Patio Entertainment

This project started out as a way to get Wi-Fi coverage on our patio, which is situated at the far end of our garden. It also re-uses some of the things we put in place for our garden lighting.

Network Connectivity

The network connectivity is based on using either an Ethernet Cat5e cable or a Ethernet over fibre link. This needs to be run in a conduit from the house to the patio area. It is possible to do this in a length of hosepipe, to protect the cable. You can also get Ethernet cable that is designed for outdoor use.

Do not run the Ethernet cable in the same conduit as your mains power cable. This will lower the network performance.

BT Home Hub 3

BT Home Hub 3
As amazingly useful as Wi-Fi is, we are not the biggest fans of this technology and avoid it when ever possible. For mobile devices like tablets and Smartphones, you don't have any real alternative though and so we looked at ways of extending Wi-Fi coverage across the whole of our garden.

We happened to have an 'old' BT Home Hub 3 lying around unused and this device can be configured to work as a secondary wireless access point and also then works as a 3-port switch.

We have written a configuration guide (Microsoft Word document) that describes how to configure the Home Hub 3.

A quick speed test using an iPhone 5 app shows measured speeds of around 20Mbps down and 7.5Mbps uplink whilst sitting on my patio at the far end of the garden. This compares well with a wired test of our BT Infinity line, which had speeds of 37Mbps down and 8.3Mbps up. Bearing in mind that the iPhone hardware is the main limiting factor, this will do!

Power

Mains Power

In our view, the best approach is to run armor-plated mains cable to a suitable point at the end of your garden and this is what we have also done.

Consumer unit
You can plug the 'house' end into a power socket but, a better long term solution is to get a qualified electrician to connect this into your main power distribution board or consumer unit, with its own circuit breaker and isolation switch. This is the route we have taken and our consumer unit is located in our integral garage.

MK IP66 rated dual power socket
We have run the armor-plated cable to the far end of garden and up a brick wall. We have then mounted this MK IP66-rated (total dust ingress protection and protection against high-pressure water jets from any direction) dual power sockets on the wall.

Having mains power provides full flexibility in terms of devices and appliances that can be used on the patio. It also gives you the option to user power line communication to get Internet access.

12V Power

We have already run a 12V dc power supply to our patio for lighting and this is provided by solar charged battery store in our shed.

Music

One thing we also wanted on our patio was some high-quality audio. We have used existing (portable) Hi-Fi speakers but, it is possible to permanently mount waterproof speakers or use external speakers to achieve the same thing.

12V audio amplifier
This remarkable little amplifier was bought on Amazon for £8.30 delivered! The sound is really very good and it works extremely well from either a 12V battery or plug-in PSU.

Rear of amplifier
The amplifier has connections for stereo speaker rated 8 to 16 Ω. It has a stereo 3.5mm jack input and also stereo phono inputs.

Wireless Music

Logitech Bluetooth adapter
We are using the Logitech Bluetooth speaker adapter (Model Number: S-00113) to connect Smartphones and tablets wirelessly for music. This device takes a 5V dc power supply, so we have built a small voltage regulator circuit board to enable it to be powered off a shared 12V dc power supply. We have also written a review.

Speakers

Kenwood speaker
We have an old pair of Kenwood Hi-Fi speaker that we use in the garden.

Summary

At the start of this project, we just had some garden lighting and 12V power extended to the patio at the end of our garden. We now have full, high-speed wired and wireless Internet throughout our garden, along with the ability to play music from connected device and wirelessly over Bluetooth.

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