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The ultimate Home Made Home Theater


First a Small introduction... This project was constructed by Robert Cooke & Tom Schleef, and we began work in early February, 2005. The goal was to build an "associate" quality home theater with out the help of professionals. One of the trickiest parts about the whole project was building this sophisticated, yet elegant looking home theater in a remote location... Namely, the theater is to be located in Florida, but is being built in our Wood shop located in up-state New York and on top of it all, we both live several hours from the shop in NYC & Rochester.

house in Florida

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As I see it, this sets the bar for what we need to deliver in terms of looks & quality.
Side view

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Back View

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Now, lets understand the room that this thing will be built in. Its not big, just an 11"11' x 13'10" foot print. The one advantage is the ceiling height which is 9'11".
Back corner

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Closet... good for housing
all of our rack equipment.

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view of the room from the
outside, just one small window.

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Enough Introduction, Off to the good stuff. lets take a look at the components:
Lots of drivers
2 QSC amps
(Ignore the piece-of-dirt dvd-player)

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NAD 7 channel amp
and its sister pre-amp

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The Cabinets for the drivers are being hand built, this is because we curtailed the angle, size & DB to the requirements of the project (admittedly, the loudness may be a bit much, but heh)
Recessing driver wells

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angled baffles

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Basic housing

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We Built Seven of these bad boys (left,center,right,side-left,side-right,rear-left,rear-right)
They are 22"x12"x18". These will house 2 10" drivers and a tweeter. Notice they angle down, this is for directional sounds which will be aimed towards the users.
installing all of the drivers.
(7 mains x 3 drivers + 4 subs)x2 leads
=50 connections.
Triple that to 150 end points if
you consider the boxes
exterior terminals and plugs.

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Ok, so we had to test em out right.

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Mock-setup close up

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And We Built Four Subs, the big things on the bottom.
They are 18" x 60" x 36". These will each house one 15" titanic. The baffle is also angled & when doubled up will form a large horn. These will double as the stadium risers. See the below diagram for details on how it will form the 2 horns ( the cylinders represent the drivers).
stacked

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single

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riser layout

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A major component to the overall design is the (those sheet-rocked things you see jutting out of the ceilings & often in basements for housing HVAC systems). We used them for a slightly different purpose...to allowed us to minimize the impact to the original room while allowing us to conceal everything including wires, speakers, projector and lighting.

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Any wood worker will tell you
that you can never have too many clamps

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These will circumvent the entire room....Here's an example of how the drivers will be laid out, just imagine this whole thing up on the ceiling

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Take a look at these diagrams from a full room diagram of sound dissipation
full room view

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side view

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Single sub freq. response

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The entire exterior of soffit the will be constructed of oak. These will be used for building a nice cabinet style frame
Here is a pile of freshly
dado-ed lumber.

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Here is a good sample of what
the finished soffit will look like.
This particular soffit is the front,
containing the left, center & right channel speakers

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For comic relief, here is my brother crusin around home depot...Notice the shoes, they are from Japan, are made of wood and very loud when walking in warehouses
Quite a head turner

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Here is my brother & our dog.
The routers too loud I guess!

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No good theater is complete with out pillars. These were crucial in the lighting... They will each house a floor and sconce light.

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One pillar will also
house the light switch.
We are going with the
lutron GRAFIK Systems

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After being stained. We
went with Bombay Mahogany

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Here is the soffit flipped over (bottom side up ). As you can see, we made some 3&7/8" wholes for the recessed lighting. We are going with a dimmable brushed steel light.If you look really close you can see we even recessed the fixture itself, no seems!

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Next, we packed the whole thing up and drove to Florida!
From the garage...

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to the truck...

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To Florida.
(followed by a 5 hour nap!)

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After taking down the room...(removing things like fixtures, doors and molding)
we installed the subs
(which double as the stadium risers)

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Next we painted...

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ceiling is black to
work with the stars.

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And the walls are oxford brown,
to work with the Bombay Mahogany

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We installed the soffit around the top of the room

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This is the rear soffit, notice
there is room for 2 drivers and the
center will house the projector through the
small opening in the bottom

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The stars were installed through the attic
here is an image of what we had to
deal with in this stupid attic

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Here is all the optic fibers we added.
each black tube carries 32 fibers

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lighting unit

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The fibers fan out randomly & drop
through pin holes in a random fashion

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After punching the wholes & running the fibers through the ceiling we just had to push the fibers flush to the ceiling

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Finished product,
for the stars any ways

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We then rerouted the power line from the room's original over head light fixture to a new socket which I installed in the rafters.
Last, I mounted the lighting system on the rafters as well & then plugged it into the new socket... Now the stars are controlled by the light which.
(BTW, it was well in the 100s when I was up there, yes that is sweat on my face)

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Now it's time to run the wiring. We need to run everything thing through the soffits, and behind the speakers. The quantity of wires makes it no trivial task:
7 main speakers,
4 subwoofers,
12 recessed lights,
4 sconce lights,
4 floor level lights,
1 powered curtain rod.
And don't forget the lutron lighting system

For the audio cables we used
10 and 12 gauge for the mains and
subs respectively

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Here are the gang boxes for the lighting.
This is directly above the pillar that
hosts the lutron control panel.
You can notice several wires
running down into the pillar.

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Here is the lighting system,
after it's been installed
& wired up. As you can see, one
fader control for each set of lights.

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Next we needed to build a wall which will divide the closet from the main room.
Framed...

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installed...

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And sheet rocked.

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Here is a view from the inside
You can Also see the
audio ,video, power cables.

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And the electronics, admittedly
not too organized at the moment!

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And as you can see added some critical crown molding. In my opinion, essential for any half decent theater!
Next we covered the window.

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Next we added and painted the trim.

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Remember, this is a HOME MADE theater... Hence we are making the screen ourselves.

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Next is the sound absorption panels. There will be one (apx) 2'x4' panel between each pillar on the side walls and 1'x1' panels on the back wall above the couches
I decided to cut out the corners in a traditional theater-style pattern.

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We hot-glued 2 layers of 3/8"
batting to the pine back board
(this is what stops the sound reflections)

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We then surfaced the batting
with an acoustically transparent
black fabric (using staples)

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To be consistent with the L&F,
we surrounded the panels with a
3/4" oak-border backdrop

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Ta-Da, the final product

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Next I Attached the sound panel backings to the wall...

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Here is a shot after applying
the sound panels & hanging the
curtain. Were getting there!

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Next, we assembled the speaker grills.
First, I mitered the frames.

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Then I framed them using
corner clamps & brads.

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Applied the fabric...

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Here is the final product,
including the sound panels & grills...

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Time for the curtain... Typically a curtain should be twice the size of the area it is covering. I'm dealing with a 12' x 9' wall so I'm making two 12'x9' curtains. Because of the limit in fabric size from the distributors, I cut out 6 pieces of black synthetic velvet( velvet is super light absorbent which is good!) which I will then sew together.

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I stitched 3 4'x9' pieces together
to make 1 12'x9' piece....

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I added brass rings so
that I can hang it.

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Here is the final curtain

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Now for the PC...I decided to go with a modest machine, because these have a tendency to become out dated so fast! I used an 80gb drive, 1/2 gb of 3400 ram, 3.4 ghz amd, and threw in a 16x dvd burner. The only key thing was the matrox card with native dvi-d support, so it can connect straight to the projector. (Side note, I also built the speakers in the background, along with all the other furniture you see: desk ,table, end table)

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Also included was a full in house network...
Thanks to Tom for wiring this up

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We build to large grills to cover the front of the subs

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Tom did a little work on adjusting the cross overs... We actually constructed the tweeters out on a table & wired them up to the speakers in place. This allowed us to quickly tune it specifically for the room.

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With the speakers tweaked out...

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We could finally install all of the grills.

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Now for the remote... I went with Pronto Philips ProntoPro NG TSU7000. Here I am configuring it.

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Here are some preview shots... Don't mind the temporary furniture ( the theater seating is on the way!!!)

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Here are some final shots of the screen...

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There were so many electronics that I had to add additional Air Conditioning lines
An intake & outlet for the closet

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A dedicated outlet for keeping the
project cool. Remember, this is hidden
behind the panel

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We filled the room with furniture
4 recliners with cup holders

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Popcorn machine

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We have added a rack to hold all of the electronics
A look inside the amp

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Rack from the Front

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Rack from the back

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Rack close up

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The End!