DIYer Puts Theater PC to Work

DIY Home Theater

Vote for this DIY Theater

Software guru Jason Klinke uses a computer and 2.35:1 screen to make real movie magic.

Apr. 28, 2008 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Manufacturers have talked about it, but Jason Klinke is actually doing it—putting his PC to work as a major part of his home theater setup. 

He hardly had a choice. With almost 10 years experience in software design and development, you can’t just put the PC aside when it comes to other areas of life. His past experience also helped; instead of adding a confusing piece of equipment into the mix, it was more like welcoming an old friend. 

“You can browse and play movies using the home theater PC from the comfort of the recliners, and regardless of whether the movie is found in the DVD changer or stored on network storage, it plays seamlessly,” Jason says. “There is also a pre-movie show including movie trivia, trailers, and a custom Red-Meadow-theater animation featuring some custom voiceovers. “

Of course, home theater isn’t exactly a new thing to Jason either. Over the past eight years, he has built several smaller theater and media spaces, experimenting a bit with each endeavor. “My last theater was in a small apartment living room, with a 100-inch screen and a 4:3 SVGA projector, so it’s come a long way,” he says. 

That’s not to say that building Red-Meadow (whose name drives from both his hometown and a nearby city park) didn’t have its challenges. “My construction background was very limited,” he says. “I don’t think I owned much more than a drill, a hammer and some screwdrivers.” 

Months of hauling lumber, sand, roofing felt and other materials can certainly give a guy some perspective—that and endless hours spent getting help from the members of the AVS Forum. 

When it came to in-house work, Jason did need a bit of help with the install, especially when it came to drywall. “I wanted two layers of drywall on all surfaces and an application of Audio Alloy’s Green Glue acoustic damping product between the sheets,” he says. “It was messy and hard work, but the folks I hired did a great job on that part of the project and gave the walls a nice smooth finish that I couldn’t have.”

He may have needed professional help on drywall, carpet and a bit of the electrical, but there were plenty of challenges that he did alone. Take the stage, riser and column construction. Columns needed to be smooth, and cut to allow speaker placement.  To get the stage curved just the way Jason wanted it, he had to call in a few favors—and a whole lot of play sand. A few hundred pounds wasn’t exactly child’s play, but it did set the framing properly. 

Then when it came to the rear riser, Jason wanted it to have a “floating” effect. “It’s sitting on rubber isolators and this allows the entire riser to have a little bit of ‘spring’ to it just like a drum would,” he says. “This was important because I mounted a ButtKicker transducer inside the framing of the riser for LFE effects.” He also worried and worked over building it to the proper height, balancing it out properly with the 8-foot ceilings. 

Using some existing equipment, such as his A/V receiver and a few speakers, helped to balance out costs so he was able to spend money in other areas. That has also afforded him for a few upgrades, including bass traps, the Xbox 360, and an LG BD-ROM drive for his HTPC. He also plans to add a 1080p projector this year.  “I probably won’t buy a standalone Blu-ray player until the prices fall and the format is a bit more stable,” he adds. 

One decision that was a no-brainer was his Cinemascope screen setup, which has paid off. “People seem to love watching 2.35:1 movies here without any letterboxing at all,” Jason says. “It just feels like an authentic night out at the movies.”

For other nights, Jason and his family have a 50-inch plasma in the living room. “This is mostly to keep the hours on the lamp down to a reasonable number,” he says. “I watch a lot of movies in the theater and play some games down there as well.” However, as more high-def programming hits the airwaves, Jason does find himself spending more evenings in his basement theater. 

The room is definitely up to that task. Upon completion, Jason put one of his favorite test movies to work—“Gladiator.” The Russell Crowe action flick has been a staple and sort of a tradition, when it comes to christening a new theater room. “Each time I start to notice a little more about what makes for a good movie experience,” he says. However, with Red-Meadow, he experienced something completely different: total immersion. 

“It was the first time I’ve ever experienced a movie at home in a way that rivaled a quality local cinema,” he says. “But more than just the large format screen, it was the whole experience. I was reclined in a seat more comfortable than any local cinema, eating freshly popped popcorn, and looked around at the front of the room briefly. I couldn’t see anything other than the screen—the rest just faded away into black fabric.”

Quick Hits:
City/State: Redmond, WA
Year Completed: 2005
Room Size: 15 x 24
Length of Project: 9 Months
Total Cost: $21,000

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Belden Cable
Blue Jeans Cable Speaker Wire (12-gauge)
Canare Cable
Definitive Technology BP10B Towers (2)
Definitive Technology BP2X Surround Speakers (4)
Definitive Technology CLR2002 Center Channel
Denon AVR-3802 AV Receiver
SVS PB12 Plus/2 Subwoofer

Lutron Spacer System (3-zone)
Kenroy International Wall Sconces
Kenroy International Rope Lighting

Berkline 090 Leather recliners (5 recliners, 1 loveseat)
ButtKicker Transducers
Gyration GO 2.4 GHz Wireless Keyboard/Mouse
Infrant ReasyNAS X6 NAS (1TB)
Philips Pronto NG TSU-3000 Remote Control
Custom Home Theater PC

Carada 128-inch Diagonal Criterion 2.35:1 Screen
DISH DVR ViP622 Satellite DVR
Microsoft Xbox 360
Prismasonic H600M Anamorphic Lens
Sanyo PLV-Z4 Projector
Sony DVPCX985V 400-disc DVD Changer
Sony DVPCX995V 400-disc DVD Changer
Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player
Video Storm TMDS61 6x1 HDMI/DVI Switch
Zektor HDS4.2 Matrix 4x2 Component Video Switch

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