August 04, 2009
by Lisa Montgomery
It looks like a temple from an Indiana Jones movie.
Inside the man-made cave in Tom and Joleen Comstock’s back yard are Mayan artifacts, an altar and throne, a treasure chest that puffs out hot air, secret passageways and crystals embedded in the walls made of combination of Styrofoam, concrete rebar. But there’s more than meets the eye in this subterranean space. Hidden among the trinkets is an entire home theater system.
Indiana Jones never gets his prize without battling a few obstacles first, so in keeping with that theme, theatergoers to Tom’s cave must jump through a few hoops to get to their entertainment gold.
Don’t worry, it’s not as tough as outrunning a rolling Mack-truck size boulder. You will, however, have to zip through a tunnel, remember a secret code and know which rock to push just to get inside the room.
“Ever since I was a boy I loved to build forts,” says Tom of his inspiration for the project. “Back then, I built them with a shovel. Now I had the resources to use a backhoe.”
Your journey begins by sliding down a tube that’s built into the side of a hill. This is no ride for sissies. It will make you scream…at least the Comstocks hope it does. When sensors inside the tube hear noise, a series of built-in colored lights activate. When the screaming stops the lights fade out. The slide leads to a waterfall which you’ll need to sidestep to get to the entrance of cave. You’re not home-free yet. Well hidden within the rock on the exterior is a cave is a keypad. Only when the correct sequence of numbers is entered will the door to the theater unlatch. Stepping on a strategically placed rock near the threshold swings the door open wide.
Once inside, a Control4 handheld remote (the only electronic device that’s easy to detect) holds the secret to the rest of the cave’s magic. A button on the clicker commands a 40-inch Marantz plasma TV and Yamaha soundbar-style speaker to lift up from the altar. Another button press activates whatever source the user wants, be it a DVD player, cable box or Xbox 360. These components are tucked out of sight underneath a bench near the back of the cave.
Colored fiber optic lights inside and outside the cave can be controlled via the Control4 remote, as well as the waterfall. The Comstocks can shut down the whole amazing cave or peek in on what the grandkids are doing conveniently from the house. The Control4 system provides remote access to all the technology in the cave as well as to an Internet-connected surveillance camera.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.