DIY Projector on the Cheap

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Introduction: DIY Projector on the Cheap

Although it's not my original idea (far from it), I finally decided to tear apart my LCD monitor and give this one a go. I had to innovate a few parts, so I hope my solutions help anyone out who's attempting this awesome project. This is my first instructable, be gentle :)

Step 1: Materials and Initial Disassembly

Materials:

LCD Monitor, any old one will do, the backlighting is going to be ripped out anyway. In my case, 14" was perfect, larger would have gone outside the border of the overhead's window.

Overhead projector, like from school. I'm no expert at these, and living in Taiwan, it was nearly impossible to find, but I know there are loads on ebay for cheap.

Document protector, used for housing the power and settings strip of the monitor.

Cork. Self explanatory.

First, get the LCD glass out of the monitor by carefully unscrewing, dismembering and prying. Be careful around the wires and you should be fine. One handy thing is that on mine, the display cable was detachable from the motherboard, so that made it easier. It's helpful to have a second pair of hands for this, in my case, I used my girlfriend's.

Step 2: Initial Assembly and Test

The hardest part is over. Now it's just a matter of coming up with some sort of mounting and enclosure construction. You're going to want to space the screen up from the projector window, as it gets super hot, and could damage your LCD. I used a cork, cut into four pieces and slit 50% down the middle.

I found that my projector was overheating and shutting off by itself, so I mounted a fan on the inside of the casing to get the air moving a bit.

Step 3: Casing

With all the plugging and unplugging I was doing of all the components, I felt like the power jack on the mainboard was getting a little flimsy (it's only held on by solder, I think), so I put the entire board inside a document protector, which closed pretty well with only the jack and the VGA port sticking out.

After a brilliant suggestion from Alyosha, I have since created a bellows as a variable-height enclosure. I will be posting a separate instructable for it presently.

Step 4: Finished!

Sorry about the poor quality of the picture, but I had to take this with my mobile phone. There is some light spill-off from the projector itself, I later ended up covering the sides with a black plastic bag temporarily (it needs some vertical give to adjust the focus).

EDIT:
I have just finished creating a bellows that serves as a wonderful variable height enclosure and keeps the light spill-off to a minimum. See step 3.

Overall, the project was pretty simple, and it works great! I'm going to be making a rear projection screen for it, which I'll post a separate instructable for as soon as I finish.

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    116 Comments

    I broke two lcds that I got at garage sales for cheap all I got are white lines of death...least that is what people call them...I was extremely careful with taking apart the monitor and still managed to break it. Good luck...I'm giving up. I think I will go back to my idea of the projection tv except find a way to integrate more light...

    I used a fresnel lense, cardboard box and mirror for the tv projector at the time, i found a nice 32 inch tv abandoned on the sidewalk so it made it unessesary to use lol. it also helped to direct and focus the light from the mirror to the projection screen using cardboard rather than having the light projected off the mirror spread out.

    As i havent seen it done, I'm wondering if making a double projector and merging the image (focusing the two images on top of eachother
    on the projection screen using two projectors projecting the same image simultaneously, using a splitter for the videocord projecting the same image) will improve picture brightness/quality. just a thought. probably going to try that myself when i get money.
    Also i've tried with a cheapo tv and gotten murky semi watchable images, it helps the picture brightness to have the room completely light tight , even if its dark out (starlight/moonlight/streetlights will cause problems because the picture is faint) cover windows
    with a blanket, cover all led's in the room.

    Does that not cause massive overheating?

    That thin layer of cork is enough distance between the screen and the projector to prevent overheating? Is your LCD screen still working/in good shape? Most of the other instructables demand building a frame and inserting fans to cool the screen. If cork is sufficient -- that would be so easy and awesome!!

    how do u guys hoo up things such as a game cube to a RCA monitor? i did this same thing. only thing now is i can only hook up my computer/laptop. no game systems

    1 reply

    you use an emulator on your computer and use a controller hooked up...

    you said you are in Taiwan? which City?

    I spent the last 8 years in running a design firm in Taichung, but now I am a game designer in Jakarta! I'm super stoked about my new job :)

    Jakarta? well ,what i can say welcome to jakarta ,crowd city, although i live in west jakarta too ..... :D
    are u happy and comfortable live in jakarta for a temporary?

    Correction: 30 :)

    yeah, i hate original LCD projector, because they're keep broke lamp inside if get shut off quickly
    ,and the price for the lamp is minimum $2000

    hey, built one of these following your's (total hassle with the monitor i chose lol thin plastic ribbon cables that are all just ALMOST long enough to be out of the way) anyways, was wondering if just cutting a square in like a thick black beach towel and draping over/taping it on the rising lens would work all the same as the bellow? not too great with those instructions

    2 replies

    No kidding about the monitor, it took me forever to figure out all those cables :) The beach towel seems like a good idea, but it IS a lot of light, it might come out of the sides... Also if the towel collapses inward, it might block some of the image, but there's no way to know until you try!

    Use cardboard formed around it in a 4-sided pyramid shape :)

    Just tackled this project this weekend and it worked great. I definitely recommend the screen-size=OHP screen size. Ours doesn't and it's a tad annoying, but as long as we can adjust the size of whatever's playing we're good. Overall, 100 bucks for a permanent projector and an extra monitor (lucked out, got 2 for $50), we're very happy :D.

    hey sandworm,
    awesome work!
    I've taken some pointers, and made my own.
    Did you have a problem with the LCD being too big for the projector? - I can't project about 10% of the screen - which is where the start bar is on one side, and the quicklaunch bar on the other side is. how did you fix this?
    Cheers

    ****Dumb Question Alert**** Could you just lay your laptop open as wide as possible on the overhead projector's base with the keyboard-half sticking off on a box for support, (maybe propped on an upside-down beanbag-filled lap-writing desk so the LCD screen would lay flat) and use that set-up to play DVDs or show Documents, power points, etc on the wall screen? Using cork spacers or something in-between the projector's base and the laptop to allow for cooling... Be gentle with your answers; I am not trained in electronics. I was just curious.