Instructables

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Guerrilla drive-ins come in two flavors: a true drive-in, or a walk-in. Walk-ins were the first guerrilla movie method, and involve a big grassy area, some blankets, and a movie projected on a screen. The projectionist powers the projector using a generator, and big speakers are used to project the sound. The Santa Cruz Guerrilla Drive-In and Dolores Park Movie Night are walk-ins.

A true guerrilla "drive-in" is just that - a bunch of cars and a movie. The projectionist usually powers the projector with his or her car or a small generator and an FM transmitter transmits the soundtrack to the other cars. The Mobile Movie was the first true guerrilla drive-in.

I'm rather partial to drive-ins over walk-ins because of their nostalgic feel, and the fact that your car can become your own private theater! It sure beats the pants of that cineplex with its screaming preteens (no offense you lovable troublemakers!).

This guide will tell you how to set up your own Guerrilla drive-in using your car. If you'd prefer to set up a walk-in, portions of this guide may be helpful, but much of it will be inapplicable. There are guides online more suited for this purpose however, see: Start Your Own Walk-in

Parts of this tutorial were taken from my original tutorial, which I wrote for my MobMov members.

Hey kids, let's go make a drive-in!
 
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Thanks for the great idea!

Just bought a projector that is 1000 lumens. That sounds okay to me, what do you think?
XV21 year ago
None of this equipment creates a draw on your engine, so Idling for two hours will use no more fuel than average. A properly tuned vehicle probably won't burn more than a couple of gallons in this time frame. Also, keep in mind that if you have a good battery in your vehicle, you may even be able to turn off the engine for around fifteen minutes at a time, to save fuel.

Tried to post this as a reply to Anykey, but had trouble. Posted it here instead.
Anykey1 year ago
is it using a lot of fuel to use your car during 2 h with videoprojector + fm transmitter + Laptop ? it a pretty much normal car I'm using (~7liters/100km)
mkapelle2 years ago
Well done, well done!
This is such a Great Idea! I want to project the largest picture possible without fading/distortion, Which projector would be recommended for say 80'Wx20'H?
MR2Di42 years ago
A couple of suggestions for would-be projectors and the OP after using a similar setup at a recent car club racing weekend...

1. Try using a digital media player, my WDTV Live uses a fraction of the power of a laptop or DVD player, plus since it runs on 12VDC, I could forgo using the inverter to power it if I wanted. USB flash drives are easy storage and no more worries about scratched discs.

2. Don't rely on your car's battery! Tote a 4D or 8D (better) industrial deep-cycle battery. Either of them, if in good shape. should be able to supply plenty of power for an event. This kind of use is what they're designed for.
Charge it back up later with your car running or the deep-cycle setting on most AC battery chargers.

3. Don't be afraid to cheap out. If you're outside then nobody is expecting THX sound quality. I have yet to experiment with the FM transmitter option, but a cheap used 30W mini stereo amplifier and some thrift store speakers and people were happy.
oaky83 years ago
what projector do you use?
from research i have done it seems like you have much more than a 1200 lumen projector. I am planing on starting my own guerrilla drive in scene here in my city. I just want to make sure to get a projector that will be bright enough.
vjfronk4 years ago
i think its a great idea. i have herd of people being thretened with arest by projecting on a building next to an interstate becaus the moveing images would be a distraction to drivers.then a year later there was a huge arene built acrossed from the building the guy was projecting on and they were able to put up a huge video screen right next to the interstate. SO SCREW THE LAW i do not valadate the law when it only provides opertunity for who ever has the most money. this is america saposidly the land of the fee and i will challange that any day. i just need a generator.
unidyne4 years ago
If you are concerned about copyrights, consider an "oldies night" where you show older films that have lapsed into the public domain. Such horror classics as "Night of the Living Dead", "Carnival of Souls" and "The House on Haunted Hill" have audience appeal. There's lots of dramas, westerns, comedies and cartoons that are in PD. Alpha Video (oldies.com) sells excellent quality DVD transfers of public domain features (I have no financial ties to them).
volleybiggs4 years ago
Would it n ot be cheaper to buy a generator? I have seen at for example Harbor Freight generators with the output of 1000 W's for $112 and you can use it for multiple things besides the outdoor moview idea. Marine Batteries and an inverter would run that much wouldnt they? Although I dont know how loud the generator would but but I am guessing as much as a car running if you went that route and I think I see where the Marine Battery route woudl require two?
Thanks for this idea!

This is so beautiful!  Thank you for sharing this.
netbuddy4 years ago
In the UK you are required to have a cinematographers license to legally comply with the law. This incidentally applies to any public place where a TV is on public view or a screen suitably equipped to provide public play back of a program or movie.

Cinemas rent films to show and these are very expensive, last time I worked anywhere near the film industry, cinemas rent an average film at about £1,500 a week and a block busted could cost them upwards of £5,000 a week, which is why your local cinema can never compete with the big players.

So, your taking business away from the smaller cinema and that will have no impact on the industry other than the small cinema owner.

IMHO what your doing in this movement is helping independent cinema out of business... Way to go.
danlab netbuddy4 years ago
Part of this problem is that it appears you are looking at licensing new movies, by using independent films, films produced by smaller (non-Hollywood) companies, or films that are out on dvd (which it appears they are) already you will probably have more luck getting cheap licenses. Plus, by using films that aren't being played in cinemas, you aren't actually competing with independent cinemas.
plusbryan (author)  netbuddy4 years ago
If you had bothered to read the tutorial, you would have seen that no only does MobMov always purchase rights for the films we show, but we wholeheartedly support independent cinema.

if you're concerned that we're not telling the truth, feel free to call Swank Motion Pictures, who license almost all of our exhibitions. I go out of pocket ~$200 each show for movie licenses because I enjoy filmmaking and support filmmakers.
But your doing it for free.

It may cost you but the fact still remains that your doing this for free.

I am not arguing about it, that the facts as they stand. It will always be hurting some business in the local area where you perform. Only thing I can say that will possible help you further your cause is to take this to remote areas where getting to a cinema is not easy or the nearest cinema is a couple of hours drive. 

Maybe then your idea will prove popular and have kick started a new era of cinema, mobile cinema...

Keep up the good work and always look out for the little guy please. ;)
irookie7 years ago
This idea is great. The archives.org link is awesome. I addded several video clips to my media room pc. Buying a projector seems to be the one thing that makes or breaks this. You can buy a projector dirt cheap. Go to govliquidation.com . This is goverment surplus or DRMO. Its like ebay, but everything starts at 50 bucks. I bought two projectors for 75 bucks each. Are they latest and the greatest, no. However, the government does not buy cheap stuff. One projector was 5k and the other was 10k new. Also, you can buy other computer equipment like laptops, pc's, printers, etc.. One thing to remember is that most of the stuff is in bulk. I bought a 1000 pounds of misc. computer parts for $95. You can also buy military trucks, military clothing, tools, office furniture, commercial applicances, etc.. There are special items that you can buy like aviation or medical equipment, but you need to prove you are supposed to have it. Its kind of tough to explain why you need a jet engine and a x-ray machine in your apartment without the proper documentation. If you are going to bid on a projector, check it against projectorcentral.com first to see if it will work for you.
Thanks dude this site is awesome great deals
bulsatar5 years ago
I have no idea what kinda job you have, but if you can afford to drop that kinda money just to show a movie on a saturday night.....more power to you man, more power to you.
Punkguyta5 years ago
Now since when the hell is idling your car for too long not good for the engine. You people make me laugh.
plusbryan (author)  Punkguyta5 years ago
Hi Punkguyta, as it was explained to me: radiators are designed to have some amount of air flowing over them at all times. When your car is idling, it's not at its most efficient cooling wise. I could be completely wrong - if you know something about this, let me know!
While that does sound logical, have you ever worked under the hood of a running car/truck?? At least as far as I can say, there is PLENTY of airflow when my truck is idling and it's never really heated up on me. I wouldn't be worried about idling a car for an hour or two other than it being a waste of gas.
would a FM25b work??? and what would the difference be?? thank you
plusbryan (author)  davidglinski5 years ago
Absolutely! Thats what I used for years. The FM30 is a definite upgrade in terms of sound quality and controls, but the FM25b gets the job done.
randomguy965 years ago
You could connect your laptop to a projector if it has enough battery life. Hulu.com has a lot of great movies, altough I'm not sure what their copyright laws are.
kamathln5 years ago
Why not build your own projector which is much more power efficient?
http://www.instructables.com/id/How_to_make_a_small_Diy_LED_Projector/

If the media's copyright allows, make a copy of the movie on the hard disk to present. The CDROM drives usually pull a lot of power.
kamathln5 years ago
Why not make something interactive ? Like the Computer Chaos Club once allowed to play pong on blinkenlights over phone. The number tones controlled the paddle. It need not be Pong. You could use some good Free and Open Source first person shooter or racing game and rig the computer to two cellphones(/mobile phones/handys). Though I am usually a FOSS zealot who recommends it whether there is any other practical purpose or not, here I suggest it with something in mind. Free and Open Source (especially GNU GPL) means, you need not worry about public usage of the software. Though I would suggest giving due credits on the screen. The second reason is, FOSS means you can learn and modify the game to listen to the controls from the phones instead of a keyboard / joystick. Another idea is to have the "deluxe" version of this. I.E., have a Wifi setup and play network games. With WiFi, (please correct me if I am wrong) you can have a big range.if you have WiFi, you can pump audio through WiFi, which means "tata" to all the worry about FCC rules. The above two advantages can also benefit movie watching. Another advantage of Wifi is, a lot more people can play the game at once, not just two. People who dont have a wifi enabled laptop or are just not playing the game can enjoy the game on the big screen. There. You have your own little gaming paradise/competition, away from the din of everyday life.
kamathln5 years ago
Why not have a "volunteer" or a friend's car have the projection screen? It could be folded and carried on top, and when it's show time, unfold it on the side. If you can do this, you can completely avoid areas that have buildings, thus can be a lot less "problematic". The screen could easily be a couple of white bedspreads/ plain tablecloths or the like. If it is a weekend and you know some acquaintance does not need their big truck, you could probably borrow it (just send an invite to the guy in charge too). What say?
abadfart5 years ago
you could take an old cargo toper and pot your projector in it with speakers and mount it on any car with a headache rack.
walkandsee5 years ago
i wonder what the legality of streaming a movie from hulu would be... anyone know?
Incredible Instructable. I'm, truly inspired.
theforester5 years ago
With regards to the FM transmitter, I have a little experience with both Ramsey's FM10 and FM30 transmitters. The FM10 would work for very low budget drive ins (the kit is only around $45), it works fairly well and can be powered off of a 9v battery. It does tend to be a bit fickle with achieving proper tuning and also with frequency drift though. Audio quality is also not perfect, more static than I'd like, but still good enough for basic "backyard" stuff. It is a 10mW transmitter but I haven't had an issue with range. On the second floor of my house with a regular whip antenna attached I can still hear it over 50ft away from my house! The FM30 however is fantastic! I would highly recommend it, but it is a MUCH more serious project to build and costs significantly more (around $200 unassembled). You gain a lot for that money though, you can change the output frequency, balance, and the output power very easily with buttons on the front. The ability to change output power would be fantastic for this type of application since you could keep the signal from expanding any farther than you need. It is adjustable in steps from ~0mW up to around 25mW. With it on the second floor of my house I was able to receive a good signal (at 25mW) from a little over 1000ft! The audio quality is also better than the FM10, and it doesn't have a problem with frequency drift. I have noticed a slight buzz in mine, but that's probably a grounding issue. Hope this helps someone! Oh and thanks for the fantastic instructable, it really sparked my interest in this idea!!
snipefast175 years ago
yah can score alot of chicks with that XD
frollard7 years ago
Love the instructable!

Great details, fun pictures, and a sense of humour...

One topic you might have encountered is when people have their car *newer than something like 1997* in the on switch to have the radio, the automatic daytime running lights come on. An instruction in disabling this feature (removing the fuse), or some sticky shields for headlights would be cool. I know all our newer cars even when you put the switch to the 'off' position on the headlight knob, it lights at the very least the drl low-beams.
A trick to keep your headlights/daytime running lights off that works on most newer cars is to engage your emergency brake. For driving at SLOW speeds while enjoying a display in a park or christmas light display without blinding the person in front of you with the reflection of your headlights in their mirror, you can engage the brake TO THE FIRST CLICK. DO NOT...I REPEAT...DO NOT drive fast or for long distances like this because it will ruin your brakes. Consider yourself warned. Happy motoring!
mine you dont even need to do the first click just put it up a little, but i dont have to worry about running lights or regular lights, my car is too old.
I've also heard of shorting the signal wire from the emergency brake to ground works. I'm in the process of disabling the lights on my Sienna right now and think I've found a better way to do it. When I get a good "clean" way to knock 'em out, I'll post it.
plusbryan (author)  frollard5 years ago
Love the "blinders" idea. I'd imagine a couple pieces of cardboard and duct tape would do the trick.
plusbryan (author) 5 years ago
Hey! We were just featured as part of the instructables book on ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/video/playerIndex?id=6388461
Cool!
PCvsMac6 years ago
Hello again! Is it possible to obtain AM transmitters (Apart from cheap walkie-talkies) legally?
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