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Lumenlabs homemade projector. Scam or worth it?


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#1 of 18 RobbieP

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Posted August 31 2004 - 03:32 AM

A friend of mine and I are considering going in on building one of these. But I want to get some high end unbiased opinion first. Check this link out:

http://lumenlab.com/

What do ya think? Is it a scam for the 20 bucks or is it worth trying?
Xi Dingir Xul!

#2 of 18 Dave Milne

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Posted August 31 2004 - 04:52 AM

Robbie,
A video projector is a very complex piece of electronics, optics, and mechanics. Anyone considering a DIY projector should be prepared to be very disappointed with a) the amount of work required to build one, b) the ultimate expense in parts, and/or c) the quality of the finished product. Probably all three.

I mean, think about it. If the proposed DIY project is a "real" projector, i.e. digital micromirror device with a H.I.D light source, these technologies are way beyond the "DIY" ability of all but a handful of people in the world. I've been in the electronics industry for more than 20 years and am currently the Chief Engineer of a $100M electronics company and I wouldn't even consider attempting it. If, on the other hand, the proposed project is an old TV in a box with a frenel lens... well it won't be worth the plywood it's made out of.

This seems to me a lot like building your own car. Yes, it is possible, but...

Save your money and buy a real projector - perhaps a used one if funds are tight. You'll be much happier in the end.

#3 of 18 RobbieP

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Posted August 31 2004 - 05:23 AM

This projector supposedly shines a bright light THROUGH the lcd portion of a 15" XGA monitor, with fresnels and whatnot. Some of the testimonials in the forums seem pretty promising. They even have project logs. Lots of work, yes...which I dont' mind because I love projects like that. Lots of money...no...20 bucks for the plans, and 500 bucks for parts IF you buy it all new.

Quality wise, I'm not sure...the pictures they have on their site and from the users in their forums seem to be pretty darn good.
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#4 of 18 TheLongshot

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Posted August 31 2004 - 07:21 AM

Considering you can get pretty decent projectors for under a grand nowadays, considering something like this is just a waste of time and money.

Jason

#5 of 18 DaveGTP

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Posted August 31 2004 - 01:05 PM

$400-500 for a DIY projector (I've done some reading on them) seems kind of silly, when you can get your hands on an Infocus X1, BenQ 6100, etc for sub-$800.
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#6 of 18 Zeke Roberts

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Posted September 15 2004 - 09:19 AM

Just a little information concerning DIY projections. The responses in this thread are ignorant though typical. That's not meant as an insult ... but the people responding don't have any information or experience in this field to have any credibility.

Without getting into detail let me state the following.

If properly designed and built using quality optics etc. The results can and do match mid level commercial projectors in terms of Picture quality and in spite of what someone said in this thread, it is not complicated at all. in fact we are talking about a very bright light bulb shinning through an LCD panel (from a LCD monitor) and then through two-three lenses. That's about it. IT is as simple as you can get. proper alignment is the key. This is the exact concept behind early LCD projector except present day LCD panels are light years better than those early LCD panels resulting in DIY projectors that are eons better than those early commercial LCD projectors.

There are clear advantages to a DIY projector and of course some disadvantages.

Some of the pros and cons are as followed.
PRO
* Fun project
* Half the cost of an entry level commercial projector with PQ that is as good or better.
* XGA resolution (much less than half the cost of an XGA projector)
* Bulbs that cost $20-$50 and last 10,000 hours on average (compared to $200-$500-2000-4000 Hours for a commercial projector.
* Incredibly easy to troubleshoot and service
* Incredibly easy to upgrade (just buy a brighter bulb or a better LCD and replace, etc.)

CONS.
*Much bigger than commercial projectors (although smaller than CRT)
* Short throw-although this can be addressed with certain lenses but adds another $150-$200 to the cost.

Also, in response to the people suggesting, it makes no sense to build a DIY because of the low cost/good quality of many entry level commercial units. While there are many great reasons to opt to buy something like an X1... The people suggesting not to build a DIY don't seem to distinguish between $400 (DIY) and $800 (cheapest commercial unit) that's about Half the cost and for that you can have a XGA resolution projector that out performs many entry level projectors.

This is not an attempt to drum up sales am not affiliated with any DIY site or business and in fact I built mine without buying plans. You could find free plans online and you could read lots of information (as I did) and figure things out for yourself.

I just hate to see people giving advice who don't know what there're talking about. A DIY projector is a fun, rewarding inexpensive project that has nothing to do with the old "turn your TV into a 100" theater" scam that is so prevalent on ebay.

Thanks for listening and I would be happy to answer any real questions but I will not engage in any arguments or respond to provoking comments.
You are entitled not to believe a word I said but to those people considering a DIY projector project, I encourage you 100%.

Thanks
Zeke

#7 of 18 Dave Milne

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Posted September 15 2004 - 05:28 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Robert and Zeke. When you said DIY, I thought you meant total DIY: all of the electronics from scratch: video amplifiers, A/D conversion, digital signal processing, micro-mirror device drivers, color wheel drive and sync, high voltage HID lamp power supply, writing firmware, microcode, etc.

If you buy all of this pre-packaged in a display panel, then yes, this would be a do-able DIY project.

I would still suggest that any DIYer considering this project try to see one "in the flesh" and evaluate the PQ and construction difficulty first hand.

#8 of 18 Zeke Roberts

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Posted September 16 2004 - 03:02 AM

Dave,
The LCD panel is key, You simply remove the LCD from the monitor case and keep all the electronics intact and simply move them out of the way (You sometimes need an FCC extension cable [$10 bucks) depending on how much play you have in the wires.
This is one of the great things about this project, you already have most of the difficult things taken care of. You don't have to worry about connectivity, your VGA/DVI is already there. The only other wiring involved is the ballast for the lamp and that's 3 wires and a fan (two wires).
Think of an Overhead projector-same concept, you have your light source shining through a frenel lens ... only in this case you are shining the light through an LCD instead of a document. If fact this is exactly how PowerPoint presentations were done years ago. They would put a projection panel, which is nothing more than an LCD panel, on top of an OHP and hook up a computer to the Projection panel (LCD).

You could build a DIY projector for much less than $400-$500 if you could find a decent deal on an LCD panel but you do want to stay above 300:1 contrast and below 30ms refresh rate. By far, it is the LCD panel that accounts for the bulk of the budget. The lenses and light sources are cheap. You could get a great used overhead projector for $40 bucks on ebay and use the optics lens and fans, even the light source although I don't recommend it as the bulbs are not really bright enough and have a very short life span-50 hours or so.

I agree that anyone considering any project should learn as much as possible first, although it would be hard to see one of these projectors in person, there is lots of information and lots of pictures out there. Once you see the inside of one of these things you will see what I mean. I takes work and you must align everything correctly or the results can be down right terrible but the simplicity speaks for itself-once you see one.

I just wanted to make the distinction between a real project and some scams that are out there.

Thanks for responding.

#9 of 18 Jordan_Brulotte

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Posted February 20 2005 - 04:57 PM

I'm a member of Lumenlab and I can honestly say it was the best $20 I have ever spent. You aren't paying for the guide so much as access to TONS online info, and constant research. I believe that the $20 goes to mostly paying for the operation of the site.

As Zeke mentioned, a properly calibrated $600 DIY projector can easily outperform a $2500-3000 commercial unit.

For me, the reason I built one was not the initial cost, but the fact that bulbs last soooo much longer and are usually 1/4 the price. Also I love to build and create my own things, so it was right up my alley.

Getting closer to having an all DIY home theatre.

#10 of 18 Brad E

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Posted February 20 2005 - 08:15 PM

Quote:
As Zeke mentioned, a properly calibrated $600 DIY projector can easily outperform a $2500-3000 commercial unit.


This is a very bold statement. I assume you are talking $2500-3000 Canadian. That will still get you a very good lcd pj. Zanyo Z3 and Panasonic AE700 to mention a couple.

I don't doubt that you could build a decent pj for $400-$600, but to 'easily' out perform the above two pj's seems a bit of a stretch.
What lcd panel are you using?

#11 of 18 Jordan_Brulotte

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Posted February 21 2005 - 06:28 AM

You are right, I should re-phrase. A $600 DIY has the capability to be as good or better than a $2500-3000 commercial unit, but it requires careful calibration and clever ingenuity. Not all results will be this good obviously. Ya all my price are in CND dollars. Sorry for the confusion. My Projector is using a simple benq 557s... it's a 15" capable of 1024x768 res. But many people are using SGI 1600sw which do 1600x1024 in true 24 bit colour, no dithering.

One of these could be built for roughly $1200-1500 CND, but I have heard (not seen in person) from many people that the results are amazing.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with commercial projectors. In fact I am still tempted to buy one as the prices are dropping quite fast. Bulb life and cost still is a deterent for me though.

DIY is not for everyone, as it is quite a bit bigger, and lens throw can be a problem, but for me it was about learning something new, and having something to spen my free time on. Results, a project I am thrilled about and had fun doing.

Do a search in google under image for lumenlab.com. The pics come from the public forum on lumenlab.com

#12 of 18 Brad E

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Posted February 21 2005 - 11:46 AM

From the info I saw, the Benq 557s and SGI 1600sw have a contrast ratio of 400:1 and 350:1 respectively.
Passable for some, but not nearly adequate for those used to 2000:1 or greater.
And careful calibration will net even a lower CR.

I'm sure the colours would look good though. But unless all you watch is Finding Nemo, I'd have to say this is not ideally suited for home theater.
I've seen the Benq 6100 for as low as $800 CAD. For home theater at least, the 6100 would appear to be light years ahead and up to $700 cheaper.
Am I missing something? I want to believe, but it just doesn't add up to what you've claimed.

#13 of 18 Jordan_Brulotte

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Posted February 21 2005 - 12:04 PM

Hehe I don't think you're missing anything Brad. Each has it's own advantages. I'm not trying to "convert" anyone to ditch their commercial projectors in favour of DIY. I'm just giving some insight into my own experiences. To each his own

RobbieP, if you are interested but worried about $20, I say do some research before you spend any money. www.allinbox.com is another major DIY projector site (albeit in french) with tons of pics of what people have come up with. The ones on that site I have found, are mostly using small 7" LCDs. This yields a smaller projector, but with less resolution.

Also check out the public forum on Lumenlab first, and talk to some of the people there. There is a lot of free info out there.Posted Image.

#14 of 18 Ram Kishan

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Posted February 02 2006 - 01:14 AM

Recently I have completed my DIY LCD Projector based on resources in various forums. It has been mounted at ceiling height at a distance of 22 feet from the wall used as screen for 120 inch wide image. The results are excellent. The details including pictures of the projector, screen shots etc. may be seen by visiting my home page.

#15 of 18 Michael Whitney

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Posted February 02 2006 - 02:01 AM

OK, I am a newbie to this topic. If a $600.00 homebuild can rival the output and looks of a $2000-3000 projector, why isnt some guy from Ohio not making these in his basement and charging $1100 for them? For a project, ok, you can build homebuilt lasers even. Just cant see the viability for superior quality looking box and picture quality without spending over what you would for an off the shelf unit. Anyone have any volume of screenshots with one that would put them in the home theater pictures section?

#16 of 18 chris_everett

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Posted February 02 2006 - 06:24 AM

Quote:
* Bulbs that cost $20-$50 and last 10,000 hours on average (compared to $200-$500-2000-4000 Hours for a commercial projector.


Most of these projects use standard overhead type bulbs. These don't last anywhere near 10,000 hours (Try 50 hours). There is a reason that they always had a spare bulb in those overheads. Besides, 2000 hours will get you several years of time with typical movie watching.

IF you have the parts available without buying a bunch of stuff, AND if you don't mind working on this type of thing, knowing that you might not be happy with the results... Well, then your only out a few dollars, just don't get your hopes up too much.
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#17 of 18 Brian Osborne

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Posted February 02 2006 - 09:22 AM

Quote:
bulbs last soooo much longer and are usually 1/4 the price

If that is the case, why don't all of the companies that build projectors use a similar metal hylide bulb? There has to be a reason companies use more expensive components to build their projectors.
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#18 of 18 Ram Kishan

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Posted February 07 2006 - 04:49 PM

The DIY LCD Projectors are the first generation LCD Projectors comprising of assembly of components and the results are quite comparable with the commercial projectors. The biggest advantage is very low cost and with intelligent approach, even the results would be superior to commercial projectors.Other advantages are longer life of LCD, longer life of bulb and cheaper replacement cost of bulb. The biggest disadvantage is size and time needed to make such projector. All these and more details have been described in our home page along with the pictures of the projector and screen shots.





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