My DIY Projector

Posted by james on May 3, 2008

15 pictures.

I've wanted to make a DIY Projector since I first learned that people were making these, back in college. It's a pretty simple idea; commercial projectors simply shine a bright light through a small LCD and through a projection lens onto the screen. They're bright, look good, and are very portable. However, they're very expensive, and the bulbs cost about $250-350 to replace. That's a huge maintenance cost! Even cheaper projectors on sale in the 300-400 range will need replacement bulbs eventually, which means within a few years the bulbs will far outstrip the initial projector cost.

We can make a DIY projector ourselves. It's cheaper (my budget is around $300), and uses cheaper bulbs (around the $20-50 range) that last longer (20,000 hrs vs. 3,000 hrs for a commercial PJ). However, DIY PJ's are much larger (since smaller items are more expensive), are not as bright, and take a lot of work to get them just right. But that's half the fun, making it yourself.

I just got my last shipment of parts, so now I have almost everything I need:
-18" FL Beseler projection lens
-400w electronic ballast
-400w metal-halide (MH) bulb
-650mm and 220mm FL fresnels
-17" 4:3 Xerox LCD (not widescreen, unfortunately)
-Temperature controller for the fans

I need to figure out the heat shield (a piece of glass or lexan) and the enclosure (probably MDF wood). Once I get this working, it's movie nights every week! I can't wait.