Complete 130" Home Theater for under $2,000, If I can do it, so can you! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 06:39 AM - Thread Starter
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So, I'm your average guy. Except I have a degree in Film and TV Production, so, of course, I enjoy watching TV and films.

I bought a 16:9 video camera a while back, and I was shocked at how great it looked. And then I plugged it into the firewire port on my dell laptop and used the software that came with my computer to make a video... I used to sell systems that did this back in the early 90's for over $50,000...

I began to wonder what was now possible in the home theater market...

I'm not some audiophile, and I don't like to spend a bunch of money on "name" brand stuff... But, I like good sound, and great picture quality.

I wanted a theater in my basement that I just finished. I talked to a bunch of "theater" stores, and they all wanted a TON of money to do a 130" system in my basement. And I figured it really can't be that hard to do one for a reasonable budget. The local Best buy and Circuit city had no clue...

So I made of a budget of say, $2,000.00.

I put in my system about 3 months ago (selling stuff on ebay to support my "habit"), and I've been saving up for my screen. Which I got yesterday, and put together and installed.

Researching for this project, I found that it is hard to figure out what you need. Luckily we had a home show (homearama) here in town right when I was ready to start buying, so I checked out the $80,000 dollar systems all the way down to the $5,000 dollar systems and used the knowledge I gained to put in my own theater.

I just installed my screen last night, and other than doing some final adjustment of the color, I am simply amazed.

But, I figured this would be a good place to put down what I figured out, and learned from all my research. If you have a room where you can control the sunlight (we use blinds during the day). This is an amazing system for the money. And very easy to install.


First off you need a good projector. These are VERY difficult to judge because hardly anyone has them installed so that you can see what they look like. I was lucky enough to see a Mitsubishi HC 1500 about 2 years ago at a home theater showroom here in Cincinnati, (which since went out of business). It is a 720p DLP projector (meaning it doesn't have the "latest and greatest" resolution of 1080p.) But, most broadcast is filmed in 720 still because the 1080 camera equipment is SOOO expensive... They broadcast the 720 signal at 1080 resolution. So it isn't as crisp as it could be, but it is MUCH better than a 480 projector. And it is DLP (digital light processing) so the color is AMAZING. Lamp life is about 2,000 hours on high quality mode, so you will need to budget a bulb every 3 years or so, projection tv's are the same. (I did read that some people see “rainbows” with this type of projector, but no one in my family, or any of my friends, has this issue)

Also, you want 16:9 aspect ratio native. This makes sure that it is the largest size possible without black bars around the image. The other thing you want is and HDMI input on your projector, if you want to set it up like mine.

I got my Mitsubishi HC1500 projector from Amazon for under $800 shipped.

The next critical component is the receiver. I wanted a receiver that upconverted. Which means it takes HDMI inputs, and component and increases the resolution to 1080. So even 480 from tv looks good (although it is 4:3 aspect ratio). The biggest reason I wanted to go with an upconverting receiver is because if you are like me and enjoy playing the wii with your kids, the quality of the upconversion is amazing. Your Mii will jump off the screen in clarity. Now, when I bowl in my private bowling alley in my basement, my youngest daughter (who beats me consistantly) her Mii character is actually larger than she is!

I picked the Onkyo 606 7.1 receiver from Circuit city with a coupon for $400. It has 4 HDMI inputs and a couple of component inputs (all of those inputs are upconverted to 1080p if you use the HDMI output on the receiver.)

Next with a projector you don't have a TV tuner. And half the fun is being able to watch TV in high def. I'm not a NASCAR fan, but WOW, in high def even I will sit down and watch a while! I didn't want to pay for the satellite companies HD channels at an additional $15 a month... Here is a great workaround, I picked up a Panasonic DMR-EZ48V VHS and DVD recorder with digital tuner (open box buy for $200 at circuit city). Plugged into my home antenna (a Wineguard 2002 omni directional antenna mounted on my roof) I get free HDTV from about 25 different channels. Just run the HDMI cable out of the dvd recorder into your receiver, and all video and audio is connected with one cable. (another tip is to buy your cables off ebay, they are MUCH cheaper than buying them at your local big box store for a pretty penny...) After I started watching in HDTV, I ended up switching to Direct TV with a HD receiver in my basement, and also upstairs… So, I could have gone with a cheaper DVD player. But, I like being able to record. I wish I had gone with a HD DVR... We use our DVR upstairs so much that when we go to the theater downstairs we always miss being able to pause and rewind...

I picked up a component cable for my wii for $6.00 (ebay)
HDMI cable 6 foot for $6.00 (ebay)
HDMI cable to run to my projector 50 foot for $50.00 (ebay)
All shipped directly to my house.

Now you need sound. The onkyo 606 is a 7.1 surround sound, which is only available if you have a blue ray disk, but it also "simulates" 7.1 so that all speakers play, and sound great.

I didn't want to spend an arm and a leg on speakers that would just hide inside the wall, so I did a bunch of research and the best value for my money was Acoustic audio's 7.1 surround speakers available on ebay for $160. for the HT-87.

Wow, was I impressed, they sound AMAZING. (and not only because they were relatively cheap) I'd put them next to my father in laws, Bose AM series! in sound quality.

Plus they were very easy to install with the furnished cardboard cutout piece, Just mark it on your drywall and cut it out, and the speakers go right in. The only thing I did was throw away the cheap speaker wire they came with and put in some beefy speaker wire instead.

After seeing the quality of these acoustic audio speakers, I decided that I would try out their powered subwoofer. Since they had great range, and at the cost they just couldn't be beat price wise. So I picked up a 12" down firing 500 watt home theater sub for $129 shipped. WOW, is it amazing, it really rattles the windows, I have it turned down to 1/4 power and it still shakes the floor! (I got my speakers off ebay seller name thedeepdiscount or www.thedeepdiscount.com ) they arrived in 2 days and shipping was only $9.99!

I can't say enough about how amazing my theater sounds. And even on my dark colored wall the projector looks amazing. I put in my new screen (from ebay, seller “shoppingdeals”) last night, easy to install and looks great. They made it custom for me for only $260 shipped. With black felt boarder, and easily stretchable and high quality.

I got my projector mount from ebay as well, from seller name kramerica_incorporated, it is an excellent mount, and came with every type of hardware to install it in any situation. For $50 shipped!

The only drawback to a projector is that if you have windows shining on the wall where the projector will shine, it will wash out and not be watch able. So make sure you have an area where you can control the lighting. I put in can lights on dimmers in my area so that I can turn off the lights above the screen, but still have lighting over the seats to be able to see all those little buttons on the three remote controls!

A couple of years ago, when I did my framing layout for my basement, I figured I would have 5.1 surround sound, so I did have to go back and run an HDMI cable, as well as two speaker wires for the extra 2 rear speakers. But, after a bit of elbow grease, and a small hole cut into the drywall, I had all the cables run. I also put in dynamat extreme on my ductwork, and furnace. My HVAC system is so quiet now you don't even hear it kick on or off... My next "upgrade" will be to buy Dynamic Control dynabox's for all my in wall speakers to keep the sound in the basement.

I have my projector about 17 feet from the wall, and I am projecting it 10 feet across which is 120 inches wide! Since they figure screen size by diagonal, it ends up being a 130 inch TV…
You should see how big your Wii characters are on it!

But, it is a fun way to spend the evening, and with the cost of gas, and the ticket prices today. I'd rather set up my own theater in my basement and rent old movies from the library to entertain my kids, or "take" them bowling at home!

With the cost of a standard HDTV today, you can get this amazing system for less money than their largest set type TV, and you will be thrilled with the picture quality, sound, and everyone will want to watch movies and TV at your house.

With all the work it took to figure out what was needed, I wanted to put it all down so others could save all this trouble and know exactly what they need if they want to have a home theater.

Mitsubishi HC 1500 $760.00
Onkyo 606 receiver $400.00
DVD player with upconverting $150.00
Acoustic Audio HT-87 7.1 in-wall speakers $160.00
Acoustic Audio 12” 500watt sub $130.00
Custom 130” Fixed Theater screen $260.00
Projector ceiling mount $50.00
HDMI cables $56.00
Speaker wire $30.00
Total $1,996.00
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post #2 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 07:12 AM
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no pics?

sounds good though. similar to what im going for. low budget/high fun factor install!

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post #3 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 07:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Before



After framing and electric



After drywall, and tile, ready for carpet.



Carpet in, woodwork done, fireplace installed.



I'll take pics this weekend of the finished product with the theater installed.
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post #4 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 12:17 PM
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Nice looking basement!

I had the same M.O. as you when doing my theater. Make it as nice as possible for as little money as possible.

I also used thedeepdiscount on ebay for my in-walls and sub, though I recently bought a second yamaha sub for the opposite front corner. Now the theater really rocks.

I also just recently purchased an Onkyo 576 which passes TrueHD from my HD-A3 dvd player via HDMI multichannel PCM.

Since you have the 606, it is a must that you ditch your current dvd player and go w/ HD-DVD. Or PS3 if you prefer, though an HD player can be had for much, much less $$. The benefit of course will be TrueHD (and DD+) sound. I only say this because you have that option with your receiver.

In another coincidence, I also have the HC1500 and also used Kramerica for my ceiling mount - although they were only charging 36 bucks last year.

You could've titled your thread "Complete 130" Home Theater for under $1,800, If I can do it, so can you!" by painting your own screen on the wall.

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"I don't have some way to put it...that's the way it is."
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post #5 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 12:58 PM
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So how much did the room construction cost you. This needs to be factored into a HT build.

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post #6 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Hmm. I'm not sure, as I finished the entire basement, and it is all open.

There is an arcade, a kitchen/kraft room, bathroom, and huge playroom, and pool table room...

I did all the framing, electrical, plumbing, lighting, wiring, and woodwork myself. I wimped out and hired the drywall, and carpet.

If I had to guess what the "theater part" only cost...

Drywall $300
Wood $100
Lighting $50
Electrical & phone wiring $50
Circuit Breaker $15
Carpet $300

But, I wouldn't consider those costs as you could do this in any room that had a wall that size and the right distance to throw the projector beam.
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post #7 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 04:05 PM
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I know and appreciate how proud you are of your home grown Home Theater room as are others that posted - don't break your arm patting yourself on the back - I don't mean that badly or meanly - just having a bit of fun with you as you and we have a laugh at the expense of those that spend so much cash to have nothing much more than you and we have.

We bought our fixed high contrast screen for $50 bundled with a projector that had been dropped and broken at an outlet store. Our image is just shy of 120 inches - not quite your size but fine for us.

We bought our HT projector for $600 almost two years ago at same outlet store - not 1080p but is 720p Panasonic and was close to state-of-the-art at the time we bought it.

We just put the PJ on an existing shelf in our room - assembled and hung the wonderful Da-lite, Da-snap fixed wall screen in an hour or two and hooked up our several years old 5:1 Onkyo surround system and Shazzam!! - we were in almost 10 ft image Home Theater heaven at a total cost of $650.00 plus the $110.00 we subsequently paid for an upconverting dvd player so our collection of near 400 dvd movies would look near HD when stretched across that big a diagonal - Done - fantastic but a ton cheaper than $2k. LOL - so you just enjoy your 130 inch HT and pity the many who think their 50 inch or 62 inch or even 73 inch TV equals Home Theater when you and we know that NO tv can compete and ain't really ever Home Theater!!!
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post #8 of 156 Old 08-29-2008, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imjay View Post

just having a bit of fun with you as you and we have a laugh at the expense of those that spend so much cash to have nothing much more than you and we have.

I wouldn't say "Not much more" at all.

That's kind of like saying I bought a 1981 honda civic for $1500 and the guy next door bought a brand new ferrari for $150,000. But his is not much more of a car than mine...

I mean sure they both get you from point A to B, but the classy look, enhanced experience and smoothness of the ride all play a big factor which makes it very much more...
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post #9 of 156 Old 08-30-2008, 11:44 AM
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just having a bit of fun with you as you and we have a laugh at the expense of those that spend so much cash to have nothing much more than you and we have.

I'm surprised at such an ignorant statement. Apparently you have never had the pleasure of experiencing a state of the art home theater setup. Everyone has an allotted budget based on their requirements, and I respect and appreciate all theater price points. But it truly is a naive statement to compare hundred thousand dollar theaters to two thousand dollar one's and claim they are "nothing much more". If that's the case why aren't you still watching your VHS tapes on a 19" TV.

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post #10 of 156 Old 08-30-2008, 09:51 PM
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Hey I wan't to see pics of the arcade! I see a pin in the background there.

-- Well I have really blown my budget now. --
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post #11 of 156 Old 08-31-2008, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bass addict View Post

I'm surprised at such an ignorant statement. Apparently you have never had the pleasure of experiencing a state of the art home theater setup. Everyone has an allotted budget based on their requirements, and I respect and appreciate all theater price points. But it truly is a naive statement to compare hundred thousand dollar theaters to two thousand dollar one's and claim they are "nothing much more". If that's the case why aren't you still watching your VHS tapes on a 19" TV.


There is definitely a point of diminishing returns in the AV industry, probably more so than anywhere else. I'm not saying it is a large factor at this price point, but theaters that cost a fortune, can be practically equal with ones that cost much less.
Like said though, everyone has a budget, and if you work hard you can get a lot for your money these days.
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post #12 of 156 Old 08-31-2008, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scraejtp View Post

There is definitely a point of diminishing returns in the AV industry, probably more so than anywhere else. I'm not saying it is a large factor at this price point, but theaters that cost a fortune, can be practically equal with ones that cost much less.
Like said though, everyone has a budget, and if you work hard you can get a lot for your money these days.

We'll agree to disagree, and this coming from someone who has minimal invested in his HT.

FreeEnterprise, I will commend you on the nice job you did with what you had to work with. It turned out very well and you should get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I wish I had a pinball machine in my game room.

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post #13 of 156 Old 09-02-2008, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I took these last night. While I don't discount high end systems, (I used to sell barco projectors). I just was impressed that I could put in such a nice system for under $2,000. I've been grinning for weeks, I am just so amazed.

camera's don't do projectors justice.









my arcade, I have a mame computer to put in my sega stand when I get a few hours... with 4,400 video games on it.
My pinball is a 1978 williams flash, first pinball with flashing lights, and it has two sound cards, original bells, and then digital sound. I traded $50 and a table saw for it, years ago.

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post #14 of 156 Old 09-02-2008, 09:22 AM
 
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Nice room! I like the colors too. It is pretty amazing what you can do with a small investment. That means more money available for other things! Hard to see a down side to that.....
Very nice!!
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post #15 of 156 Old 09-02-2008, 01:54 PM
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Where did the piece of furnature under your screen come from. I am looking for a very low approximately 8' wide piece and that looks about right.

Thanks!
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post #16 of 156 Old 09-02-2008, 04:48 PM
 
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that's a nice basement, nice and open with the right stuff. I'm gonna get mine done, but with a poker room near the projector and weight room on one end.
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post #17 of 156 Old 09-03-2008, 04:39 AM - Thread Starter
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I picked those cabinets up from IKEA. The just opened a store next to my office. It is actually three of the same piece, and I didn't install the wheels on the bottom. I also didn't install the shelf on the far right piece so I could put my sub inside.

Make sure you measure your components though, the first set I purchased I had to take back, as my receiver was too tall to fit...
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post #18 of 156 Old 09-03-2008, 05:22 AM
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Nicely done.

-J
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post #19 of 156 Old 09-03-2008, 04:06 PM
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How are those speakers, for less than $120 shipped I know they are not high quality but exactly how good are they? MSRP is $800 and the deepest discount is the only retailer of these speakers so thats screams white van.

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post #20 of 156 Old 09-04-2008, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
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The packaging was flimsy, but the product was good. And no damage when shipped, I got them in 2 days. The speaker wire should be thrown away... I used nice thick wire.

But, I am really impressed with the sound quality of the speakers. They are matched together, so as long as your are using the entire set and not trying to match them up to some existing speakers, I would think you would like them.

I don't turn my system up any louder than a movie theater, and they sound amazingly great. The magnets are very large, and the tweeters are able to be moved slightly to direct the sound, which was helpful in my installation of my rear channels up high on my walls. I pointed them down toward my seats. My receiver sets my room automatically, and this was very accurate with good overall sound quality right away.

I was VERY impressed with the quality and ease of installation. They sound great and I would recommend them to anyone who wants great sounding speakers for not much money.

The only one who will know that they were inexpensive will be you.

Their 500 watt downfiring 12 inch sub is amazing too... only $129! I have mine only half way up and it shakes my house.

Oh, mine are the HT-87's they "retail" for around a grand... I don't know about the $120 set...
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post #21 of 156 Old 09-05-2008, 11:11 AM
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Any chance you could post a close-up pick of the Ikea cabinets under your screen? Do you remember the name of the cabinet?
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post #22 of 156 Old 09-05-2008, 12:55 PM
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Great basement!!! I like how you painted your in-walls black. I left mine alone (an off-white color) but I may paint them now that i've seen yours.

My Basement Theater/Rec Room
"I don't have some way to put it...that's the way it is."
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post #23 of 156 Old 09-14-2008, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FreeEnterprise View Post


Mitsubishi HC 1500 $760.00
Onkyo 606 receiver $400.00
DVD player with upconverting $150.00
Acoustic Audio HT-87 7.1 in-wall speakers $160.00
Acoustic Audio 12” 500watt sub $130.00
Custom 130” Fixed Theater screen $260.00
Projector ceiling mount $50.00
HDMI cables $56.00
Speaker wire $30.00
Total $1,996.00

So how did you get the HC1500 for $760? I cant seem to find it for anything less than $850. Amazon is listing it for $1500...
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post #24 of 156 Old 09-14-2008, 05:51 PM
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So how did you get the HC1500 for $760? I cant seem to find it for anything less than $850. Amazon is listing it for $1500...

Sorry this is off topic, but I got my HC1500 for $540 (closeout) at Best Buy. It was $599 and I found a 10% off coupon. There is a thread in the projector forum called "Discontinued Mits HC1500" or something like that talking about the Best Buy closeout.
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post #25 of 156 Old 09-14-2008, 07:27 PM
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Awesome basement!
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post #26 of 156 Old 09-14-2008, 11:13 PM
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great set up
happy to see another BMXer into HT too haha
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post #27 of 156 Old 09-15-2008, 05:18 AM
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I find it reassuring that a person doesn't have to spend $25k to get a decent experience, because I know that I sure can't right now. The "Bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" analogy works in lots of scenarios. I resisted planting a bunch of spruce trees between our house and the neighbors, because I kept waiting until I felt like I had an extra $1500 to drop on a bunch of nice big potted trees. This year, it dawned on me. If I had spent $10 on seedlings that first year, I'd have had 10 Norway Spruces growing up to 3' per year. I planted the little trees this year.
We could all sit around and wait until we had the time and money to build something really stupendous, but if it never comes to fruition...
john171 likes this.

And then...
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post #28 of 156 Old 09-16-2008, 04:31 AM - Thread Starter
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I got my projector a few months ago, Amazons prices change weekly it seems. Just check around, they had them on ebay at the same time for around $800.

I waited until the price was good. Then after I bought it amazon lowered the price $20 bucks less... Oh, well. Its still a great projector.

Our power was out since Sunday from Ike... Just came on this morning. I'll try and take some pics of the cabinets when I get a minute.

Oh, and I always plant small trees. Usually ones on closeout at lowes. They don't know they are "bad" trees when you prune them up and give them a few years, and lots of mulch and feeding.

When I painted my speakers I used gloss black spray paint, and took out the speaker so that I didn't get paint on it. Then painted one side, waited for it to dry, and then flipped it and painted the other side, it turned out great and I didn't use the foam inserts since the speaker was black. They look like they came that way. 1 can did all three speakers. Just take your time, and make sure they are clean with no grease or marks on them, also position the tweeters before you paint, so that you don't have to move them once the paint dries.
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post #29 of 156 Old 09-16-2008, 04:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Here is a link to the stand I used. I bought three of them, and left the wheels off.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50104477
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post #30 of 156 Old 09-16-2008, 06:45 AM
 
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Hey Free,
Where did you get your screen and what brand is it?

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