Holiday Projects – Take Deux

by Damian on January 20, 2011 · 25 comments

in News

A few weeks ago I put together a post about some projects I did around the house. Well, with my new found handyman skills and a drywall saw, why stop when the entire house is full of drywall just asking to be cut!

Project #1 – Install In-Wall Center Channel Speaker:

The setup in our bedroom was originally 2.1. However, since our family room is now dominated by Disney and Nick Jr our bedroom setup is now frequently used for TV and movie viewing, which means time to upgrade to a 5.1 setup! As I want to minimize the amount of wires and gadgets hanging around I decided to go with an in-wall center channel speaker for this setup.

Tools Used (what I can think of off the top of my head):

Figuring out where to put the Center Channel speaker was not difficult. I knew I wanted it under the TV, so using the stud finder I just looked for space under the TV where the speaker would fit between the studs. If you recall, last time I ran into an issue with the stud finder being a little too accurate when it found Fabio hiding in my walls. With that taken care of I figured I should be in the clear, but once again the stud readings were off  the chart. Sure enough, after digging into the wall I found none other then Lando Calrissian hiding in there (man is this stud finder accurate or what!!!). After grabbing a Colt 45 with him I sent him on his way.

Using the template Monoprice provided and the drywall saw I cut out the space where the speaker was to go (the template can actually be a little tricky as  you need to use the inside area of the template to trace out).

The next step was to cut out a hole towards the bottom of the wall where I wanted the speaker wire from the speaker to come out. I used the 2-Gang Low Voltage Mounting Bracket as a template.

With the holes cut I measured and cut some speaker wire (leaving myself some extra slack.

With the holes cut and the wire run, it is now time to get all the hardware out and ready to install. Below is a picture of the Center Channel speaker.

Here is the speaker with the grill removed (you will need to remove the grill to install/secure to the wall)

This is the backside of the speaker where the speaker cable will connect to.

Installing the speaker into the wall was surprisingly easy. Once the speaker wire was connected to the rear of the speaker you simply place the speaker into the cutout. Then you simply tighten the fasteners until the speaker is secure against the wall. One  thing to be careful with, if you have to remove the speaker only unscrew the fasteners enough to get the speaker out of the wall. If you unscrew too much the fasteners will fall off the speaker and land somewhere in your wall.

Next up is to install the wall plate. You may ask why I chose this wall plate since I am only installing a Center Channel Speaker. Well, the hope is in the future if I decide to install any other in-wall speakers they would all run to this plate.

A picture of the speaker wire connected to the rear of the wall plate.

The wall plate fastened with speaker wires going from the wall plate to my Receiver.

Project #2 – Running the Mounted TV Cables Behind The Wall

If you recall from my first project when I wall mounted my TV the power cord and HDMI cables were hanging down the wall.

Tools Used:

I decided to go with the Recessed Pro Power Kit because this would allow me to have my TV plugged into my power conditioner, something I would lose by just running a power outlet behind my TV. Since you are not supposed to run power cords in wall this would meet that requirement as well. Plus, I have never worked with electrical wiring, so this kit would allow me to install without having to tap into the current electrical wiring. Also, what is nice about the kit is it also allows you to drop additional cable wires as well.

My youngest guy decided he wanted to help out, so he got his Handy Mandy toolbox all lined up and ready to go.

The top plate goes somewhere behind the TV and the bottom plate goes towards the bottom of the wall. The two plates get connected together with Romex wire which is run in the wall (so you can see why there are no live wires being messed with).

Here is a closer look at the top plate. The TV plugs into the outlet and the cables (2 HDMI and 1 cat6) run down the opening. You may notice that some additional drywall was cut out as well. This is what happens when you cut drywall while being distracted…looks like I will need to add drywall patching to my resume!

This is the bottom plate. An extension cord connects from the plate to my power conditioner (thus effectively connecting my TV to the power conditioner). The two HDMI cables and cat6 cable come out and connect to my receiver/switch. The one annoying thing with the layout of the plate is that the opening for the bottom plate is set such that you have to bend the cables up in the wall to bring them through. I have no idea who thought this was a good idea?

With the Center Channel speaker installed and the TV wires run behind the wall, here is the finished product.

I decided to also move all the speakers wires into banana plugs. This definitely keeps things cleaner and prevent any chance of wires touching and causing a short.

Project #3 – Set Up Rear Speakers

The next project I had in mind, I had some Polk rear channel speakers that I wanted to set up. The issue was how to handle the wiring. After doing some research I decided the best approach for now would be to go with some cable raceways which should blend in with the wall as well as conceal the speaker wires.

Tools Used:

Installing the cable raceways was easy as you simply attach to the wall using the provided adhesive tape. Since the walls in my bedroom are still the builder’s white the cable raceways blended in nicely along the molding. The nice thing about the cable raceways is that they can be painted to match the color of the wall.

Here is a picture of one of the rear speakers mounted to the wall with the cable raceway concealing the wires.

At some point I will look into installing in-ceiling speakers to replace these satellite speakers.

Miscellaneous – Diary Of A Blizzard – The Blizzard Strikes Back

I don’t know what it is but my holiday projects seem to coincide with major snowstorms. Once again as I was working on this project we got hit with another 20 inches of snow. Possibly one of the dumbest decisions I have made was trying to drive to work at 3:30Am in the middle of the storm. The local roads were in OK shape so I figured I was in the clear, but once I got to the major highway it was an absolute mess. What is normally a 40 minute drive to work turned into a 2 hour drive, with a good portion of the highway covered in over 6 inches of snow. I finally made it to the exit where my job is at only to get stuck on the exit ramp which had not been plowed yet. After about 30 minutes of shoveling the exit ramp at 5AM I was finally able to break free and get to work. When I got to work much of the parking lot was impassable, but I was able to find  a spot at the far end of the lot. I thought the worst was behind me until it was time to leave work. I hopped in my car and as I drove off it started to shake. Thinking that maybe I just had some snow jammed up underneath the car I hopped out only to see I had a flat tire! Fortunately I had a full size spare, and although I wouldn’t recommend changing a tire in a snow covered parking lot, the spare was put on with little issue. After a white knuckle drive home (even though at that point the roads were mostly cleared I knew a flat tire would leave me stranded), I find that we lost hot water in our house! Just one of those days, but as they say, what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger!

Below is a picture during my drive in the morning. This is actually before it started snowing heavy!

My poor tire, which was shredded.

Due to snow drifts, we had about 3-4 feet of snow leading to our front door.

Trying to exit out the garage wasn’t going to work either!

So What’s Next?

One thing you may have noticed, I installed a center channel speaker, but where are the front speakers? The media console we purchased for our bedroom allows you to replace the panels in the front doors with speaker cloth (as seen below). So currently my bookshelf speakers are in the cabinet and the sub woofer sits on the floor right next to the Media Console.

What I am trying to decide now is whether it is worth getting rid of the bookshelf speakers, installing in-wall front speakers, and then moving the sub woofer into the media console. This would free up some room as the sub woofer would no longer be sitting on the floor and give everything a little bit more of a clean look (plus I get a chance to use the drywall saw again!!!). My only concern is that the wall where everything is set up backs my son’s bedroom, so would installing two more speakers in the wall result in more sound passing through the wall into his room? I was originally thinking about getting an in-wall sub woofer but after doing some research I decided against this as I read mixed results (and I would also need to purchase a dedicated amp). I guess I will give it some thought over the weekend before making a decision.





Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


{ 24 comments }

jam3ohio (jim) January 20, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Damian–

Patching that drywall is pretty easy…make sure that you screw the drywall that you removed to the stud, make sure the screw is counterflushed, tape around the edges, spackle, sand and paint. Should be a pretty easy fix.

Jim

Damian January 20, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Thanks Jim,

I picked up all the tools this past weekend so hoping to get this done in the next few days. The whole is hidden behind the TV so at least right now it isn’t an eye sore.

Jim January 20, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Damian,

You might consider a “hot patch” for that hole instead of enlarging it.

A good idea of how it’s done:
http://bit.ly/a0j60O

I’m still playing around with MPC and VC-1 acceleration on my i3/H55. I had it 99.8% correct, but I was having issues with a few HDDVD rips from MakeMKV and VC1 dxva. After struggling for a while, I have narrowed it down to an audio bitstreaming issue. I have gotten deep in the bowels of Reclock in an attempt to break the other 99.8% of my library.

I hope to give a better report on your i5/MPC thread. Good luck with your patching.

Damian January 21, 2011 at 6:23 am

I shouldn’t have to enlarge the hole as I still have the drywall piece that I cut out. Since the stud is still there as well, hopefully a simple screw and some tape/spackle will do the trick. Never heard of the hot patch though, thanks for sharing. I have two young boys so I am sure it will come in handy soon enough!!

That is the one thing that is a shame with the i3/i5, that you have to work so hard to try to get video/audio playback working “properly”. The ATI drivers can be buggy at times but my HTPCs with the 5670 GPU just worked with MPC without much hassle.

Dave January 20, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Looks good Damian! Just one suggestion to “fix” the bottom wallplate, just install it upside down. The wires will then run the right direction without having to bend them. Your extension plug will be upside down but so what?

Also, I think in the long run you will be much happier with in-ceiling speakers for your rear satellites, they are easy to install and will look much cleaner. I think those raceways will bother you sooner or later, even if you paint them. Thanks for another great write-up!

Damian January 21, 2011 at 6:17 am

Hi Dave,

I was originally going to install the wall plate upside down, but I decided against it because then the Romex wire would cross over the HDMI/cat 6 cables in the wall. I read that generally you want to avoid this so I just decided to play it safe and just do as directed. Hopefully I shouldn’t have a need to replace/remove any of those wires for some time, just seems dumb whoever designed the bottom plate.

Yeah, I think the in-ceiling speakers will happen sooner then later. The satellite speakers were brand new (impulse buy from NewEgg!) so couldn’t justify spending money on new speakers (although eBay is my friend!). At some point my wife and I would actually like to paint our bedroom, so my guess I will do the in-ceiling speakers and remove the satellites right before that. Glad you have enjoyed the write ups, been on a roll lately so hopefully I can keep it up!!!

PositiveCynic January 20, 2011 at 8:43 pm

You might consider using a router to create a channel on the inside of your baseboard to run wires. Plastic cable covers are seen mostly in commercial applications and some people do not like the look in homes. The corner can be trick if you cannot cut into the stud, but can be solved by making the molding take two very small 45 degree angles instead of one 90 degree in the corner. I am just thinking if someone was willing to cut holes in sheetrock why not go the extra step and remove the base board to hide wires in a channel cut in the back with a router.

Note: You could also cut the sheetrock behind the baseboard to hide wires (which is done often), but I would avoid this route unless you want to spackle the cables into the sheetrock behind the baseboard.

Damian January 21, 2011 at 6:19 am

Yeah, I considered removing the base board. Since I think long term I would go with in-ceiling speakers and just get rid of the current satellite speakers, that is the reason why I just went with the “quick fix” route of the plastic cable covers. Plus, I had them done before my wife even knew what I was doing :-)

JesterEE January 21, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Great job! Just an FYI, your wife must really love you because I don’t think mine would have been all about me putting in a 5.1 system in my bedroom.

I used the raceway conduit in my last apartment to run my 5.1, and I HATED it. If you have the means to run the wiring through the walls and do a similar task to what you did with the center speak, you will be much happier. While the in-ceiling speakers are an option, I personally don’t like how they sound acoustically the rear channel is not meant to be overhead. But, this is a bedroom after all … not a home theater, so I think any way you go it will be just fine … if not overkill ;).

What you need now is a wire snake with a web cam to run those wires around your room without making drywall cutouts to reroute. And after you make the purchase and finish your job, let me borrow it :).

Damian January 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Haha. When it comes to media I have free reigns in the house. My wife also enjoys the setup just as much as me (although of course I always take it to the next level!!!)

For better or worse the bedroom has really shaped up to be the home theater, so might as well make the most of it. Only issue is I have to keep the sub piped down. We watched The Town last weekend and I had the sub at full blast. After the opening scene my 3 yr old son came into our room and wanted to know what that noise was (his room is the one over from ours).

We just got some more snow today and supposedly another big storm is headed here next week, so might be time to work on project # 3 and install some more in-walls!!!

Jim T January 25, 2011 at 8:37 am

Well Done Damian!!
What type of wire did you use for the interconnects for your surround speakers in this pic?

http://www.mediasmartserver.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/IMG_4714.jpg

Its a very clean look. I also like those banana binding clips! Mine have the whole in them and its a pain – those monoprice look easy to install and it looks like the wire is well secured.

thanks

Damian January 25, 2011 at 8:44 am

I have two sets of speaker wire. The copper/silver colored wires are from Monoprice – http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10239&cs_id=1023902&p_id=2748&seq=1&format=2

The Ivory colored speaker wires are Monster Cable Navajo that I got from Best Buy:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Monster+Cable+-+50%27+Mini-Spool+Speaker+Cable/1871095.p?id=1051384428361&skuId=1871095&st=Monster%20Navajo&cp=1&lp=3

Also, after using Banana Plugs for this project I will always use Banana Plugs going forward!

Alex Kuretz January 27, 2011 at 9:44 am

Great setup and good job documenting it for us. Big snowstorms are the best for getting a lot of indoor projects done! And the Colt 45 explains why you made the drywall hole snafu. :D

Damian January 27, 2011 at 10:27 am

I thought if I stopped planning projects we would stop getting snow. Unfortunately I was wrong since we just got 15+ inches last night. That is close to 6ft of snow in a month. If I wanted this much snow I would have moved to Colorado!!!

jam3ohio (jim) January 27, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Damian–

Did you ever get that snowblower that you were talking about getting a year or so ago? If not, I think I’d break down and get one. I guarantee that as soon as you buy one, Long Island will see no more snow for the season! :)

Jim

Damian January 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Hey Jim,

Yeah, we had a snowblower but it was broken (it was my moms, she had never used it but left the gas in for over a year…). After a storm last year I had Sears come out and repair. Raquel (that is my snowblowers name!!!) has been as lifesaver, but her to work yesterday and a few hours today!!! Supposedly more snow tomorrow and another storm on Tuesday, I say bring it on!!!

JohnBick February 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

Great snow project! Well written, as usual!

You might consider some acoustic padding behind the speakers to dampen the reflective sound from the wall behind — as well as the vibrations in the drywall panel. (This is somewhat a matter of personal preference. I liked the sound better when I did it in a prior home years ago; a friend did a similar project and preferred not to use any. YMMV.)

Damian February 2, 2011 at 5:25 am

Hey John – hope all is well.

I may have to look at the acoustic padding, especially if I decide to add in-wall speakers for the front L/R. Since this is for my bedroom dampening the sound from the other room would definitely be ideal. Thanks for the suggestion!

JohnBick February 1, 2011 at 8:26 pm

PS: Got a new 28″ Toro snowblower last year to replace an old 21″ model. LOVE it! (Some things DO get larger as guys get older!)

Damian February 2, 2011 at 5:26 am

LOL.

I will never go without a snowblower (is it a snow”blower” or a snow”thrower”???) again

JohnBick February 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Toro calls them “snow THROWERs”, but a snow-chucker by any name is is a back-saver! I went without one when I had a small driveway and then as long as my then-teen-aged boys were at home. (They had to shovel to get their car out or ride the bus! VERY effective!) First winter they were gone I made the purchase.

jam3ohio February 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm

30″ swath, 303cc engine, two stage Ariens beast here. Just spent two hours moving snowdrifts up to my hips here in Central Illinois. No way I could live in this area without one!

Pradeep February 7, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Great write up again. This is also one thing that I am really scared to start (cutting into walls and fishing wires). I have thought of it lots of times, but never ventured to do it myself. This gives me a lot of inspiration to try some. Let me see if I can keep up that thought and try and do this the next time I find some time

Damian Perez February 9, 2011 at 6:53 am

It is definitely worth taking the plunge. Trust me, I am not exactly Mr Handy, but I got tired of paying people to do work that if I just took some time to understand I could do.

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