Disclaimer: This is a review of the CEA-CompTIA DHTI+ Beta Exam (HT1-201) taken in December 2006. The information in this review may not be accurate with regards to the first release of the live DHTI+ exam, expected in March 2007.
The CEA-CompTIA DHTI+ (Digital Home Technology Integrator) certification validates the basic skills and knowledge required to configure, integrate, maintain, troubleshoot, and comprehend the basic design concepts of electronic (analog) and digital home systems. Such systems include home entertainment (computers, wired and wireless networks, media servers, DVD and HDTV), home security (telephone, alarm and monitoring systems), and home automation (heating, air conditioning, and appliances).
The CEA-CompTIA DHTI+ certification is positioned as a replacement for the existing CompTIA HTI+ certification, and as competition to the CEDIA home theater certifications. DHTI+ is more than an update to HTI+ exams; DHTI+ is targeted at people with 18-24 months of experience with electronic (analog) and digital home entertainment, security, and control systems. The DHTI+ exam itself contains a newer set of objectives than HTI+, covering technologies that have entered the home since the last release of the HTI+ exams in 2002. HTI+ exam objectives that are minimal or absent from the DHTI+ exam include: structured wiring design and installation, building codes, home lighting, HVAC management, and water systems controls.
In comparison, the CompTIA HTI+ is an entry-level certification comprised of two exams (HT0-101 and HT0-102), which also cover many of the same objectives as the DHTI+, but also includes objectives for installation, structure wiring concepts, building codes, and basic hand and tools skills. The target market for HTI+ certification seems to be building contractors with electrical, water, and HVAC experience who want to branch-out into installing and integrating home technology systems. No such knowledge is required for the DHTI+ exam.
There are 115 questions on the DHTI+ beta exam, and the examinee is given 120 minutes to finish. Fifteen minutes is also given prior to the start of the exam for reading the exam agreement and instructions, and another 15 minutes to answer the questionnaire at the completion of the exam (this is the standard questionnaire for CompTIA exams and contains no beta-specific questions). The style and format of the exam questions are typical for CompTIA exams, so people who already have already taken other CompTIA exams should find the look-and-feel of the DHTI+ exam very familiar.
If only one word were used to describe this exam it would be “hardware.” People in the (D)HTI field work with electronic hardware; they install it, wire it, tune it, troubleshoot it and maintain it. Passing the DHTI+ exam requires the examinee know the details of how home technology equipment is used, functions, is connected, configured, conveys information, and is tested. The term “home technology” refers to every type of analog or digital system that you could possibly find in a modern home, and the more hands-on work experience you have with these technologies the better.
To get a specific idea of what’s covered, let’s look at the six domains of the DHTI+ exam:
1.0 Networking (20%)
2.0 Audio / Video (22%)
3.0 Telephony / VoIP (10%)
4.0 Security and Surveillance Systems (15%)
5.0 Home Control and Management (15%)
6.0 Troubleshooting Methodology and Documentation (18%)
Although these domains cover a diverse range of skills and expertise, they only apply to technologies that may be found in the home. For example, you should only need to know about residence telephone wiring and troubleshooting, and not how things operate at a Telco Central Office. Also covered are the best-practices used for successfully integrating customers with their new systems.
The networking domain covers networked devices, connectivity, topologies, and troubleshooting. All sorts of devices in the home can now use wired (Ethernet) or wireless (802.11, Bluetooth, IrDA, ZigBee) network communication. You should be familiar with troubleshooting common networking and connectivity problems associated with telephones, DSL and cable routers, wireless routers and firewalls, Ethernet networks, and networked Windows-based PCs. You’ll also need to know the different between things like “star-wiring” and “home-run wiring” topologies, and what kinds of hardware and software tools are used to troubleshoot network problems.
Audio and Video is a vast domain which covered everything from speaker impedance to DVT/HDMI compatibility. Learn everything you can about the latest television display and tuner technology, cable and satellite TV, configuring complex home entertainment system, and sources of interference and how to diagnose and fix them. An understanding of basic electronics theory, cabling, connectors, and analog and digital tools is also necessary.
For telephony and VoIP, you’ll need an understanding basic POTS (“red, right, ring”), network connectivity over POTS (ISDN and DSL), and packet network-based audio transmission (VoIP). Know how to wire and troubleshoot business and residence telephone systems, including PBX and key systems. Know your Telco and Telecom terms (http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/fs-1037/fs-1037c.htm
), ANSI/TIA-968-A, and Code of Federal Regulations, Title 47, part 68. Learn the theory, application, configuration, and troubleshooting of VoIP systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voip
Security and surveillance systems cover a video variety of technologies, including cabling and wiring, computer networks, telephony, alarm sensors and control devices, cameras and lighting, A/V recording devices, and residential and business physical security planning. This is one domain where practical experience designing, installing, and maintaining modern alarm and surveillance system comes in real handy. You also better know your lumens from your LUX (http://www.camcorderinfo.com/content/the_mysterious_lux_rating.htm
Home control and management refers to the connection and use of any device that can control home electronics. Understand how these devices are used, what they can control, the communications protocols that they use (Z-Wave, X-10, ZigBee, and CEBus), and their advantages and disadvantages over one another. Be very familiar with industry standards and best-practices associated with home technology systems, including those from the ANSI/ ISO and the EIA/TIA. And learn how home environmental systems (HVAC) are designed and controlled (http://www.hometech.com/learn/hvac.html
Troubleshooting methodology and documentation covers the tools used to troubleshoot networking, A/V, telephony, security, and home automation problems. Understanding what testing tools is used for a given technology or situation is very important. Also very important is understanding best-practices for project documentation, and the creation and use of credentials, passwords, and access codes.
So what and where do you study for the DHTI+ exam? First, thoroughly read the CompTIA DHTI+ FAQ at http://certification.comptia.org/hti/dhti_faq.aspx
and get a copy of the of DHTI+ exam objectives from http://certification.comptia.org/resources/objectives.aspx
. After reading the objectives, you’ll get very good idea of what technology subjects you’ll need to learn or just brush up on.
Next, Google for study information on the HTI+ exam. Much of the information in the HTI+ exam is relevant to the DHTI+, and it’s a good start your research (the twelve articles on the HTI+ exam at http://www.ecmweb.com/ar/electric_wired_home/
are rather good). Search for discounted HTI+ study guides using Amazon.com and Addall.com. Just keep in mind of what HTI+ material isn’t necessary to study for the DHTI+ exam.
Find out where people who specialize in the DHTI+ domains hang out. The DHTI+ exam contains no vendor-specific information, so don’t waste your time with product reviews. Instead, find forum discussions about the science, technology and industry of the DHTI+ exam’s objectives. Many home theater component Web stores have tech sections with good DHTI technology and industry information (check out: http://www.michiganhometheatre.com/guides.htm
). For audio and video, I recommend the sites like the user forums at the Audioholics.com Online A/V Magazine: http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/
, Stereophile.com: http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/ubbthreads.php
and the A/V Science forum archives: http://archive.avsforum.com/avs-vb/
Don’t forget to check Wikipedia.com for information on the DHTI topics that you are researching too (here’s the wiki page on A/V connectors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_and_video_connector
). The Web also contains a lot of good home technology tutorials written for building contractor too.
And, of course, home computer networking and CompTIA certifications are thoroughly covered here on TechExams.net.
The DHTI+ is not a “quick and easy” certification as you may think. Even if you are a hard-core audiophile who knows how to use a soldering iron and multi-meter, have both the CompTIA A+ and Network+ certs, a home wireless network, remember the basic electronics you learned while studying for your HAM radio license, built your own home theater PC, and successfully installed Vonage, you will still need to do quite a bit of more studying and research to pass the DHTI+.