Thursday, January 17, 2019
The final frontier: Garden Level media room. There is a plan for the build out of the full garden level of this building, but most of that just has to go on hold while bank accounts etc recover a bit and just to let the dust settle for awhile. I need a break from the constant pounding, drilling, grinding, and the ever-present layer of dust.
So, onward with this final piece of work, and I'll have the man-cave I desire. The wiring you see protruding from the walls is for the 11 channel Dolby Atmos theater sound setup (of course, right?). These wires terminate behind that closet door in the short hallway, where all the sound equipment will be kept. A 4K projector will be soon mounted to the ceiling and then I can begin considerations for tuning the acoustics of the room for this type of use. Lots to think about, as usual.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
Yes, the posts have slowed, things are getting ready for City of Chicago Inspection. Lots of loose ends are wrapping up, like the kitchen backsplash:
...and the cabinet-mounted controller for the ceiling-embedded speakers, below. The Crestron equipment is working out pretty well - but was a challenge for my "I can hack anything and make it work" mentality. The equipment is really first quality stuff. BUT! Even though the head unit I purchased - the discontinued Crestron Adagio AES ($200! what?!) - which was supposed to be a Crestron unit built for residential OOTB setup by homeowner, turns out it was only 'sort of' OOTB. Lots of tinkering, fiddling, google querying had to be done here before it could be considered to be fully set up. For instance, I would have been fine with a remote control and an IR send/receive eye to control basic functions, but Computer says noooooooo that requires special Crestron programming code to be added to both the unit and the remote. In short, that means 'Not going to happen'. Fortunately the Crestron APAD device, shown below, was plug and play. No programming required.
In the end, it works great. The Adagio AES Head unit has plenty of power to drive 5 stereo pairs of speakers, and does easy switching, grouping, and individually set volume levels for each room pair. Source media is what ever is being 'cast' to the Google Chromecast Audio streamer (get yours now, they were just discontinued as well and $20 is a great deal for a network streamer with an optical digital out) connected via the mini toslink optical digital out to a Schitt Modi 2 Multibit DAC and then into the Crestron AES head unit for distribution to the various room speakers. Spotify never sounded so good, and higher quality streams the likes of Linn Radio really shine.
Speaking of Speakers - here is a link to the ones I installed. The Micca Series (8 inch in-ceiling) from Amazon was recommended by a friend of mine, as a cost effective option that he had used in the past. I have to agree, I was actually quite surprised at just how good they sound. A very respectable low end, and the pivoting, "aim-able" tweeter really makes for a full, rich, tonally balanced sound at the spots(s) you are typically seated/working/standing. Considering that this is largely intended as a background music system and not something for critical listening, all of this turned out to perform so much better than I had anticipated. People actually comment on how good the music sounds.
Is my HiFi Geekfactor showing yet?
Let me just drive this home for sure. Below is a pic of the Master Bath steamshower ceiling. The black square is one of two steam/sauna rated wet area speakers from Mr. Steam. They too are driven by the Chromecast Optical Out>DAC>Amplifier, but this time it is not part of the main house Crestron system, giving the user the choice of listening to the whole house program or choosing one from a personal device or asking Google to play something else from Spotify.
Below, the DAC-Amp, From Micca, is a tidy little amp just for driving the shower speakers. It's in the linen closet next to the shower stall.This isn't supposed to be some high end audio thing going on here, its a shower stall after all. But when you are hanging out in here for a 20+ minute steam, it's pretty nice to have some music to listen to. If you're wondering about all this techno-speak around DACs and optical connections, lets just say there is a pretty vast sound improvement going this way versus a direct connection via a headphone jack, particularly when streaming digital music. It's not terribly expensive or complicated to set up and - to me anyway - is the only way to go in 2019.
Also in this closet is the steam unit. It was a good addition, and does its job well.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
There have been so many pics of this skylight over the last year, but none quite like the one below. It is almost done, there is still a long hanging sculptural light to hang from the center of the skylight and in this stairwell shaft.
Fitting the railing to the stair
And this door. The radius on top is what the big deal is all about, as it does not match the curvature of the opening. The window company was onsite today to take a look, and they will be making another one. The door you see below it is just the construction door, not the final. So, once again I find I am waiting for a front door.
Monday, January 7, 2019
My last post was early December, right after the moving truck came and deposited a near 20-year collection of home contents in this new shell. Since then, there has been a long, slow unwinding of boxes, parts, shopping bags- not to mention a holiday season with all its own set of obligations and schedules. But here we are in 2019, and the machine has cranked up again, but this time with a pretty defined set of things to do. This time, the goal is to hit the punch list or remaining items and to wrap this project up for final building inspection by the City by the end of January. This inspection has been scheduled - so all eyes are on the prize.
Most of the big items have resolved over the last few weeks:The 'Fridge has arrived. I feel like a grownup! There is power on the kitchen island! Actually the kitchen now awaits only the tile backsplash behind the stove and this one can be marked as complete.
The Garden level is really the only area that is still seeing some serious activity, finishing out the media room and finally buttoning this up.I'll post some pics of this as soon as it has some shape to it.
The story of the Front Door is still being written. The parts finally showed up, after a very long wait. The transom does not fit properly, with a 4" gap at the least around the top of the radius, which isn't correct either. What a total disappointment. Not sure what happens next here.
A few pics from the last month:
Original glass pieces are back in their spot
Master bath steam shower is really great. Two steam room speakers in the ceiling, powered by a small amp and chromcast in the closet are a really great addition.
Still waiting on mirrors, but this is closing in !
Some First Floor powder room, still waiting on those sconces and vanity
BUT, the antique locking mechanism replica for these doors is in place. I had wanted to re-use these cool door knobs and backplates from the original building in the project, and here they are. THey look great.
Under cabinet lighting in the kitchen, an early morning shot. I haven't gotten used to turning all this stuff off at the end of the day yet.
Ahh yes, the fridge. 30 Cubic Feet of cold storage. Yes, it is a monster.
Early Morning, I love the outdoor fixtures
And the front door, with the window that doesn't fit. I can't even look at it.
Monday, December 10, 2018
It has been a very long weekend of unboxing, sorting, discarding, schlepping... we all know the moving drill. Things are now in a sort of a "Phase 1" spot, where all of one's junk is generally in a certain spot (and that is just fine for now, thanks). I did break down at Home Depot and buy a shorty Christmas tree, all bundled up, something I thought would be a nice nod to the season and wouldn't be too much work. Turns out it was just the top of a much larger tree, so I now have a Christmas shrub in my Living Room. Its a step up from a Charlie Brown tree, but only one.
Still waiting on the doors to the coffee bar to be installed.
Yeah, its a mess but it is getting better.
Cabinet pulls are on and look great.