Home cinema wiring

I'm about to wreck our dining room and it will soon re-emerge as a cosy living room (estate agents would call it a "family room"). Eventually I'll be installing a home cinema setup, and I'd like to get some fixed wiring in place before decorating.
The trouble is I know nothing about home cinema gear so I don't know what sort of wiring I'm going to need. Our TV, which hasn't been switched on in years, is one of those fat heavy glass eyes with a mains plug and an aerial socket. I'm aware that things have moved on since then but I haven't kept up.
I'm thinking of a big flat screen in the middle of one wall, speakers in the four corners (how high?), and a collection of black boxes near the screen to make it all work. I have no idea what provision I should make for connecting the boxes to the screen and speakers, other than knowing I don't want wires trailing all over the place. Any advice appreciated.
I have little interest in broadcast TV but it would be daft not to have any connection with the outside world. I'll be providing an internet connection for the black boxes and I know how to do that. It's possible that I'll get a satellite dish installed at some stage (there's no prospect of cable) and I assume that the satellite wiring would enter through the outside wall. That's nowhere near where the black boxes will be - so how might I prepare for it? Or would I be wasting my time with satellite when the internet is taking over?
The room's about 4 metres square, by the way, with a concrete floor which will be carpeted, and thick stone walls.
--
Mike Barnes

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Mike Barnes wrote:

OK. Run several mains style cables (for audio) and a lot of CAT 5 (for anything it might be useful for, like a home network) and coax (to the TV from the loft amplifier/distributor) to wherever you might want to have bits of the setup.
SEPARATELY run a mains ring.
Now even if you leave the cables coiled up inside a backing box, at least the cables are there if you need them. Its generally no big deal to hack out for another backing box and put a socket next door to one that exists, and ,if there is enough cable, extend a particular service.
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Mike Barnes wrote:

I'll leave that to someone else - I have not advanced beyond basic sterio, except to say that a mate got a pir of transmission tunnel monster speakers back in the 90's and combined with good grade amp+preamp, they produced extremely realistic sound.

IME, you will want a TV with at least 4 HDMI inputs (everything is going HDMI and the cables are fairly thin).
So you will want to the TV - probably:
1) Mains
2) several audio cables back to amp
3) ethernet to TV (yes, really - modern TVs can do iPlayer direct - I would not be surprised if some will eventually do Netflix direct too).
4) Aerial to TV
5) HDMI for DVD
6) HDMI to Sky box if required - or BT Ondemand or Virgin box
7) Component or composite video (3-5 cables) to WII or some other games console. Note Games Console may be able to provide Netflix streaming service (my WII can).
So the potential for lots of cables is high. A big lump of D-Line trunking looks pretty neat between the TV and the cupboard with the rest of the gear.
Then you'll need said cupboard - with a glass front to let the remotes work.
Will you build in a cupboard or use a free standing one?
Get or make one with lots of shelves, vertical void in the back for cabling and as mentioned, glass doors. And ventilation.

Satellite will always have 100's of channels - but we are fast moving towards the time when on line streaming will provide anything you want over a 2+Mbit connection.
Netflix is already technically pretty good. Their catalogue is weak but to be fair they have only just started with UK streaming and I am seeing stuff being added every day - so it is only a matter of time.

Given that particular scenario - I would bolt the TV to the middle of the best wall for viewing. Then in the corner I would build a quality (but could be "rustic looking" wooden cabinet to house the kit. The cabinet would have a PDU for mains (you'll need loads of sockets here but not many amps).
Heavy bit of D-Line or some suitable trunking[1] across to the TV (direct - or along the skirting area then up). I would allow 4 square inches of cable area in this - seems a lot but it will fill).
The cabinet will end up with a load of piles of surplus cable so it would be a good idea to have a 4" deep void behind the shelves with some tie back points for tie wraps or velcro bands. The other solution is to get custom cables. Given you will have to buy HDMI cables for your kit, go to google and locate the best source, Do NOT buy from COMET, Dixons, Curries etc - they will charge you 5-10 times the price. Flat HDMI cable is easier to route and you can buy it to the nearest metre. You could also shorten all mains cables in the cabinet and even put IEC plugs on as IEC PDUs are more compact than 13A.
As far as the sat goes, get it taken in at ceiling height and drop it down to the cabinet from the floor void above. You would do well to drop some conduit (20mm round) down to the sit eof the cabinet - perhaps 6 lenghts to 3 double back boxes. This should give you more than enough for mains, aerial, sat, network and mabey speaker cables back up.
You didn't say of your stone walls were plastered?
My solution is only one of a thousand possibles - it may not suit what you were thinking of - other will have other ideas...
--
Tim Watts

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Or an amp with lots of hdmi inputs and do the switching through the amp. Not that that helps with the cabling question of course.
Apparently you can make speaker cable from cat5(!) http://www.venhaus1.com/diycatfivecables.html
Matt
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matthelliwell wrote:

You can, but its not low enough resistance for decent bass.
T & E is as good as anything else for 'in wall' installation.
As heavy a grade as you care to install!

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Hmm, a good use for old that "old colour" Black-and-red I've got under the stairs. Excellent!
Paul DS.
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On 15/02/2012 13:11 Paul D Smith wrote:

Nooooo! Save that for jobs where you might not want to use new-colour cable...
--
F




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+1.
100m reels of red'n'black'n'green/yellow jealously guarded here...
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Mike Tomlinson wrote:

That will be a flex then. T & E doesn't have insulation on the earth.
Bill
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All 3 single core unfortunately. 's ok run in conduit. Ran out of T&E a while ago.
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escribi:

It doesn't matter, the new colours were on sale before prat P came in so you could have used the new colours.
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Thought that was strictly illegal - though how anyone can tell I installed it today and not 10 years ago I'm not sure ;-).
Paul DS.
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Exactly. Plausible deniability :-)
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Mike Tomlinson wrote:

It comes to something when we have to be prepared to lie about jobs we're done in our own homes.
Bill
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Mike Tomlinson wrote:

All it means is that respectable people disobey the law. That devalues the law, and is the start of the road to anarchy.
Bill
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Bill Wright wrote:

Certainly means rather than viewing the law as black and white (like I was taught to - OK I'm old...) I evaluate everything as to its reasonableness and ignore the bollocks as long as I think there will be minimal repercussions.
Of course, my sense of reasonable differs to someone elses....
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Tim Watts

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Most don't even know what 'the law' is as regards doing repairs or alterations to domestic wiring. Especially pros, by what they state.
--
*It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.

Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Quite. But if the law was seen as good and valid people would know it and most would obey it.
Bill
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This sort of 'law' is never going to be fully understood by the majority. Leaving it open to interpretation by those who lobbied for it in the first place - like trade bodies. To their greater advantage. CORGI were notorious for this. But it does little to stop the cowboys.
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Dave Plowman snipped-for-privacy@davenoise.co.uk London SW
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On Wed, 15 Feb 2012 15:46:57 +0000 Bill Wright wrote :

No, when I sold in 2008 I told the truth - numerous alterations done without consent. No comeback at all from purchaser. If there had been I would have offered to pay for a periodic inspection confident that all was OK.
Note that there is a Part P consultation out at the moment and scrapping it is not likely to be the result.
--
Tony Bryer, Greentram: 'Software to build on',
Melbourne, Australia www.greentram.com
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