I’m calling the projector project itself officially finished. I’m really pleased with how the whole project turned out, especially for the price paid. Here’s a listing of everything I’ve gotten to make complete this project.

Projector: $380
Ceiling mount: $17
Blackout cloth: $40 (three pieces, two for window coverings and one for the actual screen)
Wood for the frame: Free, previous owner of the house left it here
Cabling: $85 (50′ VGA to md1, 50′ component, component cables for Wii)
ATSC HDTV card for computer: $25
Other misc parts including outlet box, plates etc: $10

Total: about $555

For under $600 I now essentially have a 90″ EDTV, not exactly HDTV but very close. I’m able to view over the air HDTV of all of the local stations, play DVDs and Wii on a fairly large screen. The HDTV content looks very good despite the projector only having a native resolution of 854×480.

Click here for an screenshot.

This weekend, among other projects, I managed to get some wire pulled for the projector which is now mounted on the ceiling. The wires pulled include component, VGA/USB and romex for power to the projector. The last thing I need to get is get the new outlets in the ceiling tapped into an existing circuit and I can call my home theater project done for now.

The component cable is hooked into an old mechanical A/V switch and allows me to switch between my Wii and DVD player. The VGA cable is, of course, for hooking up to a computer. I ran this cable because I wanted a way to play downloaded video, pictures and because my laptop makes a better DVD player than our stand alone DVD player.

When everything is all said and done I’ll have some new pics posted to my gallery.

When it comes to the products/service my wife and I buy/get we almost always get the short end of the stick. Let me share a few examples.

  • This past weekend we bought a new storm door for our house. I was nearly done getting it installed and I reached the point where I had to install the latch and handle hardware. This is when I finally notice, the door doesn’t have the hole stamped out for the latch hardware. There are holes for the handles, but not the latch. After some phone calls and a trip back to where I bought the door, it turns out they had received a bad batch of doors. Luckily they were able to find a good one and back home I went.
  • I just bought a projector off of woot.com. It is a refurbished unit so I know that I’m taking my chances. I should have known that with our track record, there was no way I’d luck out and get a “good” used one. No, instead I take out the lamp to find that the fans are incredibly dirty and caked with dust. This thing has some SERIOUS hours on it. I contacted InFocus and I guess we’ll see.
  • We usually get forgotten about when we go out to eat, or the person just generally doesn’t seem to care or says strange things. Like, “you came in at a bad time, we’re really busy.” As if we care. Well not only have we been forgotten about while out to eat, we were forgotten about when we went in to the hospital for the birth of our first little one. We were brought to our room and no less than 20 minutes went by before we finally thought it was a bit strange and I went asking. Yep, they admitted it, we were forgotten about.

Continue reading

Made some great progress towards finishing up the home theater last night by building the frame for my screen. I based my screen frame around a howto located at this site. My frame does not use any support bracing to help save on the weight and honestly the wood could be straighter. Measuring 79×45, I’ll be able to get an absolute maximum size of 90″ diagonal when viewing “widescreen” formatted material. This also gives me a maximum of 74″ diagonal for regular 4:3 content. Not bad for a total project cost of about $600.

Read on for pics and other info.

Continue reading

I’ve been a Linux user for a long time, eight years in fact. Now I’m not trying to toot my horn, I merely am pointing out that I’ve been around long enough to see a lot of changes and a number of flash-in-the-pan distributions come and go. Most of the time the short lived distributions were simply repackaged and re-branded versions of an existing Linux project like Red Hat or whatever and they were pretty easy to pick up. Everything looked and felt like a Red Hat system but this “new” distribution focused on a certain aspect. Mandrake Linux or Linux Mandrake as it might been more commonly called back then, was in fact based on Red Hat but with an experience more focused on KDE and ease of use. Today of course Mandrake is known as Mandriva and you can no longer say that it is simply a repackaged Red Hat (or Fedora) distribution.

Now like I said, I’ve been using Linux as a desktop or server OS since about 1999, probably longer than a lot of people. During that time I pretty much have used Red Hat (or Fedora Core) exclusively and I’ve grown accustomed to it’s inner workings. I don’t have to reference anything to know how to install packages, what packages are called, manage services, edit config files or what have you, it’s all just familiar territory. Much like walking around my house in the dark, there are no surprises anymore.

Continue reading

Well I have the projector in my possession and now I’m working out how to setup a screen. Once in a while I’d bring home a projector from work and just project onto a white shade from our basement. I’d like to create a larger and more permanent screen rather than pull down the shade each time we want to use the projector. While the shade works, I’m limited in how wide I can go.

Over on avsforum.com I read about what they call BOC or black out cloth. It’s actually some cloth that goes behind drapes to cut out light. It has decent properties for acting as a projector screen, though it has hardly any gain and can dull up the image some. So far, despite what my wife thinks, I have minimal cash invested into my screen so far. I’d like to avoid having to buy a “real” screen because DIY is just more fun.

The problem I’m running into is that BOC doesn’t appear to roll up well, and I’d prefer being able to roll up the screen between uses. So it looks like I’ll need to create a rigid frame to put the BOC onto which is going to create a storage issue. I guess I should have thought of all this before I got the projector!

Continuing with today’s theme of software I like I wanted to post a bit about OpenVPN. OpenVPN is a cross platform (Windows, Linux, *BSD, Solaris and OSX) VPN available at http://openvpn.net/. Using OpenVPN you are able to connect a remote client or remote network to another network across the Internet with minimal firewall fuss. I use OpenVPN for various client to network and network to network style VPNs. I also use OpenVPN on my Linux server at home so my laptop can send and receive email from anywhere.