Saturday, February 22, 2014

ManCave Project Comes to a Finish...

Well, mostly.  We do still need some furniture, but that could be weeks, months or more - for now, lawn chairs!

On Thursday I took the afternoon off from work so I could meet the guy from DirecTV and our new Internet provider, Internet America.  In case you hadn't seen the follow-up to my post about our crappy Internet service, based on some pretty solid recommendations from readers, I called Rock Solid Internet.  They came out on Monday and I can only say, I was extremely pleased with their service, professionalism, and the fact that a manager actually came out to the job site to check on things.

Unfortunately, once they put up the mast, they could not get enough of a signal to pass the test.  Between our house and the tower they were aiming for, there are simply too many trees.  We do live in a forest after all.  So, they pulled down the mast, siliconed the screw holes, packed up their stuff and left.  No charge, no nothing.  The guy did tell me that he was pretty sure Internet American would work since they use a different radio for their service.

On Thursday, the DirecTV guy got out here first.  The issue is, the ManCave is a separate building from the house, so it wasn't just a matter of adding a box to a cable drop.  You just don't know how much I obsessed over this whole thing because in my mind, I knew the answer was to bury a cable run.  But, the experts on the Internet were telling me about all this signal loss, deterioration of the lines, etc., etc. I had, for a brief moment considered letting the guy run the wires under the eaves of the house, then jumping the 3 feet between structures like they did in the old days with phone lines.  The installer looked at me and said, C'mon, man. You know you aren't going to be happy with that.
He was right and with our sand out here, I dug a 120 foot trench in about 15 or 20 minutes.  While he ran the wires to get everything set up and working, I dug the trench with the intention of going back and putting the wire inside 3/4 inch rigid pipe used for electrical runs. 

In the mean time, the Internet America guy showed up.  Super nice guy who understood my dilemma - the fact that ever since more people in the neighborhood have moved in, the DSL service has just become slower and slower.  He warned me ahead of time that if he couldn't get a good signal he'd still have to charge me a $25.00 service call fee (which I get, but RSI didn't charge me a dime), but at this point, I was willing to take the risk.  I mentioned to him that our neighbors just up the street have IA and they are very pleased, so he got in his truck and drove up to look at their installation.  I think that made him feel a little better about our chances of success.

Long story short, he mounted this little tower on our roof, above the trees near our house and was able to secure a good enough signal that I could get the 10Mbps package if I wanted it.  I passed on that, but as soon as we were up and running, I did a speed test and got 6.3Mbps download.  Netflix, here we come!
The speed test was taken just a few minutes after we got things installed and it has stayed pretty consistent.  I totally get that people (like my kids for instance) have super fast download speeds with their UVerse, but going from the equivalent of near dial-up to 6 Mbps is like Christmas morning.

For those of you doing the math, I will tell you that I think there is an overall better deal to be had with RSI.  There was no installation fee and no commitment.  That is, if you aren't happy, just turn the equipment back in and you are done.  We do have a 2 year commitment with IA, there was a $149 installation fee and if they had needed the big 50 foot mast like RSI first tried, I would have had to pay for that on top of the installation fee.  But, now that we are installed and have Internet, I'm happy to pay the price.

And I was happy to call the phone company, cancel my DSL and my phone service, since we have cell phones and the only calls we get are from telemarketers.
The DirecTV guy did his set-up and the cool thing was, he could see how I was waiting for his box to finish out my A/V shelf.  He said that the DirectTV box didn't need to be exposed.  He simply added a little RF transmitter in my closet and we can use the remote without even pointing it at the box.  I have some serious touch-ups to do on the trim and also on the shelves.
What we ended up doing was adding a shelf on the top which we'll probably just put something on display in there. On the bottom, I made a place for "guest" systems.  The kids like to bring out their PS3 or XBox, and on the bottom there is a port on the side where wires can go through to the closet.  This weekend I'll clean the whole thing up, maybe adding some smaller trim along the inside edges.  What I would really like to do is find someone who can cut Plexiglas, then do the front faceplate in that instead of the 1/4 oak I used.  I think it would look a lot better.
Eva used one of her Pinterest ideas to make a little wine glass holder out of an old rake we had laying around. Que cute.
And we finished up the license plate back splash adding a plate from Michigan where Tyler comes from.  I am contemplating adding a trim piece along the top between the two shadow boxes on either end.  We'll see.  I realize these pictures are super dark, but you get the idea.

Anyway, for the most part, I think we can call this project done and start looking forward to the next big thing.  Eva did a lot of yard work Friday afternoon and I even pulled out the mower to clean-up the front yard.  It was starting to look a little scraggly out there.  Perhaps we'll do some sod next.  I'll let you know.


Steve said...

You guys sure do good work. I'll send you my address and honey do list!


MsBelinda said...

Congratulations on a job well done!