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Hardware Hacking Displays

DIY High-Quality XGA Projector for ~$300 172

ranrub writes "Tom's Hardware Guide posted a guide to building your own XGA LCD projector from parts costing under $300. Major components are an overhead projector and a used 15" LCD screen. They even have a movie of the whole project on site! It's quite bigger and noisier than a standard projector, but most of our living rooms look like electronic junkyards anyway, don't they?"
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DIY High-Quality XGA Projector for ~$300

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:11PM (#10813677)
    I think I'll spend the 300 hundreds and mod my PC case to dispense ice cold Bawls.
    • I think I'll spend the 300 hundreds and mod my PC case to dispense ice cold Bawls.

      This is not a bell/whistle.

      I've been waiting years for LCD display prices to come down to earth but they aren't. LCD technology isn't limited to the traditional 'boxy' dimensions that CRTs are, but manufacturers just insist on making them that way! There are many of us who'd love to see a 30" wide X 19" high display, but these screens are still selling at close to $1000. I even know a guy who bought two 19" LCD monitors
  • TCO (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:12PM (#10813679)
    Sure, its only $300 but let's look at the total cost of ownership here.

    Parts & Labor : $300
    Never getting laid again : Priceless

    I think I'll stick with something that doesnt alienate the dripping hot sluts always coming on to me here in my swinging bachelor pad.
    • Re:TCO (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:49PM (#10813850)
      Well you mean:

      I think with something that doesn't alienate the mythical dripping hot sluts that I always pretend are coming on to me in my parents basement which I pretend is my swinging bachelor pad.

      Lets put it another way:

      Well a homemade projector isn't going to get you laid, but NOT having a homemade projector isn't going to get you laid either.

      Your screwed (not in a good way) either way.
    • Re:TCO (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mikael ( 484 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:17PM (#10813976)
      Back in the days when there wasn't any video recorders, TiVO, home PC's or even console systems, the only form of home made video entertainment for our family and our friends was the home projector. During a party, the lights would be dimmed and everyone's favourite photographs were converted into slides and displayed. Anything and everything, from hiking trips across the mountains, sunsets, trips to national parks, the nightlife of the metro, would be displayed as a 10 foot high image on the nearest white wall. Panoramic views across valleys were my favourite, as you could walk right up to the wall and see the smallest detail - smoke rising up from the chimney of a cottage, miles away.

      It would be fun to do that with digital photographs or movies.
      • Re:TCO (Score:3, Funny)

        And somehow you managed to make this post even more boring in 1/100th the time it took those events to occur.
      • Re:TCO (Score:2, Redundant)

        by zakezuke ( 229119 )
        Back in the days when there wasn't any video recorders...

        You mean video tape recorders. 50 years ago was not so different than 2000, except you used film rather than magnetic tape.

        I had this dialog with a friend not too long ago. He was planning a presentation for his wedding and was considering renting a LCD projector. I highly recommended going slides due to its low cost high quality. Unfortunately he wanted to do a Power Point presentation, which would include silly animation. While one could co
        • Re:TCO (Score:2, Interesting)

          I did this a few years ago, for a 40th anniversary for my in-laws. It was great to see a man in his 60s get all choked up from seeing the photos of their youth. This from a generation that believes "men don't cry" :-)

          My approach was thus: I created a presentation, using slides of about 80 photos, on a windoze computer with Lotus Freelance (better than Powerpoint, if you ask me, but either will work). The screen transitions were random, but I made sure they were fast. The photos were the show, not the

          • AFAIK all the current radeon cards with tv out allow any desktop resolution while doing tv out, though I think some of the older cards may limit the resolution choice if your outputting an exact copy of the monitors screen to the tv, the aiwradeon (original) would do any res even then, but one of the two images would be distorted looking (usually the monitor) because of differing aspect ratio's. Havent tried that particular scenario with my current card (AIWRadeon 9600).

          • Re:TCO (Score:3, Interesting)

            by zakezuke ( 229119 )
            My approach was thus: I created a presentation, using slides of about 80 photos, on a windoze computer with Lotus Freelance (better than Powerpoint, if you ask me, but either will work). The screen transitions were random, but I made sure they were fast. The photos were the show, not the transitions!

            I've done similar things using a camcorder + magnifying lens with ring light and tripod. I couldn't do any transitions that way, and as I didn't own an edit deck I had to time things by hand. Toss on some mus
      • Re:TCO (Score:3, Funny)

        by Bombcar ( 16057 )
        Hmm. If I use a projector and walk up to the wall, all I see is a shadow.

        I keed! I keed!
    • Re:TCO (Score:2, Funny)

      by Lord Kano ( 13027 )
      You really need a lesson in spin.

      My geekiness has gotten me laid on multiple occasions.

      Once you pass about 25 years old, women dig smart guys.

      I think I'll stick with something that doesnt alienate the dripping hot sluts always coming on to me here in my swinging bachelor pad.

      Dripping hot? Sluts?

      That's called "gonorrhea." []

    • I dunno, the nerd cred of the DIY project + projected DVDs could definitely be a plus if you're hanging out with the right women. It's a pretty good icebreaker "So last weekend I made this thing..." and a good excuse to invite someone back to your place.
  • by xchino ( 591175 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:12PM (#10813685)
    The image is a bit blurry and usually darker than those expensive multimedia projectors. But the bulbs are cheaper to replace, and it's suitable for watching movies with your friends on walls and such. I'd recommend forgoing the overhead lamp and getting yourself a much more high powered light source, and a top quality fresnel lense, it will still probably be cheaper than the overhead projector, and having a brighter light source means a bigger or brighter picture. Couple one of these with a low powered am/fm transmitter and you're ready to host a Guerilla Drive in []
    • After reading the article, I was left wondering. Why not use LEDs? They have a much better lumen/heat ratio than regular bulbs, from what I understand.
      • White LEDs with high lumens ratings are pretty expensive. But why not use 10 or so 100 Watt incadescent bulbs with or without a diffuser? An extra fan or two should take care of the heat - if that - and replacement cost is next to nil.

    • Normal multimedia projectors are a LOT cheaper now and are quieter, smaller and likely accept a broader range of inputs. Mine can accept component video even at HD resolutions (it is downscaled to native though), RGB, newer ones accept DVI.

      You can get a decent XGA projector for around $1000 now.

      While overhead projectors have cheaper bulbs, IIRC, those bulbs die a lot quicker too. Some multimedia projectors have bulbs that go as many as 5000 hours, making the operational cost only around a dime per hour.
      • Overhead projectors are usually not very even with regards to illumination or focus either. It's hard to see from those photos, but if you look closely, you'll find that the center of the image is sharper and brighter than the surrounding image.

        It's OK for watching DVDs (which are relatively low resolution anyway - just 720 x 480), but watching higher resolution sources like 1024x768 VGA computer displays just won't provide the same pixel-sharp accuracy of a true LCD or DLP projector.

        Decent DLP projector
    • Can you legally show a film to a group without paying a licensing fee? I know that at universities, it is not permitted in classrooms because of the possible legal fallout. Moviehouses pay to show their films to large audiences. Why hasn't the MPAA cracked down on this? I'd have thought this would be a prime target, being a progressive group of people. *sarcasm*Who knows, maybe they're doing other terrible things to help their country!*/sarcasm* What's the scoop on this?
      • I am sure that there are IP issues because outdoor presentations are likely to be classified as public, and not private. Fortunately for those that do guerilla drive-ins, they are still somewhat under the radar, filesharing is a bigger boogieman for the ??AAs.
      • I help my school show movies to the general public so I can authoritatively say No. Our school pays between $250 for well-out-of-box-office movies upwards to $800 for popular just-out-of-box-office movies. You pay for not only the right to show the movies publicly but also for to right to show the movie before it comes out on home video. For instance, our school is going to show Ray about a month before it comes out on video next semester and it'll cost us $800 but we don't charge at the door (money come
      • If the film is being shown in class, as part of the class (meaning, it's not just entertainment, but actually pertains to the subject of the class) it's very much legal. It's called Fair Use.
        See this copy/paste from []:
        "the fair use of a copyrighted work, including ... for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright."

        Now, I'm sur
        • I am referring to a particular experience I had involving a certain popular university. The department refused to permit a professor I know to project a Pixar movie to a large class as part of the lesson. The movie was relevant and out on DVD but likely had not grossed itself out, so to speak. The issue was whether showing the movie in the equivalent of a movie theater, to a large audience of non MPAA and Pixar paying customers, would be illegal. Clearly, there were no good legal geeks on hand, and the
        • Except for the provisions in section 110 (from your linked web site. []

          (1) performance or display of a work by instructors or pupils in the course of face-to-face teaching activities of a nonprofit educational institution, in a classroom or similar place devoted to instruction, unless, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, the performance, or the display of individual images, is given by means of a copy that was not lawfully made under this title, and that the person responsible for the
    • I thought a lot about building one actually. There is a section of dedicated to DIY projectors. I started out with taking my old pocket LCD TV and taking it apart and putting the panel into a slide projector--It actually worked rather well! The only problem was that the screen-door effect was massive, the pixels where the size of golf-balls. I kept planning on building my own projectors, until I got a few good deals on projectors. I started out with a 640x480 Telex P170v that I got on ebay
    • Yes the overhead projector's bulbs are cheaper but according to several sites, they seem to only last 50 hours vs several thousands for the multimedia projectors' bulbs.

      All in all, it seems that the price per hour remains very high...

    • That is the smaller problem.

      Casual LCDs will survive under 300 hours while being illuminated at those intensities.

      Just ask IBM - there used to be Stinkpad models which could have their LCD detached to be used for this exact purpose. I cannot recall off the top of my head, but they were not the only ones to do so.

      No more. Guess why...
  • Fun (Score:5, Informative)

    by xpurple ( 1227 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:14PM (#10813692) Homepage Journal
    I did this years ago, and kept running into problems with cooling. Even with a fan in there the screen became washed out after a few hours of use.

    Part of this might have been due to the fact that I was using a DSTN screen.

    • How was the noise? what I renember from these classic projectors the teacher had to talk really loud to be heard over the high speed turbine turbine cooling fans.

      Does anybody think there is a water cooling solution? If you can pipe that heat into the ceeling and cool it from there or if it sits on the ground just make the whole base a 5' cooling tower.
    • Fun indeed, sure does bring back some old memories...

      I remember building something similar on instructions off of the old Acidwarp [] eye candy. Maybe common stuff now but made for a great party prop at the time.
    • I did this years ago, and kept running into problems with cooling

      Maybe in order to get enough lumens you were using a halogen bulb, which runs really hot?

      Why not try something cooler? Specifically, has anyone tried using an LED bulb?

    • Even with a fan in there the screen became washed out after a few hours of use.

      That's because the LCD panel overheats and stops functioning. Yes, even with the fan, the internal temperature of the LCD at the layer where all the magic happens gets too hot.

      I remember this was a problem with the LCD panels our teachers used with DOS PCs, Apple IIGS's, and very early Macintoshes...they'd have to be given a few minutes cool down time after just 15 minutes. Pretty sad considering they probably cost the scho

  • JUNKyard? (Score:5, Funny)

    by xThinkx ( 680615 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:14PM (#10813699) Homepage
    JUNK!!!, I resent that! All of my scrap is functional.

    Now where'd I put that 486 laptop with the broken screen and half working keyboard

  • 3500 lumens? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vijayiyer ( 728590 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:17PM (#10813709)
    They claim 3500 lumens, but later in the article, they mention that's the lamp spec. Looking at the picture, how much of that is actually projected onto the wall and how much is diffused away right at the projector?
    • You have a very good point. IIRC, a lot of 10,000 lumen bulbs are used in multimedia projectors rated 1000 lumens or so, so the video projector manufacturers are at least being honest that the rated light is the output, and not the input. I would think that an overhead panel + overhead machine wouldn't get better efficiency.
    • 1750 lumens (Score:3, Insightful)

      by morcheeba ( 260908 ) *
      It looks like the 3500 lumens is part of the projector spec [] -- but they are still missing something major. LCDs use polarized light [], so, at most, they'll transmit half of incoming (unpolarized) light. I'd rate this projector at 1750 lumens, max. That number puts it in the company of a lot of other projectors. []
      • Re:1750 lumens (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Also the liquid crystals only rotate the polarization of a small fraction of the light so it can get through the second polarizer. All told, about 5% of the incident light gets through. Also, laptops seem quite happy to use flourescent lights that are much more efficient. That would help with both the power consumption and cooling [and fan noise].

        Randy F.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    By a few modifications I could build my own Astral Projector?!

  • most of our living rooms look like electronic junkyards anyway, don't they?

    Umm, no.
    • Re:maybe yours does (Score:4, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:42PM (#10813824) Homepage
      most of our living rooms look like electronic junkyards anyway, don't they?

      Umm, no.

      I've gotta gree with you there. My AV components don't look like they've been cobbled together out of scrap pieces.

      More on-topic, can anyone chime in on the group of multi-media projectors and how they compare to 'real' projection TVs? I've noticed they've slipped to below $2K CDN and falling, which is less than a rear projection screen.

      Are the refresh rates and image quality of a DLP mult-media projector up to the task of DVD quality FMV display? Or is it more suitable for power-point presentations?

      I don't see HD being anything I need soon, since all of the programming I watch isn't available there yet anyway. However, a front projector that can do good video quality might be a good bridging technology.

      • Re:maybe yours does (Score:3, Interesting)

        by miltimj ( 605927 )
        Absolutely... for $1000, I have an SVGA front projector (Infocus X1) hanging from my ceiling (between open living room and dining room), projecting on a blank, beige wall. We currently have HD programming through Comcast, and it's unbelievable.

        If you can get whatever room you're using to be very dark, it's definitely the route to go. My coworker has a $2000 34" HDTV, and my "screen" is 110" (about 10 times bigger) for half the cost.

        DVDs look great.. once you hit VGA (and using a progressive DVD player),
      • multi-media projectors and how they compare to 'real' projection TVs?
        Take a step beyond and compare them to three tube projectors with 1920 pixels of wide screen glory. I took a look at what they can do, and the pale and poorly illuminated imation produced by the top end of LCDs made me realise that it isn't worth bothering. I'll stick with a standard TV until the LCDs improve, or if the three tube projectors drop below the far side of crazy.
    • You must live with a woman. Your geek license is revoked with immediate effect.
    • Mine DID. Then I started living with another human. She does not appreciate the electronic junkyard look. SO now its all condensed into the spare room. I know there's a bed under there somewhere...
  • It's been done (Score:5, Insightful)

    by myov ( 177946 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:32PM (#10813777)
    Before LCD projectors came out, a few companies made LCD panels designed to be placed on an overhead projector. You were stuck at 640, and the image quality was poor and dark.
    There's a reason why projector lamps are expensive (and bright!)
    • I have one... (Score:4, Informative)

      by lxt ( 724570 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:34PM (#10813788) Journal
      Indeed, I have one lying around somewhere. It was a 640x480 LCD mounted in a metal casing about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, and around 3 inches thick. It would sit on top of the projector, but had a tendancy to overheat (the OHP light heating up everything inside the casing as well...).
    • I remember my professor using something like that to project the screen of a TI-83 onto the wall. Memories!

    • I'm using one for my home theatre. The contrast could be better, but certainly acceptable for NTSC and watching DVDs.
    • We had an IBM Thinkpad 486 where the back of the screen came off, and you could use an array of velrco straps to lash the sucker down to an overhead projector. We also had one of those LCD panels, and they were a bit underwhelming. I found ours when we moved last year, and didn't think much of turffing it in with all the other space-junk headed for disposal.

  • Nice DYI stuff but it's a really big contraption isn't it? Our living room for instance is crammed with stuff including computers and toys. And while wall projection for us would be perfect (we have white walls in the living room) I don't think I would put up with such a HUGE projector. Might as well buy a nice and small Dell projector or some such. Costs more but the space savings more than make up for that IMHO (also ditched my hifi installation in favor of an iPod - small is beautiful :) ).
  • I was going to try it for a talk I was giving from my laptop, but didn't have the LCD projector. So I removed the LCD from my laptop and laid it down on an overhead projector. Problem is the image is rather dark. Basic problem of the way LCDs work: white is actually 50% gray due to the polarizing filters. And the overhead projectors just aren't bright enough. Might be ok in a very dark room, but otherwise I wouldn't recommend it.
  • by DumbRedGuy ( 218259 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:41PM (#10813820)
    I think these things are really cool, but what still stops me is the bulb cost.

    They say the bulbs cost $20-$30 and I can afford that, but how long do the bulbs last? When I searched for Overhead Projector replacement bulbs, I got figures from 30-75 hours. Best case, that's ($20/75hours)= $.26 per hour.

    The bulbs for the X1 projector are $299 and last for up to 4000 hours ( That is like $.07 per hour.

    To me, this really doesn't seem any better off in the long run. Am I missing something?
    • They misled you on the price - that $20 is list. I have been purchasing mine directly from a distributer and not through office supply store. My cost is under $7 - and I have had the bulbs last closer to 100 hours. I have not however gotten a decent overhead for $50 - more like $75.

      A setup like this is great for the kid's gamecube, and in my situation, for watching TV while swimming. I have one in the bomb shelter (nintendo) and one in the pool room so that we can watch TV and swim.
    • You've got it all wrong!

      Now if the bulb is included with the price of the projector due to a 'distribution' agreement, you don't have to pay for it at all!

      Another benefit is that you'll find that the up front costs of the bulb are far outweighed by the cheaper costs of the maintenance people you could hire to change that bulb. Forget the fact that having the projector burn out every week or so will leave you with nothing!

      What you are talking about is Total Cost of Ownership. This has proven to be irrelev
    • It's much easier to blow $20 every once in awhile than have to blow $300. That's nearly a car payment + insurance. You don't need to plan ahead for a $20 expense but you do have to plan ahead for a $300 expense.

      • You don't need to plan ahead for a $20 expense but you do have to plan ahead for a $300 expense.

        Speak for your self. As long as I'm in college, that $300 might be easier. Christmas is coming, y'know.
      • So plan ahead for it. To take your own example above, why do you have a car and insurance if it only costs $12 to take a cab to work? I mean sure you have to pay for the cab more often and it costs more in the long run, but every day it's not $300 out of your pocket, right?

      • You don't need to plan ahead for a $20 expense but you do have to plan ahead for a $300 expense.

        By that logic, you ought to just charge it and pay the $2/mo minimum interest payment on the credit card in perpetuity - heck, a soda can cost $2.

        Hint: save your money and pay for things you can afford when you can afford them.
    • If you can afford to put up the money for the X1 projector, then no, you aren't missing anything. However, if you only have $300 to blow, then I would go with the overhead projector get-up.
    • Not really. At least if my semi-retard math ability is correct. Say its 50hrs total per bulb and cost $20. A typical movie is 2hrs. That's 25 movies for $20 or $.80 a movie. That's really not much for what you get.
      Of course I'm looking at this as a use twice a weekend sort of deal, not something you use for watching TV or playing games. The thing is most people can't justify $1200 for a "real" projector. $250 in ghetto parts is affordable and something you can easily save for. I still need more info though
  • Junkyard (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:42PM (#10813822)
    most of our living rooms look like electronic junkyards anyway, don't they?

    No, our girlfriends keep that from hap--

    Oh wait...
  • I love this stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @02:47PM (#10813841)
    I built one of these myself a few years ago an it's been running great ever since. I went for a bit sturdier construction so the thing would be portable and I've never had a single problem with it.

    more pictures []

    The whole thing set me back $500 but I'll bet that's mainly due to higher prices back then.
    • Cool. It looks like you're just using a piece of regular fabric for a screen, though. Have you ever tried using it with regular screen material? It's much more reflective and would probably improve your image quality substantially.

      As a developer, I have to ask: it is really useful for editing code, or do you primarily use it just for movies? I've always wanted a wall-sized screen for working on projects (I once read a story that referred to a "mural graphics system") and still wonder if it would be u
      • Re:I love this stuff (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I've never used an actual screen, but now days I just use a painted white wall and it's great. The bed sheet was a really bad idea, and if you looked behind it there was actually enough light passing through to put an image on the wall behind it. On my living room wall the picture does look much crisper.

        As for code editing, it's definitely a lot of fun but you MUST have a desk to set your keyboard and mouse on. Using the armrest on the couch as a mousepad and having the keyboard on your lap just doesn't cu
  • " It's quite bigger and noisier than a standard projector, but most of our living rooms look like electronic junkyards anyway, don't they?"

    I don't have a living room you insentive clod !
  • by THESuperShawn ( 764971 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:01PM (#10813905)
    "but most of our living rooms look like electronic junkyards anyway, don't they?"

    We have been over this sooo many times. It's not "junk", it's my work, my life. How do you think we can afford the 75 pairs of shoes you have in the closet? What about the 17 gallons of makeup in the bathroom? I mean come-on, bathrooms are for manly noises and piles of out-dated Maxim-PC and Computer-Shopper. And I mean the real, phone book size Computer Shopper of yesteryear, not that wimpy little thing they print now. What's with that 1/2 film of hairspray all over the counter?

    Please, let me have my slashdot. You son't see me posting on your US Weekly forum do you?
  • Laying an LCD panel on an overhead projector used to be the only way to do projection. Our company threw away a dozen or so 640x480 panels intended for use with an overhead, about 8 years ago.
  • by chadamir ( 665725 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:28PM (#10814021) Homepage
    I suggest if anyone here is serious they check out . Yeah the plans are a bit more than free on tomshardware, but really strapping an lcd panel to an ohp is not really brain surgery. If you want a better projector which includes plans for a 17 inch lcd for higher resolution and a 7" lcd for portability then check that site out. The irc and message board support are infinitely valuable as well.

  • by stungod ( 137601 ) <> on Sunday November 14, 2004 @03:48PM (#10814115) Journal
    I used to have an IBM 755CD laptop (P75, baby!) that had a removable back on the LCD screen. It was made so you could set the laptop on an overhead projector and use it for presentations. It was a nice concept, but a practical nightmare. The image was dark, it was hard to focus, and the screen was only 640X480. The biggest problem was that if you wanted to center the screen on the projector the body of the laptop hung over the edge and would fall off unless you supported it with something.

    As for the state of my living room, I've found that having a wife or GF kind of precludes the mess. I can have all the technology I want in the living room, but it's either hidden in a cupboard or made otherwise stealthy. It works for all concerned that way.
  • The overhead projector they used in the article is 3500 lumens, but I can speak from their experience that their output isn't that high. LCD panels take a lot of light pushed through them to project a bright image, because the panel is relatively opaque. Overhead projectors are almost completely transparent, so take very little light to produce a bright image. I have a 1991 Proxima Ovation A822C 640x480 data + video LCD overhead projector panel and a 3500 lumen 3M 9200 overhead projector. Showing transparencies, the projector produces a nice bright white color, which looks about the same as a 3500 lumen LCD projector. Throw my LCD panel on it, and the light output drops to under half of the 650 lumen LCD projector that I frequently borrow. I'd guess that the OHP + LCD panel is about equivalent to a 250 lumen LCD projector.

    The projector they built looks a lot brighter than mine, probably due to a newer LCD, and not having two layers of protective glass over it, like my LCD panel. However, to make their panel look bright, they tweaked the driver settings. That just changes the color gradients, and doesn't actually make the projector brighter. Even with their tweaks, I doubt that their output breaks 1000 lumens. It would be interesting to get it measured and see what it actually produces. Maybe someone with a lumen meter can fill us all in.
  • ...and Powerpoint presenters spontaneously combusting. *egrin*

  • THE OFFFICIAL THREAD (Score:2, Informative)

    by LordMyren ( 15499 )
    THE OFFICIAL THREAD [] on Diy Projectors.

    I still love mine.
  • Not the Same? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by suwain_2 ( 260792 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @05:13PM (#10814657) Journal
    This project really held my interest. Not only could I get a great image for less than 1/3 of the price of a 'real' projector. And I could have more control over it anyway!

    It wasn't until the last picture on the last page [] that I started to lose interest. Notice how the center of the image is far brighter than the edges?

    That's entirely expected, if you think about how the overhead projector works. By comparison, I've never seen this on a 'real' projector. Still a nifty idea, but I think I'll splurge on a real one.
  • by neurocutie ( 677249 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @06:06PM (#10815052)
    Given that real, good LCD/DLP projectors are available on ebay for similar or slightly higher $$$, e.g. gory=41842&item=5133694753&rd=1 []

    (an Infocus LP330/335 for $450), I don't see the point of this project.

    For example the LP335 is a decent, 2000 real output lumen (not maybe 3500 lumen going into an LCD panel, who knows what comes out), with XGA resolution, fancy video processing that can accept NTCS, S-Video, DVI, VGA), with a built-in line doubler, ZOOM lens, HDTV compatibility, in a nice 6lb package. The DLP will have fairly decent contrast.

    The overhead+LCD will have numerous problems, like 1) huge light leakage, which will cut viewing contrast tremendously, 2) cannot be driven by NTCS/S-video without extra stuff and no linedoubler, 3) noisy fan on the overhead, 4) no zoom lens to match screen size/distance, 5) fragile "construction" in an unwieldy "package".

  • It's just not worth it. I got a used NEC projector off ebay for $550 (inc. shipping). If your setting up home theater, do you really want to have a huge, loud and hot mess sitting behind your viewers?
    Pay a little more and get a nice ceiling mounted projector with all the inputs, remote control etc..

    Also, brightness isn't everything. You need to be concerned about contrast. Anyone can jam a 3000lu bulb into a box. But if you want image quality, well you get what you pay for.
  • by strider3700 ( 109874 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @06:22PM (#10815165)
    Wish I had seen this earlier. Anyways I've built my own projector out of a benq 567s V2 a 400W Bulb A big fan for cooling, some tempered glass and all the lenses as required.

    Over all the quality is great for something I build at home. I've not been able to get the alignment of everything perfect though, and this has resulted in a dark picture. Now it's easily watchable, and I've got lots of hours on mine but it doesn't compare to a good $1500 XGA projector. The good news is others have built the same thing using the same parts and easily beat the XGA projectors in quality, they have just spent more time on theirs. I also built a screen but thats pretty easy to get right once you know what to build it with.

    Now my complaints
    Mine wasn't $300 it was closer to $750 cdn.

    It's frigging huge, my measurements are something like 30"x 14" x 12"

    I added keystone correction and that works great but it doesn't have any form of zoom other then moving it closer or further back. You end up designing the room around the projector.

    The site I got the plans and info off of was excellect and the forums make paying for access completely worthwhile. They also have pictures to show some peoples results. They have overcome the zoom and darkness issues with newer designs then I used. Price is still high but their top of the line is a fraction of what a professional projector would cost and they are comparable in quality.

  • What's the feasibility of producing an (much cooler and longer-life) LED bulb for these projectors?
    • Re:LED Bulbs? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Misagon ( 1135 )
      I just looked this up.

      Luxeon Star/O produces 180 cd with color temperature 5500 K.
      I don't know much about optics, but I found a formula: lumens = cd * 4pi.
      So, 180 cd * 4pi ~= 2262 lumens.
      So, with four of these would yield 9048 lumens where as a typical projector bulb would produce 10'000 lumens. I don't know if this is correct. Someone with more knowledge of optics should correct me!

      The four LEDs would cost close to $100 + driver circuitry but they should last for at least five years.
      A problem, as m

  • Do It Themselves (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @07:07PM (#10815497) Homepage Journal
    If DIY without economies of scale (except saving about $150 on the LCD itself) can do this for $300, why can't I get a PII/500/XGA TV projector from a major vendor? Are they really siphoning off $1000:unit for past losses/investments and future R&D, in addition to $500 (25%) profit per unit?
  • Wouldn't this be better suited to project from a second room behind a screen if you have a house with that setup. You could cut down on the noise and the extra light from the ugly classroom projector. Not many people have the luxury of a projector room, but my next house will if I have anything to say about it.
  • Do yourself a favor, an X1 or similar is really nice and you can palm it and take it outside.

    I point it at a blank wall in the living room from 12' and get like 89" or something. The color is great. It sits on a bookshelf - try that with an overhead projector!

    In the summer I take it outside and shoot against a 9x12 dropcloth, about $30 at Home Depot. Add wireless speakers, and you have your own drive-in for about $349k less than a real one.

  • THG's use of a flat panel display simplified things for connecting to a computer. As someone who has an older laptop with a dead backlight, I'd love to give it a shot with that display. Anyone know of any good references to tell me how to connect that panel to a PC's video card output?

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