Monday, November 28, 2011

RG's Workshop: Projector and screen mount

A few months after buying my LCD projector in an agonizingly long and painful process (the recounting of which is probably equally long and painful to read), I realized I could use it for entertainment, and not just for meetings.

To do so, I needed a blank wall or screen, and somethingorother to hold the projector in the right place. This is the story of that somethingorother.

Projectors have little threaded holes on the bottom specifically for mounting them. I strategically stuck two decorative shelf brackets on a board they came on, and on the part that sticks out from the board, I drilled a second hole into the end of one of them to line up with the hole on the other (the mounting spots on the projector are not lined up, so it took some finagling). You can see that in the background of the picture below; the part that goes against the wall is lying flat. I happened to have some small bolts with the same size threads.

The trick was finding a way to get that board onto the wall. I still needed the projector for meetings, after all, so I would need an easy way of removing it.

I cut a solid steel L bracket (above) in two, and temporarily held the two ends together with a bolt to keep them aligned as I cut a slot into them.

I got lazy and wrangled the tabs out from the photo above instead of finishing the cut, resulting in what we see below. Unfortunately, much filing and fidgeting was required to obtain sufficient clearance for my desired goal.

That goal is to use these metal bars as hooks to latch onto screws that will be embedded into something else that is permanently mounted to my wall. In this photo, I'm measuring where to put the screws. The trick is not putting them too high; you need clearance between the two boards to lift the projector mount up to get the hooks on the mounting screws.

Like so. Two drywall screws with a nice smooth bevel under the head. Keep them loose enough. Note: the screws holding the the plates to the projector mount backboard need to be short (so as not to poke through) and kept a bit loose so the plates can spin freely. If I were doing this again, I'd have put them just a bit closer to the top of the board, because there isn't enough clearance for the left one to fold down for storage (i.e. 180 degrees from the currently shown position). Also if I were doing it again, it would be much easier now that I have a Dremel® rotary hand tool.

I also discovered after-the-fact that I had a very tight clearance for the monitor cable, so I chiseled out a little channel for it. If I were doing this again, I would probably cut a whole slot out of the side of the board before attaching anything to avoid crimping the cable.

Phase one complete. Now to get something to project onto.

As luck would have it, someone was throwing away a couple of screens. It's actually not that rare an item at the curbside; I've found at least four, all in working order. When planning your projection setup, make sure your screen is big enough for the image being projected. You may have to mount it on the ceiling a foot out from the wall, for example, if you have a smallish screen and a projector with a wide throw angle like mine.

My screen is not small-ish, and the spring-lock mechanism depends on this flat bit sticking out of the end. I had a bunch of these little brackets kicking around that I'd found a few years ago, and they were perfect for it (I even made a set for Allison and Chris). In retrospect, I should have flipped the screen around the other way so the screen is further from the wall, in order to clear the lintel (also projected, albeit in a different way) over the window.

Again because I was lazy and didn't have a rotary hand tool, I drilled three holes in a row and forced a screw into the holes to open them up.

Then I crawed the opening wide enough with a flathead screwdriver. Crude, but functional. Nobody's going to see the jagged edges anyway.

The other end was easier, it was just a round peg. The peg plunges down so you can fit it the screen between two fixed mounting points. (Be very careful to leave enough clearance to get the peg in, but not so much clearance that the screen falls out!)

The best thing about this setup is it rolls up to be out of the way when not in use...

...or pulls down to take whatever image you throw at it.

And the projector sits on the opposite wall underneath the hat rack, easily removed with the two hooks (and a Roberston screwdriver to detach the projector itself from the mounting bracket)

Like many of my creations, it's based on the spare things I have available, so the combination of things you have kicking around probably won't let you recreate this setup exactly, but you'll find your own somethingorother to whip up. This post should at least give you some ideas.

I can just hear you now: "Hey, I have an idea: RealGrouchy is a clever guy!"

- RG>


Lynn said...

Awesome work, as usual...I cannot get over how resourceful you are!

RealGrouchy said...

Why thank you.

- RG>

robin said...

Why didn't you just stick it on a shelf? Like that one on the wall above it.

You don't really need a screen. The wall works better in most cases and it's bigger too.

Just my opinion of course.

RealGrouchy said...

Yes, I need a screen; my wall has a window in it, which doesn't capture the light very well. Also, my walls have lots of things on them.

The shelf has a pair of moose antlers attached to it, and a shelf at the height needed for this projector would be right near the heads of people sitting on the couch, running the risk of bonked heads and tossed projectors.

Having a removeable fixture means that I don't need to have an empty shelf on my wall when I'm not using the projector.

- RG>