Originally sparked by the desire to replace our family's simple 19" television, I began a quest for a better AV experience. It all began in January 2001 when my thoughts turned to my upcoming birthday and what to ask for. My wife seems to be quite content shelling out dough to satisfy whatever my latest craving may be, so I was thinking of a new 27" Sony Wega; nothing fancy, no hi-def or component inputs, but I was looking for better picture quality (and more square inches) to watch DVDs and TV. About 2 years previous, my wife surprised me with my first (and only) DVD player. It's a basic unit and she expected me to exchange it or replace it with something that better suited my wants. I kept the player since I didn't have any better display device to take advantage of a better player. After getting the new Sony TV, I figured I'd upgrade the DVD player to something better.

As I looked at TVs, my ambition began to grow, but I came up against my aversion to spending more than $1000 on a new TV, ever. I was going to settle for the 27" non-digital for now and upgrade again when HDTV was in full swing. While waiting for my birthday and tracking down the lowest price I could find, I kept coming across better TV's (i.e., digital) in the stores. The sales people seemed to have some uncanny ability to always position the TV I was planning on getting right next to a 36" digital set and I always left the stores with a nagging feeling that I was settling for something I didn't really want.

One day while perusing eBay auctions, I came across one of those ads selling plans to build your own projector for $15. The idea of a projector seemed appealing, so I went off to discover that decent projectors cost between $1000 and $8000 before you get to the "Home Theater" units. Frustrated, I went back to the $15 plans. I did some searching and found the plans posted on the web. I gave them a read and figured I'd give it a go. I bought a fresnal lens from Staples for $5 and I have an older 19" TV in the shed. Before I built the thing, I already wanted to improve it. I started designing projectors based on a halogen light and the LCD panel from a little color Sony Watchman, and the plans kept getting better. Along the way, I discovered the AVSForum website and my world completely changed.

I starting reading about using so-called "presentation" projectors in home theaters, computers as dedicated AV components, people building their own theaters, and the list goes on and on. I starting thinking big and before I realized it, I justified to myself, using rationalizations that wouldn't hold up in court, converting our living room into a Home Theater. Well, strictly speaking, not a Home Theater, but more of a media room. After all, it's the only living room/family room in the house and we'll still need to use it for everyday living.

In order to transform the room, and our lives, I've broken the project into a hand full of smaller pieces. Most of the pieces represent significant DIY projects unto themselves, but I'm a DIY kind of guy. So here the real story begins...