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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello and welcome to my build thread. I have always enjoyed browsing build threads here on AVS so I thought it was time to do my own. I actually completed this build more than a year and a half ago so this will be a build retrospective. Since all of really good theaters featured in build threads have a cool name, I felt that I couldn't do a build thread until I came up with a name. So here it is... The Exascale Cinema.

I have been in my house a little over three years now. While the house was just over 10 years old when I moved in, I did many renovations and improvements to include finishing the basement and building the theater as part of that process. While not as elaborate as many builds featured here, I was able to do quite a bit with the space that I had available. I was able to keep the budget down by using some components already on hand from the theater at my last place. Hopefully in my next place I can do something more elaborate with a dedicated space and larger budget, but the Exascale Cinema is rocking it right now!

Attached is the floor plan for the walls that I put up in my basement. I just whipped it up in MS Word so don't expect it to be to scale. The basement in my house was completely unfinished which allowed me to set it up in the configuration that I wanted. There are spaces for the theater, general entertaining, a wood shop, an electronic shop, and a large storage room.

Equipment List:
Panasonic PT-AE8000U projector
Saaria 100" 16x9 screen
Yamaha RX-V863 receiver
Monolith Air Motion Center and Main speakers
Sony SS-MB150H Surrounds and Rear speakers
Monolith 10" 500 Watt Powered Subwoofer
Kaleidescape M700 disc vault
Kaleidescape 1U server
Kaleidescape K5000 player (music zone)
Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player
Tivo Premiere
Nuvo E6GM + E6GX wha (12 zones total)
Nuvo MPS4 music port, T2SIR tuner & RIPD ipod dock
Middle Atlantic Slim 5-29 rack
Universal MX-990 RF Remote


More to come...
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Chapter 1 - Prep work for walls

Here is the floor plan from the first post embedded as an image (dashed lines indicate the walls that were put up):



The best part about this basement is its a walk out as seen by the door and two windows on the right. The next best thing is that it is completely dry with no water problems. The third best thing was that there were not too many of the normal basement obstructions to work around in what became the living space. Beyond that.... It was challenging. As with most basements under two story houses, I wish it had just a little more space.

Before Pictures:
1. Looking down towards where the screen will go (sheets of foam on the screen wall):



It should be noted here that you don't see any duct work along the stair hall, parallel to the gas pipe, leading to where the projector and screen will go. This was not always the case. In fact my first big challenge was to re-route the duct work around the stair hall on the other side as seen in this picture. What happened with the original installers was that they had to go around the stair hall and they picked the easier way instead of the slightly harder way which would have put the duct work next to the I-beam as it should be.

2. Looking across the theater to where the storage closet will go (with an early test of electronic shop in that space):



3. Looking into what will be the electronic shop towards the left:



4. Looking into where the rack will go (under the re-routed ductwork), next to the stairs. Some structured wiring is visible - more on that later:



5. Looking into the wood shop from the electronic shop. These two spaces will later be walled off:



6. Looking out from the wood shop under the stairs. The 45 degree offsets for the supply duct were flipped to make the duct go around the stair hall to the left instead of the right. The return duct had to be moved and have its panning extended across the top of the supply duct since it originally came up on the left side.

 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Chapter 2 - Structured Wiring

Once the ductwork was fixed and before I charged into the basement wall framing, I took time to complete the structured wiring. As seen in the previous pictures there were quite a few wires hanging down on the stair hall wall. To facilitate getting wires to the upstairs bedrooms, I had installed a total of 8 1" smurf tube conduits from basement to attic. The stair hall wall was was continuous from the first floor to the attic. I was able to drill up into the first floor wall from the basement and drill down into the second floor wall from the attic. To meet in the middle, I had to make a cut in the drywall inside one of the second floor bedroom closets. From the hole that I cut I was able to drill down through the second floor bottom plate and then through the top plate of the first floor. Once that was done, snaking the flexible conduits down into the wall from the attic was pretty easy.

With the conduit in place, I then started pulling wire. In each bedroom, I put two wall jacks each with 2x CAT6 and 1x RG6QS cables. I used a 1000' spool of Belden 7961A quad shield coax with solid copper center conductor and 2x 1000' reels of Coleman CAT6 cable from the box store. I know there is much debate over the necessity of CAT6 over CAT5e since CAT6 can't do 10Gbps to the full 100M like CAT6A. Regardless, I decided to go with CAT6 for my Ethernet jacks given it can do 10Gbps over short distances and the potential for using it for non-Ethernet applications like HDMI over twisted pair that would benefit from the extra bandwidth of CAT6.

I also pulled speaker cable and CAT5 cable to each bedroom in order to support having a speaker in the ceiling and a control pad for the whole house audio system. When I got done pulling wires to the wiring panel I had a total of 81 cables of various flavors that end up there. As I was pulling cables I recorded each run in an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of how long the run was, how much of the remaining cable was left on the spools, and where the cable was terminated. Below is a screen shot of part of that spreadsheet.



With the wires all in place, it was time to put up a piece of 3/4" plywood backer board which was painted gun metal grey.



And now the fun begins with lacing up the patch panels:





 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Chapter 3 - Framing the Walls

With the structured wiring under control, it was finally time to put up the walls. After putting up 2" foam against the concrete walls, a friend came over to help with the framing. In the space of about 12 hours we were able to get almost 75% of the walls up.

Foam over the concrete (note my old projector on the ceiling used for tests):





First wall up (screen wall):








The storage room:



The walls between the electronic shop and the storage room (these were taken a little bit later with the wiring already installed):



The door to the electronic shop and rack opening in the wall. The temporary rack is sitting behind the opening and the Slim 5 is waiting on the floor:



The door to the wood shop. The area to the right will have a counter top and cabinets:

 

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Discussion Starter #6
Chapter 4 - A note about the cabinet wall

While designing the layout of the walls, I decided that I wanted a row of kitchen cabinets along the stair wall. The design needed to include space for a mini fridge and a microwave. So the challenge now was to figure out what size cabinets I needed to buy and then make the wall opening to match. I already knew that I wanted to add a 'wing wall' at the bottom of the steps to hide the right side of the cabinets. A matching wing wall on the left side where the cabinets meet the diagonal wall with the door to the wood shop establishes the space for the cabinetry. This could have been anywhere between 10'-12.5' based on the length of the stair hall wall. I settled on 11' by a combination of 2 ea 36" wide cabinets and 2 ea 30" wide cabinets.



I searched around online and found a cabinet supplier that offered free use of the 20/20 kitchen design tool. This let me visualize the design and ensure that I could match the required components with what was available as stock cabinetry as the local big box store. Here is a screen shot of the design that I made:



The final configuration for the upper cabinets was 36" + 30" (microwave) + 30" + 36". The base cabinets are 12" + (24" fridge opening) + 30" + 30" + 36".
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Chapter 5 - Drywall

Once all of the framing, electrical wiring, speaker wiring, etc. was complete, I began to hang the wall board. I had about 7'8" from the floor to the bottom of the floor joists so I opted to install the drywall vertically and removed a small amount from the top of each board. I didn't do any sound proofing beyond installing fiberglass insulation behind the walls. I am saving that for my next house ;) Hanging the drywall was kind of fun and it was satisfying to see the room start to emerge.

50 sheets of drywall please (screen wall):


The opening in the wall for the rack:




The door to outside:


The door to the wood shop:


The cabinet wall:


The soffit to conceal duct work:


Looking back towards the stairs (the rack was also doing a test fitting here):
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Chapter 6 - Drywall finishing

And now things start to come together... I decided that I was going to farm out the drywall finishing. It was probably the best decision I made on the whole project. It took a while but I found a really good drywall guy who did my project as a side job. Before he got started, he advised me to put more screws in my wall board. He also complimented me on having put almost every screw in at sufficient depth in the drywall, high praise indeed! It took him almost 3 days to do the mud & tape along with a primer coat of paint.

The drywall guy with his tool that applies mud to the tape automatically:


The tool was called a 'bazooka'. Here is the pump that loads it up with mud:


















 

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It looks great!!

I have a question about your rack. It looks like you have an opening in the wall for an exposed rack. I see that your rack has the plate that extends forward at the bottom. How are you going to handle pushing that against the wall, or are you going to cut off the plate at the bottom?

I have a very similar rack and haven't decided what direction I want to to yet.

 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
It looks great!!

I have a question about your rack. It looks like you have an opening in the wall for an exposed rack. I see that your rack has the plate that extends forward at the bottom. How are you going to handle pushing that against the wall, or are you going to cut off the plate at the bottom?

I have a very similar rack and haven't decided what direction I want to to yet.
Hello and thanks for your comments. The rack that you circled in the picture was not the one I ultimately used. You can see in that picture another rack off to the right. I was originally going to utilize the old relay rack by cutting down the height and mounting into a wall opening. But I decided that it would look hacked up no matter what I did. So I decided to just go with a different rack better suited for the job. I found a used Middle Atlantic Slim 5-29 rack that would work perfectly for what I wanted to do. I framed the opening just large enough for it to fit and then installed it so it would be flush with the trim boards. I will be posting the pictures of the finished rack in the coming days. Stay tuned!

 

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It looks great!!

I have a question about your rack. It looks like you have an opening in the wall for an exposed rack. I see that your rack has the plate that extends forward at the bottom. How are you going to handle pushing that against the wall, or are you going to cut off the plate at the bottom?

I have a very similar rack and haven't decided what direction I want to to yet.

I will be doing the same thing in my basement with the same rack.. i should have pictures posted in a week or 2
 

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These pictures are obviously fakes. No workspace in history of humanity has ever been this clean during a project. Nope, not buying it. ;)

Are you doing a drop ceiling in the space?
 
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wow @AlienWarlock your basement is extra clean, my is full of junk.
Can't wait to see how your theater turn out.
Good job so far.

Femi
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for the compliments. I suppose the photos were staged to hide the junk :) The wood in the joist bay was a bunch of garbage left by the previous owner that eventually was sent to the burn pile. But I did replicate the concept in the wood shop. And here are some more pictures of the rack progress since that seems to be the most popular feature of this thread so far.

The rack installed in the wall opening and components going in. I used a standard rack shelf flipped upside down to hold the non rack mountable receiver:


Here I'm holding up a piece of window casing to set the proper depth of the rack in the wall. I later had to take out the Monoprice whole house amps and mod them with a resistor in the power feed line of the blue LEDs. They were way too bright!


The back of the rack. The rats nest will be cleaned up later!


Here I began the drop ceiling after the wall paint was finished. I only took this one picture of that process unfortunately. I hung the screen so that I could get the first main rail of the ceiling centered on the screen. In retrospect, I was lucky not to poke a hole in the screen during the ceiling installation.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Chapter 7 - Installing Cabinets and Trim

Once the drywall was completed, the walls painted, and the drop ceiling installed, the project was headed for the final stretches. The installation of the row of cabinets was first. I went with 'Glenwood' Beech cabinets that were in stock for about $1,000 at the local Menards.



Here is the walk-out with the tile landing area in front of the door. I screwed a piece of 1/4" cement board to the concrete with tapcon screws and then used thinset mortar for the tiles.


Closeup of the door tile with the baseboards, aluminum trim/carpet tack strip, door casing and window ledges installed.


Here is the screen wall with the rolls of carpet pad ready to be installed. I haven't mentioned the lights before but this picture seems like a good place to do so. I wanted to do traditional PAR can lights mounted between the floor joints but quickly found that they would not line up in any way shape or form with the drop ceiling grid. I ended up going with surface mount 13W LED discs so that I could center the lights on the ceiling tiles. The lights that I used were designed to be mounted in a 4 inch round junction box. Some of the junction boxes needed to span between floor joists with hanger bars while others landed directly over and were screwed directly into a joist.


Here are the finished cabinets and the whole room right before the carpet went in. I had an old mini fridge that I wanted to use instead of buying a new one to fit in a 24" space. In order to keep the fridge off the floor and provide an edge for the carpet in that spot, I made a small box with a plywood top to fill in the toe kick space as if there was a cabinet in that position.

I did a little trick with the upper cabinets that you probably would never notice. I wanted to use a free standing microwave that I already had laying around instead of purchasing a built-in, over-the-range model. Furthermore, built ins have lights and exhaust fans on the bottom that would be redundant here. Even though the microwave that I had was fairly small, it was still deeper than would fit in the microwave cubbie that I was making. It would have stuck out quite a bit from the front of the cabinets. To get around this, I held the upper cabinets out from the wall 1.5 inches farther than normal by attaching a doubled up strip of 3/4" plywood to the top and bottom of each cabinet before installation.
 

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I just noticed you didn't put any insulation in the joist above your ceiling tiles. Are the tiles enough to stop sound from heard from above?
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I just noticed you didn't put any insulation in the joist above your ceiling tiles. Are the tiles enough to stop sound from heard from above?
Hello. The ceiling tiles do help a little bit with sound absorption. But to answer your question, the sound can definitely still be heard from above. It really isn't a problem for my situation anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Chapter 8 - The Penultimate Chapter

So now we are quickly reaching the end of this build retrospective. I thought I would do one more post focusing on the equipment rack before the final reveal. So here is a picture of the finished equipment rack:


Equipment:
Monoprice MPR-SG6Z whole house audio (2 of these)
Rolls RS81 AM/FM tuner
Yamaha RX-V863 receiver
Oppo BDP-103 Blu-ray player
Middle Atlantic DVD rack shelf
Kaleidescape M700 disc vault
Kaleidescape 1U server
Middle Atlantic 2U drawer
APC SmartUPS C 1000

And here is the back of the rack inside the electronic shop:


I used my old rack next to the main rack to hold a bunch of random other stuff like the TiVos, Xbox, security DVR and what not. I probably need to get rid of at least half of it, but for now it all works! And maybe I should also paint the 2x2 braces at the back of the rack, how embarrassing!

The back of the main rack:


I made good use of a pack of Middle Atlantic cable lacing bars and several rolls of Velcro here.

The patch panel:


There is lots of stuff going on here. In the middle is the networking rack with 24 port Ubiquiti EdgeSwitch, EdgeRouter lite and cable modem. On the left is the VeCoax ATSC modulator, Raspberry Pi for home automation, and various connections for the whole house audio. On the right is the box containing the coax distribution amps and next to that is a bluetooth to POTS phone adapter with 110 splitter block (an ode to voice).

And finally a closeup of the raspberry pi:


I am running a raspberry pi 2 with openHab for home automation. The white USB stick is the z-wave radio. The circuit board is an IR receiver and transmitter along with some various relays connected to the pi. Above that are the keypad connections to the Monoprice whole house amps along with a Bluetooth audio receiver.
 

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DANG, that's a nice clean wife job. Mine is a big mess and I need to clean it up sometime, but I don't have as much stuff as you do coming in.
 
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