After nearly two years of theater enjoyment, I felt the need to finish the exterior look by building the remaining poster lightboxes. (Actually, the wife pressed me to get them done, but once I started, I was on a mission.)
Around the time I had originally finished the theater, I had purchased a poster lightbox off eBay from a company called RiverCity Theaters. The RiverCity lightbox basically sandwiches the poster between a sheet of clear plexiglass and a white plexiglass diffuser, and then slides into the frame and rests in front of a couple fluorescent bulbs. The RiverCity boxes also use a spring loaded side panel to make opening and changing the posters a relatively simple task. These boxes cost approximately $265, shipped. In the spirit of DIY, (and saving $$, of course) I set out to duplicate these boxes as best I could.
I had settled on building four additional boxes to match the remaining outlets our electrician had already installed. Building the frames were relatively simple. I first had to cut groves in each plank for both the plexiglass and the backer board. Not wanting to have any indication of screw or nail holes from the outside, I needed to strategically use supports to ensure the backer board and planks were secured to each other. I also needed a way to allow the box to open and close for changing out the posters, but didn’t want to use springs like the other box, as the side panel ended up marring the wall whenever I opened it. Instead, my dad had the brilliant idea of using cabinet magnets. Once the frames were assembled, I proceeded to paint them. I used a metallic silver for the inside, and a semi-gloss black for the outside. A few coats later, the boxes were ready for hardware. Initially, I had planned on using fluorescent bulbs similar to the RiverCity boxes, however, I had been reading other people’s accounts of their lightbox building experiences and they all decided to use standard ropelight. After installing the ropelight in the first couple boxes, I mounted them on the wall, and inserted the posters, but was sadly disappointed at the end result. The light output wasn’t very bright, and there was an orange glow, making the posters looked washed out and dull. I decided to rip out the ropelight and go with fluorescents. Now the posters are bright and colorful!
Amazingly, this whole project only took me a couple weeks to complete. The boxes look great, and I saved quite a bit too!
The theater has seen many hours of use these past few months and its been great. We did get a replacement chair that matches the first one, and we picked up some mushroom seats for the nieces and nephews that like the front row. I’ve also included pictures of some of our movie posters. I’ve got a few more to get framed and couple more lightboxes to build or purchase and install, but for now it looks fantastic.
After some long nights and weekends, I have finally completed the Lipszyc Home Theater. A big thanks to the AVSForum, without whom I would’ve never gotten into this crazy hobby! Also a big thanks to those who lent me tools or helped me lift over a ton of sand (Meesh). Now I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.
First movie? Not sure yet. I’m torn between Star Wars Episode IV and Fifth Element…the wife wants to watch Jurassic Park. Either way, I’ve already logged about 10 hours on the PJ watching the fabulous demo disc from Clarence. (click here for the torrent!)
Of course, nothing is ever really completed. I still want to program some additional scenes into my X10 light switches, and I need to revamp my Pronto remote to better control my new components. Plus, I have some space in my rack for another changer, or perhaps an HTPC. And it looks like I’ll need some more shelving soon. For now, I’m happy where its at, but I’ll continue to tweak as I go!
After a couple week hiatus from the theater due to a trip to St. Louis and fighting with the builder, I’m back on track to be completed no later than June 25th. (My wife is throwing her first get together at the new house and wants everything done.)
Over the weekend I managed to construct the second set of shelving and install it in the wall. After a couple coats of paint, it will be ready to stock with our movies and memorabilia. With that out of the way, I moved onto installing the speakers in the side columns and securing them to the walls.
The trim that I cut a few weeks ago, also got a coat of paint and I was able to get a small section of base trim installed last night. While installing the trim, I found out the hard way that I didn’t cut some of the pieces correctly. After rereading that chapter on using a mitre saw (lol), I recut the pieces and painted them to match. For the steps I needed to hand cut the curves to fit the bullnose of the carpet, and some used some patch as well. A few modifications to some of the pieces, a couple brads and the trim will be done.
I planned the screen delivery perfectly, as it arrived just as I finished filling, sanding and painting. I made a few last minute adjustments to the center speaker, covered the bottom section with black fabric and installed the screen brackets. Stretching the screen material over the frame was quite a task and took me longer than expected. Once snapped together, I promptly mounted it on the brackets and sat back to enjoy the view.
To my surprise I received a call this morning that my chairs had arrived and were to be delivered this afternoon. Unfortunately, after dragging them down to the basement, I opened one up to find it was the wrong color. A quick call to Paul at Leather Direct had a replacement ordered. Another 5 weeks, but I can enjoy the existing chair until then. Oh well.
Had the weekend to myself and boy did I need it. On Friday I was up until 2am trying to reroute some cables through the conduit from the pj to the equipment room. If you look at my construction pics you can see I had to put a couple bends into the conduit so that made things especially tough. I managed to get them all through, thankfully. The next morning, with the new 6″ pipe, I was able to get the pj mounted in its final position and connected. Of course I spent some time (couple hours) making sure all the inputs and cables worked fine. Since I was borrowing a co-workers mitre saw for the weekend, I needed to get back to task. I hoisted the side columns into place so I could measure and set about cutting my base trim and chair rail. With that out of the way, I went back to working on the fabric and finished the majority of the sections remaining. On Sunday, my wife helped me with the final sections of fabric and finished installing the rest of the sconces. All that is left now is to repair a stud in the proscenium, install the speakers into the columns and secure the columns to the wall, order and mount the screen, finish the screen wall fabric, and paint and install the trim and chair rail. One positive note – the chairs have been ordered and are on their way!
Huge update for today! The biggest accomplishment has been finalizing the columns. After building and installing the speaker supports and shelves, I wrapped each rear column in fabric, stuffed the non-speaker section with insulation and hoisted them into place. On the columns, I wanted a rounded effect so I also installed some quarter-round on the edges. I originally held off on the side columns due to the differences in height between the colors, but after doing one, it actually was easier than I thought. I’ll need to devise a better way to secure the columns to the wall, but for now they’re ok.
No new pictures from the weekend, but quite a bit more done. Unfortunately, I was reminded the hard way to check that all the proper parts are in place before taking things apart. After pulling out all the wiring and old switches, I realized I needed a couple parts to be able to install the X10 dimmers.
That wasn’t going to stop me, however, and with the main lighting off and only a small lamp, I managed to get the mulberry fabric completed on a few sections. The mulberry goes much quicker than the midnight since I don’t have to mess with back-stapling the top furring strips. Only a couple sections left. Later that evening I did stop off at Home Depot for the parts I needed and finished the dimmer install. (Pictures in other posts)
Although they haven’t been ordered yet, we’ve made our final choices on model, fabric and leather of the chairs. Close up pics of the fabric and leather selections will come in a later post. Once we do place an order, we hope to have them in 6-8 weeks.
Although I got quite a bit done over the weekend, I don’t really have a lot of pictures to show off this update. Most of my time was consumed with the columns – building them from MDF and then cutting speaker openings, that when covered in GOM, will hide the speakers. The side wall fabric was delivered this past week as well and I hope to start working on that on Wednesday. Pictures will be in a later post.
One of the biggest accomplishments of the theater happened when I managed to get my first piece of fabric installed on the screen wall. I used some thin cardboard strips to make a straight seam along the ceiling and approximately 200 staples, and it looks great! I’m using a material called Expocloth for my front wall and GOM (Guilford of Maine) for my side and rear walls. One piece down, many more to go.
After returning from a trip to Toledo this past weekend, I was able to get a couple more sections done of the screen wall fabric. Each section went faster than expected and came out great. Since I’ll need a way to get behind the wall if I ever need to adjust or change the speakers, I used velcro along the right-hand section. I’m also going to leave the bottom section until the very end so I can make any final adjustments, if needed. I’m waiting on the colored fabric for the walls.
Between waiting for contractors and telecommuting into work, I managed to get quite a few more things done yesterday. After shifting each component around at least 3 times, I finally settled on an equipment rack configuration I liked. I had to keep in mind things like air circulation and heights of things like the VCR for little people. (nieces and nephews, not the other type of little people) Rope light behind the first row seating location went pretty smooth, and some jigsaw work was needed to fit the final mounting pieces into the ceiling. I also managed to assemble one set of shelves, but when I went to install them, it took some work due to some warped 2x4s. I also learned that I mismeasured one of the groves in the side panels, but it should be an easy fix. I’m going to reroute the second set of shelves so as to make those correct before installation.
Was able to work most of the weekend and got quite a bit accomplished. Friday night I unpacked my receiver and CD changer so that I would have some listening material while working on the rest of the room. I also managed to get all the polyester batting up on the walls. It went much faster than I anticipated. On Saturday I put the first coat of paint on my shelves, but somehow forgot to take a picture. Since I am using Antique White to match our trim, you wouldn’t see much of a difference in the pictures anyway. I also painted the trim surrounding the equipment rack. (moving the receiver and changer first, of course) While those were drying, I worked on the rope lighting, low voltage wiring and the projector mount. The mount is cut from 1/4″ plexiglass and will use a floor flange and pipe system to mount to the ceiling. The springs under the plexiglass are used for any minor adjustments to the skew and height at each location. I would’ve had it mounted on Saturday, but I can’t seem to find the final piece that mates up to the floor flange. Off to Lowes I go. Sunday was more of a cleaning day around the house, but I did manage to get the second coat of paint on the shelves and moved them to their final location once they were dry. I also made my trip to Lowes and picked up the rest of what I need to hang the pj. To help hide the large cavity in the ceiling, I mounted magnets to the bottom of a piece of plexiglass, painted to match the ceiling. Turns out 2 magnets aren’t enough to hold it, so I’ve got to mount a third one.
I hope to have the materials for the columns all set to go and be ready for fabric very soon.
Trying to take advantage of the nice weather, I worked outside most of the night priming the shelves for the media storage area. I had previously routed groves in the side panels and put one coat of primer on each of the panels. One more side to prime for the actual shelves and then I can paint them to match the trim. Once the sun went down and it started to get chilly, I moved back indoors and worked on installing the rest of the front speakers and subwoofer. Some easy wire stripping in the equipment room and I’ll have sound in no time. I also played around with rope lighting ideas, as that’s the last thing I need to finalize before I start putting the black fabric on the proscenium.
As some of you may know, when you shop for lumber, a 1×3 is really not 1″ x 3″, but smaller. So when I needed to find 1″ thick furring strips to match the 1″ thick insulation, I looked all over to no avail. Finally I convinced a nice young man at Lowes to rip down a bunch of 2x6s for me to get my furring strips. Unfortunately, a manager looking type came over and claimed that the cuts were “too small and would burn up his saw,” so he ended my strip count at 30. So, for the past couple days, I’ve been pre-drilling, countersinking, gluing and screwing nearly 30 furring strips onto the walls. These furring strips are what the fabric covering gets stapled to, and they provide a place to attach chair rail and base trim.
With most of the furring strips in place, I’ve been able to complete the OC 703 insulation around the room. Per recommendation, the OC 703 is to extend from the floor to just above ear level. Since ear level is approximately 44-48″, each 4′ sheet of insulation is the perfect height. Regular polyester quilt batting will fill in the areas above the OC 703 to fill out the 1″ space. I had some left over pieces, so I added it to the ceiling behind the proscenium as well as underneath the center channel shelf. I’ve also started to prepare the wiring and install some of the equipment behind the proscenium in preparation for black fabric.
Installed shelf standards and brackets for the center speaker and equipment rack. I plan on re-using the MDF shelves from my old Flexi rack, but need to cut them down and repaint them first. I hope to start painting the shelves for the media storage this weekend, so I hope to paint them all at once.
I also continued working on the equipment rack. With the shelf standards and support brackets in place, I cut one of my old Flexi-rack shelves to fit, and it worked out perfectly. After cutting down all the shelves, I like them in black, so no need to repaint those. I do need to paint the surrounding trim before I install the shelves permanently.
After a couple days of searching, I managed to find a local supplier of the duct insulation recommended for the wall treatments. The supplier actually had two of the many products that can be used. One product is called Owens Corning 703 Rigid fiberglass, the other, Johns Manville Linacoustic RC. Both provide similar acoustical qualities, but the OC 703 came in 2’x4′ sheets vs. a 100′ roll, making installation a breeze. I was able to quickly treat the walls behind the screen wall and installed standards for shelving to hold the center channel. Once I find (or rip my own) 1″ firing strips, I’ll be able to continue with the OC 703 around the rest of the room. I’ve also started on the shelving for the equipment rack and media storage, so look for pictures of that soon too.
The framing for the stage and riser was completed last Thursday, but I didn’t get to the sand until Sunday. With the help of my friend Amish (and a good friend at that), we lugged 72 bags (3600lbs) of play sand off a truck, through the house, down the basement stairs and around a corner. Unfortunately, I only ended up using 58 bags (2900lbs) of sand so I will end up lugging 14 bags (700lbs) back upstairs to be returned. Oh, and all this was done in a big snowstorm that hit right as we unloaded the truck.
For the riser, I only needed to fill with R-13 insulation. By total luck, the riser cavities were the exact length of each piece of insulation so I just pulled a strip out of the bag and into the cavity.
On Tuesday, the carpenters came by to complete the tops for both the riser and stage, and the carpeting began on Wednesday. Before the carpeting was finished, I was able to build the proscenium (screen wall) out of 2x2s. The opening at the top is where my center speaker will be. The goal was to eliminate any 2x2s from blocking the sound.
With painting moving forward in the rest of the house, the theater room has been completed as well. The color is called federal blue, and will be very dark with all the lights turned off. The stage and riser are scheduled to be built next week, so I’m on my way to Lowes to pick up some play sand and insulation. Once those are filled, the platforms and proscenium can be completed and then carpet installed.
While the rest of the house was being buttoned up and prepared for drywall by the contractors, I went in and pre-wired all the low voltage cables for speakers, networking and the projector. I also installed conduit between the projector location and equipment closet for any future cable needs and test mounted the pipe for the projector.