22 Inch Cinema in Your Car




Introduction: 22 Inch Cinema in Your Car

About: A lowly geologist who likes to build stuff.

Road trips with kids can be a royal pain in the asterisk without proper entertainment. We discovered those portable DVD players a few years back and have never looked back. Our recent model went on the fritz, and I decided to kick it up a notch with some gear that I had from otherprojects. Unfortunately, there is a safety aspect that must be considered, this project will block your view out the back from center mirror. This is not an issue for me because my tent trailer is blocking it for me (please check your local laws).

The concept is very simple: use some foam board trimmed to be wedged into place, a small projector plugged into a power inverter and voila: in car cinema!

Step 1: ITEMS

For this project you will need the following:

  1. Pico or Pocket Projector 500$ See recent models
  2. Power inverter 50-500W depending on your projector (check your specs) 20-50$
  3. Piece of foam board 2$
  4. Skinny pry bar
  5. An old hard drive
  6. A bolt that fits in the projector mount
  7. Some nuts and lock washer
  8. Basic tools

Step 2: Cut Your Screen to Size

Measure the maximum extents of your space, add half an inch in both dimensions. Try to fit your screen, mark up with a pencil the areas that require trimming. Trim. Repeat. The idea is to be able jam the board into place so it stays without additional attachments.

Step 3: Magnet Mount

I've used this magnet mount initially for my Cake Decorating project, and later for my Pac-Man Augmented Reality Concept, so this explanation is basically copied from those projects:

Warning, these magnets are VERY powerful and could pinch your fingers or break if you let them snap into each other. I removed about a dozen in an afternoon, and was paranoid that they would start self agglomerating on the table in front of me...The average household should have 2 old computers gathering dust, if you don't then someone you know does. They are unlikely to be worth anything, so you can go ahead and recycle them: but first, pull out the hard drives and harvest the magnets. All you need is a set of torx screwdrivers (which look like a six pointed star), and maybe some Philips head drivers as well depending on the brand of hard drive. Take off the cover by removing all the screws as well as a few that are likely hiding under stickers or labels. If the cover is not coming off then you likely missed one; rub the labels with the tip of the screwdriver until you find the divot where that last screw was hiding. Once you have the cover off you should find a metal bracket in one corner near the axle for the reader head (see the images). Remove any screws that may be holding the bracket in place and pry off the bracket. It will likely take a screwdriver to get it off because the magnets are very strong. Once you have removed the first magnet, you will see a second one looking back at you. Remove any screw and extract this one too; in fact the bottom one is usually more useful because its bracket is less protruding making it easier to use directly.

I was lucky enough to find a bolt that fit perfectly into the socket of my projector. The magnet is already on a piece of steel we can use to make a mount. The bolt head was thicker than the magnet so I filed it down so that the magnet was flush. I then drilled though the steel bracket, put the bolt through and added a nut to secure it into place. Carefully screw it into your projector; don't overscrew as you may break through into the projector and smash something important.

Step 4: Setup

There are any number of ways to setup your projector in your car, and you are unlikely to have the same split seat opportunity as myself (Sante Fe XL). Sticking the pry bar between the two seats allowed me to adjust the height and angle of the projector. I ended up using some hockey sock tape (rubbery and easy to remove) to thicken and increase the friction of the pry bar. I used an Iphone 4 to push the movies to the projector (using the now arcane adapter) . I had initially planned on running a cable to the auxiliary port on my car stereo, but the Bluetooth link worked perfectly. There are still a few movies that I have heard several times and not seen (while I am driving).

I am looking forward to taking my cinema on the open road; the only thing is I wish that I could sit back there and watch classic zombie flick. We all know how that scenario ends; "For the First Time in Forever".... and ever and ever.



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    22 Discussions

    Cool idea, thank you for sharing! You could well participate in Ford contest with it :)

    1 reply

    Thanks man. I would enter that contest, but Canadians are not eligible for that one, eh.


    3 years ago

    I would have killed for this on some recent road trips with the family.

    1 reply

    If you dont have all the materials for this instructable, I strongly recommend investing in cheap car DVD player. Huge value proposition (cost/sanity). Thanks for the in comment.

    I would have used a cheap roller blind, each end of the roller attached to the seats and pull the blind up and maybe attach to the car roof with a magnet of some sort.

    1 reply

    My initial design was actually Very similar to what you described. I thought I coud get two rows of seating. A few problems: the throw distance of the projector didn't fit (too big for the gap). Even my massive magnets didn't find any gripn on my car ceiling. And finally, i figured the that the distance to the viewer would be too close for the size of the projected image (claustrophobic). Let me know if you make it, and thanks for the comment!

    Awesome idea!

    I'd actually do this. Except I have the benefit of all male mini-me's, so instead of "Let it Go" we get to hear "Everything is Awesome" over and over....

    2 replies

    Loved both movies XD, who cares if there are male or female, both movies were great and good for either gender.

    This is true, I enjoyed them both. The girls however would chose to watch Frozen three times in row rather than most anything else... Thanks for the comment.

    Excellent idea and execution. I liked how you kept it simple, a foam board wedged between the headrests fir screen. I tend to over-complicate things and end up not finishing them :)

    1 reply

    Yes, as mentioned above I am hauling a tent trailer so I can't see from that mirror anyway... Check your local laws. Thanks for the comment.

    I love the concept, I mean: projector in the car?! Totally awesome!

    I'm curious though as to why you chose this option. With a screen no larger than 22 inches, wouldn't a cheap LCD panel of the same size come out at a lower price point? Did you opt for the pico because you already had one laying around, or are there other pros to choosing this over an LCD? I mean other than the fact you can tell people you have a projection screen in the back seat. That might be reason enough of course... Again, great job :)

    1 reply

    Thanks! The short answer is that I already have the project AND the inverter. So for me, there is no additional investment. I also try to find new ways of using these gadgets to I can substantiate buying more in the future...