Fun With Wire

Room Preparation - Continued


We had to come up with a way to hide the unsightly bright red support post (short of removing it). I could have just painted it the same color as the trim, but instead, we found a product for wrapping the pole with thin, cloth-backed wood strips that gave it the appearance of a wood column. This product is made by POLE-WRAP. (Apparently, I'm not the only one with trouble thinking up catchy names.) At the time, we had to special order the kit from an Internet hardware outlet, but now, it can be found at most Lowes and Home Depot stores (or ordered online). Since we planned on painting the wood to match the trim (and to be dark), we got whichever wood type was cheapest at the time. The end result was pretty stunning.


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Fun with Wire


Cable management in a home theater is always a challenge. Running the audio cables was one of the hurdles to be overcome next. Being a basement family room, the floor is concrete, so they could not be run through the floor. The walls are wood paneling attached with furring strips to the concrete block. We could have notched out the bottom and run the cables through that and behind the baseboard. My problem is we wanted to be able to swap cables in and out as we added or changed equipment. Removing the baseboard every time didn't sound like fun. Our solution instead was to use fake baseboard that contains cable trays inside. We used Wiremold's Cablemate system. They make both a chair rail and baseboard solution. We used the C800, C82 and C90 pieces. They are easily paintable once primed with Kilz 2. Rather than replace the existing baseboard with these, we just mounted them on the front of the baseboard. One reason we did this is because we needed something to go around the brick of a fireplace that had no baseboard. It was also just easier. Painted the same dark color as the trim, they disappear into the woodwork. (Pun intended.)


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Once painted, the cable channel baseboard was mounted to the existing baseboard and the fireplace. We used 2" double-stick tape around the fireplace. We didn't want to make the very hard bend in fairly thick audio cables at the corners, so we left those open. These were later covered by short sections of 1-1/2" black, flexible split wire loom.


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The audio cables were an interesting problem in their own right. We wanted good quality cables, but the cable runs to the farthest speaker (the left front in my case) was about 30 feet. Pre-manufactured cables in that length are fairly expensive, so we opted to buy a large spool of high quality speaker cable (I refuse to call it wire) and a set of banana plugs for the amplifier end and pin plugs for the speaker end. There was a good evening of soldering involved here alone. Because I cut all the wires to the same length and some where very near to where the equipment cabinet was going to be placed, the cabinet itself was fitted with "cable management" posts. These were at one time over the door clothes hangers. They were hacked to be used here. A couple 110V 120mm fans were added to force some air circulation. The audio cables weren't alone. The projector has component, composite, s-video and VGA inputs. We can't leave any of those not connected, right? Right.


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Once the audio cables were buttoned up in the Cablemate moldings and the video cables were attached and run through some even larger split wire loom, we were finally ready to hook everything up.