Thursday, September 28, 2006

Tweaking sub so much I've got a headache

Sometimes I wonder what is better - having very few options and just dealing with what you've got or have tons of options and trying to get things poifect.

Well, having 12 frequencies to mess around with on a parametric EQ is just crazy stuff. I used the old manual technique to try to get my response flat (and then throw in a house curve - apparently this is nice for watching movies - note the downward slope from the 30-40hz range to about 100hz). We'll see.

The blue line on the graph is the subwoofer's response in the living room without equalization. The pink line is my attempt to get that flat/house curve style line. Close enough for me. Once again, this is no THX certified theater. Who knows, maybe someday I'll bring a computer down to the room and do the full on test with software et al. Or maybe not.

In the home stretch...

Well, other than wiring the floor outlet, everything left is cosmetic. Here's a shot of the components in the column base. Might have made that opening a bit small, I hope I can get my receiver out if need be (when the trim is glued in place - they're just press fit in their now). A fabric covered door will cover up these components.

Still waiting to hear back about my screen - I'm starting to get a bit ticked now since they're not responding to me - e-mails or phone calls. Guess that's what I get for going with a budget screen.

Need to go buy the coffee table too...

Monday, September 25, 2006

The subwoofer from hell, the lost cat, and the new couch

Well, another couple of hours in the crawl space, and the subwoofer is D-U-N. Finally. Jeez, what a pain in the arse. I don't know what happened - holes didn't line up, screws were too short, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then to top it all off, our cat disappeared. Turns out she jumped down into the enclosure before it was enclosed and had some fun in the crawl space. Well, in my haste to run to the Depot to get longer screws, I guess I forgot to close the access to the crawl space too. So she disappeared for several hours, made Alaina cry, and we were worried with her being an indoor cat. I heard cat fights, but couldn't find her. Then, after I saw a shooting star outside (really), she turned up. Strange. She acted like nothing had ever happened. Crazy cat.

Oh, and we found a great sectional sofa for the living room. A heavy microfiber with crinkles. 10'x10', with three reclining seats. Two facing the screen, one facing the fireplace. Man, these are sooooooo cozy. We got it at Connolly's in Fremont. Good people. They worked with me to try to get close to online pricing. Check them out if you're in the need for furniture.

So I'll crank up the subwoofer hopefully tomorrow to see what it sounds like. Could only play it low volumes since I didn't finish up in the crawl space until around 9:30pm. Need to buy an SPL meter too to calibrate it. Now just lots of little details to wrap up... and hopefully I'll hear about replacing my screen this week.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

How many lumps do you want?

Dang, nearly 7 hours of work today and still didn't finish up the subwoofer. So close. But a lot of things conspired against me:

1) The largest piece of the enclosure didn't fit through the crawl space access. Had to remove some wood framing the opening and it still didn't fit. Cut the piece smaller.

2) A concrete pier obstructed the enclosure. What is up with that? Got the grinder out and cut some of it down. Hammer and chisel too. Smacked my thumb at least twice, and also pinched a part of my palm between the chisel and hammer. Can you spell O-U-C-H?

3) Mysteriously ran out of 2"x4"'s. Couldn't even round up a few remnants. Fortunately Spiccoli helped me out with this.

I was ready to quit, but Marc told me to keep going. So I got most of it done - just need to seal it up with some caulking, mount a side piece of wood inside the column base, and then the amp shelf and amps. Oh, and install the subwoofers. Got sloppy though since I was beat but fortunately no one will see the work. The enclosure is REALLY stout, I'm happy overall with the way it turned out. But working in the crawl space for nearly 4 hours is pretty brutal on the body. Can't wait until that part is over with. Just getting all the materials and equipment over there was a major chore.

So hopefully the subs will be completed sometime tomorrow...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

We've got HDTV...

Okay, so the DirecTV guy showed up today with the 45 lbs. satellite. I showed him the old satellite that he was going to replace. He said, you can't install it there, it is too heavy. Plus, there is no electrical up there for a larger multi-switch box. He said no problem - you'll just have two satellites. He did a nice job hiding the second satellite, but the cable job was a bit, shall we say, crappy. Black cable? Come on man, where's the white stuff? Oh well, it is on the side of the house that hardly anyone ever sees.

I must say that the UI on the DirecTV DVR pales in comparison to the Tivo UI. Definitely more clunky, and not as intuitive. Such is life though. It is the new version and is compatible with the mpeg-4 HD broadcasts (future stuff).

HD sure is perty though...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I like the big 'uns

Holy cow the subwoofers arrived yesterday and well, they are BIG. Crazy. Yes, I did say, subwoofer(S). As in plural. Hope I don't shake my house and the neighbor's house down (funny, the guys on the forum I'm working with don't think two will be enough - are they crazy or what?). Fits well with the "Go big or go home" motto though.

I put my foot in the photo for reference. Size 13. You know what they say about big feet...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Blue Screen of Death?

No, not the dreaded blue screen of death. But I'm a bit concerned by a couple of things - I cannot center the image in the screen. It appears there are some defects in the screen. See how some sections of the black fabric are not parallel to the blue image? Pay attention to the bottom left corner and the right side, starting at the middle to the bottom. Hopefully the manufacturer can help me with this.

My other concern is that the screen is pretty darn large. A bit larger than I anticipated. I can see the vertigo potential on some crazy action scenes. Maybe if it is defective the manufacturer will send me a screen that is one size smaller. We'll see...

Ordered a cool IR system that will allow me to control all of my components including the screen and the projector (even though they are in the opposite direction of the components). This will be located right at the coffee table. Pretty cool stuff. One click of the Harmony 880 remote and the screen will drop down, the projector, DVD player, receiver, etc. will all power on and be ready to go.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Electrical done... uh, maybe not

Well, I spent an appreciable amount of time in the crawl space over the weekend doing some electrical work and routing a phone line for the Tivo unit. Great - electrical for the components and sub amp/eq. But wait, I'm now going to move the amp/EQ into the closet. Dang. No electrical in there. Guess I'll have to re-route it over there. It's always something. Oh and now that it is in the closet I guess I didn't need to do the mod on the amp to make it more quiet. Oh well. I did order a cool little in floor outlet that has a brass coverplate/cover. That will go under the coffee table for the projector power. So I was going to have to do more electrical work anyhow.

Memo to self - do not try to fish wires with your spouse.

More stuff arriving, waiting for the screen to arrive on 9/13. I believe that is the last of the stuff, as the front speakers arrived today. I might get withdrawals not seeing a package on my porch...

Here's a shot of the cutouts for the rear speakers:

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Let the cutting begin...

This is where the infinite baffle subwoofer will go. I will get some acoustic fabric that closely matches the paint, build a frame, and attach it for a nice stealthy look. Oh, the subwoofer amplifier and parametric EQ will go in this enclosure as well.

Here is inside the above box - yes, that is the crawl space below. Due to the size of the subwoofer enclosure, I'll have to assemble it in the crawl space. In its assembled form, it won't fit through the crawl space access. :(

This is where the main components will go - receiver, DVD, and DirecTV box. Had to move that beam that is showing. Again, I'll cover this with acoustic fabric (which you can shoot an infrared beam through to control the components). But with this one I'll put hinges on it so it can easily be opened.

You never know what you'll find behind the sheetrock... whoever drew this has a little talent.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Guest Bath Photos

Quick timeout from the HT project. Here are some photos of my guest bathroom remodel:

Piece of advice for doing large tiles on the wall - make sure your walls are dead nuts. Otherwise your life will be challenging.

This was a fun project, including cutting through the concrete slab to relocate the drain (and resize it to meet the shower code). This project extended into the laundry area where I did new cabinets, a big ol' stand for the washer and dryer, and a seating/clothes prep area complete with a bar to hang up clothes. Seems as though clothes hang there perpetually...

Another memo to self - do not dry fit washer drain pipe. Glue the damn thing right away or you'll be cutting into sheetrock to glue it later. Oh and you'll have a lot of water to clean up.

Friday, September 08, 2006

HT Layout

Here is the layout of what I'm going to do. I won't be doing the lift in the ceiling due to some restrictions there. The projector will sit on a shelf within the coffee table. Thankfully that is a much easier setup.

Still will be a living room, so the theater will be very stealthy. In wall speakers, in floor subwoofer, components hidden, drop down electric screen built into a soffit, etc.

We do need to get new couches since ours have been destroyed by the cat and a new coffee table too. Hope the home consignment center has what we're looking for... :)

Current Projector - Home Theater

Even though I don't watch a whole lot of TV and don't get to the movies much anymore, I've always been intrigued by having a home theater. And our living room gets virtually no use so I figured why not use it for a home theater?

Tracy wasn't too hot on the idea but gave me the okay as long as I came up with the money from sources other than salary and bonuses. Well, good thing the gigolo job has paid well. My secret stash of moolah would work perfectly. Actually, I had some stock options that weren't underwater and I was good to go. As my sis would say, "I'm such a capitalist." Someone needs to help out the economy. We do our share - how about you?

It's been like an early Christmas with all this electronic stuff being delivered to the door. Here is my setup:

* Panasonic PT-AE900U projector (native 720p)
* Elite Cinetension High Contrast Gray screen, 59"x105" (121" diagonal) - changed to the 106" diagonal - much easier on my eyes
* Yamaha HTR-5560 receiver (already had, may upgrade in the future if necessary)
* Speakers - Speakercraft in-walls
* Subwoofer - Mach5 Audio 18" x 2 in an infinite baffle setup mounted in the crawl space.
* Sub amp - Behringer EP1500 amp to power the sub
* Parametric EQ for sub - Behringer Feedback Destroyer Pro DSP 1124P
* Toshiba HD-DVD player
* DirecTV HR20 - new HDTV receiver/DVR/satellite system
* Harmony 880 remote

It won't be a THX certified theater, but I think it will fit well for our needs. The room is hardly ideal for a home theater, so why go too crazy? (some people already think what I'm doing is a bit overkill).

Great, Another Blog

As if I don't have enough time as it is, I've decided to setup another blog - this one to document some of my remodeling work. Blogs are so much easier to work with than my old school html web programming. So this shouldn't take a whole lot of time.

Good way to keep family and friends updated on the status of my projects.