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BabaGeek Family Friendly Gaming Setup


This may not look like much, but under the hood is another story, and that is exactly how I want it to be. If you have read any of my other articles you know I am a happily married father of two boys. The need for a nice family room that is kid friendly and aesthetically pleasing is important to us. After finishing the Halloween Costumes this year I decided that I was going to get all of our entertainment into our family room.

There is a lot to cover so I will break this down into three areas:
1. Furniture
2. Equipment
3. Collection

My video game collection was scattered around our home and not all that accessible. I needed component shelving for all the consoles and AV equipment. Media shelving for all the DVD's and Games. I also needed a place for my center channel speaker. Finally I needed a place for all the controllers and accessories. All these pieces were design and built or modified by me... click the header links to see the instructions and more details/photos.

AV Equipment Shelves and TV Stand
The equipment needed to be up off the ground where the kids could not really mess with them. I also wanted the "hot" components to have as much open air around them as possible, which lead me to the design. As you can see it is open on all 4 sides. There are just two planks to hold the component. The XBox 360 and the Onkyo were of major concern. I am trying to avoid a RRoD, and so far I have been successful (knock on wood). I wanted the newer consoles up off the floor and I wanted room for growth (didn't have the 360 when I built these, and still have space for a PS3 and something in the future).

The TV stand was something that we purchased from the store, but I modified it after getting the DLP TV. It used to have cubbyholes on the right and went around the CRT TV that was in there. This holds all the older consoles along with the Pelican AV Switcher.

Media Shelves
I had build the first media shelf awhile ago to put all our movies on. We out grew that and have had only about 1/2 our DVD collection out. I built the big 8 shelf 6' wide set just this month. The 8 shelf one will hold about 960 movies, which should last us for awhile. Part of the kid friendly design is that the lower two shelves are reachable by our little ones, and hold all the movies fit for them. The top shelf is stuff that we don't access that much (since even I need a step stool to reach the top), like TV shows and Holiday movies. The older of the two shelves now holds some DVD (Just so it doesn't look empty) and all of my games. I really do enjoy displaying all this media... I know collection issues.

New 8 shelf 6' wide version

Smaller 6 staggered shelf 5' wide version

Center Channel Ledge
I needed a nice place to put my center channel, and it wouldn't fit (nor did I want it to) under the TV Stand. This was a quicky to build, and works really well. As an added bonus the Wii motion bar fits right underneath the speaker.

Game Accessory Coffee Table
The piece that I am probably most proud of (probably because I just finished it) is the coffee table. I wanted a place to store all the controllers and accessories. We had this pretty cool looking coffee table that we liked. We also had end tables that matched it. After doing some calculations I figured out a way to use the table and fulfill my gaming needs. As you can see there are 10 cubbyholes, I have 9 consoles right now... hmm... still missing that PS3 :). I had originally thought to put the actual systems in there and have everything hooked up, but that would have been a bit of an overkill (Yes, that is a very ironic statement). This design gets all this messy stuff out of sight.



Part of making this family friendly is ease of use. Between the Onkyo Receiver, Pelican AV Switcher, and Harmony Remote everyone in the family can access all the different components easily.

Samsung HLP5063W DLP TV
This TV is over 4 years old and has been a fantastic set, once I got past the lag issue (more on that in a bit). I haven't had to replace the lamp yet (knock on wood again).

Onkyo TX-SR706 Receiver
The Onkyo receiver does two key things for me. It acts as an AV switcher for all my sources (including HDMI), and it upconverts my older systems so I have no lag on my Sammy DLP TV (which was a HUGE issue!). The upconverter in this unit was well worth the money alone. It does a pretty good job and all my old systems are now playable.

Pelican AV Switcher
I picked this up at Fry's for little money for what it offered me. I have all of my last gen consoles hooked up to this. I have one SD output that goes to the Onkyo which then gets up converted.

Harmony H688 Remote
I got this for free when I used to do trade shows for my company. Best thing that I got from that position! This is an older model, but if it ever dies I am going to get another one. This one is over 5 years old now.

Other Equipment
Dish Network ViP622 DVR
Sony DVD player (it holds up my Wii (hehe))

Other setup items
I'm using Rivet on the mac to share my music/video/etc to the 360, which I find very nice.
Because my TV is so far away from my couch I needed to get extension cables for all of my consoles that use wired controllers.

The worst thing that I did growing up was getting ride of all my old stuff. I no longer do that, and am trying to collect what I used to have and then some.

Genesis (First time owning one)
SNES (First time owning one)
N64 (First time owning one)
Xbox 360
V.Tech (I guess I have 10 systems :)

Yeah, I am not going to list my games. If you are really interested you might be able to make out the names from the pics. You could probably guess from the images that I am more of a Retro gamer and lean towards Nintendo, especially the DS and the NES/SNES. My DS gets the most play from me, but that is slowly changing back to consoles as I have the time. This new setup is already helping the cause.

Pictures of my games...

I know, this needs lots of work.

I am starting with things good for my kids.

N64 Games not pictured because they suck and have no readable label from the side.

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About craineumone of us since 8:42 AM on 05.28.2008

Name: Kevin
Age: 41
Location: New Hampshire
Kids: 2 (boys)
Wife: 1

I do things with costumes

While I have some favorite games:
Dragon Warrior
The Legend of Zelda
Final Fantasy
Kid Icarus
Warcraft II
Soul Caliber
Animal Crossing
Mario Kart

My passion is more table top now:
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
Glass Road

Xbox LIVE:craineak
Mii code:craineum


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