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PatrickGSR94's low-budget converted bedroom theater

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
This thread will mainly document upcoming upgrades to our little theater room in the corner of our house. I actually did all the initial work over 6 years ago when I first purchased my home. I spent lots of time here on AVS back then, but never made a thread to show my journey. I figured now would be a good time to start since I'm about to make a major change - upgraded projector (going from 480p to 1080p)! Better late than never I guess.

So I'll start with some history. Ever since I borrowed my office's portable business projector and set it up in my bedroom with a large sheet of paper on the wall, I knew I wanted a dedicated home theater. I was just out of college, living back with my parents, and about to purchase my first home with my savings. I saved up money, and made my first big purchase the day after my home closing - an InFocus Screenplay SP4805 DLP projector. This was in November 2005. This projector was pretty popular here on AVS, and since DVD's are 480 native anyway and there wasn't really much of any 1080p material at that time, the 1080p projectors were still very costly. I wanted to keep costs low, so went with the 4805, which cost me about $900 after rebate in 2005.

At that time, I was still single, so the 3-bedroom 2-bath house I purchased was plenty for me. But being only 1300 s.f. meant the bedrooms were small. I decided to use the bedroom on the front corner of the house, which is about 9.5 x 10.5 feet. Luckily the long direction was also the 2 walls with nothing on them. Other 2 walls had doors and a window.

In addition to the projector, my buddy who worked for Polk Audio got me a smoking deal on a 5.1 setup, and I also purchased an Onkyo 7.1 receiver. This is how it started:

The mount was basically a large shelf, with the projector hanging underneath. The mount board overhangs the projector to allow for 4 threaded rods and hardware, which give front/back and side tilt adjustments. The holes in the top piece are also slotted to allow for slight rotational adjustment.

For color I decided I wanted to go dark red with black trim. For the red I went with Behr paint, which turned out to be a terrible choice. It took 4 coats of paint to get full, even coverage. Later I used a Benjamin-Moore chocolate color in my living room, which only took 2 coats. Ever since then I only used B-M paint - great quality stuff.

The above pics show the area I taped off for the screen. Based on threads here on AVS I had decided to go with the RS-MMMaxx paint mixture for the screen. I didn't want to be painting that over red paint, so I taped it off, based on the image projected by the screen. I got the projector and image perfectly leveled so that no keystone correction would be needed. At about a 9 foot throw I had a 72" diagonal image at maximum zoom.

These last pics are the most recent images of the finished version of the theater room I have, and even these are about 5 years old. The crappy table under the screen has been replaced with shallow, wide storage units with pull-out drawers for DVD storage.

After I *mostly* finished the theater in early 2006, I met my future wife that summer. We were married in August 2007, and our son was born just after Christmas 2009. My wife loves movies and was super-impressed the first time she came over and saw the theater room. I don't think she had ever been in a house with a dedicated theater space before. We have gotten many thousands of hours of entertainment from this room, and now my 2-year old son loves to watch Pixar's Cars or the Chipmunks movies in there.

For the source equipment, it's really just the movie player. We don't game at all and I prefer to watch TV in the living room. We like to save this room for movies only. Anyway, I used to use an LG DVD player with this setup, but it ended up crapping out on me. I replaced it with a Panasonic BD60 BRD player back when the BD60 first came out, knowing full well that we would not be utilizing the 1080p capability of blu-ray discs at that time. But we bought it anyway hoping that an upgraded projector would be in our future.
post #2 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well FINALLY! The time has arrived! The SP4805's light tunnel is failing, even though it's still on the original bulb! Now we're about to replace it with a Panasonic AR100U 1080p projector. I've always been a fan of the AE3000 and AE4000, but the 4000 is still just out of our price range. I think the AR100 will do for our modest setup. We'll save that higher end stuff for the day I can design and build a new, larger house with a REAL dedicated theater space.

I'll likely be ordering this on Tuesday. Can't wait to get this thing setup and start enjoying 5 times the number of pixels as the 4805's 854x480 native resolution. We'll also be coming from 600 lumens on low power mode (where I keep it due to fan noise) and 2000:1 contrast, to 50,000:1 contrast. I was a bit concerned about the AR100's 2800 lumens being too much for our small room, but I also read that the projector on Eco mode and the Cinema setting cuts it to under 800 lumens, so it shouldn't be an issue.

In addition to the new projector, I'll definitely have to revise the mount since this thing is a beast, twice as wide as the 4805 and a little deeper. For now I'll just be shining onto my existing screen, but will likely be redoing that with a new paint mixture, and probably go up to nearly 100 inches as I believe that's the max size with this projector at a 9 foot distance.

I also plan on trimming out the window, along with the other windows in the house. All the windows in the house just have cheap sheetrock returns all around. I can't stand that detail, so I retrimmed the window in my son's room when I renovated it before he arrived. It will look like this, with proper architectural detailing, but in black of course.

Way back when, I had these grand plans to frame out the screen with curtains, masking, add some decorative lighting on either side and in the ceiling, but it just never happened. I'm thinking now it probably won't, as we would likely have to convert this room back to a bedroom whenever we decide to sell the house. I'll save all that good stuff for when we have an actual dedicated theater room that isn't a converted bedroom.

So with that, hopefully I'll have some more pics to post later this week after ordering the projector.
post #3 of 22
Nice room! You'll enjoy the Panny, they make great PJs.

post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
I just got a couple of ideas for my projector mount. The "shelf" is actually cut from a piece of 18" wide edge-glued pine. The edge glued pieces run sideways, which is why I put pieces of 1x3 in the long direction to help support the edge of the shelf out beyond the ends of the brackets.

The problem is that the whole assembly is still able to flex up/down slightly. I plan to brace the shelf with a piece of 3/4" plywood on top (same size as the pine piece), adding some 2x4 bracing back to the wall studs, and trimming out the whole thing with some crown molding I have laying around. Then maybe I'll get around to painting the whole thing black to match the other trim in the room.

I also plan to make a cut in the rear of the "shelf" for the cables to pass through.

Current pics I just took tonight:

And here's what I have planned, with the projector representation sized based on AR100U measurements:

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 
Just ordered the AR100U from Projector People, and opted for the extra $31 for 2-day shipping. Should have it by the weekend!

The 4805 will likely stay in place until Saturday morning, at which point I plan on taking it down and starting the mount revisions. This Friday night I'm hoping to set up the new projector either on the couch or coffee table and shine it on the screen alongside the 4805 and maybe take a few close-up comparison shots of pixel sizing.
post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well it looks like I wasted that $31. It turns out the projector was shipped out yesterday from a warehouse near me in Memphis, when I thought it would be coming from East Coast or some area in the Eastern time zone. The free ground shipping would have put it here either today or tomorrow. Oh well.

Carmen, my sales rep at PP, called me shortly after I made the purchase yesterday to confirm that it was in fact me making this charge on my credit card, and also to confirm the shipping address which is my office. She also confirmed this morning via online chat that it did indeed ship out yesterday. Very helpful and informative those folks.
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

Projector has arrived! I knew it would be big but man it's a friggen' BEAST in person! That's my 16 oz. coffee mug next to it for scale. Gotta make sure that shelf is nice and reinforced before I put this thing up for sure! I'll have some angled blocking and additional 3/4" plywood above the shelf supporting it, in addition to the brackets below.

Hopefully I can get some pixel comparison shots to the 4805 tonight.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Fired up the Panny this evening. Words can't express the difference between 480p and 1080p, it's just unbelievable. Can't wait to get this thing permanently mounted and then re-do my screen larger.

I took a few test photos from Avatar, both lights off and lights on, from both projectors, to try to illustrate the difference. As you can see the AR100 still looks washed out a bit with the lights on in Vivid Cinema picture mode, Eco bulb power setting. But it's not nearly as washed out as the 4805 was.

4805, lights off:

AR100 lights off:

4805 lights on:

AR100 lights on:



Panny BRD player graphic on the 4805:

And on the AR100:

Obviously with the size of the photos on Photobucket, it's difficult to pick up on the detail of the AR100 over the 4805. Also I definitely think there's some calibration to be done. The cinema mode seems to have sort of a greenish tint over the Normal picture mode. But all in all I'm highly impressed so far, and my wife's jaw was practically on the floor when she came in there to see it.
post #9 of 22
Patrick, it's nice that you took the time to share your experience and I'm glad the AR100U is working out for you. Going from 480p to 1080p has to be a huge revelation, even in my case going from 720p to 1080p was a big improvement and not in a subtle way either. I don't see the greenish tint you mention and I haven't bothered to calibrate my 100 yet but if you remember the Projector Review article you may want to try their quick settings before doing a full calibration on your projector. Good stuff, keep it coming.

post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Oh wow, great. I must have missed that in another post somewhere in the AR100 thread. I'll definitely try that out. I plan on working on the mount tonight and hope to have it up before lunch tomorrow.
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well I took down the 4805 projector this evening, first time it's ever been down since I hung it up there in late 2005. I set it down and had the first side-by-side comparison to the AR100. It pretty much dwarfs that old 4805

So then I got to looking at how I would adapt the hanging "mount plate" to work with this new projector. Due to the size of the unit, and the size of the mount hole pattern (5 bolts spaced farther out vs. 3 on the 4805), I could not use the old mount plate. However I did want to keep using the same 4 threaded rods that hang down from the "shelf" to serve as pitch/roll/yaw adjustment.

The solution I came up with was to use 2 layers of plywood glued together. The bottom layer (closest to PJ) would have the mount holes drilled in it, as well as some cutouts so that it would sit flush with all the mount holes. The upper layer would have the 4 holes for the threaded rods.

To keep things flush, I made holes in the top layer to recess the mount screws going through the bottom layer. Similarly the bottom layer has large 1" holes so that the threaded rods/nuts/washers could recess through the bottom layer.

Thanks to the PDF drawing of the projector posted in the AR100 thread, I was able to print that out to get the mount holes in the exact spot on the mounting board. First I checked the spacing.

I cut two piece of plywood 13.5" x 18", marked lines for PJ centerline and rear of unit to leave at least 4" clear, and then marked and cut the bottom layer to clear the lens surround and the rear middle foot.

Test-fitting the bottom layer to make sure all holes lined up. As usual there was a bit of hole reaming that had to be done.

Then test fitted the upper layer on top. I made sure to make the holes to access the mount bolts large enough to get the socket in there. Had to ream some of these out just a bit also. Took a few tries, trial and error.

Both layers flipped upside down and clamped together. This shows the large holes that will be used to recess the 3/8" threaded rods, nuts, and washers.

All glued up, clamped, with several screws helping with the clamping duty. "Glue it and screw it" as Mike Holmes says

This shows the mount bolt recessed. And yes one of those empty holes above there is an *oops*

Threaded rod will stick up through and be secured from the top side, then go up through the shelf hanging on the wall.

Threaded rod, nut, and washer recessed through the bottom layer.

Now it's 2:15 AM and I must retire. Hoping to continue this in the morning and get it mounted up and working before lunch.

Yes the plywood looks like poo right now, but I will be sanding it down, rounding all corners, and painting everything a nice flat black to match the trim in the room.
post #12 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well I definitely did NOT have it up and running by lunch on Saturday. More like late Saturday evening.

Saturday morning I started work on reinforcing the original upper "shelf" section.

Since I don't have a table saw, this worked quite well as a straightedge guide for my circular saw. This is the top piece that will go on top of the original upper "shelf":

Original shelf with additional plywood glued and screwed together, with cleats added for inverted baseboard molding:

Flipped upside down. Had to enlarge a couple of the original slotted holes (for yaw angle adjustment) to match up with the new ones in the piece above, and to account for one being so near to the projector mount bolt in the lower piece

Test fit on the original shelf brackets, also with a block added above for attaching upper bracing

Took it back down and added crown molding. I did this by setting it upside down on the worksurface with 3/4" material underneath the inverted baseboard pieces. This made the top of the crown molding be 3/4" above the top of the baseboard pieces.

Projector plate bolted to projector, with suspension rods secured.

Before I could hoist the thing up into place, I added some bracing to the top of the shelf to prevent any flexing movement whatsoever. Believe me when I could say that you could hang from this thing.

And here is the new AR100U hanging in it's new, permanent location.

Yes I hate the cable wrapping around it. I want to look into that system where the cable and power can be run in the wall and connected to the normal power outlets.

Also realized I made one little screwup. I cut a notch in the upper shelf for passing cables down, but failed to cut the same notch in the projector mounting plate, whose back edge is only 1/4" from the wall. So when I take this whole thing back down for paint, I'll have to cut that notch. So until then the cables still have to wrap all around like they did before.

Looking back and considering the amount of lens shift I had to use to get this thing centered on my original screen, I'm now kind of wishing the thing was all the way up at the ceiling. At least that way the crown molding could be integrated into crown that I intend to add around the entire room perimeter. Oh well, it wouldn't really work with this design anyway as I need to access the threaded rods and nuts up on top of the shelf.

Next up - BIGGER SCREEN! I've been looking at some of the manual masking threads and decided I really want top/bottom 2.35 masking (CIW). I really like the one in the DIY CIH forum that's just velvet wrapped around foam boards with a few magnets to hold them up or down. Looks really simple and effective. I may also do the rest of the masking on the new screen with thin boards instead of a 1x4 wood frame, so as to minimize shadows between the outer edge of the frame and the painted wall surface.
post #13 of 22
Nice work so far, certainly one of the more unusual concepts for a projector wall mount I've seen. If you don't go into the wall with your cables you may want to consider plastic surface raceways to hide your wires. It's cheap, easy and can be painted to match the wall, gives it a more organized look. If you using a UPS surge protector for your projector and it is sitting on the floor it provides a convenient way to tie into it.


I seem to remember seeing similar stuff at Home Depot in the electrical section of the store so you can give it a look to see if it works for you.

It's a shame you can't hide those black shelf brackets.
post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
They will be hidden, more or less, when the whole assembly gets black paint. I say black, since all the other trim and doors in the room are black. But do you think that would look weird with the white projector? See my 3D rendering in post #4 above.

I may actually have to do a raceway or something. This is an exterior wall with insulation, so that in-wall solution with ~3" deep boxes and trying to fish cables through might be difficult, not to mention reducing the effectiveness of what little insulation is there where it gets compressed by the boxes.
post #15 of 22
Thread Starter 
Wellll I just remembered that the upper shelf is now rigidly attached to the wall with blocking and wood/drywall screws, and I'd rather not have to take those screws out and re-use the holes or make new holes in the wood if I take the thing down to paint it. So I may end up just brush-painting the shelf. Not sure if I'll brush, roll, or spray the projector mounting plate.
post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
I don't know, I just ASSumed that dark colors in general were more difficult to paint. That's why I mentioned the B-M chocolate brown in our living room that went on with 2 coats, no primer, and looks great. I've painted nearly every room in our house now with B-M other than the Behr in this room, and I love the way it brushes and rolls on. I can't remember off-hand the specific B-M paint I've been using, but it usually runs about $35/gallon.
post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Didn't get any chance at all to paint anything over the weekend. Hoping I can get it done during the week before we have friends over this coming Saturday, but I don't know if it will happen at this point.

All I had a chance to do was grab a nail punch to sink a couple of finish nails in the crown molding that didn't go in all the way.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Here we are, 6 weeks later, and I still haven't done a darn thing since initially hanging the projector, other than calibrating with the S&M blue-ray disc. I probably need to run the calibration again since the projector now has over 100 hours of use. I'm using the REC709 mode as the calibrated mode for DVD and BRD viewing, in low-power eco bulb mode. Images look absolutely STUNNING in a fully dark room with ~9-foot throw distance on my current 72" painted screen. Can't wait to redo the screen and take it up to the max size of nearly 100" at this throw range.
post #19 of 22
This has been an exciting and interesting thread, I've enjoyed your progress and the pictures, thanks very much for sharing smile.gif I am still on the fence about which projector I will be getting. My two choices are either the Viewsonic Pro8200 for more budget friendly, or wait a tiny bit longer and save up for this Panny you have displayed in the pics. Thanks again for sharing with us!
post #20 of 22
I enjoyed reading it too. Glad it was bumped. I'll read about a normal guy's budget build who comes up with clever ideas like the PJ mount instead of a 50k professional build any day.
post #21 of 22
Great little project!

Question though, why not just place the projector on top of the shelf? It seems counterproductive to go through that hassle of hanging it in my opinion. Looks great regardless, just a thought.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by secondhander View Post

Great little project!

Question though, why not just place the projector on top of the shelf? It seems counterproductive to go through that hassle of hanging it in my opinion. Looks great regardless, just a thought.

lol wow, I totally just left this thread for dead I guess. Honestly I haven't done anything to the room since I hung the new projector over 1 1/2 years ago. We've had tons of use from it, though. The bulb life is nearly 1400 hours. I actually ended up placing an older small flat screen TV in the room for my son to watch his stuff on during the day, so that we're not burning lamp hours every day for that sort of thing.

I still have plans for a larger screen. I also want to try soundproofing the screen wall as my son's bedroom is on the other side. We had a presentation at my architecture office for some sound deadening sheet material called dB-3 and dB-MAX, which attaches to the wall studs and then the sheetrock goes over that. I plan on tearing off the sheetrock on the theater room side of that wall, insulating the wall, using the sound deadening sheet material, then putting up new sheetrock and painting the entire wall black except for the screen area.

Oh yeah, I never got around to painting the projector mount either. :P As for hanging it, I wanted to keep the same general setup as I had on the old projector, without adding a bunch of bracing on the bottom side of the "shelf". All the bracing and such is pretty much hidden above the shelf and behind the crown molding.
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