Audio Visual is very much a topic that is close to my heart having spent the last 15+ years in the industry. As you would expect, for my own tub there is a good amount of AV included. Let’s start this section with having a look at the AV I put in place and then we can have a look at what else you could add or potentially do with your build. In this blog post we’ll explore some of the AV considerations I had.
First things first, I guess you are seeing something of a trend here but planning is key. AV should not be an after-thought and should very much be part of your design. AV is also something that you can adjust to fit your budget. I didn’t spend a fortune on my setup and it suits me just fine – but of course it is possible!
For my setup, I wanted to have a TV so I could watch the Football and the F1 in my tub. Most people would agree that putting a cable box or satellite dish in just for this is a bit of an overkill, so I went with the streaming method for which I already have subscriptions in place; so it was not going to cost me any more.
That said, to put a TV in with Internet you need to make some decisions. Having gone down the wireless route previously and been unsuccessful, I was certain that all my connections were going to be hard wired. For me this was not a huge issue because of the proximity to my office and the network switch that I have in there. That said, I still had to run some considerable lengths of cable. If you are going to run ethernet cable, stump up the extra cash and buy outdoor cable. I didn’t done one of the runs and I have had to run a second cable not even a year on. I either broke down in the elements, or what I think is more likely to be the case, it has been chewed by some fury friends. (get used to these if you live in the countryside as I do. Somewhere dry and warm is obviously going to attract some ‘friends’) In hindsight, I should have gone with a couple of runs of cable as it is easier to fault find in the future – this is the setup I have now after having to re-cable. What I mean with this is that if you are going to need a 20m run of cable, instead of running 20m, run 2 x 10m with a connection half way, somewhere convenient to test connectivity if needed. Once you have your cable run, you will of course need some power.
Power Considerations for AV
In terms of power, Try and keep things separate from your main feed into your box. I run a loop of power and a few sockets for things like the AV equipment and the lighting.
Sound. You are probably going to want some speakers. Speakers and audio are a wonderful thing and you can really spend the earth on speakers and waterproof ones. I went somewhat simple and opted for a marine grade amplifier and marine grade speakers. They are a decent size, and the audio is just fine for my requirements. Again, placement. I only went for 2 speakers and they are front facing from the TV unit that I constructed, more on that shortly. However, if I were to do things again, I’d probably opt for 4 speakers adding a couple at the rear of the tub as that happens to be where I sit. It would make for a better audio experience I think. With your audio, you don’t want to be messing around with remote control, they will end up 4ft under after a few drinks! Aim to have a manual adjustable volume control that is easily accessible. Mine is on the side of the TV Cabinet and I have the TV hooked into the marine grade speakers and amplifier. Works great to blast out some tunes from YouTube or watch the Football and F1.
Outdoor TV Considerations
How do you choose an outdoor tv I hear you ask! I will let you into a secret, I didn’t! Nearly a year its still working just fine! Outdoor, IP rated TVs cost a fortune, by a fortune I mean at least a couple of grand. When the aim of the project is to keep the cost down, I wanted to look for an alternative. I looked at some of the pre-made enclosures that are IP rated an again, thought that they were a little bit expensive for what I needed. What I have done is choose the cheapest 32” TV I could find, I didn’t care about the audio which is always the problem with cheap TV’s as I knew it was going to go into my amplifier. I then made a housing to cover it. I didn’t need to make it 100% waterproof, it just needed to be splash proof. I decided that the likelihood of me being in the tub, wanting to watch the football in the driving rain was going to be slim to none. So, the enclosure I made has a sheet of waterproof house wrap under the lid, and a Perspex front to protect the screen from splashing in the tub. I then bought a £15 cover off eBay for an outdoor TV which works a treat. I bought a 55” cover an it drops over the cabinet I made. Perfect!
The cabinet was made from some left overs from the decking, the Perspex was about £20 from the DIY store and I did add some internal fans that can be slid out to stop the front glass misting up with condensation from the hot moist air coming out of the tub – genius! 2 PC fans did the trick with a 12V power supply inside the cabinet. Looks the part!
I did drop an Apple TV into the unit connected to the TV so I can stream from my cell phone or use Apple TV in its entirely too if I wish. The “feed” for the TV comes from a HDMI splitter in my bar and I ran a HDMI cable under the decking to the TV.
Things to consider.
Video, what and from where?
Internet, do you need it and from where?
Power – how much and what needs connecting?
Any external pieces of kit?
How are you going to control it?
With this last point, this is one things that is not ideal with my setup. I can’t change the TV channel from my internet TV account without getting out of the tub and heading over to the computer in the bar that drives it. Not the end of the world, but a waterproof wireless keyboard would be an ideal solution – not sure if they exist, not looked!
My cabinet is permanently outside, under the cover which happens to match the colour of my hot tub cover – so it looks quite nice. A confederation would be a mechanism to raise and lower it (that would be very cool)