Friday, March 24, 2006

DIY Projector

I’ve been enjoying my homemade projector for several weeks now and it’s about time to post some pictures.

Projector Screenshots

Some of the pictures are quite blurry, but this is because of my digital camera. This camera typically takes good pictures. Unfortunately, they are often fuzzy, especially when there is a lack of light in the shot.I first heard of building a projector from Dan Rhimer while living at Wymount on BYU campus. I later saw this article which showed how to do this with very little construction and easy to get parts.

Cheryl and I enjoy watching movies together and I’ve always wanted a projector. Me being the cheapskate that I am jumped aboard the idea. I told my Dad and some family members about what I wanted to do. My first purchase was a flat panel display at Novell’s surplus store in Orem. I bought it as a gamble at $30 without a power supply. I soon bought a universal power supply for lcds and laptops for $30. This screen worked pretty well, but I realized that at 18″ it was too big for the surface of an overhead projector.

My Dad loves shopping at places like DI and garage sales and such (surely where I get it from). He found an overheard projector at Another Way for $5. Bingo.
The next peice of the puzzle came when I was visiting Jake Cahoon’s office at work. Baha Masoud, a fellow co-worker had an old monitor that needed new backlight bulbs. Jake’s quite a handy man and decided to see what it would take to replace the backlights. After finding it would be $45 he wasn’t sure it was worth it and was going to bag the screen. I happened to show up and I told him I was looking for an lcd with a broken backlight. He didn’t object to my aquiring the screen. I use it at 1024×768 because that’s the max resolution of the driving laptop, but I believe the lcd can do 1280×1024.
The only missing link now were the bulbs for the overhead. I found them on the net for $5 a peice at 350 watts lasting 75 hours. (Which, interestingly enough, happens to be about the same cost per hour as commercial projector bulbs). I was quite impatient one Saturday night and decided to try the setup out with a halogen lamp (the types used for night time construction). I had worried if the image would be bright enough and I figured that if this lamp wasn’t bright enough, nothing would be. I mean, this lamp could practically heat a small home.

This image ended up being horribly fuzzy and almost indistinguishable. I was quite disappointed, but my ordered bulbs were already in the mail. Oh well, I figured if it didn’t work out I was only out $20.

So, I finally got the bulbs and tried them out. The image looked GREAT!! I was very excited to have my own bigscreen in the comfort of our home.

Cheryl helped me tune the color with methods I learned from this article.
I sometimes notice that the image still isn’t bright enough. Luckily, pumping up the brightness does the trick. I’m able to do this with Totem, mplayer, and mythtv. Not bad for $20. Now if I could just figure out where to put it in my house…

No comments: