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How-To: Build a Video Projector
Mix big screen home theater dreams with a skimpy budget and youhave the makings of a fantastic do-it-yourself project. Just think ofhow impressed all your friends will be watching blockbuster movies ona video projector you made with your own 2 hands. It was just thesemotivations that landed me in front of my web browser digging forinformation for this project. There are a lot of cheesy websites thatpromise the moon and sell you a plastic magnifying lense and theinstructions to stick a television into a box and put this lens on thefront. You will get an image, but it will look like you made ityourself. - dark, and blurry. Is there any way to make this work? Theshort answer is yes. A video projector is essentially a highresolution LCD video screen with a really bright light shining throughit and a projector lense enlarging onto the screen. New portablemodels use very tiny, and expensive, LCDs along with sophisticatedlight sources and high quality lenses. If you are willing to end upwith a projector that isn't quite so tiny, you can scavenge the partsyou need from an LCD computer monitor and add some electroniccomponents and relatively inexpensive lenses. For $200-$500 you shouldbe able to create a high resolution bright projector that will reallyimpress your friends.
The parts you need are:
High resolution LCD computer monitor
Projector lens (and possibly 2 fresnel lenses depending on the plans you use)
Cooling fan(s) - bright lights get hot when you shove them in a box
Bright lightsource (one approach to the project is to use an old overhead projector)
Electrical power supply
There are dozens of websites with step-by-step plans for free or forsale. Some sell parts that you'll need. Two that I've found to beexcellent are LumenLab and the DIY Projector Company. They both sellparts and parts kits. LumenLab sells a very nicely produced PDFinstruction guide with detailed plans. DIY offers plans free, butexpects that you'll buy one of their kits to actually make theprojector. They both use the LCD in a box with a lamp approach.
InventGeek has a great article explaining the whole process in depthincluding the theory behind projectors. I recommend you check it out.The DenGuru website shows another approach to the project. They use anold overhead projector for both the lightsource and lens. You stripthe LCD panel out of its frame and lay it on the projector like atransparency. Ugly, but it works! Check out their tutorial.
Break out your toolkit and get busy - and let's be safe out therepeople!
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