I recently finished a nice home theater / home theater PC (htpc) project that:
1. Was on the “honey-do-list”
2. Was on my wish list of things to do for “cool” factor
3. Would allow me to play with new techie toys for my home entertainment system
For the longest time, this was my setup in my rec room for my TV….notice the clutter?
This was no good anymore for a number of reasons, mainly – the mess of cables was just ugly. And also, I have a young child that loves to go after buttons on home entertainment equipment.
Using some cool new toys, I modified my setup to look like this:
Look ma, no wires!! How did I do this you ask? You have to be willing to spend a little bit of money, and also have a hiding spot for your home entertainment equipment that is not in plain-view. I have a network rack in my home that houses all of the equipment and used the following components to make this possible:
1. The Vizio Universal Wireless HDMI Audio and Video Kit – this handy device sends a wireless signal from my receiver, tucked away in the closet to my TV in my living room. The kit advertised that it must have direct line of sight, this is slightly inaccurate. I did find that the device could not have too many walls / wood doors in the middle of it and my TV. Mine is safely nuzzled behind some wood stairs in the closet and it works fine.
2. A universal remote – I used the Logitech Harmony Link which can turn your smartphone, tablet, iPod touch into a universal remote that can interact with all of your equipment and not need direct line of sight. Most devices like your DVD player, BlueRay player, cable box, etc. use infrared remotes. The Harmony Link communicates with all of them using what’s called an IR Blaster, and lets you control all of them with your touch device. I am using an old iPod Touch with their iOS application to control my home entertainment center. Of the greatest interest to me was the programming you can do with the device to turn multiple devices on at once and have it ready to do certain actions. For instance, I have one button that says “Play BlueRay Living Room” which turns on my receiver, BlueRay player, turns the receiver to the BlueRay mode, and starts playing the movie.
3. Speaker / speaker wires in the right place – I did have some foresight, and ran speaker wire from my living room to the closet where I wanted my equipment before the walls were put in place. But not all of them! My center channel speaker wire was not run to the same location. How did I get around this obstacle? I used the Rocketfish Universal Wireless Speaker Kit to transmit a signal from my stereo receiver to my center channel in the living room.
4. For my home theater PC / DVR – I built my own home theater PC / DVR using a Windows 7 computer running BeyondTV. To control this PC wirelessly, I use a wireless keyboard. The problem I ran into here was that the range of the wireless keyboard was not long enough. To combat this, I ordered a Cat6 USB Extender. This allowed me to run a plain old network cable from my home theater computer in the rack in my closet corner, to a spot on the wall closer to my TV, but still hidden. On both ends is an adapter. One end plugs into the computer, the other provides a USB female plug for my wireless keyboard adapter.
All in all, I’m very happy with the home entertainment setup. It cost a little money to do, but I think things look much more impressive being hidden away from the TV.
This was a more techie blog article. For those out there comfortable doing this themselves, I hope I have given you enough details to help with your project. If you do need help, feel free to contact me to find out what I did in more detail. Or if you find you would like some in-person help to do this for you, P3C Technologies is ready to assist!
Here is one final picture for how the TV looked on the wall with no cable clutter and a shot of the rack in the closet where I house all the equipment: