A short while ago I detailed an easy and cheap HTPC solution to turn an unused room into a personal movie theater. While I gave you a basic run down of what you might need, I never showed you how to set any of it up. Now it’s time to get into the meat of the setup and get this puppy rolling.
The first thing we’ll want to consider is hardware location and any potential mounting issues. In my house the living room is best described as “cozy” and provides some very unique challenges for setting up even a television. Throw in a couch and chair set and you find yourself working with a short space indeed. To solve this particular problem a simple $15 component shelf makes an easy installation with just a power drill. Just remember the adage “Measure twice, cut once.” You should be sure that where you are placing your mount will provide you with an optimal image throw. Given the relatively low price for one from places like Selby Acoustics or other online vendors, there’s really no reason not to get one.
Of course that leaves us with where to place all of our other components. I myself have opted for a utility shelf tucked behind my recliner to avoid pulling long runs of various wiring. If you do decide to use a component shelf elsewhere be sure to secure your wiring. The last thing you want is a house guest or pet tripping over a cord and bringing your nice projector crashing to the ground.
One item that I forgot to bring up in my last article is what do we project on? If you have a textured wall or any color in your house it’s very likely you’ll need to have a projection surface. While a decent 80” screen can be had for under $100, a temporary fix is as cheap as a new white sheet and a piece of PVC. Simply sew the hem of the sheet back into a loop, add your cut PVC pipe for weight, and you’ve got a projection screen that you’re ready to hang out in the garage for a football game.
Last we come to the software portion of our HTPC setup. I myself am a big sucker for the XBMC software suite, which automatically sorts and downloads information for all your TV shows and movies. Featuring a 10-ft UI and addon support, the program is easily navigated with a media remote and can serve up online videos from YouTube all the way to ESPN. In my installation I’ve added an arcade emulator and have Galaga at the ready at all times.
[Photo by Mark van Seeters]