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The Homemade Star Trek Theater

From framing to fixtures, a do-it-yourself sci-fi fan boldly goes where no one (or theater) has gone before.

Gary Reighn has boldly gone where no one has gone beforeor perhaps where only a few have gone. This Philadelphia-area homeowner not only built a home theater based on the command bridge of a popular science fiction show with a cult followingothers have done thatbut he also did it all himself.

He's responsible for everything from framing the walls to installing the equipment to crafting space view ports and simulated computer screens.

And although he insists he is not a Trekkie who dresses up and attends conventions, one might compare him favorably to the original series' Scotty character, who was always repairing the engines and warp drives in the nick of time.

This job, fortunately for Reighn, didn't have a deadline, an impending Klingon attack or the nagging of Captain Kirk. Gary was able to take two years, from cleaning out his basement to finishing the 19-by-14-foot space. I'm a big sci-fi fan. I like Star Wars and Star Trek a lot. And I always wanted to do a big-screen theater, but plasma screens were too expensive when I started this [in 2002], Gary says.

I've always been an audio junkie and a little bit of a videophile. We had a Polk-based system upstairs, and the theater was an opportunity to spend some more money on it.

When he saw some million-dollar Star Trek-like theaters featured in magazines, he knew what he wanted to do. Only Gary's budget was about $15,000.

First, he built a scale model of the room, which served as his blueprint. The fine details he would figure out as he went along. The walls went up, the floor went down. And although the basement only offered 7 1⁄2 feet of height, he added a riser for a back row of seats, bringing the ceiling height there down to 7 feet.

There would be no digging an extra couple of feet down like in some expensive projects. A water heater was moved, but a water meter right in line with a side wall was simply boxed over to appear as part of the ship's architecture. An all-important fire extinguisher was placed behind a metal door in the back, which also blends in with the decor.

Gary admits he couldn't build an audiophile- and videophile-grade system with his budget, but he appears to have done pretty well, with a high-definition Sony LCD projector capable of 720p resolution, Polk audio speakers in a 7.1 configuration, a Velodyne subwoofer, Yamaha receiver, Bravo DVD player, Philips Pronto remote, and Bass Shakers beneath the two home theater chairs in the front row.

The back row seats, Gary proudly points out, are just comfortable office recliners that cost $50 each. Gary fitted each of the back-row seats with his own custom-made cup holders.

For more on the homemade Star Trek theater, check out
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