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Designing a Front-Projector Home Theater System

DENVER, Sept. 3, 2008—More and more custom installers are offering front- projector home theater systems to their customers. To support installers, Capitol Sales Company offers 10 tips for optimal system design and installation.

1.) Bigger Picture and Bigger Sound
Look for opportunities to suggest a room for big impressions. The room should be isolated from noise and distractions with enough space for a ceiling mounted projector, screen, associated equipment and ability to control the light. Make sure your customer understands the benefits and disadvantages of the large image along with how a reflected view through projection is different than a direct view on a flat screen television.

2.) The Room and the Screen
Your ceiling height will determine the size of the image—the higher the ceiling potentially the bigger the image. You’ll also need to determine which wall will be best for viewing, equipment and seating arrangements in the room. And, you’ll need to determine whether a wall-mounted screen or retractable option will be best for the application and homeowner’s preference.

3.) Math for Sizing the Screen
First, determine the top of the viewing area for your screen. Minimum should be 6 inches from the ceiling for fixed screens and 12 inches for retractable screens.
• Measure to the floor.
• Subtract 3 feet for height of viewing area from the floor
• Multiply by 1.33 for width of 4:3 screen
• Multiply by 1.78 for width of 16:9 screen

4.) Math for Seating Distance from the Screen
There is an ideal seating distance from the screen for viewing that’s easy to calculate. First, you determine the actual width of the screen. Seats should be positioned between 1½ to 2½ times the width of the screen.
Example: a 110-inch with a 16:9 screen has an actual width of 96 inches.
• 96 inches x 1.5 = 12 feet for nearest seating
• 96 inches x 2.5 = 20 feet for farthest seating

5.) Project Location
Mounting the projector on the ceiling works best because the projector will be out of harm’s way. When measuring, remember to take into consideration where the wiring will go and spacing for the brackets to hold the projector. The distance you’ll need to be from the screen varies greatly by project, so it is best to determine the projector that will be used before prewiring. If you wire to near the end of the range of the projector, it will provide you with more options if you need them once you begin setting up the equipment. If you have not determined a projector, most will work if you wire to an area 1.75 times the width of the screen.

6.) Offset Project Lens
Lenses are not always in the middle of the projector so consider this before you begin mounting the project in order to center it properly. Some models do have horizontal and vertical lens shift built in, which will make you job a bit easier. Connections can also be in different locations depending on projector type so make sure you have the projector available when you are planning where the wires will be located in the ceiling.

7.) The Wires
Here are some of the wires you need to consider for the source signal:
• RF for cable TV or off air
• Composite (VCR or “Legacy? source) cable or RG59 pure copper
• SVHS cable or 2 RG59 pure copper or Cat5
• Component cable or 3 RG59 pure copper or serial digital
• RGBHV in one jacket i.e. IXOS XHV806CL or Monster MCTSRGBM5-250
• HDMI for best picture quality
• VGA for computer connection
• 12 volt trigger out for electric screen control
• Carlon raceway—1.5 inch for the next great thing or a replacement
• 2 conductors for IR connection
• 2-6 Cat5 wires for future add-ons
You may only need a few of these wires for your current project, but always prepare for the future with extra wires or a flexible raceway.

8.) Backlit Learning Remote
Consider upgrading the remote to one that will be more user-friendly. Look for a learning remote that’s easy to program, and one that is backlit so your customers can easily pick up the remote and use it when they are sitting in the comfort of their easy chair in a darkened room.

9.) Equipment Location
Ideally, the equipment can be placed out of sight for fewer distractions. You’ll need to ensure the space is properly ventilated because the equipment will get hot. Make sure you quote a proper rack setup along with fans to help keep equipment cool and protected. Because the equipment is out of sight, you’ll need to include an IR repeater as part of the setup. And make sure to include media storage space.

10.) Power and Protection
Plan for enough amperage and surge protection for all equipment in your system.

To learn more about Capitol Sales Company, visit www.capitolsales.com, call 1-800-INSTALL (467-8255) or e-mail info@capitolsales.com.

Capitol Sales Company partners with system integrators and low-voltage installers as an emerging technology distributor. We offer solutions from over 125 leading manufacturers in home theater, telephone systems, integrated home systems and commercial A/V. Installers nationwide depend on our multi-branded system design, expert technical support and application-based education. Visit www.capitolsales.com to research and order over 5,000 products and access Knowledge Base, an on-line resource featuring useful manufacturers’ diagrams, charts, formulas and configurators.

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