As you can see from the picture above, any home project can involve some accidents. Luckily no one was hurt, however we did learn quite a few things about being careful in the attic. In this Instructable, will show you how to (carefully) install a projector in your home for movies and entertainment.
Step 1: Do Some Math!
The first thing you will need get started is to figure out the distance your projector will be from your wall, so you will know how big to make your screen. Our projector ended up being about 7-8 feet away from our wall giving us about a 100 inch 4x3 screen (we went with 4x3 because our projector's aspect ratio was 4x3). Not every projector out there has the same throw ratio, so either look your's up or measure it yourself.
Step 2: Buying the Necessary Materials
You first need to decide what cables you will be phishing. If your are running hdmi to the projector you should definitely consider buying an hdmi switcher so that you only need to run one cable. An hdmi switcher takes 3 inputs and can switch between devices to the output. We used this one (However I think we found it on ebay for about $10):
This one also has priority switching so if you turn on a device, it automatically switches to that input. For our projector, we only ran one 30 ft hdmi cable to the projector and put the switcher on the end with our cable box/ xbox/ computer. We used a cable like this:
The best thing you can do when installing a projector is to build a screen. Nothing looks worse than a properly installed projector projecting on a painted wall. I know it might be more than you want to spend, but it looks a million times better with a non-reflective fabric screen. I can't exactly remember where we bought our screen fabric from but it was pretty much the same as this (I think we spent $30-40):
To build the frame for the screen, we used some scrap wood and an air nailer to build a rectangle to wrap the screen around. Then we picked up some trim to put around the side from Home Depot.
I know we also bought our projector mount from amazon for about $35 but I can't seem to find the exact one we bought. Just make sure it will fit your projector and can swivel/adjust to your ceiling situation.
Because our attic was above our projector, we added an outlet in the attic for us to hook up to. If your curious on how to do this, check out this instructable:
Step 3: Mounting Your Projector
Carefully measure out where you want your projector to be. Ideally you want the screws for the mount to go through a stud, or a joist in this case to support the projector's weight. We found the closest joist that would give us the ideal screen size and center the mount with the back wall. If your mounting kit was nice enough, they should have a paper template for you to draw where your center hole will go. Get a drill bit big enough to fit the heads of the cables you will be phishing and drill the hole in the center of your marked spot. Once your cables are phished, you can put the mount hole cover on to give it a seamless look.
Step 4: Phishing Wires (And Learning Lessons)
Okay, now for the biggest and most embarrassing failure of the project. When phishing cables down the wall, you will probably have to drill a hole in the stud running along the top of the wall from the attic. While my roommate and I were downstairs hooking up the surround sound system, my brother was in the attic drilling the last hole for the last wire for the surround sound system. While crouched and drilling the last hole, his finger got caught on the drill bit cutting his finger. He jumped up from the pain and took to steps backwards. What he didn't realize was the "board", behind the board he was standing on, was actually a piece of cardboard. His entire leg came crashing through the ceiling, putting about a two foot hole in it. After we found out that he was alright, then came the arguing and fighting.
Once everyone had cooled off, we drove to Home Depot and picked up some sheet rock and sheet rock mud. We cut the broken sheet rock up the closest studs and cut a patch piece to fill the hole. We then floated the seams with the sheet rock mud (This was just a quick fix and haven't sanded and painted the patch yet). Lesson Learned: BE CAREFUL WHEN WALKING IN AN ATTIC! You will be pretty upset when you find yourself falling through the ceiling.
Cut hole for your wires and get a face plate to cover the hole. Phish all your wires down the wall from the attic. If you are finding it hard to phish your wires, try using a phishing snakes to push your wires down the wall.
Step 5: Building a Screen
A screen will greatly improve the quality of your projector system and I highly recommend getting one. It will make your colors more vivid and appear easier on the eyes. Projector screens don't have to be expensive, but they don't have to be cheap either. Refrain from using a bed sheet and upgrade for some real projector screen fabric. It is made of a non-reflective material that prevents glare from your projector's light. Build a rectangular frame out of wood and cut your screen to the size of the frame with about a 4 inch overlap on all sides. Stretch the screen around the frame around the frame and use a staple gun to fix the screen to the frame. Similar to stretching a canvas, you will get a much tighter look if you start from the center on all four sides and slowly work your way around the screen. There are several ways you can fix your screen to the wall. We ended up buying some metal plates from home depot with some holes in it. We fastened them to the sides (halfway on the side of the screen and halfway hanging off) of our screen using some screws and then held up the screen to the wall and screwed it into the wall. We covered up the metal plates with some trim and rosette blocks. You could also consider using a french cleat. Sorry, I don't have any pictures of us building the screen, we were busy in the process.
Step 6: Enjoy the Movie Binge!
Once you're finished, turn that projector on, pop some popcorn, and start the movie binge! I hope I've inspired (and not deterred) you to consider installing your own projectors. If you enjoyed this instructable and had a good laugh at our expense, please consider voting this instructable for the Spectacular Failures Contest!