control system in London’s famous Apple Building, site of the Beatles’ Apple Boutique in the late ‘60’s. Bryan discusses the Elan S86A controller, the in-wall touch panels, the Rako lighting system and the challenge of having to complete the individual apartment installations while working around renovation construction.

For Part 1

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From Sound & Video Contractor Magazine, this is the SVC Podcast with Bryan Vint of Ugot Simple Home Control. Show notes for the podcast are on the web site of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at

The famous Apple Building, once the site of the Beatles Boutique, is now home to luxury apartments with environmental, AV and lighting control. Bryan Vint is back with us from London to provide some more technical details on how, Ugot Simple Home Control installed the Elan home control system and the Rako lighting, coming right up on the SVC Podcast.

Bryan thanks for being back with us from London on the SVC Podcast and we’re talking about the Apple Building downtown there and a complete re-fit of what are now luxury apartments there with Elan systems in particular that you installed. What did you use for the main controller of the audio and video on this thing? You mentioned it briefly in Part 1.

Yeah. We used the Elan HC-4, which is one of the basic controllers that Elan was offering at the time that we did this project. And that integrated with the S86A across three of the four apartments and the show home at the M86A. [Timestamp: 1:26]

For sound control in each apartment are there different zones such as each room being a different zone?

Yeah, absolutely. We had a living area, which was the key area of each apartment. That included the dining area and the kitchen, so that was quite interesting working at how we would do the sound in there without it completely flooding the entire – it’s a decent-sized space, but obviously you need to think about demarcation of sound. Then there was the master bedroom and on suite and then there was bedroom two. Both bedrooms had both audio and video distribution as did the on suite with a waterproof TV that we discussed earlier on. [Timestamp: 2:04]

Yeah, and the Elan S86A controller was included on this and I think that all of the components in this Elan system communicate on Ethernet.

So the HC4 obviously connects to each item and we can control various things through Ethernet. It will also do 232, as you know, and IR so there’s lots of different ways, depending on what the capabilities and requirements of the unit that we’re connecting to, we’ll mix and match to make sure everything can work and is robust. [Timestamp: 2:32]

How did you decide on the locations for the Elan in-wall touch panels? Obviously, the placement on those is critical. A foot or two the wrong way and it gets to be inconvenient for the client.

Absolutely. We’re always keen with our projects to make sure we have a remote access remote control system. So in this case there was iPads designed to be available as well. But the position of the touch screens, we looked at the flow through the walkthrough of the properties and how people were likely to live in there and we decided that the most likely or most suitable position was just in the kitchen area of the main living area because this is likely – I don’t know what it’s like for you guys in the states, but over here we’re seeing much more open-plan living where you have the kitchen and the dining area and the family area all tending to be much more the one space now and that become the hub of the property. And so that’s where the most sensible place was to put the system or the touch screen. [Timestamp: 3:31]

And on the touch screens, what particular models were these? Were they all the same one?

No. It was a TS7 that we put into the main area – and I think it was just the TS7 from memory – and then the Android or the IOS tablet would be used for remote control in other rooms.

Right and those are being integrated in systems just about everywhere now so they can carry their controller around with them.

Precisely; yeah.

So what was the most challenging aspect to this? Was it the timeline or just the fact that you had to jump around and come back to various places and do it out of order?

I think it was doing everything out of order and having to do that in central London as well because obviously with other projects going on it becomes quite awkward to move projects around. Projects always move, but when it becomes bits and pieces that you need to go back for, it can be quite awkward and so that’s probably the biggest challenge we had. [Timestamp: 4:23]

How does the Rako lighting system work?

So with Rako they have various interfaces. In this case it was an IP interface with Elan, so literally the Elan can discover the Rako system and then we just need to program the Rako system to whatever scenes that are required, so actually a really straight-forward thing to do.

Okay, so they’re just physically connected and automatically recognize each other. You put in the specific drivers and then it just works.

Absolutely, right. We, in fact, mirror the button styles of the Rako on-wall keypad, the seven-button keypad they have with Scene 1, Scene 2, Scene 3, Scene 4, then an off button and a dim up and dim down. And we just mirror that onto the touch screens and onto the iPad or Android devices so it’s very intuitive for the homeowner. [Timestamp: 5:13]

And you mentioned before that one apartment was designated as the sort of “show” apartment for the big opening event. Was that one specially outfitted or was it equipped like the others?

It was specially outfitted. We put the HD distribution into that apartment. We also put in more sources, so there was, at the time, an iPod dock, there was a radio tuner that we put in there, and so on. So it had that extra level hopefully for people to aspire to so that they would put that into their apartments, but as I say as it was purchased by one buyer, that didn’t come to fruition. [Timestamp: 5:45]

Yeah, I was thinking of the bathrooms especially with the sound zones. Was anything special done in there because of all of the highly reflective surfaces?

The plan was to use various soft furnishings – floor coverings and so on – to reduce the sound reflection and soften the sound in there. We found that to our surprised when we first installed the system, that actually there was a good mid-range and a good bass level to the speakers. I say to our surprise. We had planned for that, but it was better than we expected it to be. And so by just adding a painting or two on the wall and some floor coverings it became quite a good sound area. [Timestamp: 6:21]

So you got all of this hooked up. What was involved in the testing of all of the environmental and AV systems?

With every system that we do, we do a top-to-bottom test on everything, so that’s literally from the door entry system – we look at what times the postman would like to come and obviously they need to be able to gain access, for example. We then text the interface with each different apartment. We then go onto the lighting control. We look at all the scenes. We were often will go back and do a reprogram of scenes later when people have had a chance to live on the property for a while because when you first move into a property you don’t know how you’re actually going to live in it. So we test all of the lighting. We make sure there’s no flickering, as there can be with LED’s, and sometimes we have to change the dimmers if the lighting specified is not actually the lighting that is installed. That can sometimes be an event for us. And then obviously we go through each part of the system, testing the audio in each room, setting the equalization of the speakers and so on as far as we can. And we test the video, check that the sources will work, and we retest and retest. And then we look at the buttons that we’ve created. Are they intuitive? Are there too many steps? We try and reduce everything down to make everything as simple as possible. And obviously IR, as a lot of your listeners will know, can be difficult to work with so we make sure that we thoroughly test the IR outside of things, so turning TV’s on and controlling skyboxes in the U.K. can be an interesting thing to do. [Timestamp: 7:57]

Yes, the infrared control can sometimes be interesting trying to make sure that when a device is supposed to be off it really is off and when it needs to be on, it’s not actually turning off.

Absolutely true. It’s really important because you can get callback after callback if you don’t test the systems and check that everything is as it should be. And driving into central London to literally move an IR eye on the front of a skybox is a waste of time, effort and money so we test things really carefully the first time. [Timestamp: 8:27]

So it sounds like this one’s up and running and everything worked properly so what’s coming up for Ugot Simple Home Control now? Any projects getting going after this one?

We’ve got an awful lot of projects on the go at the moment, actually. We’ve carried out different types, a number of homes in the U.K. We’re currently finishing another Elan project for this same developer just off Covent Garden in London, which is for apartments with a specification very similar, actually, to the Apple Apartments. And literally we’ve just finished that project now. Those apartments have been purchased by individuals and so we are doing an awful lot more for them. So for example there’s more CCTV going in, there is blind integration as in motorized blinds we’ve done for the penthouse apartment. I think they’ve got something like six or seven blinds in there, one covering a French window, so it’s actually a very large-scale blind and it’s completely blackout as well. It’s 99 percent blackout. So that’s been really good for us. We’re also installing a number of AV systems based on both Elan and other systems such as NuVo and Wyrestorm into a church which is being converted into nine luxury apartments near Winchester. We also have a project to install Elan into a show home for four £3 million homes also in Winchester, actually. And we’ve just completed some really interesting projects, one in Kent, which was a very large family home, with I think it was something like 130 Rako circuits of lighting, Elan in about 13 or 14 rooms, and three cinema, one dedicated to kind of living room cinema-style 5.1 systems. We’re now being asked, having been asked not to get involved with the CCTV and the heating control, we’re now being asked actually we really like this system, can we integrate everything else as well? And another project we’ve just finished is included a thumbprint door entry system as well as cinema and lighting and Elan in about, I think, eight rooms. They’re also talking to us now about outdoor television, outdoor entertainment areas with three televisions in the grounds, audio and so on all, again, controlled by Elan. [Timestamp: 10:50]

Well, that sounds like a lot so I know you guys are going to be busy with all of that and installing thumbprint ID and all the other things. Thanks for giving us all the details on this one. Bryan Vint with Ugot Simple Home Control and the complete outfitting of the new luxury apartments in London’s famous Apple Building. It’s been interesting hearing about this one. Thanks for getting with us all the way from London today.

My absolute pleasure. Thank you for inviting me.

Thank you for being here with us for the SVC Podcast with Bryan Vint. Show notes are on the website of Sound & Video Contractor Magazine at Join us again next week right here for the SVC Podcast.

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