Mix big screen home theater dreams with a skimpy budget and you have the
makings of a fantastic do-it-yourself project. Just think of how impressed
all your friends will be watching blockbuster movies on a video projector
you made with your own 2 hands.
It was just these motivations that landed me in front of my web browser
digging for information for this project. There are a lot of cheesy
websites that promise the moon and sell you a plastic magnifying lense and
the instructions to stick a television into a box and put this lens on the
front. You will get an image, but it will look like you made it yourself. –
dark, and blurry.
Is there any way to make this work? The short answer is yes. A video
projector is essentially a high resolution LCD video screen with a really
bright light shining through it and a projector lense enlarging onto the
screen. New portable models use very tiny, and expensive, LCDs along with
sophisticated light sources and high quality lenses. If you are willing to
end up with a projector that isn’t quite so tiny, you can scavenge the
parts you need from an LCD computer monitor and add some electronic
components and relatively inexpensive lenses. For $200-$500 you should be
able to create a high resolution bright projector that will really impress
The parts you need are:
High resolution LCD computer monitor
Projector lens (and possibly 2 fresnel lenses depending on the plans you
Cooling fan(s) – bright lights get hot when you shove them in a box
Bright lightsource (one approach to the project is to use an old overhead
Electrical power supply
There are dozens of websites with step-by-step plans for free or for sale.
Some sell parts that you’ll need. Two that I’ve found to be excellent are LumenLab and the DIY Projector Company . They both sell parts and parts kits. LumenLab sells a very nicely
produced PDF instruction guide with detailed plans. DIY offers plans free,
but expects that you’ll buy one of their kits to actually make the
projector. They both use the LCD in a box with a lamp approach.
InventGeek has a great article explaining the whole process in depth
including the theory behind projectors. I recommend you check it out. The
DenGuru website shows another approach to the project. They use an old
overhead projector for both the lightsource and lens. You strip the LCD
panel out of its frame and lay it on the projector like a transparency.
Ugly, but it works! Check out their tutorial.
Break out your toolkit and get busy – and let’s be safe out there people!
Andrew Seltz is a Go-To Guy! His wide range of interests and experiences
have made him a walking search engine for his friends and colleagues. His
passion for film and video production have made him particularly interested
in Big Screen Televisions and Home Theaters. Visit his site:
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