Sep 222014
 

Intro

Those of you who have been following this site for a while will know that I have a certain proclivity towards engineering sometimes complex home theatre configurations.

Naturally, as an Architect and Software Engineer (former life) I’m a huge fan of continual improvement – and my home theatre experience doesn’t escape this principle.  Since we moved into the new house late last year, the configuration has been somewhat suboptimal.

As someone who has suffered from poor vision for over a decade and a half, I’ve been a huge fan of the home projector option, and this carries to this day.  As a result, a 720p DLP projector which was purchased way back in 2006 still has a place in the current configuration – although this time around it is ceiling mounted.

The Layout

The house suffers from the very popular open planned living concept, and as a result the lounge area is only bounded by three walls.  This leaves a rather awkward open area which exposes the surround left speaker – not much can be done about that.

We have two sofas (3-seater and a 2-seater) plus a leather single seater recliner which is styled in the gold class theatre design complete with twin cup holders.

Having bricks-and-mortar which we own also provides us with an opportunity to do things right – as a result, the surround back channel speakers are wired through the ceiling and re wall mounted behind the main sofa.  Here’s a diagram which illustrates the current speaker layout (a lay of the land, so to speak):

image
Lounge configuration

Now this configuration is hardly out of the ordinary – with one notable exception: a 55” Sony Bravia is wall mounted above the amplifier/center speaker, which means we have 2 HDMI outputs.  In addition to this, I prefer to have independent ability to play an Xbox console while the main TV is in use, so to the left of the center speaker is a 24” LCD monitor.

In Theory

With the new Harmon/Kardon AVR 370 now installed and configured, almost all input devices are using pure HDMI output only (direct to the amp).  The notable exceptions are the Rega RP-1 turntable (with pre-amp) and a BlueTooth extender which came with the amp.

The new amplifier supports two HDMI outputs (but doesn’t support outputting different discrete sources!) however it does make more logical sense to output to the Projector and the Bravia since they won’t ever be used at the same time as the projection goes over the Bravia’s screen.

Achievement unlocked: All-HDMI setup.

The one problem was how to handle the 24” LCD monitor?  Using an existing 2×4 HDMI switch, I output the Xbox HDMI to the switch and made the LCD one of the two outputs, the second daisy-chaining to the amp.  This provides a way to run the Xbox via the Amp (to the Bravia or Projector) whilst also providing output to the 24” LCD.

Here’s how it all looks:

image
Configuration Guide

Basically, all input runs through the amplifier and for the Bravia or the projector, there’s no need to do anything special to switch between sources.  It’s a nicely centralised configuration using almost 100% HDMI.

In Practice

Well, I’m very happy with the outcome!  Here are a few pictures of the final configuration.

IMG_0909_Medium IMG_0905_Medium

Above we have the new amplifier which is pretty slick looking on the outside, and a profile of the amplifier surrounded by the media units, with the center speaker above.  You can just make out the 24” LCD monitor to the left of the center speaker.

IMG_0907_Medium IMG_0908_Medium

The next set of photos show the view from the 3-seater sofa, you can see how the projection screen sits above the 55” Bravia.  The photo above and to the right is a side profile which shows where the Rega RP-1 sists in relation to everything else.

IMG_0906_Medium

Last;y – a quick shot of the projector which is nicely ceiling mounted now.  The effort hasn’t gone unappreciated by the audience as my youngest son Damian looks on:

IMG_0861_Medium

Sep 082014
 

Hi All.

I’ve long moved all my kit reviews over to the Lego Republic but I felt that this one deserved some presence here at Sanders Technology.  Over the Father’s Day weekend, I assembled the following advanced Lego kit which is based on “The Tumbler” from the most recent Batman series of movies starring Christian Bale.

IMG_0759.JPG IMG_0770.JPG
Windscreen view / Rear tyres

Clocking in at 1869 parts, it’s not even close to being a lightweight set – this one if clearly for the adult fan or the very experienced teenaged builders.  It’s probably more attractive to those who have experience building Technic sets, but will appeal to anyone who is up for a building challenge.

IMG_0766.JPG IMG_0763.JPG
Interior view / Side profile

This set features two exclusive minifigures including Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker (which no doubt will be in high demand).  The assembled model is highly detailed and well designed and resembles the attention to detail often found in the Star Wars Ultimate Collector’s Series (UCS) models.

IMG_0762.JPG
Rear profile – massive wheels

The Tumbler, once complete, is just as intimidating as depicted in the films. 

IMG_0761.JPG
Side profile

More details on the five and a half hours it took me to build this Lego behemoth will be posted shortly on the Lego Republic.

IMG_0767.JPG
Driver’s seat

Aug 252014
 

IMG_0363_Medium

Well, I’ve finally managed to assemble the dream – a proper work space for working on servers, workstations, laptops and the like.  It’s been years since I’ve been in a position to put something together, but a few weeks ago I managed to finalize the installation.

IMG_0364_MediumIMG_0365_Medium

Aside from the home handyman capabilities this set up allows, the integrated LCD monitor, 5-port gigabit switch, waterproof keyboard and wireless mouse set under a twin pair of halogen lights gives me a place to bring equipment for full analysis and tinkering.

That is… assuming it‘s not freezing in the garage – the room isn’t insulated (yet) so there’s still that barrier to entry.  Have you got a similar work space?