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Old 12-20-2011, 10:11 AM   #1
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$3000 basement home theater build


Hi All!
This thread is ½ motivational, ½ bragging and ½ hoping to add to the community.

Why ½ motivational you ask? Basically trying to show how someone who is as bad at math as myself and with next to no prior knowledge can do a renovation. Prior to this I had build a work bench and that was it. After that I decided to tackle framing, electrical, plumbing, drywalling, mudding etc. It did take a lot of time and I did make a lot of mistakes but I have learned a whole heck of a lot. Also - there is so much more of a sense of pride in my work than if I had paid someone to do it

And hopefully I can add something to the community before I start posting questions about the ten thousand other projects I now want to tackle.

I hope you guys enjoy it!

At the start I had only the equipment sitting in a rather sub-par, all concrete bathtub of a basement. The picture was ok but sunlight from a window was hitting the screen and the acoustics were horrid. I also needed to do this as cheaply as possible so I would be doing all the work myself. The only thing I didn’t end up doing was tying the new electrical lines into the main panel. (I got the electrician at work to come out and do that for $40 and a 6 pack). The $3000 is about what I spent on materials but at the start I had very few tools of my own. A lot were picked up as birthday/Christmas presents or as needed along the way

This is what the room looked like at the start


It did take a year but I finally got it to this stage (I obviously still need some new furniture!)


The room posed some problems. The first was that I was limited in size by a rather large I-beam running the width of the house. It took the existing clearance from 8’ down to ~7’ even before flooring and drywall. The next was the location of the HVAC and water heater in the middle of the other part of the basement. That left this section the only really viable section for a home theater despite the precense of the sump pump in the corner.

I finally made a plan to incorporate a sump pump cover into my front stage construction design with a lid that I could open as need be. I will leave an access panel for the outlet so you can still get to it


I ran three circuits to the room; 20amp for the equipment and then one for the outlets in the room and another for the lights. You can see the three 20amp outlets to the left of the equipment rack. The single box further to the left is for the projector. Basically the power runs from the panel to one of the 20amp outlets. From there it runs through a UPS and back into the wall through an inlet to the projector. That way if the power goes out the projector still has enough power to cool the bulb down properly
[IMG]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v170/exterous/IMG_1563.jpg[/IMG

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Old 12-20-2011, 10:14 AM   #2
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$3000 basement home theater build


Now – keeping the budget in mind I went for a custom equipment rack.

I got the standards and shelf brackets from a re-use center. The bracket colors are a mix of beige and white but no one is really going to see them. The total was $20. Oddly enough, while I was there I got a sheet of MDF that someone had cut some strips off of. I paid $5 for the 3’x6.5’ sheet. More than enough for shelves. I added a surplus server rack shelf for the keyboard and mouse connection to my HTPC and Windows Home Server if needed.
The left is the panel where I will run all of my cabling to. I only have a 5.1 system but I wired for a 7.2 and ran Ethernet to the projector and the front of the room in case I ever need it.
I also tested all the audio, video, electrical before insulation and drywall
I ran into some issues with the insulation. The builders stuffed the floor joists as much as possible with disorganized runs going every which way for heat, electrical, gas and water. One particular area had two supply runs and a waste water line crossing at the same point. I did what I could – which wasn’t much without some major work and trimmed down the amount of insulation in that area

I went with 5/8” drywall for the walls and the ceiling. I didn’t have enough money to go the full blown sound proofing but if I could just get stuff from rattling off shelves upstairs that would be good enough. (I had already broken a wine glass and my wife’s shot glass from Spain had fallen off a shelf twice under the previous setup)

My dad and brother in law supplied the cheap (free) labor for help with the drywall
I used Dri-core as a subfloor
Now – no good home theater room is complete without a stage. I placed roofing felt underneath to prevent squeaking and then filled it with a lot of sand. (I found out I am really bad at estimating cubic feet of sand) The sand is there to prevent reverberation as my speakers and subwoofer will be sitting on the stage


I also build a stage in the back so the back row can see over the front and installed a solid core door to the outside world


After the drywall was up I made a front soffit about two 1.5 feet from the front wall. I wanted to cover up the projector screen housing. I also left a regular overhead light above the sump pump hatch and wanted to keep that from being seen as well

(The door to the left goes into a small storage/equipment room)
The two front sconces are on one switch and the back two are on another. My wife and I had quite an argument about paint that had been ongoing since the start of the project. I wanted a dark gray but that was too dark for her. (It’s a THEATER room honey – its supposed to be dark!). She wanted a light blue (Ridiculous! Do you know how much light that will reflect??!!)
Anyway – this was not a bad compromise:


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Old 12-20-2011, 10:14 AM   #3
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In the picture below the small black box to the left is the IR repeater. The larger one is an HDMI splitter. Eventually I want to have a bar/concession stand/work out area in the other room in the basement. The IR repeater and splitter will let me either display the same images there (so you don’t miss anything while you are refilling your popcorn bowl) or have someone independently control zone two

After almost a year of sitting unused in the guest bedroom I was finally able to get my components downstairs and hook them up. It very quickly became a spaghetti mess


It would get a little cleaner. The biggest issue I have is that I re-used existing cables which were always too long for my needs. I could have gone out and bought ones of the correct length or the supplies to make them but - again this is being done as cheaply as possible and, as much as it bothers me when I look at it, it rarely gets seen

The equipment in the rack:

Power center, Sony DVR, Panasonic BD-60 blu ray player, Onkyo 806 receiver, custom build HTPC and an old Acer tower repurposed as my WHS
Carpet was a bit of an issue. Among the many many (many) other firsts during the project I had never shopped flooring before. Its expensive! Installed carpet was too much at the local places unless I wanted to go with the commercial glue down type for $350. Home Depot and Lowes wouldn’t give me quotes unless I paid them to come out and they both said the riser and stage could add money to the install cost but wouldn’t tell me how much until I paid them to come out.
I lucked out with a sale on some carpet tiles so I carpeted the whole room with some nice carpet tiles for $250. The ‘adhesive’ on the back was pretty weak. It might have worked on concrete but it wasn’t grabbing the plywood subfloor. I got a couple of boxes of carpet tacks. Total install cost $12


All of the seams pretty much disapeared once I vacuumed

Last edited by Exterous; 12-20-2011 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:21 AM   #4
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With the equipment installed and working I setup my speakers:

PSB T55 towers, with a C60 center and Velodyne VRP 1200 sub

The surrounds are Emotiva ERD-1s. The projector is an Epson Home Cinema 1080P
We hadn’t moved any of the furniture in yet so I had to make due with a folding chair. I could have been sitting on a bed of nails for all I cared. Everything worked the first time I turned it all on. I actually jumped up and down in excitement!
Of course there was still a lot of work to be done.
I started construction on the corner bass traps. Without going into the acoustical theory behind them basically those are there to make sure the bass response is even and isn’t diminished.
Owens Corning 703 is a very common material to use but its expensive. I found a local place that sold Roxul mineral wool. It has almost the same acoustical properties for 1/3 the price but it harder to work with. OC 703 is very rigid whereas the mineral wool will crumble so it needs a frame


I covered the back with cheap burlap to keep the fibers in. The front has a nicer acoustically transparent fabric


I had some extra materials left over so I constructed some smaller triangles that would be covered behind the larger bass traps




For the front of the equipment rack I wanted a nice clean look so leaving it open was out of the question. There are some custom covers you can get but those are expensive. Originally I had planned on using aluminum and making my own but aluminum is expensive too. I can’t remember exactly what kind of cheap, thin board I picked up from lowes but I spent $10 on wood and $3 on spray paint.
I measured and cut openings for the equipment and, after I made sure everything fit, painted it all black

Not a bad equipment rack for less than $45
I also used some wood scraps to create a cover plate for the sump pump electrical outlet

(And painted to match the room)
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:24 AM   #5
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I still have a few things left to do (some trim work and touch up paint). It was a lot of time and effort but it was well worth it. Not only do I love my theater room but the satisfaction of having done it myself only makes it better. Sure there are some mistakes but I have learned so much. And there is the $ factor as well. There is no way I could have afforded to pay someone else to do this. Of course now there are a lot of other tools and projects to tackle so I guess that is a double edged sword
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Old 12-20-2011, 10:31 AM   #6
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Nicely done and welcome to the forums!

If you need additional inspiration for what comes next, check out the AVS Forum section for home theater design and build discussion. There are some pretty amazing looking theaters that people have built DIY:

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Old 12-20-2011, 10:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ironlight View Post
Nicely done and welcome to the forums!

If you need additional inspiration for what comes next, check out the AVS Forum section for home theater design and build discussion. There are some pretty amazing looking theaters that people have built DIY:
Thanks! AVS forum is where I got some of my ideas. It is a dangerous dangerous place that can make you spent way more money than you originally planned if you are not careful
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Old 12-20-2011, 04:00 PM   #8
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Good Job... The satisfaction of doing it yourself is powerfully overwhelming.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:09 PM   #9
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Awesome! Your attention to the little things makes this looks nice and neat; I love it.

Noticed you have a keyboard/mouse on the floor. If you have an iPhone check out Mobile Air Mouse. Probably something similar for Android, too.
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Old 12-20-2011, 05:34 PM   #10
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Same exact AV rack design I plan on using (after seeing on AVSforums). Up close, how does the wood paneling around the AV equipment look, compared to aluminum? I planned on going the aluminum route in my mind.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jburd964 View Post
Good Job... The satisfaction of doing it yourself is powerfully overwhelming.
Yes it is - I had no idea how much it adds to the experience

Quote:
Originally Posted by ink View Post
Awesome! Your attention to the little things makes this looks nice and neat; I love it.

Noticed you have a keyboard/mouse on the floor. If you have an iPhone check out Mobile Air Mouse. Probably something similar for Android, too.
Thanks! They do offer mobile air mouse for Android. I'll have to check into that. In the mean time the mouse and keyboard was replaced with this:
http://www.logitech.com/en-us/keyboa...d/devices/3848

The only thing I don't like about it is that I can't seem to adjust the trackpad sensativity. Other than that its great

Quote:
Originally Posted by hyunelan2 View Post
Same exact AV rack design I plan on using (after seeing on AVSforums). Up close, how does the wood paneling around the AV equipment look, compared to aluminum? I planned on going the aluminum route in my mind.
I never actually tried the aluminum but I chose a wood with almost no grain to it so, once its painted black, you can't tell its wood unless examine it really closely. I don't know if aluminum would have the same issue (or maybe it wouldn't be an issue with different tools) but I did have some issues with the wood flexing and vibrating during cutting

Last edited by Exterous; 12-21-2011 at 09:36 AM.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:08 AM   #12
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Just think of the value this adds to your house, should you ever decide to sell.
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Old 12-21-2011, 10:48 AM   #13
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If any of you are looking for a good small keyboard and mouse, and don't mind typing with your thumbs, I just built a media center PC and have been using a VisionTek Candyboard and love it. Works really well.

Oh and really nice job on the theatre room, it turned out really well and it is really nice to use a project that you built and enjoy it!

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