Sunday, May 24, 2015

DIY: Wall mount that monitor and hide those cables!

I recently purchased the Dell U3415W when it went on sale and I must say it is only beautiful monitor. Only thing missing, or not missing, was the wires. I decided to wall mount the monitor just like our TVs and hide the wires behind the wall.

Shopping List

Ultra Thin Monitor Mount - Amazon
Toggler Drywall Anchors ( up to 143 lbs.) - Amazon
5/16 Drill Bit - Amazon
Wiremold Wall Grommet Kit - Amazon

First thing I did was to make sure the mount actually fit into the U3415W. The VESA mount for the U3415W is a little bit recessed into the monitor. I had to use 3 washers per screw to get it offset enough so that mount attached to the wall doesn't scratch the back of the monitor. I used the screws attached to the monitor to secure the mount.

Now that I have that taken care of, time to move onto securing the mount to the wall. The wall didn't have studs right where I needed it so I used the plastic drywall anchors to secure the mount. I measured where I wanted it and drill a 5/16" hole for the anchors. For the anchors to work you need to collapse the tabs, insert the anchor, then pop the tab with an include red plastic tool. Super easy and secure!

It was sitting a little too low for my liking so I moved it up.

Test fit. Perfect!

 Time to hide those wires. I used the Wiremold kit instead of the old work boxes I used before. It seemed way simpler than cutting the drywall with a saw. Plus, it includes everything you need to install it!

I attached the include hole saw to my drill. The hole saw and arbor include in the kit sucks. I started drilling my hole and the hole saw kept getting jammed! Finally, after constantly re-tightening the arbor, I finally got the two holes cut. I ran my wire and popped the covers on. I must say I am not a big fan. Once the plastic white covers are on, there is almost no way to get it out besides unscrewing the green plastic mount. I had to run my DisplayPort cable and unscrewed the bottom mount and lost one of the clips. Boo.

Time to mount the monitor!
As you'd expect from an ultra thin mount, there is not much room to work with to install the cables. I layed the monitor face down on the desk, installed the cables and backplate, then mounted the monitor. Overall, took about 1 hour to get everything drilled, mounted, and pretty looking. I think hiding the wires and wall mounting everything gives the overall office a clean, sleek look.

Update: 5/25/2015

After some major scolding from reddit about having the power cable tucked into the low voltage boxes, I decided to stop being lazy and install a recessed outlet.


Cooper Wiring Recessed Outlet - Amazon
Old work box - Amazon
14/2 Romex - Amazon
Low-profile power cable - Amazon

Check your local electrical code before attempting the install. The receptacle was easy to install since I already had wires running behind the wall. All I had to do was tap off the existing power outlet under the desk and run wire up. Only issue so far is there is no room for a regular power cable because it hits the back of the monitor. I ordered a Low-profile power cable and will update once it comes in.

Update: 5/25/2015

The low-profile cable finally came in! With the monitor up, there is about 1-2mm of space. I couldn't even take a picture of  the fitment that's how close they are. Now that this project is complete(and up to code), time to think of something else..

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Battlestation: May 2015

  • Monitor: Dell U3415W (Amazon)
  • TV: LG 42LF5600 (Amazon)
  • Keyboard: Steelseries Apex (Amazon)
  • Mouse: Logitech MX Master (Amazon)
  • Console: Playstation 4 (Amazon)
  • Headset: Astro A50 (Amazon)
  • Laptop: Surface Pro 3 i3 (Amazon)
  • Desk: Custom Dual PC Desk (Build Log)

Friday, May 22, 2015

DIY: Hide cables in a wall mounted setup!

We have wall mounted almost every single LCD TV we have bought over the years. We were always somehow able to hide the HDMI and power cables using an entertainment center or using "stick" media devices (Fire Stick TV, Roku Stick, Etc.). Since the basement TV is hooked up to the video game consoles, we kind of just let the wires hang. Until now.

Tools Needed

Start off by using the stud finder to make sure there are no studs between the two boxes you are about to install. Next trace out the shape of the old work box where you want to install the cable access holes. It is important to note that you don't trace out the front of the box, but rather the back. If you cut the hole the size of the front face, you won't have any drywall for the two anchors to grab.

Next step is to cut out both boxes! This is probably the easiest part. My drywall had insulation behind it so be careful when cutting the drywall out.

The next step took a bit longer then I expected. I installed the old work boxes and tried running my cables through. I kept hitting the insulation paper and couldn't get my cables to the bottom box. I ended up removing the old work boxes and improvised a cable snake. After I got the cables through, I reinstalled the old work boxes and the cable access faceplates.

Improvised cable snake aka hot wheels tracks.
 And the finished product! Overall, installation took about 20 minutes and made the entertainment area much more aesthetically pleasing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Unboxing and Early Impression: Dell U3415W Ultrawide Curved Monitor

First thing you'll notice about the Dell U3415W (Amazon) is that it is massive! My old Acer K272HUL pales in comparison to the size of the U3415W. It was time for an upgrade and I decided to go all out: a 34" Curved Ultrawide. But which one?

It was time to decide between the 3 main contenders: The LG 34UC97 (Amazon), Samsung S34E790C (Amazon), and the Dell U3415W (Amazon). The Dell has the competition beat just by its price point. It is almost $200 cheaper than the Samsung and a little over $100 cheaper than the LG. I watched and read numerous reviews on all three of the monitors but finally decided on the Dell. My main reasons for choosing the U3415W over the competiton were:

1) Price
2) No AC Adapter
3) USB 3.0 HUB
4) Stand rotates and rises.

 On to the unboxing!

Shipping weight as 39 lbs.
Stand and accessories box.

Rear Ports
Accessories: Rear plate, Power cord, USB up-link cable, HDMI cable, DisplayPort Cable
Side by side w/ Acer K272HUL and Surface Pro 3
Power, USB, and DisplayPort Cable
Nice and neat.

All set up.

A few quick impressions since I've had this for a few days now. This is my first curved monitor and I came in thinking it would be just like a regular flat LCD monitor. I was dead wrong. There is an ideal viewing distance for curved monitors apparently. In the picture above, that is the furthest I can move the monitor away on the desk. Since the monitor is so close, the edges of the monitor appear "3D". Check out the video below to see what I mean. My eyes adjusted a bit to it but it is still very noticeable. I will end up wall mounting the monitor in an attempt to move it further from my eyes (plus hide the cables). One thing you will notice quickly is that this monitor is beautiful. Not only physically, but the screen itself is amazing. First thing I did was find a 1440p Age of Ultron trailer on YouTube and the monitor did not disappoint. The speakers are actually pretty nice and loud also. After a few days with the monitor, I don't think I will every buy a non-curved monitor again.

Focus on the scroll bar.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

DIY: Never lose your TV remote again!

For some reason, our kids love messing with the TV remotes. We've already lost the OEM TV remote, more than likely because our kids threw it away. So after our daughter dunked the FireStick TV remote in the dog bowl, I wanted to find an easy way to secure the remote. I had some neodymium magnets (Amazon) I bought last year and decided to see if I could secure the remotes to the back of the wall-mounted TV.

Tools Needed:
Neodymium Magnets
Glue Gun
Felt pad

This project turned out surprisingly easy and functional. Secure two magnets to the inside of the remote control battery compartment. You may have to use a razor to cut some of the plastic off. I tried gluing the magnet first, but it cooled too fast. So I put glue on the compartment door and placed the magnets in. Perfect.

For the next step, close up the remote to make sure everything fits. Now we're gonna glue the magnets to the felt pad. Place two magnets on the outside of the remote. Put some glue on the felt pad and place it on the magnet. The point of this step it to make sure the felt pads don't interfere when the magnets are connected. Test to make sure the magnets are strong enough to hold the remote up but lifting the remote by the felt pads.

If you can lift your remote by the felt pads, go ahead and adhere the felt pads to the TV. It is important to note that you need to adhere the pads when it is attached to the remote, so everything is properly aligned. Now you can enjoy a cool, stealthy way to secure your TV remote.

Some people may be skeptical about having magnets near electronics. Although these are Neodymium magnets, they are not strong enough to cause any damage to the LED TV, remote, or any other devices in the immediate vicinity.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Review: Satechi RGB LED Light Strip Review

Originally when I finished the desk, I did not want to add any lighting to the inside. I like the clean, modern look of the desk with the blue LED accent the power buttons give. After a few days of using the desk, I started thinking LEDs inside may not be a bad idea. I was looking around at different LED strips and decided on a strip that would be powered by the PSU. I think having an external power brick solely for LEDs is a bit overkill. The Satechi RGB LED strip (Amazon) was the answer! It has two 12" RGB LEDs powered by one Molex pass-through adapter. Another nice feature was the remote control to change the colors.
Front of Box

Back of Box - Contents


Contents and Size comparison
 I like how the kit comes with an extension. This allowed me to use one strip per computer cubby. One thing that might be an issue for some is you MUST use the extension if you want use both strips. The connectors do not seem very solid. When I was installing the strips with the included adhesive, the lights kept flickering because the connection was not solid. I ended up using the included zip ties to make an "X" pattern which secured the connectors together.

IR sensor poking out the back of the desk.




 Another really cool feature is the different strobe effects on the remote. The remote has 4 effects: Flash, Strobe, Fade, and Smooth. I don't think there is much of a difference between Strobe and Fade. Flash and Smooth are also very similar except Smooth transitions between more colors. You can also increase or decrease the transition speed. You can also change the intensity of the light but only when a single color is displayed, not when any of the effects are on.

 Overall, I am very satisfied with the Satechi RGB LED strip. It was a very easy install and provides great lighting output. I like the ability to change the colors via the included remote. The connectors can be a little more solid especially if you move work in your case a lot.