I've been wanting to make a video wall for sometime and recently started finding some pretty cool looking pictures of businesses doing some nice shapes rather than the normal rectangle. This video wall is for an upcoming Missions Celebration conference at my church, Christ Church United Methodist. I wanted to build it for as little cash as possible, but have it show video. Other than that, I was wide open to ideas.
I have it looping a single 60 second video that I made on my computer. The video highlights each conference event for about 15 seconds. Note that I did not include instructions of how to create a 4K video on your computer, but I assume any modern video editing software can do it.
Material list -
- Windows 10 PC with dual Visiontek Radeon HD 7750 Eye 6 video cards, with VLC installed
- Qty 12 - Mini DP to HDMI, CableCreation (DP1.2) Active Mini DisplayPort to HDMI 6 ft Cables
- Qty 12 - 32" Toshiba 720p televisions
- Qty 48 - M4x40mm screws
- Assorted framing lumber, cedar pickets, and wood screws
I hope this instructable helps the next guy...
Step 1: Build Your PC to Drive the Monitors
This was the most difficult part of the build. After doing some research, I found the VisionTek Radeon HD 7750 Eye 6 graphic cards were the best number of monitors bang for the buck. Each one can run up to Qty 6, 4K UHD displays using a mini-displayport connection. They run about $225 a piece on Amazon. They are fairly old tech, so you might be able to find them used on eBay as well.
Each card requires a PCIe-x16 slot. Most computers only have one. I did a little web searching a found a motherboard on eBay that had two of these slots: ASUS M4A89TD PRO/USB3 Motherboard. What was even better is that it came with a CPU in it, an AMD Phenom II Processor, for $69.
To finish the PC build, I re-used an old ATX case, power supply, memory, hard drive, keyboard, mouse, and Windows 10.
Step 2: Connect the Monitors
I ended up using 32" televisions that are only capable of 720p but that doesn't seem to matter much for how I am using them. I was going to use old monitors from a resale shop, but Best Buy had a great deal on the 32" televisions for Black Friday and I managed to get 12 of them for about $89 each. Yep, that was pricey, but having them all the same saved a ton of time mounting them later. The main thing is that they have a HDMI connection.
To connect the monitors to the PC, according to the Radeon documentation, you want to use an active signal, so you need to either buy some fairly pricey active adapters along with pricey HDMI cables, or find these on amazon: Mini DP to HDMI, CableCreation (DP1.2) Active Mini DisplayPort to HDMI 6ft Cable. Using these cables, I was able to go straight from Mini DP to HDMI.
Once connected, I turned on the PC and was very patient as Windows 10 needed a couple of reboots to find both and address video cards as well as all monitors. Two things I learned: (1) don't just reboot, choose to shutdown, power down, wait 10 seconds, and then turn the PC back on (2) make sure all the monitors are on before doing #1. They kept going to sleep and eventually turning off during the bootup times. As long as you do these two things, you shouldn't have a problem.
In Windows 10, all 12 displays are connected and show up in Display Settings. You can arrange them however you want, in either landscape, portrait, landscape flipped, and portrait flipped modes. It is fairly intuitive to get them to arrange properly. I will say to use the monitor at the far left as the "main display" - also an option in display settings.
Step 3: Build Your Wall
I don't want to focus on this part, but you need a frame. I used the design of a prior project using 2x4s with a top ledge being held up by a 2x4 and 2x2 combo and some very heavy tractor trailer wheels.
Step 4: Attach the Monitors
One of the pricey things with video walls is the mount hardware. These televisions have VESA-100, which stands for 100 mm, mounting holes. I started investigating 3/16 inch wood pegboard like you find at Home Depot. Pegboard has holes that are 1 inch apart, on center. I know that 4 inches is close to 100 mm, so voila, I had something inexpensive to mount the monitors to.
I wanted to make sure I would have maximum flexibility to layout the wall for this purpose and for future purposes as well as perform small detail straightening. I planned out the cross design to scale using Visio and figured out how to line up 7" strips of pegboard to match.
I connected each monitor to a 48" pegboard strip (sometimes two monitors) using M4x40mm, per the television specifications, screws with a washer. Then I connected the strips to the wood frame using normal wood screws and washers.
Step 5: Finish It Up
I wanted the wall to look fairly rustic, so I lined the rest of the wall with cedar, using some 16 gauge, 2.5 inch nails with the nail gun.
I hung the PC on the back of the wall with some plumbers tape, connected up all the monitors to the PC, brought power to the wall with a couple of multi-strips, and fired it up.
To run the 4K video, I use VLC in Wallpaper mode. That part is really tricky due to the odd layout of my wall. If you do a straight 4x3 wall, you can use the Eyefinity software that comes with the video card to treat all monitors as one monitor. Since I didn't, I had to keep trying VLC settings to get the video to stretch all the way across. In the end, Wallpaper mode, with a 1.3 zoom, made the 4K video work fine.
I put the wall in place at the church and it has been running ever since. In a month, my son wants to reconfigure it as a simple rectangular video wall for a school dance. My wife wants to use it for VBS during the summer. I'm sure it will be used repeatedly.
The total cost?
$69 for the PC motherboard, $458 for the graphic cards, $1100 in monitors, another $120 in cables, $50 in framing material
I had the following things laying around: the rest of the PC build (est. $750 new), $100 in cedar fence pickets, $50 in assorted screws and nails.
Considering that simple video walls can cost thousands, this was a DIY that saved a ton of money, was an amazing design, and was completed in about 4 days. Well worth it, I would say!
When I was researching how to do this, I was amazed at the lack of other DIY video walls. I wanted something out there to help the next guy. This is my first instructable, so I realize it wasn't a great detailed instructable, but I will be glad to answer any instructable community questions as others have provided me the same courtesy.
Good building, my friends.