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Home Theater Project

I am about to share the steps that went into a decade long project riddled with technical challenges and delays.  It is finally complete although it will never be done as I will continue to tweak things in the coming years.  Part of the enjoyment will be realized from this tweaking.
Sony 1031Q Front ProjectiorThe Beginning
It all started with my first eBay purchase back in 1998.  A Sony 1031Q front projector.  It weighed well over 100 pounds and it came with no manual or digital controls.  Just dozens of potentiometers.  I stayed up all night until I was finally able to produce a picture on a blank wall.  I then bought a screen and mounted it on my lower basement ceiling.  I had a 10 foot image that did look better than any rear projection TV I had seen.  The room was unfinished and dingy but I watched several movies on a DVD player and line doubler, the state of the art at the time.  The picture wasn't great and it had drift which meant continually realigning it.

Sony G70
g70I quickly needed a better picture and where to go but back to eBay.  As luck would have it, a guy that lived on the other side of the highway from me was selling the better quality projectors.  I quickly contacted him and developed a friendship.  He wondered if connecting a computer to the projectors might improve the picture quality.  I traded up to a Sony G70 and begun my experiments with computers and projectors.  This one weighted over 175 pounds and took 4 grown men to lift it up to the ceiling  The mount cost about $200 by itself.

MoviMagic M2000Pure Digital Processing TM
After a failed attempt at a stand-alone DVD player/scaler combined fizzled, I decided to make my very own.  I had to do every part of the design, sales, marketing and manufacturing.  This was one of the best DVD players on the market.  It sold for $2500 and there are still several in use today.  It was a powder coated steel chassis with a anodized brushed aluminum front.  Silver solder and Canare BNC connectors were used to insure the highest integrity of the signal path.  I even had a model with the coveted Mike Parker mod pre-installed.  It really did make DVD's look as good as they could with 8 foot and larger screen sizes.

Shelved Project
1031QThe room that I decided to hang the projector in had many flaws that made me lose interest over time.  The projectors fans were very loud, the projector hung to low to add a second row of chairs for theater seating, the room needed drywall and carpeting, not to mention electrical work and ductwork.  It seemed like too many challenges existed so I bought a 60" Pioneer Plasma and hung it in my recroom.  I watched movies in that room for several years.

Epson 8350 Front ProjectorEpson 8350
This projector changed everything.  It was price performing ($1200), had a great 1080p picture, good black levels and a very quiet fan.  As an added bonus excellent lens shifting so the projector could be put into the back wall out of the way.  When I saw the specs on this unit I started to drool.  When they became available at Best Buy I bought one.  It is great!  I didn't even feel the need to calibrate it.  The picture out of the box was that good.  I had spent hundreds of hours over the years calibrating projectors to get a decent picture.  I was hooked.  I had upgraded the sound system in the recroom and quickly relocated it to the theater room.  Everything worked so well that I decided to plan to finally complete the room.

Construction Began
constructionI removed everything from the room, hired a contractor to do the mudding, taping and texturing.  Melanie and I painted the ceiling and walls.  I finished the ductwork, hung doors and finished the electrical.  It took several months of work.  Finally when things were getting close I ordered the carpeting and hired a friend of mine to install it.  The whole project cost me just under $9000.00.  You will find a complete equipment list at the end of this article.

Equipment List
Preamp/Processor: Onkyo PR-SC885
Amplifier: B&K AV5000 Series II
Amplifier: Onkyo M282
Speakers: B&W DM601 S2
Speakers: B&W CC6 S2
Speakers: Definitive Technology BP1.2X
HTPC: Homemade
Blu-ray Player / Game Machine: PS3
Remote: iPod Touch
Remote: iPad