Feature Friday: BIG SCREEN, small room
For this week’s Feature Friday, we’re going to move from the kitchen to a tiny, spare bedroom. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the massive home theaters with moving parts, star-lit skies, curved screens, and more insulation than an average person could shake a stick at. You may also know that you can only make that kind of thing happen if you have several thousand dollars and an entire year to devote to the project.
Most of us have neither that kind of money, nor that kind of time, which is why I like this week’s Feature Friday so much. Rather than dealing with the hassle of going all out, brilliant user João Lima of Brazil decided to cut ALL the unnecessaries out. No stars. No specially ordered screen cloth. No moving parts. A simpler home theater for a more civilized age in your living room.
Unfortunately, the wife vetoed this idea immediately. João was forbidden from touching the TV in the living room and was doubly forbidden from interfering with the wife’s shows (many of which were still being broadcast in 4:3 format, a still-common broadcast standard in Brazil).
So João did the next best thing. He wanted an XBMC home theater; he had a small, extra bedroom. The mission was on.
The room started with a TV and an old a bed/ converted couch. The plan was to eliminate the bed, get a real couch, rip out anything that could be ripped out, install the hardware, and do it all as simply, easily, space-savingly, and cheaply as possible.
In short order, João replaced his bed/couch with a real couch and cleared out the closet behind his new couch so that he could mount a rack in the newly freed closet space. In such a small room, space is always at a premium, and closets aren’t especially essential to home theater decor.
João added an htpc running a Core 2 Duo E7400, a NVIDIA GeForce 8500 GT, and 3TB of harddrive space. Then he added the Sony RM-VL610 remote with learning capabilities and a generic PC remote to teach the Sony the necessary commands. He plugged the receiver of the generic remote into his htpc and was ready to start watching movies… on his television.
And that wouldn’t do at all. So, next step: If you’re going to make a home theater, you’d better MAKE a home theater. It came time to select the components for the room. João needed a projector, went out, and selected the well-reviewed, mid-priced Panasonic PT-AE4000. For his receiver, João went with the Brazilian model of the Pioneer Elite 21, which is no longer in production. A comparable model today would probably be thePioneer VSX-1020-K, though don’t take my word for it. For his center channel speaker, João went with the PolkAudio CS10. The remainder of the speakers have been reclaimed from a Sony audio set he had a few years earlier. All of the equipment (not counting the speakers) was positioned behind and above the couch in such a way that João could point his remote control at the screen, and the IR signal would bounce back to be received by his equipment on the equipment rack.
To complete the room, João added small conduits to the walls painted the same color as the wall for speaker wiring, along with some well chosen posters, books about movies, and memorabilia. At a casual glance, most people think he’s got wireless speakers and ask him how he likes them!
With the HT hardware out of the way, João moved on to the screen. He didn’t want to spend a fortune on a fabric projection screen (plus, every inch of space in the room was valuable to add throw space to his projector), so he decided to paint the silver screen directly onto the wall. He followed directions similar to the ones you might find on AVS Forums, though João recommends, if it’s available in your nation, to use a relatively inexpensive Home Theater paint, like Screen Goo, as the mixing effort is much simpler.
And, finally, it was time to control the room’s lighting. Already, there was only one window in the room, and it was fully blocked. That left the overhead lights. For this project, João simply grabbed a IR-based remote light switch, taught his learning remote the codes, and had total control of his room (lights, video, htpc, etc.) from a single remote control.
So that’s João Lima’s tiny little dorm room with the massive 100 inch screen. His speakers are powerful for the room size (and João does not recommend getting more than a 5.1 setup for any room of comparable size). And the entire setup can be controlled from the comfort of his couch.
(And remember to email natethomas AT xbmc DOT org so everyone can see your awesome/ creative/ hilarious/ whatever setup.)