Darren's 100th post / DIY Basement & Home Theater Construction Thread - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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This is my 100th post to AVS. Yesterday I responded to a thread, saw my handle, and realized I had just made my 99th post. I've been thinking of starting a build thread and realized that I should dedicate my 100th to it.

Inspired by all your construction threads I thought I'd join the craziness and start detailing my basement. Plus the family hardly recognizes me anymore so I figured one more thing to eat my time and they won't even know I exist except for holidays. That means more time to work in the basement!

I've been around AVS for about 4 years now, mostly as a lurker. I tend to stay on the Infocus 4805 threads, the HTPC forum, and now the dedicated theater forum. I may or may not also visit rastargate's thread from time to time

4 years ago I bought the Infocus 4805 projector the budget king. Ever since then I've been eyeing a partially finished basement room with the idea of making it a home theater. Last spring we decided to finish the basement and my wife just kind of assumed I'd make a home theater. Isn't she awesome!? Well I may have pushed her down that path but still

Hopefully by detailing I'll give a little something to this community I've taken so much from.

The actual build started in April so it will take some work to bring it up to present time. This first post will be used as a jumping off point.
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post #2 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 03:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's the clean slate for what I have/had to work with. The theater room is on the left, the rest of the basement is on the right. I have to somehow find room to fit a bathroom, bedroom, and laundry.



The diagram above just shows the 12" concrete block walls, and measurements are not the finished area. At one point a previous owner built an addition and expanded the foundation. The basement part of the addition is where the theater goes. You can see that the original foundation wall still separates the two areas and will make for interesting sound isolation options.

Here are pictures of the theater from before construction right when I started demo. They start from the doorway and move right to left.

NW corner



Fireplace on west wall



SW corner



SE corner



NE corner



As you can see the room turned into a place to store junk, keep the treadmill, and also as a way to run low voltage to various places in the living room above. Time to make it into a real usable space!

If you notice there's a very short knee wall / shelf on the east wall. Since this is a sub-basement (see small stairs) that shelf is structural and supports the footings for the original foundation. Unfortunately it means I lose about a foot of floor space and is the reason I gave two dimensions in the layout.

I peeled off drywall in one corner, and it turns out they framed with furring strips and used white foam boards for insulation. Time to go Mike Holmes on this [email protected]&*#!.




I wish I had good pictures of the demo. Needless to say after two full pickup loads to the dump and one big ass bonfire, it's ready for some real work.

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post #3 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 04:08 PM - Thread Starter
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The one big thing I hired out was a drain tile drainage system. This is a 1950's house and never had a proper drain system on the original foundation. The theater room does have an exterior drain tile. I had these guys bid the job - http://standardwater.com/. Their bidder flat out told me he was surprised to be coming to this address since I live in a very sandy area with a low water table. He thought I could solve my seepage problems from additional grading and gutters and downspouts. I hired them anyways for peace of mind.

Their plan was to run an interior drainage in yellow here.



First they dug a trench around the perimeter of the original foundation to about 6 inches below the footings.



They were able to tie into the existing sump which made me happy. Unfortunately it's in the theater.



Next they run perforated PVC along the footings.





Then they drill several holes in the base of each lowest block, fill the trench with gravel, put a dimpled drainage board across the footings, vapor barrier over the gravel, and put a complete moisture barrier along the wall tucked into the drainage board.



The next day the concrete crew comes and patches everything back up.



I asked the concrete crew to leave an area around all my basement plumbing open as I will use that to plumb a bathroom.

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post #4 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
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I figured I should mention something about what's been done and where I'm at, and also design decisions. I'll keep trying to post my pictures/planning to this thread.

Here's what's been done:

1. Demo
2. Drainage system
3. Egress window - this I did myself, concrete saw and all
3. HVAC - I literally replaced my entire trunk plenum and supply lines. Fun stuff...
4. Plumbing - I roughed-in a bathroom and also rerouted many drain lines, including putting a snap cutter to my 3" cast iron stack pipe. Fun stuff. I also plumbed a water softener and rerouted a lot of the copper in my house.
5. Fireplace - I replaced the wood burning stove with a gas fireplace. I know it's sacrilegious to replace wood with gas, but we have a wood burning fireplace upstairs and wanted something more convenient downstairs.
6. Installed hat track / RSIC clips
7. Replaced windows in theater
8. Framing
9. Electrical - This is where I'm at currently. I'm 80% done with the rough-in but got sidetracked by deciding I just needed to have whole house audio and HD video distribution. What a black hole in terms of time.

You may have noticed I list fireplace. I also have a couple of small windows. Both are going to be in the theater. I know it's unorthodox, but especially with the fireplace I couldn't in good consciousness take out a fireplace and not replace it. We compromised with a gas fireplace which should do well to keep us warm in the wintertime here in MN. I also couldn't completely cover the windows, so I've compromised by considering good curtains and window tint.

I'm trying to do the works on the theater - DD, GG, hat track, proscenium, riser.

This will be a long journey, but I'm truly inspired by the efforts of all the people on the forum.
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post #5 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 07:09 PM
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Cool shots of the drainage system. Very educational!
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post #6 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 07:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's a sneak peek of where I'm at now with the theater room.

Finished dimensions will be 21'2" by 14'2" wall to wall, or 21'2" by 13'6" floor space. Look at the wall on the left to see why the floor space is smaller than wall to wall space. I still haven't decided how to finish that part, because I need a way to maximize the floor space. Screen wall is the one to the left of the fireplace.

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post #7 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 10:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I literally completely redid every HVAC supply and return in my home. This was a lot of work but it was a case where things were done originally in a way that was not at all optimized for a finished basement. This was a recurring theme considering the home is 50 years old and the ceilings are only 7' (or 7.5' in the theater).

I don't have many pictures but here's the before and after showing the main supply and return trunks off the plenum.





For the theater I put in two 6" supplies and a single large return. The theater also has a 12x8 trunk line going through it. It was originally 8x6 but I upsized it to handle the additional volume and then lined with duct liner. What you thought duct liner only had a single purpose?

Here's the main duct I added to the theater.





I bought some duct liner adhesive and pins. The pins I used included a self-adhesive versus the weld kind. I'm a little worried about longevity but what's done is done.





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post #8 of 58 Old 03-19-2009, 11:05 PM - Thread Starter
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I have a dilemma I'm hoping you all can help me with. I wanted to replace my electrical panel because I was out of breakers. I hired my brother's electrician friend for the job. He did a good job and I'm happy with the work he did but the work was done without a permit. Now for the remainder of the electrical I'm doing my own work and do want to get a permit. I'm worried that there's going to be a problem with the panel work and the inspector will know it's recent and done without a permit. I don't like being in the bind and should have worked it out with the electrician, but I just assumed he'd be doing the work with a permit. Any advice? All the other work I'm doing is with a permit and I want my electrical work to be done with one too.

Here's the old and new panel.





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post #9 of 58 Old 03-20-2009, 05:48 AM
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Go ahead and get an electrical permit and let them inspect the panel. They want come out until you have the basement roughed in and you can just say the panel had to be replaced as well. I don't think it should be a prblem with most inspectors.
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post #10 of 58 Old 03-20-2009, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jntart View Post

Go ahead and get an electrical permit and let them inspect the panel. They want come out until you have the basement roughed in and you can just say the panel had to be replaced as well. I don't think it should be a prblem with most inspectors.

Are you saying to get my permit for the new circuits only, and then if they ask when the panel was replaced say it had to be done to support the new circuits?
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post #11 of 58 Old 03-20-2009, 11:37 AM
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No, include the panel in with the new permit you are about to get (I think we're assuming you haven't gotten it yet). I agree with jntart that it won't be a big deal (though I'm curious how he got power cut to the panel, unless it's a subpanel).

By the way, I would either keep the "left" wall (opposite the fireplace) the way it is and put something like oak plywood as a low shelf, or pull the wall out to make it flush (1.5" out so you can put treated wood vertically for that foot and a half or so). Speaking of.. it looks like the studs of your walls (in some cases, namely on that wall) are touching the block.. (and need to be pulled away 1/2", or have something between them, or be treated)

Looking good so far..

-Tim
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post #12 of 58 Old 03-20-2009, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miltimj View Post

No, include the panel in with the new permit you are about to get (I think we're assuming you haven't gotten it yet). I agree with jntart that it won't be a big deal (though I'm curious how he got power cut to the panel, unless it's a subpanel).

By the way, I would either keep the "left" wall (opposite the fireplace) the way it is and put something like oak plywood as a low shelf, or pull the wall out to make it flush (1.5" out so you can put treated wood vertically for that foot and a half or so). Speaking of.. it looks like the studs of your walls (in some cases, namely on that wall) are touching the block.. (and need to be pulled away 1/2", or have something between them, or be treated)

Looking good so far..

Thanks for the comments.

No I haven't gotten the electrical permit. I know you're technically supposed get the permit at the commencement of any work, but I thought I'd pull the wires and then get the permit when I'm close to rough inspection. I do have all the other permits (basement finish, HVAC, plumbing) as those were with my city.

The electrician cut the power himself outside at the point where it comes off the aerial power line and hits the house. He also replaced the meter. I didn't watch too closely but asked him about it beforehand and he uses special insulated gloves to work with the live service wires.

I made sure to leave a small gap from the concrete for all walls, but in some cases there is in reality only about 3/8". I'll try to take a closer pic to show. I was really trying to maximize floor space here.
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post #13 of 58 Old 03-20-2009, 03:46 PM
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No need to show it, that gap should suffice; it looked from the wide angle like it was tight.

-Tim
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post #14 of 58 Old 03-20-2009, 10:25 PM
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I hope you mean he installed a new meter base and left the power companines meter. Depending on your electric utility you may get in trouble for cutting meter seals and especially cutting service from the weatherhead. The co-op I work for would disconnect your service when they find something like this until you get an inspection. Basically anthing done from the meter back to the street would be considered tampering. Sometimes forgiveness can get expensive. At this point I would say pay for the permit on the electrical and say that one thing led to another and everything was replaced. If everything is done up to code you should be okay.
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post #15 of 58 Old 03-21-2009, 09:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jntart View Post

I hope you mean he installed a new meter base and left the power companines meter. Depending on your electric utility you may get in trouble for cutting meter seals and especially cutting service from the weatherhead. The co-op I work for would disconnect your service when they find something like this until you get an inspection. Basically anthing done from the meter back to the street would be considered tampering. Sometimes forgiveness can get expensive. At this point I would say pay for the permit on the electrical and say that one thing led to another and everything was replaced. If everything is done up to code you should be okay.

It looks like he didn't actually replace the meter itself.





If I have my terminology correct then he did disconnect service at the weatherhead. This is pretty bad from an inspector's point of view?



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post #16 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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I had a PM about audio/video distribution and thought I'd describe what I'm doing for pre-wire. I have a lot of time, money, and effort put into future-proofing my home for A/V and network.

The equipment rack for the theater also houses the leviton panel for my structured wiring project, since the two functions are somewhat overlapping.

Question for everyone: When you built your theater, did you run subwoofer cable to multiple locations to keep your options open or did you decide on subwoofer placement right away? Speakers follow a traditional placement, but the subwoofer not so much.

Here's the various cabling I bought:

Cat5e - Used for ethernet, phone, and future expansion (considered cat6 but decided not to for fear of requiring more expensive tools and connectors)
12-ga 2 conductor speaker wire - Used for theater speakers
14-ga 4 conductor speaker wire - Used for runs to volume controls or wall plates
14-ga 2 conductor speaker wire - Used for runs to individual speakers
RG6 CCS (copper clad steel) - Used for cable/satellite/RF modulation
RG6 SC (solid copper, 95% tinned copper braid) - Used for component video and baseband audio.

Theater zone -
Prewire for 7.1 sound using 12 gauge speaker wire and RG6 SC to screen wall
4 cat5e to theater screen (IR repeater and future expansion)
4 cat5e to projector (IR emitter and future expansion)
3 RG6 SC for component video to projector
1 RG6 SC for composite video to projector
1 VGA to projector
1 HDMI to projector

Theater wall plate -
I'm putting a generic wall plate in the theater for temp usage. Think: you want to play something off your laptop, or a friend brings over the latest gaming console you don't own.
3 RG6 SC for component video
1 RG6 SC for composite video
1 VGA
1 HDMI
1 RG6 SC for SPDIF
2 RG6 SC for 2 channel analog
4 cat5e for ethernet, phone, and future expansion

Zone A - This is a generic zone. Each generic zone gets 2 RG6 CCS and 4 cat5e.

Zone B - This is a generic zone wired for whole house audio. Each whole house audio zone has 4 conductor speaker wire and cat5e run to a wall plate for volume control. From the wall plate runs 2x2 conductor speaker wire to individual speakers. I'm considering buying a system from HTD.com and housing the controller/amplifier in the equipment closet. Some of these zones have 2 RG6 SC running back to the equipment closet to support a local 2 channel audio source (iPod, DVD).

Most of my bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and the deck implements one or other generic zone, or both.

Living room zone - This is a sort of hybrid zone. It is "off the grid" for my whole house audio because I wanted to enable surround sound. I do want to play sources housed in the equipment rack in the living room, in particular the HD DVR. I ran 4 RG6 SC from the equipment rack to here, in order to use 3 for component video and one for digital audio.

Any critique of this plan appreciated!
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post #17 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 01:44 PM
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WOW!! The tiling was very informative. I have never seen anyhting like that ever. You have done a ton of work and I'm impressed. Keep up the good work...I'm subscribing to this thread!

Understanding the unexplainable"
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post #18 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 01:54 PM
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My parents drain tiled there basement 9 years ago. It has worked out great for them. I think they have 3 pits in various locations.
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post #19 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 02:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 68sting View Post

My parents drain tiled there basement 9 years ago. It has worked out great for them. I think they have 3 pits in various locations.

Thanks 68sting. Did they have an interior system like I had installed? There are basically a couple of schools of thought, one being that the only way to do it right is from the exterior. I don't really care as long as my finished space is kept dry.
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post #20 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 02:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiskey alpha View Post

WOW!! The tiling was very informative. I have never seen anyhting like that ever. You have done a ton of work and I'm impressed. Keep up the good work...I'm subscribing to this thread!

Thanks whiskey alpha. I have never done anything near as ambitious with my house as this. I've been at it for almost a year now. The internet is really an amazing place how you can have so much knowledge at your fingertips. I've basically taught myself how to do everything along the way.
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post #21 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
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My basement project includes a bedroom, so that required an egress window. I special ordered a window well from Lowes called ScapeWEL made by Bilco. Here's the manufacturer's picture:



I followed this article from RD.com almost exactly:
http://www.rd.com/how-to-install-bas...icle18117.html

Working with the concrete saw was crazy. It just spews a stream of concrete dust that permeates everything. It made my hair completely grey... looked like I had aged another 30 years.

Here's the picture I took while prepping:



And here's a picture of how it looks now:

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post #22 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's my current thinking for the theater design and possible seating arrangement. This doesn't show the riser or stage, but does show columns and soffit. I'd like to do a 2.35 AT screen. I'm thinking of 105.75" x 45" screen size.

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post #23 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 02:59 PM
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Quote:


Thanks 68sting. Did they have an interior system like I had installed? There are basically a couple of schools of thought, one being that the only way to do it right is from the exterior. I don't really care as long as my finished space is kept dry.

Interior like yours.
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post #24 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 03:18 PM
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Darren,

What part of town are you in? I'm up in Maple Grove if you need someone local to bounce ideas off of. Shoot me a PM and I can add you to the local list for us MSP HT Guys get together again for beer.
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post #25 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Train View Post

Question for everyone: When you built your theater, did you run subwoofer cable to multiple locations to keep your options open or did you decide on subwoofer placement right away? Speakers follow a traditional placement, but the subwoofer not so much.

Good question - I've been planning on running an unterminated RG6 in the wall to each "possible" position (based on the layout of the room). Either hidden behind drywall, or a blank wall plate. You can always put an RCA on it later.
Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Train View Post

Here's the various cabling I bought:
...
Theater zone -
Prewire for 7.1 sound using 12 gauge speaker wire and RG6 SC to screen wall
4 cat5e to theater screen (IR repeater and future expansion)
4 cat5e to projector (IR emitter and future expansion)
3 RG6 SC for component video to projector
1 RG6 SC for composite video to projector
1 VGA to projector
1 HDMI to projector

I'd get rid of the 4 Cat-5e to the screen and projector, and just run one plus a 2" (or so) smooth conduit (easier pulling). There's also (hopefully) no way you'd run composite (maybe VGA) to your projector. If it were me, I'd do a (larger) conduit and only an HDMI. You can use something like the DVDO Edge or a good receiver to upconvert everything. Much simpler to manage and cheaper on the cables! Plus, with the conduit, you can run something/anything later if you want.
Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Train View Post

Theater wall plate -
I'm putting a generic wall plate in the theater for temp usage. Think: you want to play something off your laptop, or a friend brings over the latest gaming console you don't own.
3 RG6 SC for component video
1 RG6 SC for composite video
1 VGA
1 HDMI
1 RG6 SC for SPDIF
2 RG6 SC for 2 channel analog
4 cat5e for ethernet, phone, and future expansion

Same concept, as the above, except you don't know what you're going to need to hookup from a source standpoint (whereas the projector doesn't often change). So it seems reasonable to me to run those, though I'd probably run only four RG-6 for component and SPDIF, since analog is unlikely to be used, and you can always manually swap them if need be (like your living room zone). I'd also add USB as you might want to plug in various devices if you go the HTPC route in the future. Either multiple USB, or one and have some outlets nearby that you can use for a hub (if it needs to be powered).

Same comment as above for 4 Cat-5e.. run a big conduit for this one as well, and only one cat-5e (or two if you use corded phones..) Most ideal is the ones that you know you will run through a conduit, and run a second conduit for expansion. Then you can pull outdated cable out, but also have room for additional if you want old and new together at some point.

Great plan thus far!

-Tim
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post #26 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mn_hokie View Post

Darren,

What part of town are you in? I'm up in Maple Grove if you need someone local to bounce ideas off of. Shoot me a PM and I can add you to the local list for us MSP HT Guys get together again for beer.

Hey Jason, I'm in Mounds View. I'd love to be included in any local meets. I've been burning the candle at both ends trying to make progress, but still feel like I'm a ways away from hanging the projector, so couldn't really host unless you all like sitting on nails and sawdust
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post #27 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 03:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-Train View Post

Hey Jason, I'm in Mounds View. I'd love to be included in any local meets. I've been burning the candle at both ends trying to make progress, but still feel like I'm a ways away from hanging the projector, so couldn't really host unless you all like sitting on nails and sawdust

No problem. You're welcome to check out my build. It's just about done now. As far as meet-ups. We usually get together at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Plymouth for wings and beer.
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post #28 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by miltimj View Post

I'd get rid of the 4 Cat-5e to the screen and projector, and just run one plus a 2" (or so) smooth conduit (easier pulling). There's also (hopefully) no way you'd run composite (maybe VGA) to your projector. If it were me, I'd do a (larger) conduit and only an HDMI. You can use something like the DVDO Edge or a good receiver to upconvert everything. Much simpler to manage and cheaper on the cables! Plus, with the conduit, you can run something/anything later if you want.

Thanks miltimj. I've given a lot of thought to running conduit, and still haven't decided how feasible it is. All four walls of the theater are concrete block that I framed in front of. You can see this in my latest diagram. Only the door and windows interrupt the block. I've been getting around this by fishing cables through 1" holes I've drilled through the block, but I don't know how I could manage running conduit through it. I was thinking at a minimum the cat5e would be a good starting point since you can run just about anything through it using baluns. The jury is still out on conduit though.
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post #29 of 58 Old 03-23-2009, 03:59 PM
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Hmm, that's tough - do you have room above the door that you can run it from? You could put a panel up for access (or make a soffit on the rack side), or else just take out one of the blocks and build a frame to support those above it, then run all of your cables out from there.

By the way, I didn't notice your location until the recent posts.. I probably live three miles south of you.. Let me know if you have a need for an extra set of hands.

-Tim
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post #30 of 58 Old 03-25-2009, 07:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by miltimj View Post

Hmm, that's tough - do you have room above the door that you can run it from? You could put a panel up for access (or make a soffit on the rack side), or else just take out one of the blocks and build a frame to support those above it, then run all of your cables out from there.

By the way, I didn't notice your location until the recent posts.. I probably live three miles south of you.. Let me know if you have a need for an extra set of hands.

Here's a picture of the wall opposite the rack to show you what I mean. I've been fishing cables through 1" holes I drill through the block, but would be interested in adding conduit. The projector will go basically right above where I'm standing.



Here's the doorway from both sides... currently no room for conduit. Maybe if I work at the block wall enough with my 1" drill bit and a chisel I can make a hole large enough for the conduit.

From inside the theater:



From outside the theater:

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