Introduction: (Concept) $275 1440p Projector (Or $225 for 1080p)

Picture of (Concept) $275 1440p Projector (Or $225 for 1080p)

Please note that this is all written as if I had already created this projector. I have not. This is a projector design that I plan to bring to life when I gather the resources to do so. Parts bought online change in price often, so it is recommended that you do research for prices before buying and parts. Thanks for reading!

In the above pictures you can see a 2560x1440 resolution projector that I made for less than $275 (Not yet, I haven't made it). If you'd like to know what this would cost retail, you can click here. This high resolution, high frame rate (60Hz), high brightness, high contrast projector will cost around $275 total if you buy the parts from Asia wholesale rather than resale.



Now that you know to be very careful, let's get started!

Step 1: Ordering the Parts

Picture of Ordering the Parts

Let's get this clear first: All of these parts are being ordered from a different country off of a site that has little, bad, or no buyer-protection. Please order parts with DHL shipping (Not ePacket, China ordinary post, or small packet plus) when necessary. I will let you know when it is necessary. I also recommend you do some more research to see if you can find cheaper parts!

1x - 2560x1440 LCD ($210 Total; Shipping price may vary but probably not)

$100 for the LCD. $50 for the HDMI board. $50 for fast shipping (Is necessary so it is not damaged by bad quality shipping; Price may vary by location). $10 transaction fee. You must ask for a price quote for a sample of the HDMI board and LCD that has the back-light taken off of the LCD (It is too fragile and might break the pixels if you try to take it apart yourself).

1x - 1920x1080 LCD ($160 Total; Shipping price may vary but probably not). Buy this if you don't need 2560x1440 resolution. This is $50 cheaper.

$50 for the LCD. $50 for the HDMI board. $50 for fast shipping (Is necessary so it is not amaged by bad quality shipping; Price may vary by location). $10 transaction fee. You must ask for a price quote for a sample of the HDMI board and the LCD that has a back-light taken off of the LCD (It is too fragile and might break the pixels if you try to take it apart yourself).

1x - F200 to F210 Variable Projection Lens ($22.83 + Shipping)

$22.83 for the variable projection lens. Being variable allows the projector to focus manually without having to move the projector. $5.80 for shipping to Massachusetts; May vary by location.

1x - F120 Fresnel Lens ($4.50 + Shipping)

The Fresnel lens that is placed between the light engine and the LCD. $? for shipping to Massachusetts; Price may vary by location.

1x - F185 Fresnel Lens ($4.50 + Shipping)

The Fresnel lens that is placed between the LCD and the projection lens. $? for shipping to Massachusetts; Price may vary by location.

1x - 120W LED + Driver ($12)

The light engine (AKA: The 120 watt LED) and the driver combined. I bought either regular white or cool white; I think warm white might make the projected image yellow-ish so I chose cool white. The driver is to control the input of the light.

1x - Collimator + Reflector + Bracket ($3.58)

The reflector will position the light that tries to go backwards to go forwards in order to not waste any energy on unused light. The collimator will spread the light equally onto the first Fresnel lens. The bracket will hold it together.

1x - Heatsink + Fan ($10.67)

This will make sure that the LED doesn't overheat. With this particular projector's design, it will also create a cool airflow within the projector that will also cool the fresnel lenses and LCD.

1x - A bunch of wood that I'll add later when I actually make this thing. Or a different projector body material.

Total: $273.88 (will vary by what LCD you choose and how much shipping is for you)

Step 2: The Display

I don't have a HD video of the display but I have this:

Step 3: Understanding Some Terms

F200 : The F in F200 means Focal. The Focal length of lenses can be explained here (Probably in invision boards).

PJL : Projector Lens

Light Engine : The light source (The LED is the light source in this case).

F1 : The first Fresnel lens that lies between the light engine and the LCD.

F2 : The second Fresnel lens that lies between the LCD and the projector lens.

LCD : Liquid Crystal Display; This is a type of display (Like in your monitor, TV, or phone). It has an array of pixels and a back-light. The back-light is a rectangle that emits light that lies behind the array of pixels. It is what lights your display. We will remove this back-light so we can have the LED as a 'back-light' that will be projected.

LCD Board : The circuit board that controls the image data that is being sent to the LCD.

LED : Light Emitting Diode; A diode is a part that allows current to only flow one way. It is a diode that emits light. LEDs last longer than light bulbs and are more energy-conservative. They are less hot as well.

LED Driver : The circuit that regulates how much electricity is going through the LED.

Here is some more helpful information. You'll need to register.

Step 4: How I Calculated Everything (And Helpful Links)

Picture of How I Calculated Everything (And Helpful Links)

Note: With the above pictures' data, the projected image should be ~91.4 inches diagonally. I guess I will see once I build this!

If you want, you can skip this step. It will help explain how I chose parts and found distances between those parts. This will include some great links to tools. It will also help you make your own projector if you want to design your own.

Here are some helpful links:

DIY Projector Forum (I think it is Filipino but mostly English speaking)

DIY Projector Calculator (This is French but open it in Google Chrome, right click on the page, and click "Translate to English")

Screen Dimensions Calculator

The LumenLabs FocalCalc program is also helpful. Click the green 'Download Folder' arrow on the top right of the screen.

diyAudio DIY Projectors Forum

You can also look at other DIY Projector projects for some helpful data.

I basically used French projector calculator to choose all of my parts. You can see my input data and calculations in the images above.

If you want to help me build a better projector, use the french calculator I mentioned above to see if you can get the light output from center to corners to a higher percentage. I think the light output from center to corners is how dark the corners are compared to the center. I would like this to be higher than 70% as 70% I think is very noticeable. Thanks!

Step 5: Building a Concept Model in Google Sketchup

Picture of Building a Concept Model in Google Sketchup

I can't get Sketchup to work now that I installed Windows 10. I will add this later when I get it working.

Step 6: Other Notes

I found this display board that converts HDMI input into MIPI DSI data for mobile displays. An iPhone 4 lcd is shown in the video below.

If you look at the Project logs on the project page, it shows that 17 days ago (from 7/8/15), the maker of this project has started production. He is targeting around $100 + tax/shipping. The rev 2.0 that is in production supports iPhone 4/4s LCDs plus the LG Optimus E980 LCDs. That is total ~$115 if you want a 1080p projector or ~$112 for a smaller 640p projector. This will be great once he starts selling! :)

PS: You can make your own one of these boards today if you know how to! He has provided everything you need to make your own, but it isn't as simple as making an Arduino UNO or Raspberry Pi.


The recent Kickstarter project C.H.I.P. is cheap and may be helpful in this and other projects.


crashnburn_in (author)2016-08-29

Why not use an existing use/ cheap projector which has Low Res but high Lighting Power and the rest of the stuff. Use a 4K Phone Display + Controller Board. Curious about sharing notes.

omert (author)2015-07-10

Thats pretty funny, I'm actually working on a projector right now with basically the exact same parts!

The topfoison display is a beauty and they were very nice about separating the backlight.

All I have left to do is to put it all together in a nice enclosure :D

Good luck to you with your project!

tinkerer_nat (author)omert2016-04-19

where did/are you getting your variable lens from, for the life of me i cant find one

Tbh, I don't really know how I found that specific lens. I guess a lot of looking on foreign websites, but keep in mind that foreign websites will provide little or no helpful customer service, and u.s. customs will hold your package for weeks (on top of slow shipping). I really made this as a proof-of-concept, but actually getting the parts is thr hardest part.

pockoface (author)2016-01-03

The link for the variable projection lens doesn't work.

knexpert1700 (author)pockoface2016-01-03

Ya these Chinese shopping sites change links and what they are selling often.

MichaelE75 (author)2015-12-01

Did you ever build this? If so how well did it work? I'm looking into making my own 1440p projector and I was thinking about making it how LCD projectors are made. It would involve 3 displays in grayscale and a light with the RGB spectrum split, each wavelength going into a display. Look up the construction of an LCD projector to get an idea of what I'm thinking of. It would cost a little more than your plans but the contrast would be much greater. Let me know what you think

knexpert1700 (author)MichaelE752015-12-01

I could make this project, but I don't see the benefits outweighing the money and time it would take to work on the project.

Splitting it into 3 grayscale displays sounds interesting.

I think would help with finding LCDs for your projector, although support for getting the LCD and for interface would be a huge challenge.

MichaelE75 (author)knexpert17002015-12-01

That website is a great resource. Thanks.

I think the concept I have in mind could be a really decent projector. If all of the displays came with the hdmi interface you could just connect them to the same source and have it display in grayscale. You would need a cell, not a panel though, since the backlight would be useless and hard to remove. But I think most manufacturers would remove the backlight if you needed. That website you have in this instructable lists the price at $88. If I could get them for that price it would be worth it, but $200+ per is not worth it for a project.

knexpert1700 (author)MichaelE752015-12-02

The LCD i listed is not $88 when you are buying only one. Some company probably bought a lot of them, which lowered the average purchase price to $88. It is a wholesale sight so buying 1 is just a sample.

ManojP33 (author)2015-11-30


The topfoison itself comes with the HDMI input option, and why do we need 'HDMI input into MIPI DSI' coverted. You mentioned it for smaller mobile phone displays?

knexpert1700 (author)ManojP332015-11-30

If you wanted to use a mobile phone display instead of Topfoison's display, you would need a way to plug an HDMI cable into the phone display, in which a converter would be needed.

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