When Luxury Yachting Meets Pro AV

Challenge: Install $300,000 worth of residential AV equipment in the scarce storage space of a 94-foot yacht built and wired in Taiwan.
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When Luxury Yachting Meets Pro AV

Challenge: Install $300,000 worth of residential AV equipment in the scarce storage space of a 94-foot yacht built and wired in Taiwan.

The salon is the main entertainment hub of the Endless Summer II, with a plasma flat-panel on an automated lift and complete Crestron control.

Credit: M. Loren Hernandez/Digital Diversity

CHALLENGE: Install $300,000 worth of residential AV equipment in the scarce storage space of a 94-foot yacht built and wired in Taiwan.


SOLUTION: Utilize the pilot house headliner for a racking unit and color-code the wires to overcome the language barrier.

PLENTY OF HOMES HAVE $300,000 AV systems, but few of these homes float. About five years ago, Tom Farinola of Costa Mesa, Calif.–based Atlantic Stereo met First Capital CEO Bob Haggstrom when he was hired to do some technical upgrades to Haggstrom's home control system. Haggstrom was so pleased with the results that he called on Farinola to install upgrades on his yacht, the Endless Summer I, and again in 2005 to install a similar home control system on his new 94-foot yacht, the Endless Summer II. But getting a system designed for a home to function on a boat wasn't easy.

Haggstrom wanted a Crestron integration system because he was happy with the one Farinola installed on the Endless Summer I. As a music lover, Haggstrom also knew he wanted a better sound system than the standard system found on most boats, plus he wanted enough “toys” and gadgets that his guests would have access to multiple means of entertainment. These extras would required much more power than the default technology needed — as well as more space. Such requests would be a piece of cake for a home installation, but a boat offers little wiggle room as far as custom measurements.

TIGHT SPACES

The yacht's upper deck, one of three, mostly consists of the fly bridge (the outdoor area where the captain steers the boat) and a whirlpool. The main deck has two more outdoor areas plus the salon, the galley kitchen, and the pilot house. Five bedrooms are on the lower deck along with the engine room. There is very little storage space on each deck and, because the structure is wood, the wiring and much of the equipment had to be installed as the boat was being built in Taiwan by Paragon Motor Yachts.

POWER PLANT

With so much equipment on board, a major concern was supplying enough energy to support the system's 8,000 watts of power. According to installer Tom Farinola, a boat uses three kinds of power: shore power when it's docked, inverter power when it's in motion, and generator power when it's anchored. Shore and inverter power pose few issues, with inverter being the cleanest and most desired of all the power sources. Generator power is less stable, but it's more efficient and less costly to run than inverter. The main problem lies in when a boat changes power sources or the power source fluctuates. “When the power dips below certain ratings the equipment will shut off,” says Farinola. His solution to maintain a consistent power source was to use an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) battery as backup.

Farinola's original battery choice was unsuccessful. Ideally, the battery should only activate when needed, but this one never shut off. “It would just keep on working until finally it just ran out of gas and then it wouldn't come back on,” says Farinola. He called APC and explained the problem. They shipped two of their Smart-UPS 1500VA USB and Serial RM 2U 120V battery backup systems. “When the power drops or goes off momentarily, the battery backup kicks in, keeping the equipment on all the time.” Once another power sources kicks in, the Smart-UPS uses the active source to recharge itself.

“The biggest problem of putting systems like this on a boat is space,” Farinola admits. Had he had more time, Farinola would have racked the gear in the engine room, but the boat was already in the building stage and the engine room was already complete when he got the job from Haggstrom. Instead, he looked to a little-used storage space between the pilot house and the upper deck called the headliner. The 2-foot-high space was too small for Middle Atlantic's standard racks, so Farinola and his team customized eight Middle Atlantic Slim 5 S-14s to fit side by side and across from each other. No bigger than a crawl space, there isn't room to swivel or pull out the equipment for servicing, so they installed all of the racked equipment with the backs of the products facing toward the central hatch entry for easier access. “This is one of a kind. It's never been done before,” says Farinola. To support the 400 pounds of racked equipment, Paragon had to reinforce the ceiling of the main deck.

PLANNING AHEAD

Salt water and humidity are major concerns for electronics on a boat, so Paragon also customized the headliner by sealing a standard vent to keep moisture out. Controlling the temperature are six Middle Atlantic FC4-1C thermally controlled exhaust fan systems. Additionally, Farinola used all stainless-steel screws in the racks and siliconed all of the equipment in an effort to prevent rust and salt-water damage, but was unable to do little else. “Every six months, we check all the connections, clean the connections, and make sure the salt doesn't build up, because salt build-up can short something out,” Farinola says.

COLORFUL COMMUNICATION

Because the wiring and equipment had to be installed as the boat was being built in Taiwan, Xeven Zorza of ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group used product images and color-coding in the blueprint documents to illustrate where the wiring and equipment should go.

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Because the wiring and equipment had to be installed as the boat was being built in Taiwan, Xeven Zorza of ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group used product images and color-coding in the blueprint documents to illustrate where the wiring and equipment should go.

Credit: Schematics: Courtesy Architechknowlogy Design Group

The wiring was also done in Taiwan, which gave Farinola about two weeks to design the system and ship the gear halfway around the world. Due to the time constraints and size of the project, he called on Xeven Zorza of ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group, who works with firms across the country, to design and document the blueprints. Paragon needed the wires to be shielded, so Zorza took this opportunity to color-code them by type: red/yellow for Cat-5e control cables, dark blue for 16/4 loudspeaker cables, etc. On the blueprint, he indicated which wire each color represented and illustrated the racked products in detail to ensure minimal confusion despite the language barrier (see illustration above).

According to Zorza, coordination between the people and companies on the project took some effort, particularly with the boat builder in Taiwan. “The distance of 10,000 miles creates an interesting hiccup in communicating, [because there was] an eight-hour time difference,” says Zorza. “The boat builder, project

POINT AND CLICK

For more information about the companies and products mentioned in "All Aboard," please visit the company Web sites.

Active Thermal Management
APC
ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group
Atlantic Stereo
Audio Control
Crestron
DirecTV
Dynaudio
Extron
Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Displays
Furman
Kaleidescape
Krell
Leviton
Linksys
Marantz
Microsoft
Middle Atlantic Products
Panamax
Paragon Motor Yachts
Roku
Sharp
Sonance
Spaun
Sunfire
Synergistic Research
Xantech
Zektor

manager, and I spent hours up really late or up really early to communicate.” Once the wires and plans were shipped, Farinola subcontracted a team of Mandarin-speaking integrators who traveled to Taiwan twice to oversee the installation.

When the boat was complete, it sailed to its new home in Newport Beach, Calif., where Atlantic Stereo spent an additional 200 hours testing and fine-tuning the wiring before they installed the remaining equipment. They were happy with manufacturer's work, with the exception of an overlooked page of blueprints. Fortunately, the installers had no problem retrofitting the dozen missed cables.

A WORLD OF ENTERTAINMENT

The tech room in the headliner contains sources for the boat's 16 AV zones. On one side of the central hatch are two Extron VSC-500 VGA-to-component down converters; a Crestron CNX-PAD8A eight-zone/eight-source audio distribution processor; a Crestron CNX-BIPAD8A eight-zone/16-source Cat-5 audio distribution processor; a Crestron AV2 for lighting, video, blinds, telephone, security, and HVAC control; and a Crestron C2N-TXM for XM and Sirius satellite radio control; among others.

On the other side are three DirecTV U.S. satellite receivers and three DirecTV Mexican satellite receivers as well as a Kaleidescape System 3000 with a 5-terabyte hard drive that, Farinola says, holds up to 2,000 DVDs. The Kaleidescape also includes a four-zone CD player that's accessible from any television and loudspeaker on the yacht.

Farinola installed a Sonance A800DR in-ceiling subwoofer on the outdoor aft deck, because “they're the only ones that made one that I could put in the ceiling that was weatherproof,” plus he used Sonance Extreme XSSTR weatherproof 6.5-inch full-range in-ceiling loudspeakers and Crestron WPR-48 water-resistant RF remote controls on the upper and forward decks.

Full Equipment List

All the products used in the AV installation on the Endless Summer II.

BrandQuantity        Model

Active Thermal Management                   1          Cool Vent III Thermally Controlled Exhaust Fan

 APC                                                     2          Smart-UPS SUA 1500 RM 2U Battery

 Audio Control                                       2          Architect 560 Amplifier

 Crestron                                              1          8x8 PVID8X4 Matrix Video Switcher

                                                           1          AV2 Dual Bus Control System

                                                           1          BB-17 Wall-Mount Back Box

                                                           2          C2COM-3 Com Card

                                                           1          C2ENET-1 Ethernet Card

                                                           1          C2N-TXM Satellite Radio Tuner

                                                           1          CAGE2 3-Card Expansion Cage

                                                           1          CEN-IPOD iPod Interface Module

                                                           4          CNPWS-75 External Power Supply

                                                           4          CNRFGWA-418 RF Gateway

                                                           1          CN-TBLOCK CresNet Distribution Block

                                                           1          CNX-BIPAD8A 8x16 Cat-5 Audio Dist. Processor

                                                           1          CNX-PAD8A 8x8 Cat-5 Audio Dist. Processor

                                                           4          CNX-RMAK Rack Mount Units

                                                           1          CNXRMC Rm. Control and Cat-5e Video Receiver

                                                           6          CNXRMCLV Rm. Control, Bi-Directional Cat-5 AV

                                                           1          ColorTouch BW2 2-Button Keypad

                                                           5          MT-1000 Mini Touch Universal RF Touch Remote

                                                           4          ST-BTN Engraving for 10 Buttons

                                                           6          ST-BTPN Battery

                                                           2          ST-PC Power Controller

                                                           2          ST-RMK Rack Mount Ears

                                                           2          STX-1700CXP 2-Way Active Matrix 2.4 GHz RF     

                                                           1          TPMC-17-CH-L Isys i/O 17-inch Wall-Mount Panel

                                                           2          TPS-2000 2-Way AV Color Wall-Mount Panel

                                                           1          TPS-RFGWX RF Gateway

                                                           2          WPR-48 Water Resistant RF Remote Control

DirecTV                                                3          Canadian Satellite Receiver

                                                           3          HD Satellite Receiver with TiVo

 Dynaudio                                             3          IP-24 Flush-Mounted Loudspeaker

 Extron                                                 2          VSC-500 VGA to Component Down Converter

Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Displays               1          P42XTA51US 42-inch HD Plasma Monitor

                                                           1          P55XHA51US 55-inch HD Plasma Monitor

 Furman                                               7          AC-215 Line Conditioner

Kaleidescape                                        1          KCD CD/DVD Reader/Burner

                                                           3          KPlayer Movie Server Player

                                                           1          KReader DVD Reader

                                                           1          System 3000 Movie Server

 Krell                                                    1          Home Theater Standard 7.1

 Leviton                                        Unknown      GigaMax Cat-5e Cabling System

 Linksys                                                1          SD2008 Workgroup Switch

 Marantz                                               1          DV-9500 Universal DVD Player

                                                           1          SR-5600

                                                           2          VQ2400 Video Up Converter

 Microsoft                                             5          X-Box Game Console with HD Component Video-Digital Audio Output

 Middle Atlantic                                      6          FC4-1CThermally Controlled Exhaust Fan

                                                    Unknown      Rack Accessories

                                                           11        RSH-4A Custom Face Plates

                                                           7          Slim 5 S-14 Rack Mount System

                                                           1          SRS4-20 Rack Mount System

 Panamax                                             1          Max-5410 Pro Series Power Surge Protector

 Roku                                                   1          HD1000 Media Manager for Digital Photo Viewing

 Sharp                                                  5          LC-20D30U 20-inch Flat-Panel LCD Monitor

 Sonance                                              1          A800DR In-Ceiling Subwoofer

                                                           11        Symphony Extreme XSSTR Weatherproof 6 1/2-inch Ceiling Loudspeakers

                                                           2          Symphony Extreme XTR Weatherproof 6 1/2-inch In-Ceiling Loudspeakers

                                                           4          Symphony S622TR 6-inch In-Ceiling Flush-Mounted Loudspeakers

                                                           8          Symphony S623TR 6-inch Flush- Mounted Loudspeakers

                                                           4          Symphony S625TR 6-inch Flush- Mounted Loudspeakers

 Spaun                                                 1          Multi-Sat Switch

 Sunfire                                                1          Cinema Seven Power Amplifier

                                                           1          True Subwoofer EQ

 Synergistic Research                      Unknown      Interconnects

 Xantech                                        Unknown      Infrared Devices

 Zektor                                               1          HDS4.2  Expansion Switcher

Because the wiring and equipment had to be installed as the boat was being built in Taiwan, Xeven Zorza of ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group used product images and color-coding in the blueprint documents to illustrate where the wiring and equipment should go.

The bedrooms have a Sharp LC20D30U 20-inch LCD monitor, a pair of Sonance Symphony S623TR in-ceiling 6-inch flush-mounted loudspeakers, a Microsoft X-box for gaming and watching DVDs uploaded to the Kaleidescape server, and a Crestron CNXRMC/LV room control and Cat-5e video receiver with a Crestron MT-1000 mini touch universal RF remote. The X-boxes are networked so guests can play against each other. The master suite, however, has its own special features that includes a Fujitsu 42-inch high-resolution plasma TV. A Crestron STX-1700CXP touch-screen universal RF remote controls it all. The master suite's bathroom also has Sonance Extreme XSSTR loudspeakers and a Crestron TPS-2000 two-way AV color wall-mount touch-panel control screen.

The salon showcases some of the owner's favorite technology, such as an iPod dock and a Fujitsu 55-inch HD plasma TV that rises and lowers on a lift. But it also has such “necessities” as a Sunfire Cinema Seven power amplifier, a Sunfire True Subwoofer EQ 2,700-watt powered sub-woofer, and three Dynaudio IP-24 flush-mounted loudspeakers. Nearby, a Crestron STX-1700CXP 17-inch touch-screen control panel gives the user complete control over the boat's entire AV system.

With the exception of two built-in control panels, nearly everything on the yacht is wireless. Farinola tried using the Crestron 8x Wi-Fi remote in the salon, but its function was inconsistent because the boat's navigational radar caused too much interference. In the end, he reverted to Crestron's STX-1700CXP 2.4 GHz RF remote.

CASTING OFF

The Endless Summer II was finished by January 2007 and has gained well-deserved attention within the boat show circuit.“From an audiovisual standpoint, it's one of the most talked about boats ever that's under 100 feet,” Farinola says. Haggstrom plans to charter the boat when he's not using it, but in the meantime he enjoys sailing his friends and family along the Mexican and Californian coasts.

While Farinola worked on boats previously, the Endless Summer II was Zorza's first marine experience. “This was actually my first boat design. It was really a challenge,” he said. “It was the challenge of getting this equipment to fit in tight locations and make the drawings easy to understand. It was just a fun project to do. Something new and unique.”

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