Build a 1080p HD Projector

1080p projectors still cost mounds of cash: in the long awaited conclusion of our Home Theater Month, David and Patrick build one up from a Lumenlab DIY Projector Kit.

Some projects take a little longer than we planned... our DIY projector buildup is a stirling example. From broken LCDs to shipping delays caused by hurricanes, it's been an interesting project. The end result, tho, a scratch built 1080p projector with a 400W bulb that sells for under $50, and has a life expectancy of 20,000 hours, is pretty sweet!

The build, however, was tough.

First off, the kit we chose, Lumenlab's 120V S15 Mega-Kit is less a kit than a collection of parts you're not likely to find locally. It includes a pair of Fresnel lenses, the 400W 6500K bulb (and the ballast to power it) and the triplet lens use, ultimately, to focus the video on your wall.

That's all good. You then have to make a heap of design decisions based around the image size and distance you want to project (unless you decide to build a fox with a variable focal length), punch them into the (incredibly useful) FocalCalc II calculator, and get your favorite tool for measuring millimeters, 'cause precision is key for making this project work!

The other key is finding an LCD flat panel monitor you can scavenge that will work with a projector... many won't. If you can find a monitor listed in the LumenLab LCD Monitor Database you'll save yourself a ton of time (and cash) cracking open monitors that won't work!

We ended up buying a 15.4 inch WUXGA (1900x1200) panel and HDMI controller kit from Manhattan LCD: the bundled controller gave us HDMI input and HDCP compatibility so we can play Blu-ray discs, along with 1080p resolutions... sweet!

Before you try out this project for yourself, download the DIY Projector Guide and spend some quality time in the Projector Builder section of the Lumenlab Forums

It's a doable project but it takes some time and dedication... and patience, even without the comedy of errors we had!