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Building your own LCD video projector


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34 replies to this topic

#1 of 35 OFFLINE   ScottFurr

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Posted December 28 2003 - 10:34 AM

Hey everybody...I've been designing and building video projectors for about a year now. I thought some of you DIY types might be interested in building your own projectors. Basically you can build a very high quality LCD projector for a couple hundred bucks. The great thing about these projectors is that the metal halide bulb last for 20,000(!) hours and costs about $15; a far cry from the $250-$600 commercial projector bulbs cost, plus the commercial projector bulbs blow easy and last about 2000 hours if you nurse them. The LCD actually comes from a LCD computer monitor...the deals on these are fantastic now...you can get very fast, high contrast XGA panels for about $175 new and I've seen them go for $75 used.

Anyway, I've spent several months putting the info together and created a guide that I sell on our site: lumenlab dot com for $19.99. For those of you who don't have a big knowledge of optics, lamp types (color temps, wattages, form factors), lcd technologies etc, this guide makes it super easy for you...basically if you can build a speaker cabinet you can build an XGA projector.

I also run a private forum for anyone who gets the guide so that we can give attention to your project and see you succeed. Check it out and let me know what ya'll think...peace

p.s. i was going to post some pics of my results however for some reason i can't link to images off site and there's no image upload for this forum. So just message me and I'll point you to some pics.

#2 of 35 OFFLINE   Dan Wesnor

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Posted December 28 2003 - 12:25 PM

Geez, for that kind of money I can get a Fresnel lens that converts my regular TV into a 100" big screen!

#3 of 35 OFFLINE   Mark gas

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Posted December 28 2003 - 02:39 PM

why not just go to DIYAUDIO.com and get the info for free?

#4 of 35 OFFLINE   ScottFurr

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Posted December 28 2003 - 03:15 PM

Mark, we have a thread going at DIYAUDIO where there is a lively discussion about this very topic. Here's what one of the DIYAUDIO users has to say...

I agree that you should offer kits and different options. It would attract a lot more people. Things happen one step at a time though, I know. And as for $20 for information, that is nothing, even if it is pretty basic. My time is worth a lot more to me than that. Say you make $10 an hour, does this information save you 2 hours of searching through this sea of unorganized posts? Yes, and probably a lot more than that. I haven't seen brainchild's pdf, but I would guess it has quite a bit of useful info that it took me days to find. Nice looking site too.


Here's a pointer to the thread if you'd like to check it out for yourself
diyAudio Forums > Top > Video > Video > Lumenlab.com

#5 of 35 OFFLINE   Hank Frankenberg

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Posted December 29 2003 - 12:10 AM

Huh? A quality LCD video projector with a 20,000 hour metal halide lamp?
Have I missed a revolution? I guess I can cancel my trip to C.E.S. next week.

#6 of 35 OFFLINE   Dan Wesnor

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Posted December 29 2003 - 01:14 AM

OK, what we're talking about is taking an LCD panel and taping it to an overhead projector. That's high quality? That's ridiculous.

#7 of 35 OFFLINE   ScottFurr

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Posted December 29 2003 - 02:47 AM

Quote:
OK, what we're talking about is taking an LCD panel and taping it to an overhead projector. That's high quality? That's ridiculous.


Dan, actully that's not at all what we're talking about. While overhead projectors coupled with an LCD do have limited success -i.e. better than the fresnel scam you mentioned in you first post- the design we chose for our first projector has the metal hallide light source, it's ballast, cooling fan, fresnel lenses, 15" LCD panel, and objective lens incorporated into a clean, simple, and easy to construct form. A wooden box. We used an XGA LCD panel with 500:1 contrast and 15ms response. The resolution of the lumenlab projector is higher than the X1 or Powerlight S1, and the contrast ratio is higher than the Powerlight S1 as well. This projector is bigger than those but you can build a SVGA projector based on a 7" panel that would be about the size of half a briefcase, cost half as much as the X1 or S1 and would have a bulb life of 10,000+ hours and a bulb cost of ~$30. Oh, and we didn't use any tape.

#8 of 35 OFFLINE   Hank Frankenberg

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Posted December 29 2003 - 05:03 AM

Oh, and we didn't use any tape.

And why not?? 3M Duct Tape will help hold anything together.Posted Image And, we could use the sales.
Okay Scott, post some close-up, high-res screen shots.

#9 of 35 OFFLINE   Mark gas

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Posted December 29 2003 - 07:19 PM

I went over to diyaudio.com and saw the thread. It looks intresting. Might have to drop20 bux for the instructions.

#10 of 35 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted December 29 2003 - 11:58 PM

Gonna give a cut to HTF for the free advertising?

#11 of 35 OFFLINE   Jake K

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Posted December 30 2003 - 08:06 AM

Quote:
We used an XGA LCD panel with 500:1 contrast and 15ms response

Why do manufacturers use three lcd panels instead of just one? There must be some disadvantage to using just one.

#12 of 35 OFFLINE   Hank Frankenberg

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Posted December 30 2003 - 10:16 AM

The three panels is analagous to three CRT's: one for each of the primary colors, RGB. The primaries can be adjusted individually.

#13 of 35 OFFLINE   Jake K

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Posted December 30 2003 - 10:59 AM

I know they each only display one primary color. So with only one LCD panel you would have limited calibration controls, so you're stuck with the picture as it is? I don't have any LCD displays, so I don't know.

#14 of 35 OFFLINE   MattBu

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Posted December 30 2003 - 11:30 AM

I want to see high-res close up pics. Come on!

#15 of 35 OFFLINE   Ches Campbell

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Posted December 30 2003 - 02:57 PM

I have been doing a lot searching on this type of stuff on diyaudio. I have a couple questions.
1) Does it make any noise (i.e. fan noise)?
2) Does it get very hot?
3) Do you have to use a computer? In other words, is the XGA cable the only type of connection, and if so, is there a way to convert it to say s-video or compnent video?
4) Does it end up resembling an overhead projecter?
5) Are there any internet companies that sell the parts needed for the construction (i.e. fresnel lenses, metal hallide bulbs, ballasts, projector lenses...)?

I probably have some more questions, but this will do for now.

I am so interested in doing this for my apartment. I am in college, so i have a tight budget.

Later

#16 of 35 OFFLINE   Joseph Sabato

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Posted December 30 2003 - 03:16 PM

My guess is that you have to use a computer to drive it; if you have a DVD drive on your PC, you are set, any other source will have to be scaled to the panel's native resolution. You will need a TV card or something like an ATI " All in Wonder" card that has a tuner built in, and can accept analog video inputs and scale them to XGA.

#17 of 35 OFFLINE   Ches Campbell

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Posted December 30 2003 - 03:30 PM

one more question...
How far are you from getting the plans for the 7inch finished up? Just seeing if I should wait. Also, is it going to be anything like the one in this thread http://www.diyaudio.....5&pagenumber=1
If so, then I am definately interested. That looks just like a commercial projector. I am sure yours is just as good, but this one has a great size.
Later

#18 of 35 OFFLINE   ScottFurr

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Posted December 30 2003 - 06:21 PM

Ches,
to answer your questions:

1) Does it make any noise (i.e. fan noise)?
All projectors, like home computers make noise from the power supply fan. This is an unavoidible fact of life. Ours is no exception however, like other projectors the sound isn't noticible when you are watching movies.

2) Does it get very hot?
We spent some extra time working up a design that keeps the LCD well within it operating temperature. It's been holding steady at about 96f.

3) Do you have to use a computer? In other words, is the XGA cable the only type of connection, and if so, is there a way to convert it to say s-video or compnent video?
The LCD panel we used is a computer monitor so it uses a VGA connector. Some newer DVD players actually coome with a VGA connector. The other option would be a line doubler or tripler that scales your dvd/vcr output up to XGA and has multiple connectors(VGA, S-Video, Composite).
The panel we will be using for the 7" projector has both VGA and composite(rca) inputs.

4) Does it end up resembling an overhead projecter?
No.

5) Are there any internet companies that sell the parts needed for the construction (i.e. fresnel lenses, metal hallide bulbs, ballasts, projector lenses...)?
Yes. Currently several sites are selling the components you would need to build a projector. Total cost is around $400 USD. We have a list of several dealers and we also hope to be selling parts ourselves in the near future.

As for your question about the 7" projector. Yes the 7" will be more in line with the form factor of other small LCD projectors.

#19 of 35 OFFLINE   ScottFurr

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Posted December 30 2003 - 06:45 PM

For you folks wanting to see some images results of our projector. please feel free to click the link in my sig... I have a few more posts to make to the forum before I can post images

#20 of 35 OFFLINE   Brett DiMichele

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Posted December 30 2003 - 08:07 PM

You have to contribute money too before you can do advertising..



And I looked at the pictures... Those are not high res at
all. I have lurked in the DIY Projector forums for quite a
bit and read the threads and the results.. This is a great
project for a poor College kid and that's about it! (IMHO).

If you are looking for better image quality you will be
willing to spend the money and live with the tradeoffs of
a good commercial LCD, DLP, LCoS FP setup.

Again that's just IMHO.
Brett DiMichele
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