HT curtain (again)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Gary_R, Jul 7, 2001.

  1. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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    I've read previous posts on constructing an HT curtain when used in conjuction with a front projection system. Yet, I still have a lot of questions.
    My screen is 133" diagonal (16x9); how do I buy a curtain rod or assembly for such a wide opening?
    What kinds of drape controls are available that are reliable and reasonably priced? I've seen some drape control models with worm mechanisms and rods included, but none reasonably priced or even long enough for my front screen. (I'd prefer an IR controlled model.)
    How do I buy a valance for such a wide opening?
    How do I calculate how much "overhang" I need at both the right and left sides for the curtain when it is fully open? I have limited space on each side of the screen.
    Thanks. These are a lot of questions, but they are ones necessary for SAF (spousal acceptance factor).
     
  2. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    Gary:
    You're asking all the right questions. Unfortunately, the answers are not all as easy.
    "My screen is 133" diagonal (16x9); how do I buy a curtain rod or assembly for such a wide opening?"
    I rough calculate that you need about 192" of traverse rod. Kirsch makes the telescoping kind up to 300", so you are well within what you can get. A local Kirsch dealer can order the best size for you.
    "What kinds of drape controls are available that are reliable and reasonably priced? I've seen some drape control models with worm mechanisms and rods included, but none reasonably priced or even long enough for my front screen. (I'd prefer an IR controlled model.)"
    This is a tough area. We used to use DrapeBoss, but they are discontinued. There are some things on the Smarthome.com site that will work, but not as nicely. There is one there for about $90 that some have used, I understand it it noisy. I also suspect it's too light for your width.
    The good stuff, Silent Gliss and BTX cost too much ($1500 +). Makita makes one that's a little less, but it travels too fast for home theater curtains (11" per second). Everything I know about except Silent Gliss and BTX are on the Smarthome.com site. I have used the Somfy motor and it works pretty good for what it is. Graber makes one similiar to the Somfy motor you see on the Smarthome site for a little less money, but I have no experience with it. I believe it is available remote control.
    Given your size, I think you are looking at using at least the Somfy motor if not something bigger. The Makita would work good, but it's faster than I like. BTX would be only slightly higher and runs at about 6" per second which is acceptable. You need to find a local dealer for these.
    "How do I buy a valance for such a wide opening?"
    Depends on what you want to use. I should think you could put up a rod and slide ready made valances, gathered, onto it. You would simply buy as many as you need to fill the space. You can have custom made to order also. They are more expensive.
    "How do I calculate how much "overhang" I need at both the right and left sides for the curtain when it is fully open? I have limited space on each side of the screen."
    Figure about 1/3 for stacking. In other words, a 6' wide drapery panel would need about 2' for stacking, so you would have about 4' of opening.
    It appears that you need about 10' of opening so you need about 8' on either side of center, or about 16' side to side. This is a little loose, but it gives you the idea.
    Hopefully, this will give you some ballpark answers and get you started in the right direction. Don't hesitate to ask me for any other information I might be able to help with, either here or by email. We do this for a living, so have some expereince with what does and doesn't work. The motor drive situation at a reasonable price is the most difficult, something we are fighting with all the time.
    Here's a link to our unfinished web site showing what we have done with our own HT.
    http://www.kathiejohnson.com/HomeTheater.html
    Deane
     
  3. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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    Thanks, Deane. I appreciate the professional courtesy, and I'd like to take you up on your volunteering for other questions. I have two right now.
    At , SmartHome advertises an IR "affordable" drape control with rods, etc. The maximum size is 9' for a "double drapery rod," but it is not clear if 9' is for the double span or for the complete screen area. (Does that make sense?) If I only need half, then, the 6' is too short; is that correct? What do you make of this?
    What about the drapes themselves? Is there a particular fabric that's best? I've no experience with this kind of thing. Obviously, I can get Sears or Lowes to take measurements, but I have no idea what kind of fabric--as you know, there are thousands--so any kind you've used would be helpful. (I'm not in a hurry to make a mistake!)
    Thanks for the calculations too. I'm unsure from your post how much space I need off-screens: right and left. I have about three feet to my left but only 14" to the right. I should also mention that I have a low HT/basement ceiling at 6' 8"; I'll have to do some precise measurements for the valance, if I can even get one to fit that narrow span.
    Thanks again.
     
  4. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    Gary:
    "SmartHome advertises an IR "affordable" drape control with rods, etc. The maximum size is 9' for a "double drapery rod," but it is not clear if 9' is for the double span or for the complete screen area. (Does that make sense?) If I only need half, then, the 6' is too short; is that correct? What do you make of this?
    I'm assuming if one needed more than 9' of width, one might be able to butt two smaller ones together, say two 6 footers for a total of 12'. I question, though, whether they will butt close enough to work.
    I believe the "double" in this case means two rods, one in front of the other for an installation of shears and outer drapes, something not appropriate for your use.
    I have looked at these on the site, but have no experience with these rods. My problem is that they are fixed size. That might be OK if you had either unlimited width, or they happened to exactly fit your width requirements, something that is not likely.
    "What about the drapes themselves? Is there a particular fabric that's best? I've no experience with this kind of thing. Obviously, I can get Sears or Lowes to take measurements, but I have no idea what kind of fabric--as you know, there are thousands--so any kind you've used would be helpful. (I'm not in a hurry to make a mistake!)"
    You don't want too heavy a fabric so that you complicate your stacking problems. Light will be neater. You don't want them lined. No need, you're not stopping sun at a window. If you have them custom made, velvet looks very theatrical. That's what we used.
    I'd tend to steer clear of places like Sears or Lowes in this type installation. I'd prefer finding a custom drapery place in the Yellow Pages that looked like you could deal with the owner. They have lots of experience and personal type service. Large places like Sears and Lowes are not well setup for this kind of speacilized consideration. Their hired employees frequently don't have the seasoning to think through these things. Then, when you later have problems, they have moved on and you're dealing with someone new. And I suspect if you even mention remote control motorization to them, you'll get the "deer in headlights" stare.
    "Thanks for the calculations too. I'm unsure from your post how much space I need off-screens: right and left. I have about three feet to my left but only 14" to the right. I should also mention that I have a low HT/basement ceiling at 6' 8"; I'll have to do some precise measurements for the valance, if I can even get one to fit that narrow span."
    The 14" is a deal killer. If you figure 3 times 14", you can only have a curtain about 3.5' wide. That would only reach 28" onto your screen. There is no way around this problem. I say no way, because of a cost factor which most people, other than jillionaires, won't accept. Silent Gliss can build you an electric rod that will turn at a right angle to the side of your screen and stack onto the side wall. Figure $2500 to $3000+. But that does include the motor and remote control. Nice of them to do that, isn't it.
    I have been messing with an idea for problems such as these, but haven't done it yet. The original Cinemascope theaters (1950s) had a vertically rising curtain that gathered as it went up. This was done to give a greater illusion of width. It would be made like a roman shade out of a light material, maybe even shear. I haven't figured out how to motorize it yet complete with stops. I would like to figure it out as I am seeing a lot of need for it.
    I've also heard of one installation that had the entire curtain raise vertically into the next story of the house due to no stacking room. This was much like stage scenery is done. That seems a little drastic, however.
    Deane
     
  5. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    Gary, thanks for starting this thead since I am pondering some of the same questions. Deane, thanks for your thoughtful answers.
    I am in a similar situation as Gary, although my screen is not nearly as wide. My screen is a 4:3 expanse of smooth wall painted flat white, with a flat black framed border and the surrounding wall painted black as well. Making my screen a tiny bit smaller to accommodate drapes is easy if I am willing to give up the visual real estate. See my site below for pictures
    Motorized drapes over a fixed screen was the inspiration that started my dream of building a homemade theater in my basement. Ironically, giving up on the drapes was my first compromise because I didn't think I had the stacking room for the drapes when opened.
    Here's the deal... It's difficult to see in my pictures because I painted the ceiling and air duct the same flat black as the front wall, but there is a boxed air duct running the entire right-side length of my room. It extends below the top of my screen. That means, at my present screen width of 75 inches (not sure what the diagonal measurement is, probably 90-100 inches, but width seems most important here) I have only 10 inches to the right of my screen for stacking.
    Dean, by your figuring I need a minimum of 12.5 inches of stacking space for the right curtain to reach the center of my screen, which is at 37.5 inches. Do I have this right? Do you think there is a chance I can do this in 10 inches if I use thin material for the drape?
    If not, the alternative seems to be to reduce the size of my screen width to 70 inches, putting the center at 35 inches and my one-third stacking area at about 11.7 inches. Does that sound right?
    I am going to get a friend's mother to make the drapes for me. My method will be to install the drapes, then open them as far as I can and then reduce the width of my painted screen if necessary.
    Sorry to be so long-winded, but I just wanted to check my thinking with someone in the know. Also, if I ever add a commerical-made screen to my setup, I already want to have this drape thing figure out! (Not that I am not very pleased with my painted screen. I don't see how it could be better, but then I don't want to know about the difference until I can afford to buy a screen if I wanted to.)
    Like Gary, I am limited to a small amount of room above the screen for the rod and the covering valance. I only have 6 inches in that direction, thanks to my low ceiling.
    Has anybody used the motorized drape controller for $89 that's athttp://www.smarthome.com/3142.html ? The DrapeBoss seemed ideal, but as Deane mention that's no longer made. I would control the drape motor with X10 and my X10 infrared controller I'm already using for my lighting. I can't afford the much more expensive motorized rods, of course.
    ------------------
    Mike Brantley
    Our Theater:
    Mike & Cheryl's Screening Room

    My Super-8 Filmmaking Site:
    http://www.super8filmmaking.com
     
  6. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    Mike:
    That's a great looking theater and I know an inspiration for many in their own pursuits of HT. I'm assuming the curtains will hang behind the plywood buildups that hold the speakers and memorabilia. This would seem to be the crowning touch on your installation.
    Your calculations seem correct. I think your approach is correct. We're dealing with inches and fractions of inches here and I'm sure you can get it to fit. This 1/3 stacking area is a generally accepted standard, but not an absolute. Fabrics vary in bulk as you've pointed out.
    Fullness (or lack thereof) will also help your situation. For normal outside windows, we usually do about 2.5 times fullness. Screen curtains don't need but about 1.5 times fullness. You can probably think in terms of pinch pleats about 4 to 4.5 inches apart and then just two pinches or folds instead of the usual three. These things, along with a reasonably light material may just get you by. As you've said, you can only try it and see. Be sure to tie the curtains trained into the open position overnight when they are installed. You want them to fall into the pleated position when open. The fabric needs to be shaped.
    I'll certainly be anxious to hear how it works out. We've been in the custom drapery and blind business for 30 years, but HT is requiring new tricks and compromises.
    On the motor you asked about, I saw a post somewhere where a person had used it. The major thing I remember is that it was noisy. I don't know much else about it. This motor thing is a crisis now that DrapeBoss is gone. They had their short comings, were pretty light weight, but they were workable if one was capable of maintaining them. Now we have no front running choice. I'm continually searching, as we need them to sell in our business. If I ever find something, I'll post informationon all the forums.
    Mike, both you and Gary have a height problem when it comes to a valance. I think a 5 or 6 inch valance across that span might get to looking silly. I'd think in terms of something made of wood or other material that harmonizes with the room. Maybe a crown molding type piece, or something flat with design on it. Something solid could give the room a much more solid feel than a very thin valance. Just my thought on it.
    Deane
     
  7. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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    Thanks again, Deane. I see Mike, and perhaps different circumstances, but similar space limitations.
    I did some remeasuring and 14" is the absolute limit on the right side and is, as you state, a "deal killer." The room had to be set up this way because of the way the basement half-windows, fireplace, etc. line up in the room. Otherwise, everything placed or hung from the walls would look off center. The left side, which has several feet of space, has the equipment rack housed, although it can be moved forward to compensate for drape overhang.
    I think I'll just have to accept the way it is.
     
  8. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    Gary:
    I'm assuming you have no possibility of building a pocket for the curtains to stack into on the 14" side?
    Deane
     
  9. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Dean. The solid alternative to a thin valance is an excellent idea that I will consider.
    Too bad about the DrapeBoss being discontinued. I wonder what happened, since this seems to have been popular as a low-cost solution to the absurdly priced alternatives. I think I will go ahead and look for a 96-inch drapery rod and order the cheap drapery controller from smarthome.com. If it's too noisy or too lightweight, I'll report back here.
    Since I'm about to go to Pasadena for a couple of weeks on work-related stuff, it'll be August before I can really tackle this project as far as getting fabric and the drapes made. But I'll report back my progress,
    Thanks again.
    Gary, I hope you find a solution you'll be happy with. It sounds like you have a great theater with a really impressive screen!
    ------------------
    Mike Brantley
    Our Theater:
    Mike & Cheryl's Screening Room

    My Super-8 Filmmaking Site:
    http://www.super8filmmaking.com
     
  10. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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    Deane,
    Can you give me some feedback on this controller: . Apparently, a remote control is available too.
    Is this DrapeBoss? I thought they were closed for business.
    --Gary
     
  11. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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  12. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    That's the one I saw a user review on. It was either on this forum, AVSciences, or Mike Knapp's forum. I don't seem to be able to find it right now, but I will keep trying. It isn't the DrapeBoss.
    I believe this is the same controller that sells on Smarthome.com for $90.
    All I remember from the review is that it was noisy.
    I have installed the Somfy available from the Smarthome site which uses the same principle of drive. It seemed to work fine, but I only watched it operate a couple of cycles and have had no further involvement. The Somfy is heavy, well built and I don't remember hearing any specific noise level. It stops when the curtain hits the end. I was suspicious of this approach, but it seemed to work good. Somfy is one of the biggest manufacturers in the world. They make the motors HunterDouglas uses in their motorized shades.
    Deane
     
  13. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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  14. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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    Deane,
    Thanks again. Could you elaborate on the "pocket" idea? I could try to send a photo of the front of the room to give you a visual guide. -- Gary
     
  15. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    What's in the space next to the 14" side? If it's another room, closet or something, why not cut through the wall and let the rod and curtain extend back into the space. For instance, if you had 30" stacking on one side, could you create the additional 16" on the other side by going into the next space?
    If the front of the curtain ends up being about 10" out in front of the screen, you could make the cutout 10" to 12" in width, and 16" into the next room. Covered with sheetrock, it would look neat and would hardly show since the curtain would occupy the space.
    If you have no place to expand to, such as being against an outside wall or something, this approach would obviously be meaningless.
    Deane
     
  16. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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    Unfortunately, the right side abuts the outside wall. The HT is in a basement, negating a simple solution. Could I curl the curtain around the right corner?
    I keep forgetting to mention that your HT is gorgeous, especially the valance and drappery combination. I love the "salad dressing"--forgive me, I do not know the correct nomenclature--at the bottom of the curtain. Very tasteful, contributing to the showmanship of the theater.
    From the review you sent me, I assume that Worthington and Butler products are the same. It's difficult to tell on the Worthinton Distributors' homepage since no manufacturer is given. Seems like, from the review, that noise and nondiscrete open/close are the main detractions. I couldn't tell from the website if it's IR controlled or X-10 (I prefer the former).
    I think I'm beyond my depth in the drapery question. Since I'm centrally isolated in central Pennsylvania, I'm not hopeful of finding anyone worth listening to.
     
  17. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    I believe the Worthing Dist unit is probably momentary contact X-10.
    I was afraid there might be an outside wall that presented a problem.
    The only 90 degree turn that I know of is the Silent Gliss custom made motorized rods. I would think $2500 plus. This usually takes it out of consideration for home theater application for all but jillionaires. BTX also might do this.
    I think Kirsch makes some conventional type rods that can be curved, but I believe they would be a total disaster in performance. The stress on the cord would be so great these small motors we are talking about would die. They barely do the job on a straight track.
    Another approach is products made for stage work, community playhouse type installations. I have seen one that has trolleys running on a track. I have seen them turn corners, and I believe these can have cords in them, and if there are cords them, they could be motorized to the same extend a rod can. If you have any serious community playhouse or other stage entities around you, they may have some technical people that can help.
    How much space to you have above your picture area? I'm still thinking vertical movement, though it's just a dream at this point.
    Thanks for your kind words on our theater. Those curtains and valance were made by our own company. The stuff at the bottom is called "fringe". It presents it's own problems. It doubles or triples the bulkiness of the curtain and makes stacking an even bigger problem. To keep it all running in harmony and straight, there are little "O" rings on the back of each fold that have a single black mono-filiment line running through them from side to side. The result is that the movement of the curtains is so perfect that they almost look like they are made from molded plastic instead of velvet.
    The top valance is velvet mounted on 1/2" plywood cut to shape and padded. The gold braid (or rope) is mounted right on the velvet and is 3 dimensional. The center initial is monogramed on velvet, then mounted on a padded oval so it is further 3 dimensional. We would sell this package locally for about $2000 installed. This does not include the pillars. Nor motorized rods.
    Deane
     
  18. Gary_R

    Gary_R Agent

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    At least now I believe I can approach this whole dilemma intelligently, which is the same as saying I won't approach it. I think I would have enough difficulty on a seamless operation without evaluating motors, cords, valances, etc. [​IMG]
    The left side of the screen is 37 1/2"; I considered
    pulling the curtain only in one direction, with no opening in the center--forgetting about the 14" on the right--but that, I would think, might ruin the theaterical effect. The ceiling is just 4 1/2" above the aluminum frame of the DaLite screen. Obviously, I have the projector mounted in a cabinet on the floor--only 6' 8" clearance from floor to ceiling--and only one row of seating. Teritiary seats accompany the left side wall--a sofa--and a fireplace is on the right. Once again, I'm out of space.
    In any case, thanks for all your help. I keep a series of notebooks on interesting threads: this one qualifies because of your input. Thanks.
     
  19. Deane Johnson

    Deane Johnson Supporting Actor

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    Over and out!
     
  20. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    Not so fast with the sign-off! I'm still in drapery mode. :)
    I ordered the Worthing Dist. drapery motor unit and will pick up an X10 appliance module at Radio Shack when it arrives. Also, I picked up a drapery rod and installed it. I'll post a review of the motor after it gets here. Based on how this fit even without drapes installed, I am certain that I will make my revised screen four inches narrower than it is. No big deal in my case, I don't think.
    Now, I just need the drapes. Also, regarding the narrow space Gary and I have above our screens for valance or other method of hiding the rod and works.... Maybe a long skinny valance won't look bad at all. I see David Rubinstein's theater has one of these, and it looks great. Take a look athttp://www.hometheaterforum.com/bbs/...ent/28664.html to see. That's exactly what I'm envisioning. I also like the gold tassle thingies he has on the upper left and right. I will have to steal that idea.
    ------------------
    Mike Brantley
    Our Theater:
    Mike & Cheryl's Screening Room

    My Super-8 Filmmaking Site:
    http://www.super8filmmaking.com
     

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