PlasmaDan's Living Room Cinema / Office Build
For this build, I tried to plan ahead as much as possible. There are a lot of intricate details that need to work-out just right for the build to be successful. There is very little space for all the equipment needed, no-where near enough room for a full-sized rack (I could really use one), and given how thin the walls are in this terraced house, the soundproofing needs to be good!
I started plotting-out the basic design in AutoCAD back in 2013. There were several key things that needed to be figured-out in AutoCAD before starting the build:
- How to fit a rack-cabinet in the right-alcove where the gas / electricity meters are?
- How to ventilate the rack-cabinet?
- How to soundproof the room without losing too-much space?
- Where will the new ceiling end-up, and will a soffit fit above the window?
- How to create a practical soundproof door for the back-room?
- How much desk space would there be, is it enough?
- What wiring needs to be installed before boarding (data, HDMI, USB 3.0 etc)?
- Come-up with a design for the soffit that allows the speakers to be hidden.
- Calculate the screen position / size / projector throw distance.
- Calculate amount of materials needed for each stage.
- How will the completed project actually look?
I found the time to work on the details in AutoCAD between jobs, or if I didn't have much on (I'm a self employed carpenter & electrician). I'm a competent electrician, with a background in electrical engineering (that I never really pursued), so I do have a fairly good idea what I'm doing...
The CAD drawing is still a work in progress. Small changes are made as the build progresses, so I still don't have any final renditions, only quick renders / drafts. For those of you who are familiar with AutoCAD, you can view / download the model from my GrabCAD page here.
Soffits / Speakers /AV Rack
You can get an idea of the soffit design from this angle. The soffits are going to be one-size all-round, except the screen side; where the alcoves and chimney-breast soffit is curved so as to try to blend them together into one run.
The black "lid" of the soffit is actually going to be black speaker fabric, hiding the soffit speakers, wiring, and also some other equipment (such as the WiFi AP). The CAD drawing shows this in great detail.
Originally, the ceiling speakers were going to be just a standard 5.1 surround setup, but since I created this thread some people have pointed-out that the ceiling-only surround speakers will not offer a good quality cinema experience. So I have decided instead to create a Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 setup.
I don't want any rear floor-standing speakers, so the ceiling speakers will be the surround speakers. I have decided to scrap the center ceiling speaker in-favour of lower-down speakers, but leave the cabling in-place as a spare feed to the soffit. If I do decide to compromise on speaker positioning in the future, the ceiling speakers may also allow for a Dolby Atmos 5.1.4 setup.
Here you can see the desk / rack-cabinet design. Nothing too fancy, but I did manage to find a way to make everything fit into the right alcove (just).
Last, but most certainly not least... The wiring plan. Since everything is centralised in the rack-cabinet, I had to be sure everything could fit. I only have enough room for short-depth (around 400 - 450mm) equipment, including the workstation (used to create the CAD drawing), AV receiver, modem, network switch, patch panel, HDMI matrix, and a UPS if it would fit (it won't).
My original plan was to put the main file-server into this rack too, but it didn't take long to realise how ridiculous that idea was. I should end-up with a 12-13U rack-cabinet, depending on how much space is needed for cables etc. The new file-server takes up 6U alone since I added the 24-bay HDD caddy, so there's just no-way it can go in here. The file-server is basically the heart of everything, without it I have no movies, no CCTV, no media of any-kind really... so before I could even start the build, I first had to find a home for the 6U file-server, and install a bunch of CAT6 cables for it.
The only decent available space for the server was the attic. This meant not only installing a whole bunch of CAT6 cables through the upstairs walls, but also a dedicated feed for power (since the server will have its own breaker / RCBO), and an HDMI feed to allow debugging via the HDMI matrix, in the event that remote desktop connection stops working, or I need to access the BIOS etc.
First I had to make a custom bracket to mount the rack-cabinet in the attic.
The attic gets very warm in the summer, and the server will be maintaining a heavy load thanks to the motion-detection for the IP cameras, so lots of ventilation required!
I had to create access above the right alcove to install all the new cabling to the server in the attic. I knew I'd be ripping the entire ceiling-out anyway, so what the hell!
New wiring installed through the bedroom wall...
Wires coming into the attic...
Server up & running! (although it's plugged into an attic socket temporarily, until the new CCU goes in).
And there it is, a new home for the file-server. All cabling and feeds are installed and we're ready to start work on the cinema!
I ordered as much of the stuff I knew I'd be needing before ripping anything out. Before I started the project I'd already managed to blow over £1,500 on electrical, data-plates, fixings, and Green Glue... I actually got lucky with the Green Glue, I found a seller on eBay who was willing to part with 2 boxes (24 tubes) for £240
Obviously there's no-where near enough of ANYTHING here, but enough to make a good start at-least.
I was able to ripout the entire ceiling, fill a skip, and get the room tidy again (sort of) in one day. I really underestimated how much crap would fall down with the old ceiling.
I found a 300mm long 3mm drill-bit during the ripout, that I still have in my toolbox today.
The dust mask was a MUST... although I really should have used a better quality one, instead of this Poundland one that didn't seal against my face correctly I now have a good quality 3M respirator that I use for particularly dusty jobs.