www.derf.net / av
the derfnet audio/video system

our audio/video system has become sufficiently complex that i figure it needs a web page. this idea was partially inspired by the even-more-complex A/V system at thehouse.

first of all, i should mention that the entertainment center which holds our A/V system was custom designed and built by me, three years ago, to hold exactly the stuff we had at the time. foolishly, i did not design it to be modular or expandable, so we're kind of stuck with it as it is -- pretty much each component fits precisely, and there's no extra space... but perhaps even more foolishly, i also did not design it to come apart into smaller pieces, so it's really really heavy (we've moved once since i built it, and boy, did that suck).

anyway, it currently holds the following components:

  • RCA 27-inch tv (at least, i think it's 27-inch.)
  • RCA VR612HF 4-head vhs vcr
  • Onkyo TX-910 tuner/amplifier
  • Sony CDP-C345 5-disc cd changer
  • Philips HDR-312 tivo
  • Apple PowerMacintosh 8600

actually, the computer is not really in the entertainment center (since it was not one of the components the entertainment center was designed to hold), but it is part of the A/V system. we use it for most of our music-listening needs, with our entire cd collection (of perhaps 200 cds) as mp3s, on shuffle play. we also sometimes play "you don't know jack" with the computer connected to the tv, so it's almost like a real game show. see the derfnet local network page for the specs of the machine.

the tivo occupies the space in the entertainment center which was designed for a dual cassette deck component. that component has now been retired (and sits in the closet).

the wiring

wiring diagram

the tuner/amplifier's inputs are as follows:


the remote controls

each of the above components, except the computer, has its own remote, plus we have a (partially) universal remote. to identify which is which:

  • the tv remote is labelled "RCA" and has some blue and some red buttons.
  • the vcr remote is labelled "RCA" and has all grey buttons.
  • the tuner/amplifier remote is velcro'ed to the cd player remote, and is wider, and labelled "onkyo"
  • the cd player remote is velcro'ed to the tuner/amplifier remote, and is longer, and labelled "sony".
  • the tivo remote is curvy, and labelled "tivo".
  • the (partially) universal remote can stand up on end, and is labelled "sony".

the tivo remote has a button for "tv power", which does in fact turn the tv on and off (though for some reason, you sometimes have to press it twice to turn the tv off). and its volume and mute buttons (currently) control the tuner/amplifier.

the (partially) universal remote has a switch at the bottom, which sets its mode. the modes work as follows:

vcrvcr channel, play/rew/fwd/etc
tv volume, mute
av1tuner/amplifier volume, mute, input (though it can't set it to phono or tape2)
av2cd player play/rew/fwd/etc
tvtv power, volume, mute, channel

the computer does not have a remote control, but it can be "remote controlled" over the internet (or over the LAN) using VNC.

how do i ...

... watch tv?

you'll want to turn on the tv (with either the tv, tivo, or universal remote), and generally you'll want to switch the tuner/amplifier to tape1 (with either the tuner/amplifier or universal remote). once you switch the tuner/amplifier to the correct input, you can then control everything with the tivo remote (except that "mute" will not make it completely mute unless the tv's volume is all the way down).

... watch a vhs tape?

turn on the tv (with either the tv, tivo, or universal remote), turn on the vcr (with either the vcr or universal remote), stick the tape in, and it should just work... oh, and switch the tuner/amplifier to tape2 (must be with the tuner/amplifier remote). control the tape playback with either the vcr or universal remote.

... listen to mp3s?

just switch the tuner/amplifier to phono (must be with the tuner/amplifier remote). to control the computer, you can use VNC from another computer. alternately, turn on the tv (with the tv, tivo, or universal remote), turn on the vcr (with the vcr or universal remote), switch the vcr to the "video-in" channel (from 3, where it usually is [to pass through the tivo signal] just hit channel-down).

... watch a dvd?

um... wait a few weeks. eventually, the computer should be set up to play dvds, at which time i might have to rewire some things (oh boy!).

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