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.
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 IMPAwards.com.
“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
Location: Jacksonville, Fla.
Room Size: 38 x 14 x 8 feet
Total Project Time: 3 months
Year Completed: 2009
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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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.