Monday, May 03, 2004

Monday morning update

Busy weekend. Busy Sunday, really, but a pretty full weekend.

The wife and I took Friday afternoon off for a doctor appointment and ended up finishing with that around 4pm. We decided to head down to Oklahoma City and see if the in-laws wanted to have dinner. That didn't work out but we ran a couple of errands (I got a couple of new shirts), had dinner, then headed home in the pouring rain... I'm glad she was driving.

Saturday we went back to Oklahoma City and met up with her mother. We ran some more errands - new grill cover, fabric store closing sale, etc. - and made a day of it. We finished it off having dinner at Marie Callendar's with both her folks. The service wasn't the best I've had there and my father-in-law had a little attitude problem that threw a wet blanket onto the evening but the food tasted good.

Sunday, I got busy.

I have been working on wiring the living room for sound. I have a home theater system. In our previous house, I ran cables around the edge of the ceiling to the back speakers and the layout of the room allowed me to set up the subwoofer without running cable across a pathway. Having a brand new house (and an attic I can actually move around in), we decided to route the wires through the attic.

I planned everything out, bought a spool of speaker wire, a couple of Ethernet jacks (for the ReplayTV connection), enough binding post connectors for two sets of speakers and a subwoofer (that's a total of six pairs), and the necessary wall plates. I even blew $15 on an attachment for our Dremel tool that turns it into a rotary saw so I could cut proper access holes for the plates.

About a month (or so) ago, I had run the Ethernet cable for the ReplayTV and speaker wire for the rear speakers. On Sunday, I cut the holes and placed the inserts for mounting the keystone plates. Then, I ran a pair of wires out to the patio for outdoor speakers, a wire to the back of the living room for the sub woofer, and a television cable into my office. It was about 80-85 degrees (f) up in the attic so I was a little moist by the time I came down. Kevin came over and helped me from the ground with the rest of the wires so I wasn't up there too terribly long.

I spent the rest of the afternoon terminating all of the wires to their respective keystone jacks. The hardest was the Ethernet jacks and even they weren't that difficult - it was all just very time consuming.

[DANG! I should have taken pictures and published a how-to on my web site.]

Once I finished terminating at the wall, I proceeded to cut all new audio wires to go from the wall to the amplifier. I went from 22-gauge (very small) wire to a 12-gauge wire (much bigger, less resistance, better sound - in theory, at least). Then, I moved the behemoth of an entertainment center we have back into place, hooked the TV back up, and wired up the stereo... It sounds great!

Side note: I realized I have a problem. I have the optical audio cable from the DVD player hooked directly into the amp. (for 5.1 surround-sound) but I have the video running through the ReplayTV. This will work just fine but the ReplayTV runs a 7-second delay... For those that haven't figured it out, the sound is going to come seven seconds before the video. That's WAY out of synch. If I want Dolby Digital audio from DVD's, I'm either going to have to get a video switcher for the rear input on the TV or I'm going to have to run everything through the amplifier (it'll handle video pass-through, too) which will confuse and annoy the wife.

So, I finally had my wires run, my wall plates in place, and my TV back on... and I went to mow the lawn.

Needless to say, I'm a little sore today but it's a good sore. The kind of sore you get from doing good solid work but not from overdoing it. I don't feel like I strained anything, I'm pretty sure I just used some of those muscles us computer-jockeys don't use very often.

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