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TOPIC: Do-It-Yourself Types

Do-It-Yourself Types 06 Feb 2007 23:41 #14338

  • lionheart
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Ok, how many of you are do-it-yourself types that install and maintain your own equipment? After reading many, many articles on this forum, I have come to the conclusion that most of the more experienced folks here can often take care of installing equipment and common maintenance themselves.

This leads me to a question about buying equipment from dealers. I have recently contacted a few equipment dealers who are very helpful. One thing I asked for was a ballpark figure to equip an auditorium with used or rebuilt projection and sound equipment. Two have provided numbers and both say that it would start at $25,000 on the low end.

Now, when I read their catalog prices on their websites, I see figures that are far below the 25K figure for the components when looking at used or rebuilt equipment. I'm wondering how it all adds up to this figure. Maybe I need a more detailed list of what all it takes to get started. I have read general lists several times here in the forums. Does anyone have a detailed list they could post? This way I could add up the catalog prices for myself and see how much of the estimates are for labor, etc.

I'm assuming that anything above the catalog prices listed would be for installation of the package for me. Or maybe not. Perhaps that would be additional. What do you think?
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Types 07 Feb 2007 01:21 #14339

  • rodeojack
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As with anything else, you're dealing with what you're qualified to bring to the table.

I've been a radio broadcast engineer for nearly as long as I've been a projectionist. I can tear a projector apart and rebuild it, and install, maintain and program most anything that revolves around theatre or radio station gear. Over the years, I've saved an incredible amount of money by doing as much of my own work as I can. I'm sure others here can tell similar stories. Yet, if my TV blows out, I have to call a serviceman. I can't hardly find the spark plugs in a modern engine, so my cars go to a local shop for annual tune-ups and oil changes, which represents a fairly serious reality check for me.

If you can do anything in a booth, you can subtract the value of that work from the cost of your equipment package. If not, you find someone with qualifications you're comfortable with, pay them for their expertise, then go do the stuff that you're best at.

If you bring very little to the table, $25,000 probably isn't a bad deal for a reliable, used, installed package. A well equipped, new booth can cost twice that much. Depending on the size of your screen, you could pay nearly $10,000 just for a new digital playback system (Dolby or DTS) and a current model lamphouse/power supply combination.
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Types 07 Feb 2007 23:50 #14340

  • Avalon
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Listen to Rodeo...

$25k ain’t bad, especially if it’s turn-key. I do most of my own work, but I also know when I’m over my head. Major bearing replacements on my projectors are done in the shop. I’m sure I can do them—I’ve been working on cars and motorcycles my whole life. But, how much time am I going to spend on the learning curve and what is my time worth? Which leads to: it’s important to remember that you do not want your first impression with the new theater being one of a technical failure. A lot of times you do not get a second chance to impress your customer base. So, if I redo one of my projectors and have a bearing set up to tightly, and right in the middle of the show it seizes. That would suck and leave a bad taste in the mouths of those I’m trying to impress. Unless you wanna live in your booth for the first few months—providing you know a xenon bulb from an aperture plate—get the equipment new or rebuilt by a pro that will stand behind it.

Know the people you are buying equipment from. Don’t just score something offa eBay and assume it was rebuilt by a pro. Projectors are complicated and need nurturing and you need to be using a vender you can call. I use American Cinema Equipment and I know no matter where Scott is in the world, I will get an email answered in 24 hrs. He also knows if my house is dark, it’s not going to be something like an open breaker. Makes for a nice relationship.
Paul Turner
Avalon Cinema
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Re: Do-It-Yourself Types 08 Feb 2007 15:27 #14341

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I'm not saying I would want to rebuild a projector myself, or even to do more than basic maintenance. I'm saying that I would like to be able to figure out what it is costing for installation.

Avalon, you said, "get the equipment new or rebuilt by a pro that will stand behind it." That is exactly what I want to do. I just might consider installing some of it myself (not rebuilding it), if installation is pricey. Either that or I might shop around for installation services after getting the best buy on the equipment.

Used/rebuilt equipment dealers don't live near where I want to put a theater, so it's not likely their in-house techs are personally going to run out and fix my problems. More likely that a tech will be a member of a service network for several companies. I asked Scott Hicks if everybody used the same techs, and he said that was sometimes true.

Hey, I'm just trying to figure all the angles. And if a 25K turnkey job with all used equipment is the best I can do, I will have to accept that fact.
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