Introduction: Wall Projector Mount, Laser Cut
I recently got tired of having my projector sitting on the coffee table in front of my couch and wanted an easy way to mount it to the wall above the couch (see picture). After a little poking around on the internet looking at commercial products and other DIY builds, I decided that I could build one for very cheap and even make it look pretty nice. This is what I came up with: a quick and cheap design that went from design, fabrication and installation in under 1.5 hours. In this instructable, I walk through how you might make a similar projector mount in a similarly cheap and timely manner.
As for tools, I recommend using a laser cutter to make your acrylic mount plate. If you don't have access to one, try joining your local makerspace. I've recently been using our makerspace's laser cutter for a very wide range of projects due to the cheapness of materials, the precision of the tool, and the short time between design and production. I'll also discuss other options to laser cutters for those who don't have access to one. In addition to a laser cutter, you'll need a 2D Vector or CAD software. I recommend Vectorworks (free), Autocad (free for students) and Solidworks (quite expensive). A hand drill and drill bits is also a good tool to have for this.
- Laser cutter (recommended but optional)
- 2D CAD or vector software
- Hand drill
- Tape measure
Typically, you want to ALWAYS complete your design before buying your parts. This however assumes that every part you may want, you can find a detailed spec. sheets for on the internet. One of the key parts in this build, the shelf brackets, will likely not come with this information. Therefore, buy brackets first, make measurements, then design the rest based around your brackets and your projector, and finally produce and assemble the final product.
Step 1: Projector Placement
Before starting on the build, first decide where you want the projector to sit on the wall. I chose an empty region above my couch and across from an empty white wall. Place the projector on the wall roughly where you want it and turn it on. Check that you are happy with the image size, and make sure you can focus the image property. Some projectors have a very limited focal range, and it's possible your projector may not work where you want to place it.
Step 2: Buy and Measure Brackets
I went to my local hardware store and bought the brackets you see in the build. To be frank, I bought brackets much larger than I needed, but since I'm not doing fancy engineering and FEA simulations, I had rather overbuild than under. In addition to your local hardware store, you can also try Amazon, Ebay , etc. when shopping around.
Before deciding on dimensions, take a look at your projector. How deep is it? (The dimension from the front to the back of the projector). Add a few inches for the plugs to fit on the back. I recommend finding brackets around this size. The dimensions of my brackets were 12" x 10", and again, I could easily have gone with smaller brackets.
Step 3: Design Your Mount Plate
The first step in designing your mount plate is to find the spec. sheet on your projector. My projector is an Optoma HD65, and if you see the attached documents  and images, you'll see that it has VERY specific dimensions on the mount locations, down to the 100th of a mm. Fantastic! From your spec. sheet, find these dimensions. Also note any recommended screw sizes and lengths.
The second step is to measure the mounting hole locations for your shelf brackets. A tape measure will get you reasonably accurate measurements. Determine which side of the bracket will be against the wall and and which is against will be supporting the projector platform. Place the wall side down against a table and measure the hole locations (of the platform portion) up from the table surface. Unfortunately, your measurements won't be perfect (like the dimensions you have for the projector mount holes). To compensate, we'll make the hole diameters on the platform bigger than we need so alignment need not be perfect.
Third, create a rough layout of everything on a sheet of paper. Place all of the holes (projector mount and shelf bracket) as well as the outline of each part. Make sure you give a few inches between the projector and the wall for cables (video and power).
Once your are satisfied, draw all of this up in your CAD software. I've included images and my CAD file to assist your in your design.
I didn't do it in my design, but consider rounding outward facing corners, particularly if people may be bumping into it.
Step 4: Buy Parts
Next, buy parts using your design in the previous steps.
- Shelf brackets (you already did this back in step 1)
- 1/4" acrylic. I tried with 1/8", but it bowed too much in the middle. 1/4" bowed a little but seemed adequately strong. I recommend Amazon, Ebay, and Inventables as acrylic suppliers. My clear acrylic came with a white protective layer on the outside and somewhat matched the paint on the wall. I left it on because it helped the shelf blend in with the wall. Consider buying a color of acrylic that matches your room.
- Nuts/bots/washers. I recommend ebay as a cheap supplier. Your local hardware store will have options as well and be MUCH quicker. I used M3 bolts for mounting my projector (as specified in the projector spec. sheet) and 10-32 screws for mounting the shelf brackets to the acrylic. The 10-32 screws were the best fit for the brackets. Make sure you use washers as acrylic can be brittle and crack easy. Also consider locking washers to ensure the projector doesn't come crashing down on someone's head.
- Screws and wall anchors. (Or whatever hardware you need to mount the brackets to the wall). Make sure the screws are sized properly for the brackets.
If your projector is particularly heavy and you don't think 1/4" sheet of acrylic is strong enough to support your projector, consider this: Buy a cheap piece of aluminum angle-stock, drill holes that align with the two of the bracket holes across the width of the acrylic mount plate, and mount those screws through the bracket, acrylic and angle-stock. This extra material will significantly reinforce the mount plate.
Step 5: Cut Acrylic
Load your design and acrylic into your laser cutter and cut! Very easy.
Alternate method to laser cutting
If you are looking for an alternative to laser cutting, consider the following. Start by printing out your CAD file onto paper in a way that it maintains its dimensions. You can then grab a 1/4 to 1/2" thick piece of plywood, tape the drawing to the top, and drill the holes using the print-off as a guide for the holes. Your won't achieve the the level of precision as the laser cutter so make your holes a littler larger to compensate for small errors in alignment.
Step 6: Assemble and Mount
Finally, assemble your mount and projector. Use the screws and wall anchors to mount it to the wall.
One thing to note is that I used a longer M3 screw and nut on the front projector mounting hole (see picture). The point of doing it this way is that it allows for me to vertically adjust the projector which would be difficult to do otherwise.
Since the projector is upside down, make sure you change the settings inside the projector BEFORE you mount it. Reading the menu options upside down just looks silly.