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Old Playroom Becomes Kid-Proof Theater

By Lisa Montgomery
CE pro designs a space that'll stand up to the wear and tear of two grade-school boys.

Home theaters are chock-full of sensitive equipment. There's the rack that holds your A/V receiver and new Blu-ray player; the glass-lens toting projector and of course, the fabric video screen.

The owners of this theater knew all too well the damage their two sons, ages 8 and 10, could inflict on such a delicate setup as this. The word projectile' came up quite often in our conversations, says custom electronics professional Derek Cowburn of DistinctAV in McCordsville, Ind. Protecting the gear from chucked footballs and other toys was paramount.

The 106-inch Dragonfly screen chosen for the space was attached to a motor so it could be retracted when the family wasn't watching a movie. Tucked up into a bulkhead, it's completely out of harm's way when the kids are playing.

Next, the projector. Rather than mount the unit in the middle of the ceiling right where the action is, Cowburn tucked it around a corner near the ticket booth and concession stand at the back of the room. The Epson LCD projector we chose provides a lot of lens shift, which gave us the flexibility to place it just about anywhere in the room, says Cowburn.

That left the speakers and the audio/video component. The five SpeakerCraft speakers and subwoofer were recessed into the walls and ceiling, and the equipment rack was placed away from the action in a nearby utility room.

The other concern was the remote control. First and foremost, the family needed a device that would be easy for everyone to use. Cowburn's pick: the radio frequency-based RTI T2C. Equipped with a built-in screen and plenty of programming power, it afforded him the ability to create separate control pages for the parents and the kids.

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