Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

Well, after some procrastination, I thought I would finally get around to posting my construction thread over here at the Shack!

Build Pics Updated as of August 2008

The construction began on July 15, 2006 - I'll try and port over my posts from another thread, so that Shaksters can follow along the journey from the beginnings....the entire build was DIY, save and except for calling in the pros to do the carpet.

Quick & Dirties:

Room: 12.5ft x 20ft x 90in . Single drywall, mineral wool sound control, sealed door
Screen - 136" 16x9 DIY screen - drywall, with Behr SilverScreen coatings
First Row - ~12 ft
Second Row - ~19ft on a 13.5 in riser

Equipment -
Optoma HD72 PJ
Sony STR-DE945 AVR
Sony STR-DE 345 AVR for LFE
Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD
Panasonic RP-56 DVD
Behringer DSP1124
Toshiba VCR (for CATV Tuning)
HotLink Pro IR Repeater
Harmony 880 Remote
Paradigm Monitor 7 mains
Paradigm CC270 center
Paradigm ADP-170 surrounds
Paradigm PS-1000 Sub
Aura Bass Shakers x 4
Insteon Dimmers / remote dimming
Schwack of DIY Acoustic panels/treatments

Rolling back the hands of time, here (in semi-chronological order) is the build:
July 2006

Let the journey begin! I'll preface this with a bit of background:

This will be my second HT, but first attempt at a truly 'dedicated HT' - my first setup in our previous home was an X1 in a hushbox shooting onto a 4:3 "poorly finished" drywall screen in the basement. Nothing fancy at all, no room treatments, risers, stages....basically a darkly painted room with a projector and a ratty couch.

I was transferred to another city, and so the new house hunt began. Talk about WAF, but one of the criteria insisted upon by both of us was that the new place had to be able to accommodate a dedicated HT. Strangely enough, HT became one of our family institutions and we could not see living without one ever again! We ruled out a rather lovely updated home instead to go for a 'fixer upper' because it had the most workable floor plan. I love that woman - gave up spiral staircases and a fancy kitchen just for HT

The Plan:

Buildout a modest dedicated HT in the basement, with as much DIY as I can pull of with the least amount of expense.........(sounds familiar, right?). Can lights, sconces, risers, stage, equipment rack of sorts, and definitely some forms of room treatment!

About the DIYer:

Computer geek, happily married dad to two wonderful boys. No trades experience, but willing to tackle just about anything....

The Room:

Basement of a 1967 four-level split in an area called Tanner Ridge . Room dimensions 13X20, with a ceiling height of around 90 inches. The room in its original state began as a quasi rec room, with beat-up old drop ceiling, 70's wood paneling that had been primered, tattered blue carpet, two windows and a lovely concrete block chimney jutting into the finished space. It was a room without a purpose.....

The Budget:

As some of the audio I had already, I will be trying hard to keep everything in or around the $5000 mark. I'm a paycheque to paycheque kinda guy, and my overdraft can be like a Wimbledon game sometimes...


Salvaged from the old place was a Sony STR-DE 925 AVR, Panny RP56 DVD, Paradigm CC270 center, Paradigm PW-1000 sub, a couple of SPL mains and some older Realistic Mach Ones (heading into retirement).

Newly purchased during construction so far has been an Optoma HD72 PJ, Paradigm ADP-170 surrounds, a Sony STR-DE 345 AVR to drive the 4 Bass Shakers that the Mrs insisted I pull the trigger on , and a Harmony 880 she got me for my Bday.

To get/wish list includes an IR solution (Buffalo or Microsmith), replace the SPL mains with Paradigm Phantoms or equivalent, Insteon or other economical PLC to replace my old X10, considering a BFD depending upon how the final room setup sounds, and likely build a HTPC after the dust settles.

I started demolition of the room in Mid-July this year, and have been progressing using the following formula:

HT = (work+overtime)Xweekend
. family commitments-mental health

I will be posting some back-dated progress photos in the next few posts, in an attempt to 'catch up' to the current state.

Last edited by YW84U; 08-04-08 at 02:10 PM.
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post #2 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:08 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

In the beginning.......

Here is the patient - suffering from the advanced stages of 1970-itis:

and looking towards the back:

Work began by tearing down to the studs to see exactly what I had to work with. Challenges will be the chimney jutting into the space, the two windows, and figuring out what to do with the two closet areas....

A quick floorplan for reference:

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post #3 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

After enlisting the help of my kids (I said "this will be the first and only time you EVER get to wreck the house, got it?" ), I got a chance to survey what had been done by previous owners....

The basement appears to have always been dry, so I had no moisture issues. Only one wall is not fully above ground. I was rather amazed that the insulation was just direct onto the concrete with 1 inch furring strips with panel overtop - I would've though some sort of vapour barrier would have been there. Luckily, HVAC routing was already nicely between the (now petrified) joists, but the electricals were nothing short of anemic for the room.....

The next mission was to kill off the two windows - I opted to cut 3/4 plywood inserts with black cloth to place into the cavities for this. I really, really cleaned them first, then used wood blocks to permanently secure them in place. I planned to frame out two new walls to eradicate the 'shelf' from the foundation and provide a flat clean surface to be able to place sconces and perhaps columns.
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post #4 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:10 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

And the framing began! I contemplated all of the various sound techniques discussed on AVS - staggered stud, GG, DD and such, and after much thought, felt that standard 2x4 would be suitable. The room is the farthest point from any bedrooms, no neighbours relatively close, and the whole family is usually present when a movie is on. I also did not want to lose too much area to the structure, so I kept it as minimalistic as possible. I created 3/4 plywood firestops to cover the gap between the new and exisiting framing both along the joists, and again at the mid-point of the wall. The excess space on the top half was filled with R12, and the entire room is destined to be filled with Roxul Safe'nSound mineral wool. I felt that my soundproofing requirements would be adequately addressed with at least knocking down some of the mids and highs with the mineral wool. I anguished over flanking and such, but thought - "Hey, we like it turned up, and the neighbours are far enough away".....

I chose to run PVC conduit the length of the room to 'futureproof' things as best as I could. I was leaning towards keeping the front wall as a DIY screen with a stage, with an option of perhaps going AT later down the road. I ran speaker wire x 2 to LCR, as well as a run of RG6 to each LR for line-level to the sub. I figure this way, I'll have more sub or speaker options as technology changes. One Cat5 was run to the centre in order to support IR.

This will be by far the best insulated, most solid room in the whole house once this is over!
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post #5 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

The next challenge was to address the concrete chimney - it cut into the room about three inches, with a footer that added about another three to that. I figured that I could live with carpeting over the footer, but really wanted to be able to have two sconces on each wall and have it all line up. The exisiting framing was busy holding the joists up, and was doing a good job for the last 40 years, so I opted to leave it and 'add' another three and a half inches. I don't recall how many 2x4's I ripped down on the table saw, but at the end of the day I was able to bring the framing out enough to run a straight shot of drywall down that side (assisted by furring strips).

While thinking about wiring runs, I hatched the idea that it may be good to have line-level inputs near the front seating - for if the kids want to plug in their Xbox, my laptop or whatever. I ran 3 sets of RG6 plus two Cat5's to a box that will be just to the left of the front row. That way, if some new toy is introduced at a later date, it can be removable and avoid having to muck around in the equipment closet.

The equipment closet was destined to occupy the left side of the existing space, and I'm planning a DIY 19 inch rack solution for it. As for the other side closet, after much debate, I chose to keep it as storage - for those items like Christmas stuff and odds/ends that you only really look at once in a while. A louvered bifold door will occupy the right-hand side, and can be accessed by pulling the seating forward a small amount. This door will also provide access to the rear of the equipment closet by way of an access between the two spaces (it was either that, or dig a tunnel to get in from the back )

I built a soffit to contain the PJ as well as hide the small HVAC run that was unable to be moved. (Chin-Up Certified!). The soffit allowed me to move the PJ a bit forward and reduce the throw distance, as well as serve as a hushbox to reduce noise for the back row. The smaller opening to the left of the future bifold will be built into a shelving unit to hold DVDs and other items....
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post #6 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

It was around this time that I hit my known limitation - electrical. I have five perfectly good reasons at the end of each of my wrists not to DIY for this one. I know many members have had all sorts of grief with electricians, so I am so very thankful I was able to line up a fantastic one I had sweettalked from my workplace to come over and do a side job. All I had to begin with initially was one receptacle, two flourescent lights that were tied in to the closet light and another flourescent in the adjacent laundry/furnace room, and a three-way switch at the top of the entry stairs. My plan involved seperating these circuits, and pulling from two other feeds that were not very populated. What I ended up with was:

Four 4 inch IC cans overhead
four sconces
seperate closet light/switch in both closets
3 gang in equipment closet
4 gang at bottom of stairs (for cans, stage, sconce and step lights)
pre-wire for stage lights (three 3 inch cans)
receptacles: one for sub, one for the riser, one for an exit sign to go near the of the stairwell, one near the front inputs, one on the opposite wall, one for the freezer on the other side of the HT wall
runs for four step lights (2 in stairwell / 2 in riser)

I had provided all of the materials, and I had never even asked about a quote, as I was only concerned with getting the work done the right way. The guy came over on three different occasions, and was nothing less than meticulous. Even took the time to teach me everything along the way! When I asked to square up, I braced myself........he said $250......I asked how many times he wanted the $250???? Stunned, I said "Uh, how 'bout $325?". In the end, he talked me down to an even three, and promised to come back to hitch up the stage cans when I'm ready.

I think I've found my first guest for when the HT is up and running! I can't say more than enough about this fellow - truly professional!

Anyway, the wires, insulation, and other goodies are now in:

And it is time for me to learn how to drywall! I've repaired small areas before, but never anything of this magnitude before...

I had the drywall delivered, and had anticipated being able to manhandle most of the sheets.....

Thank god there is a rental place just down the street that happened to have a lift! Another financial bonus that week - I rented it on a late Saturday afternoon of a long weekend - the rental guy said that I would have to bring it back on Tuesday morning........but he would only charge me for a day! Wooohooo! More time for me, seeing as I was gonna tackle this without the benefit of any helpers......
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post #7 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:13 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

Okay, that really sucked!! I took the weekend to hang all of the drwall I could between Tylenols. I did discover that the Dremel bit does a great job of cutting out for boxes and such - in the hands of someone else other than me! Wasn't too bad, but there was definitely some 'ooops' and explicatives along the way! Oh well, I guess it's a way for me to try out my mudding skills (as yet non-existent):

I know, I know....I just didn't really have any other place to put the beater couch, so I made due.....

Yeah, yeah, I know.....yes that is the HD72 hanging all shrouded in my soffit...I couldn't resist!!! I was weak!! I needed a gentle boost after the drywall episode!

But what is a PJ without a DIY mount?

It was a PITA trying to track down M3 screws long enough, but well worth it in the end. Total cost under $25 including the Lexan!
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post #8 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

After extracting 200lbs of drywall dust, I was more than happy to get some primer on and watch it transform into a room once more:

The octopus of wires had grown - in additon to the LCR, I ran dual speaker wires to the surrounds, riser, and back if I migrate to 7.1 later. RG6 out to the riser as well, as a 'just in case'. My plan is to hit up the boxes with Leviton QuickPort wallplates to keep all of it tidy.

As for the screen, I spent an inordinate amount of time up close and personal with the drywall there - a couple of skim coats, sanding and touch ups with the worklamp 1/4 inch away in order to get it flaaaaattttt.

True Love: WAF authorizing the painting of any large surface in your home flat black

Boy, what seemed quite roomy certainly shrunk in size once that black paint went up!

I also learned never to touch it after it dries
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post #9 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

Sconces were quite the adventure - I never would have thought that picking something out could be so difficult. Seemed like the really 'nice' ones had price tags to match. Being budget conscious, I opted to get in touch with my creative side, and settled for some cheap ones from a box store. Problem was, I liked the design / light pattern, but the face plate was chrome.

With some surgery and automotive header paint, I was able to whip these up to snuff:

I threw some 60W Reveal bulbs in them to whiten up the light, and overall I have to say they go well with the anticipated decor. I felt good that they came in under $200!

The step lights were next to go in - I had found some LED line voltage ones online for $14 each. They give off a crisp white light

As the HT lies between the living space and the laundry room, I felt that LED would be better suited - I could leave them on 24/7 for a minimum of cost, and ensure no one face-plants going up/down the stairs!

For those who may be wondering, the paint color for the room is a very dark green - sort of what you would find in an Irish Pub. I had the same color in my last wanna-be HT, and I had found it perfect - Once the lights go dim, it appears almost flat black and the walls virtually disappear. Seems to hide marks well, and the bonus was that now only I know where my mudding/taping mistakes are!

I can't wait to ditch that carpet!!

Anyway, 'nuff for now - I'll try to put some more up over the weekend!
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post #10 of 149 Old 12-31-07, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Tanner Ridge Cinema Construction Thread

Work has progressed quite steadily over the last while, and I've gotten to the point where the equipment is up and running. The quickports are a great way to terminate all of the various cable runs, and the color coding (and labels) will help make sure my kids plug things in the right way:

I still have to touch up a bit around the front row input cover (where I went too far with the Dremel), but overall I'm happy with the results.

I fired up the PJ, and began to finalize the screen size so I can start to plan out the stage/proscenium:

At the end of the day, considering the throw distance, it works out to a sceen of approximately 138" diagonal 16x9. The final room dimensions came out to 12.5x20x7.9 feet - this ends up leaving me about 17 or so inches on each side of the screen for speaker/sub placement. More flat black to address the front wall:

Looking at the stage area, I am limited as to how deep I can go by a door to the laundry room about 32 inches from the front wall. I've been debating whether to go with a curved design, or some sort of combination of straight angles. In order to enclose the sub (18 inches deep) and provide at least enough room for the rear ports (3 inches), I will be left with a 'shadowbox' for the screen of nearly 21 inches. The center is destined to be mounted above the screen, as I have about 12-14 inches to play with. I will also be adding the 3 3 inch can lights likely behind it for screen wash. The stage floor can come up maximum to about 10 inches with layers. This would leave me with roughly 3 to 4 inches to build a 'border' around the screen wrapped in blackout cloth to give the area a more finished look.
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