Monday, November 08, 2010

Staten Island home theater

For the past couple weeks, Polina and I have been talking about installing a home theater in her parents' house in Staten Island, ever since I determined that I couldn't install my projector in my own apartment. I hate having all that stuff go to waste, so she got permission for me to install it there, and this weekend I got it done, since she came home to celebrate her 20th birthday.

This is my fourth front-projection theater install that I've done (my parents, my ex's parents and my old office in Houston are the others) and one of dozens of theaters I've assembled for myself and friends, coworkers, bosses and relatives throughout the years. So that experience helped me get the job done quickly.

Since I already had my Panasonic 720p HD projector, Luma pull-down screen, Polk center channel speaker and 25-foot video cables, the expensive stuff was already paid for. Over the past week I have been shopping online for deals, and I got a terrific one in Crutchfield's scratch and dent section on an Onkyo TX-SR308 receiver for $186 and free shipping. I also got a fantastic deal on an LG BD-570 Blu-Ray player with wi-fi for $160 at hhgregg near my office.

I also found a Final S95 powered subwoofer from Outlaw Audio for $89 and free shipping. Then Friday, I stopped at Best Buy on the way to SI to buy a pair of Polk TSi100 bookshelf speakers for $200 to finish the front sound wall. I opted not to install rear speakers because it probably would have overwhelmed the 'rents.

My first step was to install the projector on the ceiling over the sofa on the far wall, and I used a plastic cable cover the hide the wires along the ceiling. Then I used tiny plastic brackets and nails to snake the long video cables along the ceiling above the fireplace and down to the equipment on the floor:

Projector install
Next I unpacked all the sound equipment and ran the speaker wires to the Polks and hooked up the Blu-Ray player and subwoofer. Then I tried to hang the screen, but found out I needed a larger wood screw that I didn't have. So when everyone got home about 11 p.m., that was the only thing incomplete. So we hung up a bedsheet as a makeshift screen to demonstrate the projector.

The next morning, I went to a nearby hardware store to get the screw, and finished hanging the screen. So here's what it looks like:

Watching 'The Guild'

The Italian Job
On Saturday people started arriving in the late afternoon for Polina's birthday party, mostly friends from school, plus Ryan, Anna, Dakotah, Panda and Patrick.

Birthday dinner
Her mom made a carrot cake for the birthday cake, and they did actually have 20 candles on it.


We played games like Apples to Apples, What? and Mafia, and after some people had to leave, Polina's parents joined up to watch my Blu-Ray copy of Disney's Beauty and the Beast on the home theater, which was lovely.

The next day was spent chilling with Brett, Polina's friend and the only person who stayed over Saturday night. We played a couple games of Blokus with her dad, and after Brett left, I worked on the theater some more, hooking up their cable box and Sony Playstation while Polina did homework. In the evening her grandparents came over for a family birthday celebration and to watch Russian television on the projector. After dinner I went home and Polina's parents took her back to school.

It was a lovely birthday celebration, a bit quieter than years past, but still the same spirit as past parties. I'm happy that my theater equipment has a new home where I can visit it, instead of sitting dormant and unused in boxes.