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Theater in general

It's built in the basement and takes up about 340 sq ft. It's about 26ft long and ranges from 11ft wide at the screen end to about 14ft wide at the seating end and the ceiling is about 7 1/2 ft high. It has two doors with one intended as the main entrance and one intended for people to sneak out the back if needed. The walls are painted "Admiral" by Pratt & Lambert, The ceiling is "Graphite" by Canadian Tire and the trim is "Black Magic" by PPG. The Carpet is from Home Depot and is an  inexpensive graphic loop. The colours complmented the wall colour and it's price made it a good choice. The underpad is a pretty good foam product that was intended for use over concrete. I'd say that 90% of the materials were bought from Home Depot ( I think we now own stocks). I've kept all of the receipts but haven't had the guts to add them all up yet. Originally I had thought that the cost for materials would be somewhere around $4000 Cdn. It'll be interesting to see just how far out I was! You wouldn't believe the number of trips required to pick up sundry items such as nails, screws, sheet after sheet of MDF, dry wall compound, more drywall compound and yet more drywall compound! It all adds up.........
All of the work was done by myself including the carpet. The carpet was the hardest thing for me because of the seam required. I'd farm that out if I were to do it again. Everything turned out ok and looks pretty darn good. I'm sure that if I had hired pro's to do all the work it would have turned out even nicer but then it would have cost about $5000 more. Besides, I like doing this kind of thing. If it looks good then you can pat yourself on the back and if you mess up then you can always live with it or do it again! Those that have seen it are pretty impressed -so I must have done something right! ;-)
Here are some of the main features, you can click on each of the pictures to see a full size image.....

Front Stage:

The base is filled with sand to minimize vibrations from the sub. The radiused front was created by bending two layers of 1/8" hardboard around a framework of 2x4's. The top is 5/8" MDF.
All of the front cabinets are built from MDF and filled with insulation to avoid resonances. The decorative grooves were created with a router. The speaker grilles are home made and removable so that the speakers (Paradigm) can be accessed if needed.
The screen has a viewing area of 50.5"x90" and is a 16:9 format. It's made from canvas that is stretched around a frame and then painted with Behr ultra flat white. The black border is made from wood casing with black felt stretched over it. Total cost about $80 Cdn! :-) UPDATE: I've since replaced the canvas screen with a Dalite hi gain screen. I ordered a Model B pulldown from AVScience and then removed the material to make a permanent installation. It's cheaper to do this than buy the material alone, don't ask me why...The hi gain works well in our set up because the projector is floor mounted and the viewing angle is pretty tight to begin with. The only thing that I find bad is there is a bit too much colour shift, but, it's really only seen during very bright scenes. You have to expect a compromise somewhere if you want a bright picture with a low lumen projector. Nothing is free.......
p.s I'm using a 500W shop light to try and get the room bright enough for pictures so if you see weird shadows and lines-it's because of that. I also had to use software to lighten up the pictures as they were still too dark .......

Rear Seating Area:


The rear seating area is about 10ft deep and constructed from 2x10's, stuffed with insulation and covered with sheathing. There is a lip at the front that conceals red rope lighting. The step to the rear door also has rope lighting and radiused corners. The seating is mixture of old and new. The Leather couch and recliner on the right at the front are from our old house. The couch is also a pull out bed which means the theater could see double duty as a bedroom should the need arise. The two swivel recliners in the back are new and bought from Walmart. They were only $139 each and are quite comfortable. Of course for that price they are not leather but they are much more comfortable than seats found at the local mega plex. They have a  fairly high seating height to begin with so I only neede to build a low (5") riser for them. I was able to avoid using a step which would cut down on head room. They sit just a little lower than a bar stool would. Once seated you can put your feet up on the ottomans. The other recliner in the front row,on the left, is an inexpensive ($300 Can) leather recliner also purchased from Walmart. It's nowhere near the quality of the other recliner but the price made it very attractive, we couldn't justify spending a ton of money on seating seeing that the room will only see a few hours of use per week
    You can see the hushbox that covers the projector. It's constructed with MDF and lined with some left over carpet underpad. It does a pretty good job of cutting down on fan noise. The air is drawn in through the front grille and sucked out of the top at the rear by vinyl dryer duct. The duct is snaked through the rear seating area and out under the stairs in the next room, at the end there is an inline fan that turns on when the receiver is turned on by means of one of  the switched outlets on the back. The fan only draws about 0.3A and the switched oulet is good for twice that. I removed the upper portion of the case on the projector to cut down on heat build up and it seemed to work. A backlit LCD indoor/outdoor thermometer is used to check on the temperature once in awhile.
    You can also see the columns that hide the rear surround speakers. The middle colums are there for future side surrounds and are pre wired. Once again they are constructed from MDF and has the same design routed in the front of them as the front cabinets.

Star Ceiling:

This is probably the most unique feature in the room and gets a lot of "Ooohs and Ahhhhs". It's a fibre optic star panel that has about 250 stars of various sizes. It was actually quite easy to make. The frame work is 2x2's with pieces of MDF attached to them to make a mounting surface for the crown moulding. The hardest part was getting the angles cut properly for the crown moulding as the corners are 45 degree. It's about 4'x8' in size with the corners cut off. The panel is rigid insulation that was painted the same colour as the rest of the ceiling (Graphite). Behind the panel is an 18" fluorescent fixture that is recessed. The stars were created by poking a needle through from the front to create a small hole and then threading the optic strands through from the back. They were then bundled together and glued to a piece of wood just infront of the light. The optics were bought from The Fibre Optic Store. I bought one of their mixed kits that has various size strands and also some of their cable that has contains 64 optic strands. This was cut into three pieces, the insulation was stripped back and the optics fanned out to create the majority of the stars. The remaining stars are indivdual strands that vary in size to create interest and add deapth. The panel was screwed to the frame work and some more trim was added to create a border.  The panel was then painted again to cover any pieces of pink insulation showing (from poking the holes) and then the strands were trimmed back to about 1/4" with nail clippers.
In the picture above you can just see the crown moulding on the back wall that is about 3" below the ceiling. This creates a shallow tray that conceals some clear rope light that is on a dimmer with the red step lighting. This picture shows the rope lighting nicely but only a few of the stars are visible. The remainder of the lighting consists of four wall sconces that are also on a dimmer. The sconces are brushed aluminum with a frosted glass shade and bought from......that's right; Home Depot.


Equipment rack:

The equipment closet is about 4'x5' and has an entrance at the back. The front opening, into the theater, is about 19"x56" and is divided into two sections. The top portion contains the equipment and the bottom has two shelves for DVD storage. I recycled the glass door on the top from our old entertainment unit. I ran extra speaker cable during the construction so I can easily add a rear center channel and two side channels. I also ran another co-ax cable to the niche on the far side of the theater incase I want to add another active sub. There is also a feed to the Bell Xpressview dish so that I can add another receiver easily. I'll have to add a video capture card to the HTPC for that though.

Equipment List:

Marantz  receiver
Technics 5 disk carousel cd player
HTPC (Home Theater PC) with custom case made by AVS member Serge Bretton. See HTPC section for details
Electrohome ECP4000 CRT projector
Covid VGA/BNC video amplifier
Paradigm Monitor 3 front main speakers
Paradigm ADP-100 rear Bi-Polar speakers
Paradigm LCR-350 for front center
Mirage PS10 10" 100W subwoofer

Home Theater PC

This is my Christmas present to myself! It's really just the guts from a regular PC in a case that looks like a piece of audio equipment. Serge Bretton, who is a member of the AVS forum, desiged the front fascia as a retrofit for a desktop case. The smaller black window is intended for an LCD or VFD display but I didn't have the money to buy that just yet. The larger window  conceals the receiver for the wireless Keyboard and mouse and will eventually hide the IRman receiver too. The aluminum panel is attached to the front of the dvd drive. The gold text and silver feet were chosen to match the Marantz receiver.
Asus TUSL2-C Mother board
256M RAM
Pentium III processor (1Ghz)
Sound Blaster Audigy sound card (SPDIF passthrough)
ATI Radeon 7000 video card
Generic 1.44Mb floppy (mounted backwards  inside case for emergencies)
Toshiba 16X DVD drive
Logitec Wireless K/B and mouse
56K modem
NIC card
Win2K with SP2
Powerstrip (allows custom resolutions and timing)
TheaterTek 1.5 DVD player

The Lobby!

We just finished constructing the "lobby" area outside the theater and it turned out pretty nice! Prior to its completion you saw an unfinished basement on the way into the theater. Now it "looks" like the basement is completely finished  as you come down the stairs to the theater. Two of the doors go to an unfinished section that are set aside for a future guest bedroom and also a kids playroom.

    The main attraction in the lobby is the ticket booth. This was once a solid weatherproof door that went into the cold room. Our garage had a door with a 2'x3' window in it. I didn't like the idea of people being able to case out our stuff in the garage so I swapped the doors. I was always intending on building a ticket booth but it was going to be put on the back of the equipment closet door. Once the cold room door was exchanged it was a better choice to use it as the window was already inplace and it's also the first thing you see as you come down the stairs.

    Construction was pretty straight forward. I made all the casing from MDF that was routed out in the same manner that the colums were made in the theater. The movie reels on the top are also MDF and the middle pieces are ABS drain pipe. I first cut the MDF into portions of a circle (about 270 degrees, enough to get three complete holes) and then used a 4" hole saw to make the actual holes themselves. These were then rounded over with the router. The ABS pipe was cut to about 6" and the whole lot painted silver. It's attached to the MDF with biscuits and a small L-Bracket. The small halogen pot lights are some inexpensive under counter puck  lights available from Home Depot. The center hole in the MDF is only 2 1/8" so the pot lights fit nicely into it and the wire runs up the inside of the ABS pipe.
    The light box between the two reels is made from MDF and plexiglass and is about 5"x25" and is just big enough to accomodate a large mylar. The back lighting consists of  a string of clear Christmas tree lights. Both the halogen and back lighting are wired to a single switch in the underside of the casing above the door.
    I had a sign shop cut the lettering for the door and the speaker in the middle is made from, of all things, a large canning lid and some old door screen! I was in the cold room and saw the lids that my wife uses for canning jams and things, next to the box was a window screen that the dog had damaged. This got the wheels turning in my head, and within a few minutes the speaker was done! I simply spray painted the outer ring silver, flipped the inner piece upside down and used spray contact glue to stick the door screen to it. I hot glued it back into the outer ring and used a small block of MDF to stick it to the glass. It's funny to see peoples reactions when they look at it and finally figure out what it is!
There's still some more projects to be done in the lobby and also some seating to be purchased but it really pulls the whole movie theater theme together!
  View from stairs going into basement. The door to the theater is just to the left of the Dolby Digital sign.

View from main part of lobby

A closeup of the MDF movie reels.

A closeup of the backlit movie mylar holder I made. It's about 24"x30" and constructed from mdf, pine and lucite.