As with all DIY projects, the first consideration in building an LCD projector is obtaining the right parts for the job. While making your own projector will cost you considerably less than buying a brand-name projector of comparable performance, you should use the best possible parts for optimal projection quality, even if cheaper alternatives are available. Before you begin, ensure you have a concrete plan of action and all the necessary parts and tools for the project.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Box cutter
- Black paint
- Square cardboard piece (10 or 12 inches)
- Fresnel lens
- Masking tape
- 3-inch LCD screen
- 3-inch mirror
- 2 100-watt light bulbs and sockets
Make a cardboard box. Cut four pieces of cardboard, 10 inches by 5 inches, and tape the sides together to form the walls. Cut two pieces of cardboard for the detachable top and bottom covers of the box. Carve several holes in the walls, including one hole on the back wall for the light switch, one on the top cover for the fan vent, and one on the front for the lens barrel. Make the holes according to the sizes of the components with a box cutter or small knife. Keep the top and bottom covers detached and paint the interior cardboard walls of the box solid black.
Install the lens barrel. Cut a square piece of cardboard, 5 inches by 5 inches, and paint it black on both sides. When the paint dries, roll the cardboard into a tube, forming a cylindrical shape, and slide the Fresnel lens inside. Tighten the tube until the lens is firmly held in place, and apply masking tape. Slide the lens barrel and lens into the hole you carved on the front of the box.
Install the LCD screen. Place the screen (facing upward) on the removable bottom cover of the box and secure it with tape or glue. Place the box over the bottom cover; the screen should be against the back wall of the box. Cut a small hole in the back wall, corresponding to the audio and video ports of the LCD panel. This will allow you to run cables through, and connect the screen to an external video source such as a TV or DVD player.
Install the mirror inside the box. The mirror should be placed at a 45 degree angle to the LCD screen, to reflect the screen's display through the lens barrel and onto a projection screen. Since the LCD screen is placed horizontally on the bottom of the box, determine the angle of the mirror by tilting it to form the desired angle. Hold the mirror in the tilted position by resting its top edge against a thin bar running from one side of the box to the other. Affix the bottom edge of the mirror to the back wall of the box with tape.
Install the bulb sockets on either side of the mirror on the back wall. The bulbs are used to illuminate the LCD screen and mirror, giving a bright and colourful projection. The bulbs should be around 75 to 100 watts for optimal lighting. Wire the two sockets to a common light switch, and mount the switch to the back wall so that you can operate it from the outside.
Mount the fan on the top cover. The fan will be used to cool the bulbs, and it should be installed so that air flows inside when the top is placed over the box. Install the fan assembly horizontally, on a hole on the top cover. Wire the fan to the light switch using an extension cord, and pull the cord out of the box so it does not interfere with the projection mechanism. The wiring should be done so that the fan is controlled by the main power switch, and the lights are controlled by the light switch, but only when the main power switch is on.
Screw the bulbs into the sockets. Connect the small LCD screen to a TV or DVD player by running the audio and video cables from the TV or DVD player through the small holes next to the ports in the LCD screen. Configure projection size by moving the projector closer or farther away from the projection screen, and tweak the focus by sliding the lens barrel in or out of the box.
Tips and warnings
- Never use the projector with the fan off. This will cause the heat from the bulbs to damage the LCD screen.
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