Getting the most out of an inexpensive projector

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Kendal Kirk, Dec 6, 2001.

  1. Kendal Kirk

    Kendal Kirk Stunt Coordinator

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    I have been around this forum for a short time, but have had the HT bug for as long as I can remember. Over the past few months I have completed my "entry level" HT set up in our bonus room(not yet dedicate exclusively to HT). If I had a Web site/dig. camera, I would show you, but those are not priorities right now.

    This is the equipment that I have:

    Newcastle 956 receiver ( 6.1,120 watts/per)

    JVC 45 DVD (not progressive)

    JVC vcr

    Panny 32" 4:3 tv

    Epson 710e projector

    cheep pull down screen

    Older speakers that I am very happy with (no sub yet, but will be building a DIY soon)

    I built an in-wall e-center for the equipment and TV, and a 'valance' to house the pull-down screen which can accomodate a 96" screen, but I have started out with a generic pull down that is 60" wide that you can pick up at many office supply stores.

    I am using the Epson only on special occasions when we really want the full movie experience (2-3 times a week). I am using a 30 foot S-video cable to run to the projector, which sits on the coffee table when in use(The fan is a bit loud sitting there). I may build a ceiling mount for it, but positioning is difficult because a ceiling fan is right where it would need to be with a 60" screen.

    Okay, on with the question. . .Am I starting out in the right direction, or am I just kidding myself? How can I get the most out of what I have put together. Affordability, ease of use, and top performance with what I have are my goals.

    Any comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!!!

    Thanks . . . .
     
  2. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    I, too, built my theater around a relatively inexpensive projector. Mine is a 3M MP8630 LCD projector that I found used for $800. My screen is a big rectangle on the wall that I painted flat white and used black-painted molding to form a crisp border. The wall around the screen is black, as well as the ceiling. The side walls are a medium-to-dark gray. Getting rid of the white ceiling and walls has done the most to improve my picture, I think.

    The projector gives a vibrant image, especially with brightly lit scenes with lots of color. B&W films look quite good, too -- especially after some tweaking. The only thing that looks not so good are dark, low-contrast scenes in movies like "Dark City."

    If yours is an LCD projector, I'm told that a light gray screen will improve black levels. I haven't done this, as I also use my homemade screen to show movie film.

    For your purposes, it sounds like a painted screen won't do, but there are lots of options for pull-down screens that are far less expensive than those motorized screens you've probably dreamed about. I think a company called VuTek (I'm sure I spelled it wrong) makes some economical screens. A larger screen would probably get your projector back farther if you ceiling mount it, but the ceiling fan might still cause you problems. I had to replace the light fixture in my theater room to keep its shadow out of my picture, and there is no room here for a ceiling fan. Of course, my ceiling height is only 7.5 feet.

    You've come to the right place for advice. Good luck! Before we moved into out home with the dedicated room, I did the same thing as you with a temporary installation of the projector on a table. My screen then was a tripod model like people used to show home movies on, but it worked!
     
  3. Kendal Kirk

    Kendal Kirk Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, I made a big improvement in my picture quality with a DVDO iScan plus line doubler. It is by far the best investment that I have made in my image quality.
     
  4. Glenise

    Glenise Supporting Actor

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    I also have a gray screen using sheetrock.
    I get an awesome picture and will not be buying a Dalite, Draper or Stewart screen.
    I bought Behr "Ultra Pure White" flat paint from Home Depot and had them covert it to Behr "Gray Tropics".
    It's a very light gray but looks white to the naked eye.
    To see the gray you have to put it next to a can of white primer.
    Tried to find this model on www.projectorcentral.com to see if it can be hooked to a pc.
    I'm a computer techie but refuse to hook my projector to a pc because of windows.
    If your projector has a vga port on the back, you should be able to connect a pc to it.
    Eveyone says that the picture quality is 10 times better when using a computer vs svideo.
    Does the projector have component connection?
    That's another possibility for a better picture.
    Here are three models that I guess are similar to your projector:
    3M MP7630
    http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...fm?part_id=853
    3M MP8625
    http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...fm?part_id=853
    3M MP8635
    http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...fm?part_id=853
    If I had a decent digital camera, I would take pictures showing a few movie.
     
  5. NathanP

    NathanP Supporting Actor

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    Glenise-

    I too am doing the Sheetrock screen..

    As the Sheetrock is already white, do I have to use primer?

    Can I just use paint?

    Nathan
     
  6. Mike Brantley

    Mike Brantley Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi, Glenise...
    My projector looks exactly the same as this one...
    http://www.projectorcentral.com/proj...fm?part_id=119
    It does have a VGA connector as well as the video connectors. It will do 800 x 600, but the video scaling is horrible at that mode when using the s-vid or composite jacks. So I use 640 x 480 because that looks best with video. That leaves pixels wasted off the screen, but what to do?
    I have thought about building a HTPC and connecting to the vga port and using the computer to scale to 800 x 600. Should look better than the built-in scaling, I would assume. If I go that way, it won't be anytime real soon because the setup looks great as it is and I have a few things I want to buy before a PC gets onto the shopping list.
    This is the second used LCD projector I used. The first one I had was an older InFocus model that had an annoying red pixel that was always on. I hated that! Plus, it was prone to getting dust on the LCD panel, so I was forever opening it up and blowing the dust out. I've never once had to do that with the 3M MP8630, and there is not a single speck of dust anywhere on the picture. Plus, all pixels are working perfectly.
    When you start taking pictures of your finished setup, consider taking one with the lights off and the screen lit up and the other with the room lights on. Lock the camera off on a tripod or something. Then you can combine the two in Photoshop like the magazines do!
     
  7. Glenise

    Glenise Supporting Actor

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    Nathan P, I used primer first then paint.

    Mike, I'll try to get something to light the room up so that my cheap digital camera will take good pictures. I'll keep trying.

    The sconces on the wall don't quite light the room up enough.

    Thanks.
     

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