All in the DIY Family
Dad passes on his passion, and DIY tips, for home theater construction to his son and the results are two great theater rooms.
October 18, 2010 by Rachel Cericola

Dealing with Details
Once Tom’s son, also named Tom, saw how well his Dad’s theater turned out, he, too, was bitten by the DIY bug. “My dad’s theater definitely had a major influence on mine,” he says. “It wasn’t so much the appearance of this theater (which is amazing to me) or even his attention to detail. It’s the inspiration that comes from knowing that if you plan carefully and takes things step by step, you will most certainly end up with something to be proud of.”

A big part of what Tom Jr. is proud of is the extensive knowledge of electronics he acquired by handling the project himself. He spent months combing websites and magazines looking for just the right products. Meanwhile, his father-in-law, who happens to be a custom homebuilder, built the “shell” of the 21-by-12-foot theater.

Prewiring for Products
Ready to get his hands dirty after the arduous task of deciding on products, Tom drew a wiring diagram to illustrate where all of the essential cabling would be run. Following his sketch, he pulled speaker wire to every possible speaker location. Whether he’d go with a 5.1, a 7.2 or a 9.2 setup, he wasn’t sure at that point in the project. He also ran HDMI cables to the planned projector location.
With stage one complete, Tom Jr. needed a break. He wasn’t even close to tired, but his budget certainly was. For the next year, he plotted how to hide some of his speakers (he eventually chose a 7.1 system), hang acoustical wall paneling and add a touchpanel for complete control of the room.

Finishing Touches
Earlier this year, Tom Jr. finished the installation of the gear, which includes a 130-inch 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen, a 1080p projector, a 7.1 surround-sound system, a PlayStation 3, and a home theater PC running XBMC Media Center Software. His latest purchase, an Apple iPad, is configured to run everything.

One of the niftiest features in the room, however, is a 42-inch flat-screen TV, mounted vertically on a side wall. Tom uses it as decoration, rotating about 400 different movie posters. The rotating art is delivered to the screen via a Mac Mini running Boxee software. He also obtained many of the posters for free from

“Now that I’ve used it for awhile, I’m finding lots of other neat content to display as well. Free-to-use images from around the web or various screensavers make this a dynamic piece of wall art.”

About the Projects

Tom Sr.’s
Money Spent
Total: $59,000
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
Room Size: 38 x 14 x 8 feet
Total Project Time: 3 months
Year Completed: 2009

Tom Jr.’s
Money Spent
Total: $23,000
Location: Maryland
Room Size: 21 x 12 x 8 feet
Total Project Time: 3 months
Year Completed: 2010

Want to see more of what the DIYer can do? Check out Electronic House’s special DIY Showcase, featuring more installations like this one.

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at

Equipment List
Tom Sr.’s

B&W CC6 Center-Channel Speaker
B&W DM602 Speakers (4)
Klipsch Synergy Sub-10 Subwoofer
Lexicon LDD-1 AC-3/RF Demodulator
Yamaha RX-V757 Receiver

Da-Lite 92-inch Cinema Vision Da-Snap Screen
DVDO iScan HD Video Processor
Mitsubishi HS-U778 VCR
Motorola DCT2600 HD DVR
Panasonic DMP-BD80 Blu-ray Player
Pioneer DV-310 All-Region DVD Player
Pioneer HLD-X9 LaserDisc Player
Samsung DVD-HD931 DVD Player
Sanyo PLV-Z2 LCD Projector
Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD Player

Monster Power HTS2600 MKII PowerCenter Power Conditioner
Smarthome X10 Lighting/Curtain Controls

Equipment List
Tom Jr.’s

Elemental Designs A3-5TC Surround Speakers (2)
Elemental Designs A3-300 Subwoofer
Elemental Designs A6-6T6 Tower Speakers (3)
Emotiva UMC-1 A/V Processor
Emotiva UPA-7 Amplifier
Polk Audio RC55iIn-Wall Speakers (2)

Apple Mac Mini
DVDO EDGE Video Processor
Emerson PL-P42W 42-inch HDTV
Home Theater Brothers Anamorphic Lens
Sanyo PLV-Z2000 Projector
Sony PlayStation 3
Verizon FiOS HD DVR
VUDU Media Player
Wilsonart 130-inch 2.35:1 Designer White Screen
HTPC w/XBMC Media Center Software

Apple iPad Touchscreen
Wilsonart 3-Seat Sofa
Wilsonart Black Leather Recliners (2)

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