Old Playroom Becomes Kid-Proof Theater
CE pro designs a space that’ll stand up to the wear and tear of two grade-school boys.
FINALIST: Best Fun Room
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July 22, 2009 by Lisa Montgomery

Home theaters are chock-full of sensitive equipment. There’s the rack that holds your A/V receiver and new Blu-ray player; the glass-lens toting projector and of course, the fabric video screen.

The owners of this theater knew all too well the damage their two sons, ages 8 and 10, could inflict on such a delicate setup as this. “The word ‘projectile’ came up quite often in our conversations,” says custom electronics professional Derek Cowburn of DistinctAV in McCordsville, Ind. Protecting the gear from chucked footballs and other toys was paramount.

The 106-inch Dragonfly screen chosen for the space was attached to a motor so it could be retracted when the family wasn’t watching a movie. Tucked up into a bulkhead, it’s completely out of harm’s way when the kids are playing.

Next, the projector. Rather than mount the unit in the middle of the ceiling right where the action is, Cowburn tucked it around a corner near the ticket booth and concession stand at the back of the room. “The Epson LCD projector we chose provides a lot of lens shift, which gave us the flexibility to place it just about anywhere in the room,” says Cowburn.

That left the speakers and the audio/video component. The five SpeakerCraft speakers and subwoofer were recessed into the walls and ceiling, and the equipment rack was placed away from the action in a nearby utility room.

The other concern was the remote control. First and foremost, the family needed a device that would be easy for everyone to use. Cowburn’s pick: the radio frequency-based RTI T2C. Equipped with a built-in screen and plenty of programming power, it afforded him the ability to create separate control pages for the parents and the kids.

The boys are able to access their own DVR or turn on their PlayStation 3 without having to page through a long menu of options. A command designed specifically for the parents is ALL OFF. From anywhere in the house (there are a total of three RTI remotes), the parents can turn off the entire home theater should the kids leave it running.

“Having that feature saves the bulb in the projector from wearing out faster than it should,” Cowburn explains. The only concern Mom and Dad had about the remote was its size—easy to lose and tempting to toss. Given that it’s their lifeline to all the cool gadgetry in their theater, though, the boys taken remarkable care of the $800 remote, say the parents. Even when play gets rough, they always know where their cherished clicker is.

Click here to view additional photos.

Check out an award-winning theater also by DistinctAV:
Animal Prints Help Keep Theater Roaring

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

Installer/Equipment List

Systems Design & Installation
McCordsville, IN

Equipment List
Denon AVR-1909
Middle Atlantic 37U Rack
SpeakerCraft AIM7 MT Speakers
SpeakerCraft In-Wall Sub & Amp
Colorado vNet Lighting control
Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 UB
Dragonfly retractable screen
Panamax MAX5100EX
Custom fiber optic star panels
Local cable DVR
Samsung Blu-ray player
PlayStation 3

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