Panny 900 or DIY?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Bart_R, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi everyone,

    Ok, here's the deal: a couple of days ago I went to a store to actually see some projectors in action, after spending quite some time reading about them. I walked into the specially designed room where somebody else was already getting a demonstration. I didn't know what projector they had running, but I just looked at the screen in awe. WOW! I mean, the image (from 'The Chronicles of Riddick'-dvd) was sharp, had perfect colors, great contrast, black levels... the whole deal. And I'm usually pretty picky. I was trying to look for defects or minor points, but I couldn't really find any. I even walked as close as, say, 5 feet to the screen, and still it was nice and sharp.

    I thought this projector was their top (priced) model, surely priced over at least 4000. But, alas, it turned out to be the Panasonic PT-AE900! Anyway, I wanted the storeguy to hook up the Infocus Screenplay 4805 as well, but he didn't succeed somehow. Then I asked for the difference between the Panny 700 and 900, and he said it was minor. Well, he showed the 700 and I saw the difference alright. It was less sharp and more grainy, especially when moving closer. It was still alright, I guess, but knowing the improvement the 900 offers, I didn't want to go "back".

    Anyway, to cut this story a bit short. I was about to order the new panny some days later (from an online store) when I stumbled upon some DIY-sites. Of course money is always an issue, and if I can make a perfectly fine projector myself for a fraction of the cost of a new one, then why not? Right?

    So, my obvious question is: will I be able to produce something with a quality similar to that of the Panny 900, or will that cost me too much money (or skill) anyway?

    (And while we're at it, how about DIY-screens? Are they adequate when made on your own [and is this do-able for a not especially handy person]?)

    Thanks for listening/reading, and for any advice you can give me.

    Cheers,
    Bart.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Tim Jin

    Tim Jin Supporting Actor

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    I really can't see how you can make a DYI projector, unless you are going to use a overlay screen to blow up an lcd image !!!

    There is no way!

    DYI screen, YES!
     
  3. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    No. Not even close. The only real deals to be had is in used CRT projection, but it's obviously a very different project than something like buying an ae900. Buy the ae900 and be happy, it's a stellar machine.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    DIY pj is a no-go, I agree with Chris on the 900...fantastic. DIY screen is another matter, I did the one below (2.35:1 ratio, ~7' wide) for about $100 using artist stretcher bars (used to stretch canvas over), blackout cloth, and Duvetyne tape for the masking/border. You can do it cheaper without the bars, but finding true lumber in those lengths is beyond me. The BOC is adequate for a screen, especially at $4/yd, but there are lots of better options for material. I'm researching them, and might be willing to spend more now that I have my "canvas-stretching" technique down. [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  5. Tim Jin

    Tim Jin Supporting Actor

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    Very nice setup!
     
  6. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for your responses everyone!

    Re: Tim

    "I really can't see how you can make a DYI projector, unless you are going to use a overlay screen to blow up an lcd image !!!

    There is no way!"

    Well, these are the sites I was talking about:

    http://www.lumenlab.com/

    http://www.diyprojectorcompany.com/

    When reading/seeing the content on these sites, it's hard not to get a little bit excited about what might be possible with a little work. But, of course, it could very well be that construction is pretty hard, while the PQ will leave something to be desired.

    "DYI screen, YES!"

    Yeah, I was seriously contemplating this. The only "problem" is that my carpentry/handyman skills aren't exactly sophisticated. I mean, I can drive a nail into a piece of wood, and turn some screws and the like, but nothing quite too fancy.

    -------

    Re: Chris

    "Not even close. The only real deals to be had is in used CRT projection, but it's obviously a very different project than something like buying an ae900. Buy the ae900 and be happy, it's a stellar machine."

    Yeah, I really loved the 900, and if I can't approach this quality, I might as well forget about the whole DIY-deal alltogether.

    The only thing now is, that the 900 is the only projector I've seen in action so far (next to the 700, that is). I mean, I thought it was great, and almost bought it on the spot, but I'd like to make sure it's the best deal to be had for that price. I mean, maybe the 4805 is a better bang for buck in the end (but hey, if the PQ will be worse than that of the 700, which isn't particularly bad, I think I'll go with the 900 anyway), or maybe something like the Benq 7700 will be even better than the 900, for only marginally more money. And then of course there's the Sanyo Z4 to consider. Choices, choices. Either way, though, I'm totally "digging" the Panny 900 right now [​IMG].

    -------------

    Re: Jack

    That's a lovely screen you got there. I'd love to be able to build something like that for my room. So, was it hard to construct? Could an "average" person do it without too much trouble?

    I noticed you mentioned the 4805. How does it stack up to the Panny 900? Obviously it is much cheaper, so that's a plus, but could someone enamored with the 900 be thrilled by the look of the 4805 as well, ya think?


    Thanks guys....

    [​IMG]
     
  7. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    there's no way you'd even come close to the 900 DIY. At the very best, you might be able to build something with acceptable resolution, horrible color fidelity, horrible contrast, and horrible usability that would throw something you might call an image onto a screen. This is doable with big LCD panels and a light source, and is perhaps doable on smaller scales, but I'd still put it in the category as marginally better than the fresnel-lens scam nonsense. You could do much better buying old and hideously crappy old LCD projectors used surplus than building one.
     
  8. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Chris. At least I can write off that option now. That reduces the choices somewhat. I'm getting closer to my goal everyday [​IMG]. Just a little more PJ-comparing and I'm there.

    (Oh yeah, and then there's this thing called screen building, of course [​IMG] )

    Cheers.
     
  9. Tim Jin

    Tim Jin Supporting Actor

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    and you really want to build a projector??? [​IMG]
     
  10. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    screen building is super easy, just a few boards and some BO cloth, and some nails, and a staple gun. Super easy. [​IMG]
     
  11. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    ---
    The only "problem" is that my carpentry/handyman skills aren't exactly sophisticated. I mean, I can drive a nail into a piece of wood, and turn some screws and the like, but nothing quite too fancy.
    ---

    "and you really want to build a projector???"

    Hehe. Good point! [​IMG] Well, of course I'm exaggerating a bit here. Also, if a DIY-projector would have been semi-do-able I might have called in some external help.

    Basically, what I was thinking about when I was contemplating screen building is that I'm a bit weary when it comes to things like soldering and welding, and things that require specialized tools and/or skills. That is, I might be able to do it, when I really apply myself to it, but as of yet, I have (pretty much) zero experience and tools in this department. And I don't want to bring in extra troops if it's not absolutely necessary. Also, when it doesn't turn out the way I want to, I have only myself to blame [​IMG].

    -----

    Re: Chris. Well that's good news. I guess it all comes down to the right material then. The right rigidity/texture of the wood, the right color for the cloth etc. I suppose the tricky part is getting the cloth/canvas tight and smooth enough (i.e. without any wrinkles).
     
  12. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    So, Jack, I was wondering... how is that size, or rather ratio, working out for you? Did you have to think long about making it a cinemascope screen? And is it still satisfactory when watching 4:3-sized material?

    Myself, I watch a fair amount of oldies, so I wouldn't like those to be shortchanged. At the same time I can understand your choice in making it 1:2.35. I mean, I imagine being able to watch something like 'The Lord of the Rings' in its full glory, filling your entire screen, would be downright incredible! (But of course most films are smaller than that, so when looking at quantity, it "should" be closer to 1:1.85.)

    Basically, would you care to share something about your choice of ratio? I sort of didn't really think about it, and just took it as a "given" that I would make (roughly) a 16:9-sized screen. But you've put a nice little idea in my head now [​IMG].
     
  13. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Basic blackout cloth is fine, available cheap at any fabric store. Then just some boards some 1x3s or 1x4s or something, use some little L brackets to keep things nice and square. Then use the canvas stretching method of stabling opposite modpoints, described here: http://www.rexart.com/stretching.html and you will be wrinkle-free. Really easy, and very cheap starting point, if you desire higher gain screen material etc then you can explore that in more detail, but BO cloth is a great way to have a great picture right off the bat.
     
  14. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks, Chris.

    It's practical sites like that, that I need. With pointers (and accompanying pics) like those, I think I should be able to pull this off.

    Yeah, I guess blackout cloth will do. So, is material this always in white? And when exactly is a higher gain necessary? I'm not quite sure yet. Isn't it meant to absorb (excessive) light and/or provide more contrast (i.e. to be used with PJ's with low contrast and/or high lumens level)?
     
  15. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    higher gain just gives you more brightness if you need it. It can slightly improve ANSI contrast because of the differential gain angles. No screen by itself affects on/off contrast. If there is a high-contrast mode on your projector with lower light output, you may want to use a higher gain screen to retain good brightness in a high-contrast mode with the iris closed down.
     
  16. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    forgot this thread is about the ae900, it is pretty bright, the BO cloth should be a fine starting place with a reasonable sized screen.
     
  17. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Alright. So, it actually gives you more brightness, then. Interesting.

    So, I was wondering, is more gain (in your screen) always preferable? That is, if your PJ is bright/contrasty "enough", could you end up with too much brightness, for example?

    Anyway, if I go ahead with the 900 (I still got a little bit of comparing to do, with the Z4 and a good [comparable in quality/price] DLP PJ), I'll just take your advice and go ahead with regular BO-cloth.
     
  18. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Gain is directional, so there is a gain curve across the screen and across viewing positions. If you have a really high gain screen you will have hotspot problems, where the center of the image is bright and it gets dim out towards the edges. Further, you have to be sitting on-axis, if you are sitting way off to the side you will be at a much lower part of the gain curve and may actually end up with a lot less than 1.0 gain and have a much dimmer picture than you would with BO cloth or a similar diffuse fabric.

    In any case, the BO cloth will get you started for less than 50 bucks.
     
  19. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, that settles it then. BO-cloth it is. [​IMG]
    The narrowing down goes faster than I thought. Before I know it, I'll be watching films, awestruck, with my brand new PJ and self-made screen. Can't wait...

    Alright, I'm turning in now (it's 12:40 a.m. here in The Netherlands). Thanks again. I'll talk to you later...
     

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