Illusory Follies Andrew Flanagan's Blog

26Oct/074

$70 Lesson

Our washer machine didn't work on Monday. I smelled what seemed to be that electrical burning smell and freaked out. This week has been BUSY and although normally I poke and prod dying electronics of all shapes and sizes I broke down immediately in this case and called up the repair people. They came today. Hmm -- "Did you realize that the circuit's off?". *click* now it works!

What a pain... Ironically, I must mention that my wife TOLD ME to check the circuit box before I called.

Good wife. Bad Andrew.

Hey, at least I'm stimulating the economy!

22Oct/071

Wiring

Over the last few weeks I've been doing some wiring... There are multiple phases of this project.

  1. Install nicer shelving in under-the-stairs closet (wood instead of that horrible white wire mesh stuff). (25% complete)
  2. Get proper power/cable/network/audio wiring into the under-the-stairs closet. (75% complete -- no network yet)
  3. Get "media center" components out of the living room and into the under-the-stairs closet. (100% complete)
  4. Wall-mount the TV and wire audio/video cabling through the wall to the closet. (100% complete)
  5. Wire audio around the room for a 5.1 channel setup. (50% complete)

So far so good... the main shelf for audio/video components and computers was installed and has been painted. I'm waiting on the other shelves until after since they're not needed for any of the other electrical components. I'm waiting on network because I honestly haven't figured out how much of the house I really want to wire. Wireless technology has its limitations but usually it's fine around the house. I'm thinking right now that I'll place a patch panel into the wall with 16-32 ports and only wire a few of them initially. Maybe one or two drops for the kitchen office area (for the wife's computer) and a few upstairs in my office (I like being able to move files onto the server quickly). The kids bedrooms simply don't need them and I don't really take my computer into the bedroom. Now that everything in the main room has been moved to the closet, there's no reason to have any there. If I ever wanted to do something like host a LAN Party (I think I'm too old for that) I could just drag a switch into the main room. The media components are moved in completely (a receiver, a DVD player, a VHS player and two computers). I had an old tape deck that I gave away (never used it and now you can't even buy cassette tapes) and an equalizer (which really wasn't useful since I don't care about tweaking my bass/treble anyway). The computers take up a lot of room and generate probably too much heat. I'll probably downsize the server to a single machine that runs a little cooler and get rid of the "gaming machine" since I really don't use it anymore. The TV is mounted using a cantilever mount.

Once I determine exactly what audio/video I'm running to it, I'll cable-tie everything so that it folds nicely (the arm for the TV is a little like the cable-management arms in server racks so I can tie stuff to it). I've successfully wired the front left and right and center channels. I was originally looking at satellite speakers far up on the wall but decided to instead use floor speakers for the front and a center channel mounted high (almost near the ceiling). It's not really an ideal setup from an audiophile perspective (the center channel should really be lower -- within 2 feet of the tweeters on the floor speakers) but all it really means is that the "sweet" spot for watching movies is a smaller area on the couch instead of the whole room in front of the TV. I have holes in the wall for the surround left and right speakers (back wall rather than side walls -- again not "optimal" but there was no room to mount on the sides). They are mounted at the correct height (about 64"). I'm using single-gang wall plates with gold-plated screw on connectors that can optionally use banana clips. I think it should be adequate. The sub-woofer spot has been selected but not yet cut in the wall. I'm going to place it on the rear wall facing forward from the center. I suppose it doesn't really matter where you place the sub-woofer but this way I should be able to "feel" the bass even better since it's almost directly below the couch. I also need speaker mounts for the surround speakers and the center channel and haven't determined what brand/type to buy. Back in the closet, everything wires to a 5.1 binding post with the same connectors. Something like this (different brand but same look):